Do you have a domain name just sitting there in some rarely used account? You have paid an annual fee for it, so if you do not use it for anything, you will be at a loss. We decided to give you a few ideas how you can monetize your unused domains in case that you do not want to simply let them expire, but you don’t want to spend time on building websites either. With some luck, they can earn you a decent amount of money.
How can you end up with unused domains?
There are different answers to this question. Maybe you had a website that you could no longer maintain, or you bought a domain with the idea to start a new project, but never found the time for it. Here are a few reasons how you can end up with one or a bunch of unused domains:
- A promotion. This is always a good reason to get a new domain name. While most promotions will save you only a few dollars, sometimes you will have to pay only a small fraction of the price for a new domain and this is definitely not something you should miss. ICDSoft, for example, sometimes offers new .EU domains for 10 Euro for 10 years.
- A midnight inspiration. Many people do some brainstorming before they go to sleep and this is when some of their best ideas are born. You may think of some domain that you decide to register right away, but you may change your mind in the morning or in a few days, so you will end up with a domain you don’t really need.
- Trending keywords. Domains that include “blog”, “vlog”, “tube”, etc., were quite popular a few years ago, so you may have registered such a domain back then. Trends change often, though, so it is easy to buy a domain that is not very trendy a year later.
- Meme domains. These are usually short, memorable words that become viral. One such example is “covfefe”, which was tweeted by US President Donald Trump on May 31, 2017. Covfefe.com was registered later that day. Such domains are good for short-term projects, but they don’t get much traffic in the long term.
- Misspelled domains. In the general case, domain registrations are final and cannot be reversed. If you are in a hurry or you do not pay attention when you order, you can easily end up with a misspelled domain. You will probably have to buy the correct domain as well afterwards. You will end up with an extra domain that you cannot really use.
- You no longer need/want a website. As mentioned in the beginning, this is a very common reason why you may end up with an unused domain. If you have a working website that you decide to shut down for some reason, for example, you can stop using the web hosting service, but you will still own the domain name. If you have a great idea for a new site and buy a new domain, but never find the time or you simply change your plans, you will end up with an unused domain for at least a year. In either case, you can think of some way to make some money up to pay off the domain.
So, how can you monetize the domain?
Build a website.
This is a piece of advice you will hear often. The scope of this article is to give you ideas how to monetize your domain without building a website, though, especially if you already had one and you decided to shut it down. Nonetheless, putting some effort into creating a site and getting some traffic to it is likely to pay off in the long run. You can create an online store to sell goods or services, a personal blog to promote a product, or an informational website where you can put ads and earn from the number of clicks or impressions, for example. There are lots of ways a site can make you money. You will need a web hosting service and you will have to create some site content. Maintaining the site, adding content to make sure visitors have a reason to come back, creating backlinks from other sites, etc., requires time and efforts. This is why, we will not go into details about this option as the idea is to show you how to make money off your domain only.
Sell your domain on a marketplace
A number of online marketplaces allow you to list your domain name for sale. They will charge you a fixed fee or a percentage of the sale price for that. You will have to pay only if you sell your domain though, so you will not have to pay anything in advance to list it. Some domains are more likely to be sold than others, but you never know – some company may own the same name, but with another extension, and they may want to have your domain as well, or somebody may have a good idea for a new website and your domain may suit their needs best. If you do not use the domain anyway, you will not lose anything if you list it for sale.
If you wonder who may need an old domain...
You can get a better price if the domain you want to sell has been registered for a few years or if it includes some trending keywords. Links from other websites to your domain can increase its price as well. Existing domains start from $50-60 and can go up to tens of thousands of dollars.
If you are not sure what price to set, you can use a domain appraisal service. Once you have an idea how much the domain is worth, you can auction it on a marketplace instead of selling it for a fixed price. This way, it will be more likely to sell a domain that is not considered premium. Of course, you can set a fixed price as well. Whatever you decide, the payment and the domain transfer will be handled by the marketplace, so you will not have to worry about these things.
One thing you should not forget to check is whether the domain registrant (owner) information can be changed. There is no problem to update the contact details if the name uses a generic TLD, but many of the country-code TLDs have various limitations in regards to changing the owner information. Additional fees and documentation may be involved in the process. This is something you should double-check with your registrar company in advance to avoid any embarrassing situation.
While the above the above suggestions are valid mostly for unused domains you may already have, you can also register a new domain that you believe will become valuable, or buy an existing one and try to resell it. If you have some extra cash for that, such an investment can pay off in the long run, although this is not something you should take for granted. Who knows, maybe you have what it takes to become a domain investor.
Sell your domain directly
If you own a niche domain, you can contact potential buyers directly and see if they are willing to buy the domain. This includes competitors (if you have shut down your website, for example) or companies that own similar domain names. You can use the contact information on their website, or you can do a WHOIS lookup to see the owner of their main domain. If you contact the latter, they may be able to give you a direct answer if they are interested in buying your own domain.
You should make sure that the domain does not include any trademarks as the company you contact may consider your offer as an attempt to extort money. In such a case, they can file a law suit and simply take the domain if a court decides that it was registered in bad faith. Of course, unless you have registered the domain with a trademark on purpose, such a scenario is very unlikely.
If you and the buyer agree on the terms and the price, you can use an escrow service like Escrow.com, for example, so that both parties feel safe about the domain transfer and the payment.
If you prefer that you do not deal with any company directly, there are a few specialized marketplaces for brandable domains where you can list your domain.
Park your domain.
This option is not as profitable as it used to be, but it is a good passive income opportunity and it can still make you some extra cash, considering that you will not have to do anything. In short, domain parking is an advertising service that takes advantage of traffic to domains that are not hosted anywhere i.e. they don’t have any website or emails associated with them. The ads displayed on a specific domain depend on the keywords the domain contains.
You have to choose a platform that offers parking services, add your domain there and change its nameservers (DNS) to point the domain to the platform. Shortly after that, you will start seeing a landing page with ads when you open your domain. Depending on the platform, you will earn from the number of views or the number of clicks. There may be a different value for the views/clicks that come from certain locations. The more domain names you have, the more views/clicks you can generate.
Most domain registrars start displaying a landing page with ads whenever a domain expires. They take advantage of the traffic the domain generated before it expired – from both direct hits and links to it on other websites. Some registrars display such a page for newly registered domain names as well. This way, they can monetize domains that are registered, but are not actively used. If they earn from that, why shouldn’t you?
Many platforms allow you to add a “For sale” note on the landing page along with the ads. If your goal is to sell the domain, you can park it and earn from the traffic it generates, until you find a buyer. It is more likely to find one if visitors see the note on the page.
Redirect the domain to an existing site to get more traffic.
This is a good option if you have a website under another domain name. If any unused domain you already own receives some traffic (old website, landing page from a past project, etc.) or you have one that is not hosted anywhere and does not open anything at all, you can redirect it to your existing website. This way, you can get more visitors without spending a dime. Extra traffic can result in additional sales or in some extra income from ads that are displayed on the main site. The additional traffic the site will get can result in an increase in its popularity as well. In turn, this will be good for search engine optimization as popular sites tend to be ranked higher in search results.
If you don’t have the time to develop and maintain a website, but you already have a domain name, you can try to monetize it. You can do that with minimal effort. Whether you will try to sell it on a marketplace or directly, to park it or to redirect it to another website, it will take you just a few clicks. As you will not have to do anything after that, any of the aforementioned options will be a great opportunity for passive income.