I think the number one question that I get from startup founders who are trying to buy a domain name is, “why is nobody responding to my offers?” While super persistent people will keep firing off emails, a lot of entrepreneurs move onto another domain if they don’t hear back from a domain owner. While at the end of the day you’ll get a domain name eventually if you keep emailing and waiting for people to respond, but you’ll likely end up with your third or fourth choice.
So what should you do if you want to buy a domain name but the owner isn’t responding? Well, to be blunt – you’re probably doing it wrong. Tell me if this sounds like the strategy you’ve taken so far – you sent an email to the domain owner letting them know you are a startup founder, you want to buy a domain name that they own but you don’t have a huge budget…so you want to know what they want for it. Seems harmless right?
What most people don’t think about is the fact that domain owners get emails like this all the time, and often they’re just tire kickers. Telling a domain owner out of the gate that you don’t have a big budget is one of the worst ways to get someone excited about doing a deal with you. At the same time, sending in a ridiculous low-ball offer is even worse, and yes – my guess is if you didn’t do what I predicted above, you probably offered $250 for the domain instead.
Either way these two approaches generally don’t work, and in many cases will work against you and just delay or negate your chance of getting the domain name. So let’s review, below are the two kinds of emails startup founders usually send to domain owners that get them a whole lotta nothing back:
- Send an email saying you’re a startup founder with a small budget
- Send an email with a ridiculously low offer
Okay – so I think we’ve covered what not to do. Now let’s talk about what to do.
- First things first, take some time to do your homework. Find out how much a domain name like the one you’re looking for will actually sell for. Two resources you can instantly use to explore this is DNJournal.com and NameBio.com. Suppose you want to buy a domain name that starts with a word and ends with “coin” – look for similar names like this that have sold, what does the range look like? What seem to be the average sale price?
- Now using data, make a real offer in your email. Suppose you’re looking at a short, meaningful, one-word .COM, you’ve looked and have seen that similar names sell for $150,000 – $300,000. Don’t start with a $1,500 offer – it’s just going to be ignored. Now maybe you’re not looking at such a pricey domain, maybe you’re looking at a two-word .COM and you’ve found similar names seem to sell inf the $5,000 – $15,00 range. Start with a $2,500 offer – not a $500 offer.
- Be prepared to pay more than you offer. Once you lead with an offer be prepared to pay more. I’ve seen founders make the mistake of sending an email with an offer and then ending the email with, “this is the most I could pay for this domain” – all that does is close the door. If you see a domain name like the one you want to buy typically sells in the $10,000 – $20,000 range, sure – you can start with a $7,500 offer but be prepared to pay $12,000.
- Don’t tell the domain owner that you see they aren’t using it. This may sound obvious but it’s amazing to me how many times I hear about someone sending an email where they try to convince the domain owner to sell a domain for pennies on the dollar because it doesn’t look like they are using the domain themselves. I live in San Francisco, there are a TON of empty office spaces, nobody is using them, but that doesn’t mean the owner wants to sell them for pennies on the dollar.
- You’re likely going to pay some or all of an escrow fee. Last but not least, if you’re buying a domain name that’s worth more than a few hundred dollars a domain owner will probably want to use an escrow service like Payoneer or Escrow.com. These services charge a fee and just like you need to factor closing costs in when you’re buying a house, the same goes for domain names.
I hope this article helps startup founders see a clearer path forward when it comes to reaching out to domain owners. At the end of the day, if you think you have the perfect domain in mind for your company, don’t let it get away, follow the process above, set a realistic budget, and go get that domain!