What makes a great domain name and how can you get one?

  • Is it memorable?
  • Is it short?
  • Is the domain easy to remember?
  • Is it easy to spell?
  • Is it the right top level domain? – .com is still the most desirable for business.
  • Can you trademark it?

Here are some tactics that will help you get your million dollar domain:

Operate in stealth mode – Disclose as little information about yourself as possible. It is unfortunate but many people have the lottery mentality when it comes to domain names. They own a domain you want  and hope that one day they’ll get rich selling it to you. The more you say about yourself the higher the price can go.

Find contact information – Once you found a domain name you want, contact the owner. Sometimes you get lucky and the contact details are located on the site. There may be a “Contact” page a contact form, a phone number, or email address. If there is no contact information use archive.org. There might be contact information listed on a previous version of the site. If you still can’t find it, research the “who is” information for the domain. There are many great tools for this. I like to use domaintools.com.

Do it yourself – You could hire a third-party to obtain the domain name for you, but I don’t think that’s necessary. My fear about using a third-party is that the potential seller could quickly become a bit too greedy. Some people have used attorneys in the past, but I don’t think that’s necessary either. Exceptions would include huge amounts of money exchanging hands and/or complicated contracts. Most of the time domains are bought and sold for a few thousands of dollars with simple buy/sell contracts.

Smart email – Don’t use your company email address when you reach out. Register a new free email address, Gmail or Yahoo will do. – Extra mile – If you want to take it to the next level you could pay to get a .edu email address.  You can get one at Fiverr or ask a friend a family member to use his or hers. Once you have your .edu email, reach out as a student who is thinking about putting together a website for a school project.

—–Sample email to send——


I am Joe Somebody. I am a student at the University of (Make sure that there is such a university if you play this angle.) I am taking a course on “whatever that would fit here.” I want to use the (domain you are trying to get) for a school project. It would help me get a better grade if you would sell it to me.


—–end of sample email—–

Keep your email short and to the point. If your email is longer than five sentences you are making it too long. Be neutral. Don’t sound like you are dying to get the domain name. For Pete’s sake, contain your excitement. Keep your tone as  – it would be nice to get your domain, but I’ll live if I can’t get it.

Super important! Don’t even bring up money at this point. Only a sucker would.

Use a stage name – You don’t want to overpay because the seller searches for your name and finds out that you own your own business. If there is information about you online, and I am pretty sure there is, use a stage name. Makeup something and stick to it. Stay in character throughout the process.

Negotiate – Don’t offer any amount first. Let the seller make the first move. If the seller is willing to sell s/he will give you an idea. Never pay the asking price. If someone tells you they are willing to sell you for $10,000, come back with a much lower offer. As you make your counter offer, explain your story. Don’t just reply with a number. Tell the seller that you want the domain but you have limited funds.

Be ready to walk away – Don’t fall in love with the domain name. No matter how much you want it, keep emotion out of it. It is only a business transaction. If you treat is as such you will be able to walk away. Not every deal works out. Just in case this deal doesn’t work out, there are plenty of great domains you can buy.

Make payments – If you are spending more than a couple of thousands of dollars, ask for payments. You could negotiate monthly or quarterly payments to make the deal more affordable.

Escrow – Use an escrow service to keep everyone honest. They are fairly inexpensive and can save both buyer and seller a lot of headaches.

Listen to my interview with David Ciccareli, CEO of Voices, to learn how he bought voices.com for a great price.

How to quickly determine the value of a domain name:

  • 3-5 letter vocabulary words are the most expensive ($few thousands – $100s of thousands).
  • 6-10 letter popular or widely used vocabulary words ($few thousands – $tens of thousands).
  • Anything over 10 letters lower value.
  • Complicated or confusing spelling lower value.
  • Numbers, hyphens (-) drastically reduce value.
  • Multiple word domains are mostly very inexpensive, unless the two words are highly related like “superstar”, or “savemoney.”