Do you ever get tired of paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to a drop-catching service who you know paid reg-fee? I know I did. That’s why I spent the last year working on an approach to (1) screen for names, (2) drop-catch them for reg-fee, (3) turn them into income producing websites that can be (4) sold to an end-client. I call this process Acquire – Develop – Monetize – Sell. It works. Want in? Read on.
I have been interested in drop-catching since 2007
The drop-catch business is fascinating to me. Every day some 80,000 names are dropped. Domains worth 3, 4, 5 and even 6 figures are dropped by their prior owners. A drop-catcher picks these names up at reg-fee and then arbitrages the spread between reg-free and fair market value. There are domainers who are making a very good living doing exactly this, working just a few hours a day. One of my goals with Epik is to equip more people to do this better, and in the process of doing so, serve as a catalyst to get more domain names into the hands of the people who can add value to them, regardless of whether these domains are powered by one of Epik’s domain development solutions.
So you think you can … catch?
Our catch rate is on the order of 70-80%. The losses are mainly to the familiar titans, notably Snapnames and NameJet. Here is what I caught yesterday — all for reg-fee:
This is a typical catch day. Many of these will get developed on our product portal platform, which I blogged about here. Other domains will get sold to end-clients. In a few days, I will blog about our proprietary solution for selling domains to end-users. This will be another step towards achieving a long-term goal for Epik, namely of becoming “The Domainers best friend”.
Introducing Domains.Epik.com — and how you can catch for free
If you have read this far, you are in for a treat. I am going to share with you the main tool that I use to find domains to drop-catch. The tool will continue to improve but it is already a good solution for anyone who wants to find good drop-catch domains.
1. Visit domains.epik.com. This is the tool that we developed to help with drop-catch screening. It is still a work in progress but it works pretty well for finding attractive catch targets. It covers a number of popular TLDs. If you visit the site, here is what you will find:
2. By clicking “Details” next to any name, you can see statistics on the domain. This information can be helpful in determining whether a name is a good drop-catch candidate. Personally, I tend to look for names with 1000+ monthly searches, $1+ CPC, and no discernible trademark issues.
3. Prior to catching a name, I usually go to Google, or to our product portal partner, Wishpot, in order to determine whether the domain is a good candidate for turning into an online business. If this can be done using one of existing domain development platform solutions, even better.
You can place orders directly through our integrated shopping cart at the bottom of each domain’s detail page. Please note that we are currently catching only for com and net. This is not to imply that I think other TLDs are not valuable but rather is mainly a limitation of the registry connections.
If you already know that you want to develop the domain into an Epik-powered site, we’ll be happy to catch the domain for free. Just send the domain target list to rob – at – epik.com at least a few hours before the drop, and preferably the night before.
Tips for using Domains.Epik.com
Although this tool has been a work in progress, I have found it to be very helpful for finding great names to acquire and develop. A few closing comments on how to make the best use of this tool.
- The best way I have found to search for development candidates is to sort either by search volume or appraisal. You can also do some basic filtering using the “refine search” feature. We’ll improve these search tools over time.
- When selecting domains for development, keep in mind that search engines don’t discriminate against hyphens and they appear to also like .net about as much as .com. Hyphens are a natural delimiter for concatenated words. This leads to many great development candidates getting dropped.
- If you want a fast way to look up the stats on a domain name, you can do so by entering https://domains.epik.com/yourdomain.com.
Financial Independence through Domaining?
When I became a full-time domainer in March 2009, many people in both my professional and social circle wondered what in the heck I was thinking. Since I had already built one successful startup, my family was kind enough to suspend disbelief. Meanwhile, in January, Epik added its first round of outside capital, raising $800,000 at a valuation of $12 million. Although this is a small financing by venture standards, it lets us accelerate some development projects that I look forward to blogging about in the months ahead.
From my discussions with clients, I know that many domainers are wanting to become financially independent through a combination of (1) income from operating sites, and (2) upside from periodic sale of sites. I think financial independence is absolutely an achievable goal. Some of these domainers are putting together portfolios of domains bought from domain auction sites, often paying 3, 4 and 5 figures for each domain. That adds up! The closer you get to reg-fee, the more chances you have of having one of your seed domains being able to return enough capital to pay for all of the domains you are still holding.
In summary, I believe drop-catching should be part of every domainer’s gameplan for growing an income-producing portfolio. Drop-catching works particularly well during tough economic times; while a recovery may be under way, it remains an uneven economic recovery, with high unemployment, and significant financial pressure on individual households. This is one of several reasons why good domains get dropped, and all the more reason to be reviewing the drop lists on a regular basis to find high potential drop-catch candidates.