Domain names, an asset worth investing

Should you try domain flipping in 2023? [Short guide]

Do you want to make an extra $1,000 a month with domain flipping? Many people do, and they do it in many ways. Stocks, forex, selling real estate or insurance part-time, you’ve probably heard about all of them. I know I sound like I’m turning into a financial planner right now, but hear me out. How often do you think about your retirement plan? Do you “plan” for the government to support you with a pension plan? Are you willing to bet on it? I know I’m not.

Making some extra money today is important, but what happens when you are seventy or eighty? Or if you are “lucky” enough to live to ninety or a hundred? Wouldn’t it be great if you had some assets growing in value? Personally, I want my assets to be like wine or a great scotch whiskey. I am not a drinker, but I like the mantra: getting better as they age. Every day, in every way.

Domain flipping as a part-time job

So let’s cut to the chase. You need something that’s growing in numbers but at the same time is increasing in value due to scarcity. I know it sounds a bit contradictory; that’s why it’s hard to find those things. Take the new iPhone. More and more people have them, but you always have to wait, preorder, and hope that you will be able to buy one. That’s one example of scarcity, and many would argue it’s artificial. But an example of scarcity that’s not artificial is domain names.

Every day tens of thousands of domain names are registered, but good ones are getting harder and harder to find. The good ones rise in value. Some are becoming premium collectible items in China. If the domain name has the number eight, it’s nice. If it has two eights, it’s better. If it has three eights, it’s fantastic. Eight has long been regarded as the luckiest number in Chinese culture. Pronounced ‘Ba’ in Chinese, it sounds similar to the word ‘Fa’, which means to make a fortune. Eight contains meanings of prosperity, success, and high social status, too, so all businessmen favor it very much.

8888.COM and other numeric domain names

Picking a niche is always a wise decision in doing business. Domain flipping is no different. We already mentioned four-letter domain names, now, let’s briefly mention numeric domain names. Similar to four-letter .com domain names, numeric .com domain names are also very liquid and there are several domain investors waiting to register numeric domain names. The shorter they are, more they will cost. If the number means something, it will be worth even more.

What could these numbers mean? Well, I already mentioned the Chinese obsession with the number 8 (eight). It could also be a phone number, zip code, or just a good looking sequence such as 1010101 or 12345. How much are five-figure .com domain names worth, you might be asking? Well, here’s a list of last 25 public sales (GoDaddy and NameJet), reported by Namebio.

The great thing about the domain name market is that you don’t have to stay in the speculative part of it. Businesses are always looking for that edge, even with domain names. Does the domain name contain a keyword that’s been searched on Google thousands of times? Does the domain name have a recognizable .com extension? Is the domain name indexed by Google, with hundreds of links still pointing to it? Does the domain name have an extension with a keyword that will drive value to your business?

How to sell a domain name to a business,,, short domains, keyword domains, expired domains, geolocation domains…

It doesn’t matter how much you paid for it. It could be $9 or $9,000 – if you can identify the value, and/or depending on the domain name if you are simply willing to wait for it to reach “fruition,” it could be a great investment. Take four-letter .com domain names as another example. Our ground-breaking research back in 2013 was huge! It was mentioned by Slate and it was trending on Reddit. The result? More than 30,000 people visited our website, and countless blogs wrote about our research in the following years. I am not mentioning this to brag; I simply brought this up because back then it was easy to buy a four-letter .com domain for less than $100, sometimes even $50. Not anymore! Now you have to look really hard if you want to buy them below $300. I am certainly looking! That’s almost a guaranteed return of 300 to 600 percent in three years. Who doesn’t want that?

Why not buy a few domain names, and leave them for your children or grandchildren?

If you are thinking right now, “I wish I could go back to 2013,” set your thinking straight! When it comes to domain name investing, in 2013 there were people saying, “I wish I could go back to 2008.” And in 2008, there were people saying, “I wish I could go back to 2001.” And so on… I can guarantee you, in 2020, there will be people saying, “I wish I could go back to 2016.” How much do you think a great domain name will be worth 50 years from now?

Take three-letter .com domains as another example.

  • sold for $720 in 2004
  • sold for $1,395 in 2004
  • sold for $860 in 2005

Let’s fast-forward 11 years later.

  • sold for $44,000 in 2016
  • sold for $41,500 in 2016
  • sold for $47,000 in 2016
  • sold for $60,000 in 2016

You can see for yourself at

And I left out outliers like ($345,000) and ($150,000). There are hundreds of these sales, and remember there are only 17,576 combinations for three-letter .com domains. Some of you might be thinking, “OK, I need 60 grand to get into this game, and wait another 11 years.” Sure, you could do that, but most of you aren’t prepared to risk that kind of money.

Jeffrey Emerick entered the industry about a year ago and earned enough profit for a down payment on his lakefront home

This is not the first time I have written about making money by selling domain names, and this is a different route you can take from the one Rick Schwarz mentioned in his interview! You could take Jeffrey Emerick’s route. Here’s a guy who, back in 2015, bought two four-letter .com domains and flipped them. He reinvested the money to buy four four-letter .com domains and sold them. He then bought eight four-letter .com domains, and by now, I am hoping you are beginning to see the pattern here.

Jeffrey Emerick entered the industry about a year ago and earned enough profit in that time for a down payment on his lakefront home (where he spoke during this interview). And he still owns 189 LLLL .com domain names. Jeffrey didn’t say, “I wish I had more money,” or “I wish I could go back in time.” Jeffrey took control, buckled down, took action, and he owned it!

It doesn’t matter if you start with a $3 flip, or a $3,000 flip. Get your feet wet; there’s more than enough to go around. Just learn about the process so that you don’t waste your money!

For example, take Kirk, Mitch and Mario.

  • Kirk bought, for $10, and sold at $360 by reaching out to a potential buyer
  • Mario bought for €13.99, and sold for €2,500 after getting an inbound inquiry
  • Mitch bought for $12, and sold for $15, at an NamePros auction

This happened in 2016. This is not something that occurred in 1998 when domain names were supposedly hot. I have no idea why this doesn’t make sense to anyone outside of the domain investing community.

Yes, those were their first domain name sales. You may think that Mario got lucky or that Mitch and Kirk could get more money for their domains, but what’s most important is that they got their feet wet! They proved to themselves that this is actually possible!

If you are thinking, “Hey Goran, you are pretty hard on my case, how are you doing with this part-time domain flipping business?” I’ll be completely honest with you. Back in 2012, before I led the research for checking domain availability for all 456,976 combinations, I bought three four-letter .com domains. Just a couple of years later, I needed cash fast, and I sold all of them pretty fast and liquidated those assets. I didn’t profit much from those transactions because I was in a hurry, and I wasn’t committed to venturing deeper into the domain of investing.

Recently the bug bit me again. And after developing some interesting WhoAPI tools (later rebranded as tools but also discontinued in August 2022), like our domain manager, domain monitoring, and with our domain checker, I was able to find some interesting domain names and flip them.

Is domain flipping dead?

Back in 2012, there were 240,000,000 domain names across some 260 TLDs (Source domain name brief Oct 2012). You all know the most popular one; .com. Almost half of all domains (over 100M) are .coms. They are all active as you read this, which means someone paid for them around $10. That’s a billion dollars right there, just for .coms.  Not to mention, .co is sold for $29,99, and .me for $19,99 (when they are not discounted or premium). Rarely can you register a domain name for less than $10, so let’s say the other $140 M domains account for at least another billion dollars.

Top TLD's by Zone Size

Top TLDs by Zone Size

The thing with domain names is they expire every year, which means you have to renew them. Despite all this expiring, the total number of domains has kept growing ever since was registered on March 15, 1985. That’s 27 years of growth. Paul Stahura, one of the industry veterans, said that domain names will not go away within our lifetime and that they are more entrenched than electricity plugs!

Making millions with domain flipping in 2023

If you are still not convinced that domain flipping isn’t dead, read this article where I list top experts that are flipping domains even in 2023. I admit there’s a low probability you are going to make the list and make millions. After all, these are domain flipping experts that have a decade or two of experience under their belt. But it doesn’t mean you can’t make a decent living by flipping domain names.

Can domain flipping grow even more and even faster?

Yes, and here are my 3 points about why I think that was the case back in 2012 when I first published the article and why that’s the case now in 2021 when I am updating it.

1. Internet is growing

Everything around domain names is growing. Internet usage – going up. Mobile Internet usage – going up. Global Internet speed – going up. The number of websites, blogs, and accounts – going up. The number of IP addresses, not that it’s going up, we’ve used up all the IPv4 addresses like, now we issue IPv6 addresses like 2001:0db8:85a3:0042:1000:8a2e:0370:7334. In layman’s terms, IPv4 allows for only 4,294,967,296 unique addresses, and we’ve used them all! We are more and more connected in every possible way you can think of. And boy, do we love labeling things. Humans like simple and straightforward. They want to access their fridge on a cloud service called, not http://2001:0db8:85a3:0042:1000:8a2e:0370:7334/Gh78$#whatisthis, right? The only thing that is going down is the domain renewal price (do you know those .com domains used to be priced at $100 apiece / per year?).

If you had any doubts, the Internet was growing, the global Covid-19 pandemic hit, and everything became supercharged when it came to online. Even the .com domain name registration.

2. Making money online

Humans love to make a quick buck. They love to buy low, and sell high. Do you know what are the 2 most popular jobs where you buy low, and sell high? Stocks, real estate, and drugs (at least, that’s what I saw in the movie American Gangster). Domains have been called online real estate ever since the first news article was written about them. And they have so many similarities. First of all, they are the address. If you have a good address, there’s a good chance you will have more people “passing by your store.” In return, this means more $$$ for your business.

Domain names have similarities with stocks

Domain names have similarities with stocks

Domain similarity with stocks is not just “buy low, sell high.” Ever heard about IDNX.COM? It seems that when stockbrokers are selling high those high-tech stocks from Silicon Valley, people and most companies also buy domains high! And this is something that has been going on for at least 6 years (2006 – 2012)! The good news is you don’t need to be a licensed stockbroker or a licensed real estate agent to buy or sell domains. You just need a proper tool to find a great name and signup for SedoGodaddy Auctions, or Afternic, and you are ready to go.

Sedo reported over a million users. So, the supply is growing, what about the demand for great domains? Well, that’s growing, too, everybody wants a domain/website that has targeted traffic. What helps an ordinary user build a website with targeted traffic? Tools like WordPress, Adwords, SEO, and social media. WordPress currently holds around 20% of the entire web, and AdWords brings in the majority of the cash that Google makes. How are SEO and social media doing? Just check your inbox and count how many SEO and social media offers you get. This adds up to point 1 that it’s also growing. I mean, Google stocks hit an all-time record high this October, and their income is constantly growing, and Facebook is the second most visited website on the planet!

Google's gtlds

Google’s gTLDs

3. New gTLDs are rampant

To top it off, I give you point number 3. Various companies applied for 1930 new gTLDs, according to ARStechnica. According to NewgTLDSite, just the application price costs a quarter of a million, and in practical reality it will cost you around $500k – $2M for an uncontested basic gTLD. So companies were prepared to shell out over $348M just to stand in line? How much do you think they are prepared to invest in advertising, building the systems… You already have companies like Domain Diction with Alan Pinkard Brand. They are a marketing consultancy solely dedicated to Top Level Domains. They are specialists in delivering critically effective marketing and usage programs for existing and new TLDs. If you are thinking this is only for squatters, think again and wake up!

Lawyers are getting better by the day and trying to keep the jargon (like UDRP) to a minimum. Let’s just say the judges are getting better, these aren’t the nineties anymore. Not to mention there are now companies with 20 years of experience in protecting companies from squatting.

And who are the companies that made the 1930 applications? Godaddy and other registrars? Not really, as you can see from the picture above, Google made quite a few. Amazon is here. Apple made a few. But most of them were made by a new company Donuts, put together just for this. You had a chance to read an interview with their CEO Paul Stahura. They are in with 307 gTLDs.

Making a case for domain name trading

In today’s world, we are struggling to achieve as much financial stability as we can. We are working non-stop as real workaholics. Sometimes that is not enough, and we are searching for ways to fit more work into our schedules to achieve more material goods and security. So, when someone asks if the domain name trade is profitable, we say right away, “Yes, it can!” But how? 

The domain name business can be really cost-effective. Throughout the history of the Internet, that has been shown to be the case. Early domain investors and pioneers of the web could make real money by buying cheap domain names and selling them for thousands or even millions of dollars. All they had to do was offer them. Those names didn’t need to be creative or unusual in the beginning. As the years passed, the Internet became somehow saturated with all those simple but significant names. Now you need much more to succeed in that business.

domain trade

Understand the average domain name buyer

Why is that so? Well, first, you need to know what might be important for future buyers. What might be their interest? What kind of website might they want to start? How can they make that (future) website attractive? It is like the real estate business or the stock exchange. You must be able to see and recognize the potential of a website to be attractive, like a house. If your targeted buyers are people who like old-fashioned houses with many rooms and a great view, you will work to find them, adapt them, and offer them to buyers. You will invest, do research, and do everything in your power to attract these people. You will have an open house to show what that house can offer to its owners and their guests. You will show how interesting it can be.

In domain name trade, you have to do similar things. Your domain name must suit targeted clients. It must suit them by the name itself, but also it has to be visited, wanted, searched, and googled. As you probably know, Google is a powerful tool. If your site jumps out of a Google search, there is a great possibility that your domain name will become more interesting. Google likes generic names and a lot of visits. It makes the site visible in searches and even in the top searches. For example, if you think some client would like to buy the domain name, you need to invest in it before they do. So, you have to think ahead and be creative.

Be creative, but stay away from trademarks

The name itself can be connected to anything, from a cultural movement or a geographic area to some everyday topics. The simpler, the better. It can’t be just an empty site, of course. If it looks dead and without visitors, you can’t attract buyers. In addition to these things, you should be aware that you cannot just take any name you want. For example, taking trademarks, brand names or personal names of some potential celebrities might see you in court, so watch out. 

Trademark is a company's intangible asset.

Trademark is a company’s intangible asset so they are protecting it. In order to prevent bumping into someone’s protection (lawyers), there are some company’s that are smart and are using a Trademark API to check before they register a domain name.

Domain name trade might be more complicated than expected, but if you take a shot with your imagination and creativity, it can be a great business. It is not an overnight financial gain, but it can be all you need. We can only guess how many of those Internet pioneers made a great profit off the domain names they took at the start. It is more crowded nowadays, but if you are creative enough, you can make your own space for success.

You can sell one or a few domain names right from your couch and make a fortune. It sounds like a lottery, but that’s life. Luck is pretty desirable too, and it seems like it follows all the great ideas as long as you’re willing to wait for your foresight to come true. If you have a vision, then realize it. It might be tricky and demand your patience, but it might be worth it. You won’t know if you don’t try.

Yes, domain flipping still makes sense

By now, you must be aware that this industry and complimentary services are about to grow exponentially.

What determines a great domain name? What domain information is most important? How do you determine credibility, how do you determine relevancy? I think Google solved the relevance problem pretty well, and they found a way to profit from it. But what about domain credibility? They solved this by default when they solved relevancy. So I think there is room for progress.

Can a domain be credible if the website is hacked or down often? Packed with trojan viruses, hosted on an IP address that’s blacklisted constantly? Is it the same if your website is hosted in New York with secondary power and an Internet connection or in some third-world country in an apartment? I believe that in the world of IT, technical information deserves to play a more important role. I also think that serious companies cannot have a website that is not regularly updated! This harms the users, and there’s no way they can protect themselves from the companies they are buying from! You visit a website, and you get a virus, this has to stop. If you are visiting a website that is spamming, experiencing downtime every few days or has phishing problems, this should be prevented.

With that being said, I think it is safe to say that domain registrations have a long way to go.


Founder and CEO of WhoAPI Inc. Goran Duskic is an internet entrepreneur since 2006. He co-founded and sold several online ventures, including a web hosting company.

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