Lessons from the dropped domain backorder that got away

It’s getting harder to find good domains that haven’t already been registered, but there are quite a few great ones that just sit around forgotten in someone’s portfolio. Despite the relatively low costs associated with renewing a domain, many of these end up expiring and dropping back in to the pool.

In theory, anyway…

Backordering Domains

See, if a domain has any interest at all, it is likely that someone is trying to grab it the second it expires. There are lots of domain backorder services that will attempt to do just that for you – and they’re currently charging between $60 – $70 for domains they do manage to pick up. Here is the basic process:

  • Find a domain you like
  • Place a backorder
  • Hope one of your backorder services manages to grab the domain
  • Everyone who backordered the domain through that particular provider gets a chance to bid on it
  • The winner pays the highest bid and gains registration for the domain
  • Or, if there are no other bidders, the registration completes for the basic $60-$70 fee

There are quite a few companies out there that specialize in domain auctions & backorders, but there isn’t a whole lot to differentiate them in terms of what they offer, what they charge, and what you can expect from the process. The important thing then, is to make sure you’re registered to backorder the target domain from as many places as possible. Some of the popular ones include:

Unfortunately, the domain I was hoping to register didn’t get picked up by SnapNames or Pool.com – two of the companies that are typically recommended as being successful in the process.  Hexonet beat them to the drop, and then about 25 people who had backordered through them were able to bid it up over $2,000 in a private auction.  I begged and pleaded to get in to that private auction, but it was no use.  And while that was bad news for me, it is good that Hexonet isn’t sneaking new bidders in against their own policies and promises – even if I might have run the price up a bit higher.

Alternatives to dropped domains:

Backordering and bidding on dropped domains is a bit of a random draw.  Even if you pick the right registrar for your backorder, you might end up in an expensive auction.  Most services won’t charge you if you don’t walk away with the domain, but if you really want it you might consider some alternative strategies.

Contact the domain’s owner before it expires

The upside of this is that you might be able to make a reasonable offer for a domain that isn’t doing much beside collecting dust.  The risk, of course, is that you’ll remind the owner how much their domain is worth and they’ll take it straight to a public auction on their own.  These public auctions might even end up selling domains at a higher price than the private ones do.

Find low-interest auctions that are already running

SnapNames, Enom, and Godaddy have public auctions for previously registered domains, so if you spend a bit of time sifting through the junk in the discount bins you might actually find something that can be turned in to a brand. By the time a name is recognized as “premium,” though, expect the prices to start at around $500 and go up to the millions.

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