Today’s question comes from Stephanie. We have a .co domain name and want to change it to a .com, but the current owner isn’t using it for anything. We’ve heard that driving any additional traffic to a squatted domain will raise the price. What should we do?
There are a few things you can do in this situation:
Many times the owner isn’t someone who wants to sell it for a bunch of cash, it’s just another entrepreneur who maybe had an idea that they didn’t execute on or that didn’t work out. The best way to try to purchase a domain is to go through the owner. Don’t use a third party service to start with.
To find out who the domain owner is, go to whois.com and enter the domain name. If the information is publicly available, you’ll be able to find the email and name of the person who owns it. Send them an email and tell them you’re an early-stage startup and you’d like to have a conversation about buying the domain. Don’t start out with a price – in any negotiation you don’t want to be the first person to put out a number.
It will be more expensive than what a domain provider would charge you, but often you can get it for a few hundred dollars.
When we bought launchsummit.com the domain listing service came back with a few thousand dollars. We told him we could pay him a quarter of the asking price and that we could pay cash that day. Some won’t negotiate, but most will. As an early-stage startup, you should not spend more than a few thousand dollars to get a domain.
A .co or other extension is not as important as it was even a few years ago, so you can settle for a .io or other extension to start with.
One thing to look at is if the company or person who owns the domain name I want to use and see if they are actually using the domain. If they are and it’s a similar business to you, then you may want to avoid a similar .io or .co domain so that the businesses aren’t confused with one another.
One thing we recommend is finding a domain name as you are starting to think through your company name. Many times, your company name doesn’t mean anything to begin with – the company makes the name mean something. If you make sure that your domain provider has a .com available for the business name you are tossing around, you’ll be much better off in the beginning.
If you already have your branding complete and need to use that brand name, then you can always use the brand name in a domain that uses other words, for example, launchpeerapp.com, etc. We go through this often with startups and it’s not the end of the world. But we do recommend trying those negotiation options first.Many times, your company name doesn't mean anything to begin with - the company makes the name mean something. Click To Tweet
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