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tips Avoiding Costly Mistakes As A Domain Investor

It is easy to make mistakes in domain name transactions. Sometimes these mistakes can cost us money or opportunities.

Fortunately, habits that require only a bit of extra time can save us from most of these mistakes.

In this article, I am not talking about investing in the wrong domain names. That can be very costly, but is not the subject of this article. Here I consider mistakes, such as registering a domain name that is spelled incorrectly.

Over the years, I have collected the following ideas from many sources. I thought it would be helpful to share them all in one place.

Unintended Domain Renewals

It can be costly to automatically renew domain names that you planned to liquidate or drop. If only $10, then it is not too serious, but if a premium domain renewal, or an extension with a high renewal cost, it can be significant.

The first thing I do after I receive a domain name is turn off auto renew. There may be a subset of domain names you want auto-renewal enabled, but I prefer to make the decision of whether, and where, to renew each year.

For some extensions there is a huge price difference between renewal of the same name at different registrars. Use resources such as TLD-List or DomComp to check prices. One reason I always turn off auto renew is that the renewal price at the registrar where I obtained the name may not be optimum in terms of renewal costs.

The terms of service of some registrars renew names prior to actual expiry, sometimes as much as 30 days before expiry, if you have auto-renewal enabled.

Most registrars make it easy to check the renewal setting on your domains at that registrar – do that regularly so no surprises. Even if you use a number of registrars, it does not take much time.

Even if your settings don’t auto renew for new registrations, you may find pushed domains, or transfers, may come with auto-renew set.

Is It Domain Price Plus Renewal?

Speaking of renewals, at many auction or fixed price sites you will pay an amount for the domain name plus a registration/transfer fee. Make sure you know what the total cost will be for the transaction. You don’t want to end up paying an expensive premium renewal fee without realizing it.

I like how Sav Auctions show under the price the date of expiry after the transaction, and the annual renewal is for that domain name.

Domains Dropped By Mistake

You can lose valuable assets by inadvertently letting a domain name expire.

I find it helpful to have a system which will double check for domain names about to expire. Keep a spreadsheet, or equivalent, with all of your domain names including registrar and expiry date.Check your portfolio spreadsheet, at least monthly, by sorting on expiry date.

Most registrars make it easy to arrange your domain names by expiry date. By checking that as well, at least once a month, you will not miss an expiring name, even if you have an error, or omission, in your spreadsheet.

Of course the registrars do a pretty good job of reminding you of names about to expire through emails as well. You may also, for a few particularly valuable names, want to set your own alerts with your electronic calendar.

Running Too Close To The Edge

It seems quite a few domain investors put off renewals well into the Auto Renew Grace Period.

The problem comes in that the exact length of the grace period depends on the TLD. Also the registrars have different procedures on how it is handled, such as does the name stay in your control panel during this period.

There is a clear explanation of the GoDaddy domain expiration calendar here.

However, do not assume all registrars follow the GoDaddy timeline, as the periods are shorter at some registrars.

You can read ICANN FAQs on domain name renewals, expiration, transfer etc. at this link to know your rights.

Note that the ICANN rules are for domain names under ICANN authority, and therefore do not hold for country code domain names. For these, you will have to find the registry requirements as interpreted by your registrar. Note that for some country code domain names the Auto Renew Grace Period is 0 days.

Personally, I think most would be better off by making renewal decisions in advance of expiration. The problem of waiting past formal expiration is that some personal emergency can easily move you into a period when you may entirely lose the name, or at least need to pay a redemption charge.

Don’t Be Tricked By Letters

A number of times bidders in auctions have been tricked by a name that looks like Instruct but is really lnstruct! See the difference? The first is INSTRUCT, a name worth quite a bit in a good TLD, while the latter is LNSTRUCT, nearly worthless. Be very careful of capital-I and small-L that look identical in many fonts.

The fonts used at Sav Auctions can be problematic in this regard. They show small letters, but it is too easy for the eye to be fooled thinking the small L is capital I. If you open the individual auction listing in a new tab or window, and then hover over the word, it will show the capitalized version, at least in some browsers.

The best way to guard against an error is before you bid or purchase, copy and paste the name and do a Google search. This really can’t be overemphasized. Many of the issues in this article are solved by that one straightforward step.

Also watch for a 0 when it should be an O.

Note that some internationalized characters look almost the same as regular characters. Most marketplaces and auctions designate internationalized names, but not all.

Is It Spelled Right?

Some words are commonly misspelled. While the misspelled domain name may still have some value, it won’t be as much as the correctly-spelled word. Before you commit to an auction bid or registration, copy and paste the word into an online dictionary. If it is not in Merriam-Webster or Collins, it is not a very common dictionary word. I would stay away from online dictionaries that allow anyone to add words.

Be particularly careful with repeated letters in two-word domain names, or repetitions of narrow letters like i. The paste and search method outlined earlier will find these errors. Watch that Google has not given you the “Showing results for ….” message, however.

Here is a list of 100 commonly misspelled words.

Is It Really A Word?

Speaking of words, is it really a word? Many single dictionary words have considerable value in the most valued extensions. Even if you are pretty confident a name is a word, before purchase be absolutely sure. Copy and paste from the auction or registration entry into Merriam-Webster or Collins.

Fat Finger Proxy Bids

Especially if your keyboard is a little wonky, like mine, or you are using a smaller screen mobile device, be very careful entering a proxy bid price. Don’t enter $1000 when you mean $100! Just check carefully before pressing enter. Some auctions have you confirm, so take the time to look carefully once more.

Selling Cheaper Than You Intend

We often have names with outdated prices, but here I am talking about actual errors in entering prices. For example, you intend $2500 as the buy-it-now but enter $250 or worse $25.

I am always fearful with the Epik market listing system that, for reasons not obvious to me, forces you to enter prices with penny settings. For example, entering 298 would be selling the name for $2.98, not $298. You need to type 2-9-8-0-0 to enter $298. Double check after entering prices.

Is It A Famous Trademark?

If there is any doubt about a term, make sure to consult a trademark database such as the WIPO Global Brand Database, or the USPTO for U.S. trademarks.

It is always worthwhile to Google a term before acquisition for many reasons. One of them is that it will help your gauge the relative importance of trademarked versus generic use. See the article Don’t Let Your Lander Land You In Trouble.

Does It Mean Something Else?

The meaning of a term in another language can be a plus or a negative. For certain domain names, it is a good idea to do a Google Translate check, just so you won’t discover after purchase the word has a negative meaning in a major language.

Something Naughty?

If being really rigorous, you could check the Urban Dictionary, although it seems almost every term I try has some use I would never have imagined. Nevertheless, if investing a significant amount, you want to be sure that a naughty interpretation is not lurking within the name.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of things to check when deciding on a domain name. That list would also include use in business names, number of extensions registered and in use, pricing of competitive names, audio and visual tests, etc. The 18 point list in Hand Registering Domain Names may be helpful.

Please feel free to add additional checks that I missed.

Also, if some readers are brave enough to share mistakes they made, or almost made, I am sure it would make interesting reading.

If you have made a mistake, learn from the experience and move on. You are not alone in the history of domain name investing.
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
I was just at the beginning of the domain investment. I didn't know very well what I was doing. I had a bad portfolio. They said my traffic rate is not good. I had other names. Account has been blocked. This domain automatically had similar traffic and clicks. I think that's why I got kicked out. Likewise, for this name, sales were started from Escrow 4-5 times a day. I was fed up. I couldn't follow. It was all spam.
It's not just about the domain name. It is about the domain history. If you acquire a domain that hosted a site targeted by spammers or was exploited in some way, the bots will continue hitting the domain. Parking companies are coming to terms that they expose themselves to massive amounts of spam and hacking attacks by virtue of hosting parked pages. They are lot more strict and picky than in the past.

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