strategy Optimizing Your NamePros Domain Auctions

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One of the advantages of being a NamePros member is that you can buy and sell domain names without commission. NamePros allows you to get your names in front of a large audience. While many selling formats are allowed, auctions are among the most used.

My first NamePros auction did not turn out well. The auction ended with no bids. My second auction did not turn out much better. Gradually I picked up some tips from those who were more successful. This article presents some of my observations, as well as those from various posts on this topic.

How To Start A NamePros Auction

It is easy to start a NamePros auction. You simply go to the auctions section, and start a new thread. It really is that simple.

But before you start an auction, make sure you have included all of the required elements covered in the next section. Plan carefully, as many aspects can not be changed after your original post.

Note that the title must include the name of the domain name, or at least one of the names if there are multiple domain names being auctioned together.

NamePros members bid in your auction simply by responding in the thread with the amount. It is assumed that all auctions are in US $, unless another currency is stated.

In general, others cannot post except to bid in your thread. The one exception is to seek clarification, without comment, on some aspect of the auction. In general bids are binding. Occasionally NamePros moderators need to step in to pause, or end, an auction for various reasons.

Required Auction Elements

NamePros sets specific rules for auction sales. Be sure to read the entire Rules of NamePros before you start your first auction.

It is essential that your auction post contains the required elements.
Each domain and website auction must have the required information: domain, registrar, expiration date, starting bid, bid increments (default: $1 USD), specific end date and time including the time zone or a relative end time (suggested: 72 hours after last bid), and payment options.

While many NamePros auctions are set to end a certain number of hours after the last bid, or when the buy-it-now is accepted, if you do use a fixed ending time make sure to specify it to the hour, minute and second, and include the time zone. This is necessary to decide which bids are valid, as sometimes there are multiple bids within seconds near the ending time of fixed-ending auctions.

Note that rules require that you include the renewal price unless it is less than or equal to $15 USD at its current registrar. While you include the renewal cost at the current registrar, if substantially lower it is to your advantage to also include the transfer cost to another major registrar.

Now let’s look at how to optimize your chances of getting bids. Note that there have been several threads on this topic over the years, such as this one Tips and Tricks for Auctions at NamePros started by Keith DeBoer a few years ago.

Which Names To Auction

While you can auction any domain name you hold, as long as it does not infringe on a trademark, have a legal issue, or break rules regarding types of content allowed at NamePros, some names are more likely to attract bids.

In general, .com domains are more likely to sell. In other extensions, it is often hard to sell domain names with higher renewal fees.

More participation is found when the name is held at a registrar popular among domain investors - the current best registrar poll can help you see which registrars many investors like and use.

No one likes to have to immediately renew a name, so while you can auction domains up to the point you no longer control them, generally names with at least a few months until expiry will receive more bids.

While people may bid on names within the ICANN lock period, you will get more response on domain names that can be transferred by either a push at the current registrar, or an authorization code for transfer to a new registrar.

Good Titles Attract Attention

The title you use for your auction will appear when your auction gets listed both in the auctions section and on the right sidebar auction list. Potential bidders will decide whether to click on the link and read more, based on the title, so make the most of the opportunity. What one aspect of the domain name is most likely to appeal to a domain investor? Make sure that is captured in the title.

There are two views about changing the auction title while the auction is on. That can be done, and some update the title with the current bid amount, for example. Others prefer to keep the title fixed, so no confusion or lack of link response.

Opening Bid Amount

It is well known that a low initial bid amount will attract activity. As Keith DeBoer summarizes, there is a strong argument for a low auction start price.
Suggest a $1 start for their auctions. The reasoning is that it draws in a lot of people hoping to get a steal of deal and there are lots of early bids. People who bid are more invested in the listing and will often come back and continue bidding. It creates a buzz.

If you browse auctions, it is obvious that those with higher than $1 initial bids get far less activity - even if the start is just $10.

But without reserve prices allowed, it will mean that your name might sell at the opening bid. I have been on both sides of buying and selling names for just a few dollars. However, most $1 start auctions do end up significantly higher. You just need to have confidence in the name you place in auction, and that the final price will not be the initial bid.

Help - My Auction Is Off Page One

While some buyers do scroll through many pages in the auction thread, once you are no longer on the first page the visibility for your auction will go down. There are several ways you can help get it back to page one. The most direct is to bump your auction thread. While in general you are discouraged, or disallowed, from non-contributory posts on NamePros, for auctions you are allowed a certain number of bumps per day. A bump is simply a post that may just be a few characters. Some use the opportunity to say a bit more in the bump, such as give the minimum for the next bid, remind people of changes in the buy-it-now, or when the auction is ending.

The number of bumps you are allowed will depend on your NamePros account type. A standard member is allowed 2 bumps a day, while blue accounts get 4 per day and gold may do up to 5 bumps a day. The number of auctions, or other active sales, you can have also depends on account level. I cover other ways to promote your auctions later in the article.

Other Information To Possibly Include

Views vary with respect to what information beyond the required will help entice bidders. To some potential bidders, including information like
  • comparator sales
  • use possibilities
  • domain age
  • automated appraisals
  • accepted at a brandable marketplace
  • other extensions registered
While most of these do not matter to end users, some investors do place value in one or more. The NamePros Blog post on Free Domain Research Tools can help you find this information.

Some are hesitant to bid on domain names if they feel that outbound was recently done on the domain name. It may be helpful to note if you have not done any outbound.

Presentation Matters

Even when selling to domainers, a professional presentation can help. There are good suggestions in this post by starizec in this post on optimizing your auctions. Make sure that the domain name is given at the top, as well as in the title, and use font size, colour, and text formatting effectively.

How To Promote Your Auction

There are various ways to promote your NamePros auction.
  • You can promote your auction free in the box near the top of each NamePros page with wording add your domain name here. All you need to do is to go to the Promote Your Domain Names thread, and post the name of your domain name with a link to your domain thread using the standard link command. Don’t include anything else, and you are only allowed to submit one name in every 24 hour period. The same name can’t be resubmitted within the week, and all submissions must have at least 24 hours remaining to auction close.
  • A second effective way to promote your auction is simply include a link in your NamePros signature to active auctions. I usually use colour to differentiate simultaneous auctions. Your NamePros account type.
  • If you have social media accounts where you interact with other domainers, judicious use to mention the auction might help your domain name get noticed.
  • I don’’t normally do this, but for a couple of my auctions I used forwarding to have the auction listing as the lander. One of the names I sold at the buy-it-now to someone who found the auction that way and registered for a Gold NamePros account.
  • You can promote your active auctions in the NamePros chat, but only on days when allowed. Check for the green light before posting.
  • By tagging those who have already bid in the auction may help encourage additional bids at the end.
I hope that readers will share other ways they help get their auctions noticed.

Many Auction Formats Possible

Most NamePros auctions are conventional auctions of a single domain name. However, NamePros offers great flexibility in the type of auction. Here are some possibilities.
  1. You can auction multiple domain names as a package. This is good if you have decided to leave a niche.
  2. I have a few times conducted an auction where the winner has choice of any one name in the group. This helps promote interest in the auction, since different bidders may be most interested in different names. You may also set a price to select all names.
  3. While Dutch auctions, that proceed down from some price as auction proceeds until someone selects that price, are only used now and then at NamePros, it provides another option.
  4. I find the thread can get confusing, but you can auction a list of names in parallel within a single thread, with each bidder indicating the name and the bid. It is good to periodically review the status of each name to help those following the auction to keep track. This is a good auction if you are near the limit of allowed active marketplace sales.
The types of auctions mentioned in the NamePros Blog post on the 2020 Nobel Economics award for auction theory may be helpful.

Keep in mind that the Rules of NamePros require that the terms you set be reasonable and transparent.
Auction formats, details, terms, and rules created by sellers must be reasonable, transparent, specific, and predictable. Exception: Sellers have full control over the amount of their starting bids, even if the amount seems unreasonable.

When To Auction

While NamePros is active 24-7, it is definitely true that some days are more active than others. A few years ago in an auction discussion, Eric Lyon indicated that Thursday was the most active day on NamePros. I don’t know for sure, but suspect that is still true.

I had not thought of this until reading his post, but he also points out that there are more active at NamePros shortly after weekly blog posts, and that is a good time to bump your auctions. If you subscribe to watch the blogs, you will get an email update when a new blog post comes out. Eric also points out that interacting in threads around those times will draw attention indirectly to your signature.

With fixed date closing auctions, you want the auctions to end at an active time. Also, there are of course seasonal down times to take into account.

Who You Are May Matter

While the name itself is the main aspect that determines if an auction will be successful, it will help if you have become known as a professional, fair, and trusted member of the NamePros community. Also, the more successful auctions you have participated in, both as buyer and seller, will give people confidence to deal with you. That Trade Review rating is critical.

Who Will You Sell To?

If you want to restrict the auction to those who have a certain class of NamePros membership, number of positive trade reviews, or some other reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis, you must state that at outset. While restrictions on high value assets make sense, for names expected to sell under $50, many sellers are open to anyone. This is one way for those who are relatively new to build up their trade status.

Payment Flexibility May Help

The vast majority of low-value NamePros auctions have PayPal as the standard payment system. Higher-value names may use Escrow or DAN or some other escrow service. Since PayPal is not used in all countries, that limits your buyer pool.

One thing I have done a few times is to give an option to have the transfer and payment done through the registrar marketplace. That will cost a bit in commission, that I absorb, but it gives additional payment options, including accumulated account funds. Within the last six months several buyers on my auctions have selected that option. Note that you are not allowed to have a domain name for sale simultaneously on NamePros and on an external marketplace. But after the NamePros auction completes, you and the buyer can decide to have the transaction complete there.

Adjust Buy-It-Now For Best Returns

When I did my first few auctions I did not think much about buy-it-now, simply setting a value and leaving it fixed. As I have witnessed more NamePros auctions, I see that setting the buy-it-now is an art. Too high and people ignore it, too low and you may be giving up money you might have made.

You don’t need to set the buy-it-now at the start, and some like to see the first day of bidding for guidance. Near the end of the auction, setting the buy-it-now reasonably can help extract a few more dollars for your domain name, since some will prefer to not wait days for the auction to close, and are willing to pay a bit more to be sure to get the name now.

After Auction Closes

Be alert to the closing time of your auction, and make sure to professionally deal with the final stages.
  1. When closing time has arrived, post in the thread that the auction has closed.
  2. Send a direct message to the winner, giving your PayPal account name, if that is the payment type, and asking about preferred transaction mode.
  3. Once payment is made, promptly begin the transfer process, either by sending by NamePros direct message the authorization code, or by doing a registrar push. Don’t forget to unlock the domain name. If your registrar allows, approve to speed up the transfer.
  4. If you did not do so previously, make sure you have removed the domain name from all the marketplaces.
  5. After transfer is complete, be sure to thank the buyer. Also leave positive trade feedback, and expect him or her to do the same for you.
  6. It is good to sanitize the auction thread by taking out details of the name and pricing, and closing the thread to further contributions. This is so a future retail buyer may not find the details in a Google search, and use that in bargaining with the new owner.
Keep in mind that according to the Rules of NamePros
All communication about auctions must be carried out on via public or direct messages. Transitioning a conversation to an off-site medium, such as email, is not allowed at anytime when discussing any aspect of an auction.

Final Comments

Remember that once you have bidders you are bound to sell a name at auction. Therefore it is good as bidding starts to delete any other listings, or at least inactivate any buy-it-now prices. With Sedo you can select the not for sale option, so the domain name will not be listed, but should you get no bids, is easy to activate again.

Keep in mind that when you sell at NamePros you are selling to other domain investors at wholesale prices. I plan a 2021 post on wholesale pricing, but an easy way to think about a wholesale price is one at which you would consider buying the digital asset. The buyer has no guarantee that the name will sell soon, or ever, so wholesale prices must be much less than expected retail. Wholesale transactions are a sure lower price now, versus a higher possible retail sale in future.

I understand the urge to sell, but I am sometimes surprised to see some new members selling in auctions prior to interacting in any NamePros thread. I think it is good practice to interact with the community in discussions, and watch some auction threads, before you start your first auction. People will be more apt to bid when they know you from your posts.

I know it is discouraging when an auction ends with few bids and a lower price than you hoped. But one way, especially if you are new, to view it is that you are building your trade rating and familiarity with the auction process.

No matter the final price, every transaction should be handled with full professionalism.

While the tips covered above may help you get a bit more attention to your auctions, ultimately strong names will find multiple bidders. Auction interest can be an indication of the types of names that appeal to domain investors.

So what things did I leave out? Please share in the discussion your own ideas for optimization of NamePros domain auctions.

I am planning a post in 2021 on NamePros auctions from a buyer perspective.

Best wishes for success in all of your future domain auctions.
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
Great article per usual. This needs to be pinned.

The part about reading the auction rules needs to be reiterated as many times as possible as I have had situations where some newbies feel they can back out of an already won auction simply because the auction didn't gain as much traction as they expected.
Another good write up Bob and Happy Chrimbo to you (just in case we don't cross paths before then!)

One thing I have done a couple of times with my auctions is made it clear there is no BIN - highest bidder wins and I think I will stick to it going forwards

I see a lot of auctions start with sky high BIN's that come down drastically when the bidding does not gain the traction the OP was hoping for and it makes me wonder why bother with inflated initial BIN's "hoping" someone will hit it......I do understand a tempting BIN price near the end of the auction is worth doing to finish the auction quicker and grab a few extra bucks - also good domains that justify a high BIN are all well and good but not some/ a lot of the mediocre stuff, though I have been guilty of doing this in the past to!

Suppose it's part of the learning curve
Great article, thank you !

If Namepros comes up with a few changes and include a format to follow when creating auction thread will be helpful for us and moderators in the same time.
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"If you browse auctions, it is obvious that those with higher than $1 initial bids get far less activity "

Great point, Ebay sellers have known this for years. It's scary to start low but once bidders get involved at low levels they get emotionally invested and will often stay on and pump up the bids.
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Excellent advice for newcomers and refreshing for old ones. Thx again, Mr Bob!
Great article, thank you very much

and wish you meryy christmas
What really grinds my gears with NP auctions is when people put the end time as 1287 hours after last bid (exaggeration). Anything more than 48 hours or 72 at the very most is just too long winded and I won't bother bidding even if its a name I like and would have bidded on if it were 48/72.
Bob...great summary on NP auction...some is generic/basic knowledge/rule we all should aware and understood, some is really the advanced techniques or even arts like you mentioned...well done Bob and very helpful for the community....truly appreciate your contribution...👍👏
btw...not necessarily feel bad if an auction didnot achieve your own expectation....if the seller follow all Bobs suggestion, auction will become the most effective process to discover the fair reseller price of that regret if the seller already do all best carefully.
Another Great article, thank you Bob!
Thanks for this. It would be great to be able to access if names have been sold and for how much in a general way to cloak info that would discourage retail value. Perhaps with a generic /automatic ranking like "Exceeded expectations," "Fair aftermarket," or "Took a loss but building trust rating."
Or something more simple.

I see so many auctions that I click on when I see activity, only to find "bump." I don't go to these auctions as a buyer because I don't generally find names of interest OR simply assume that if nobody is bidding even a $1, the name isn't worth anything.

And then why take that chance if I'm listing an auction? I've put a few great names up as an experiment and if there's no response, I pull them immediately. But great idea to scrub. I NEVER thought of that. How do I do it?

Rarely do I see bids in competitive activity and if so, not for more than $20. I'd rather run a firesale at EPIK or other sites with a 10% commission and no minimum. Even eBay.

Also, I find that wholesale buyers will often pay a drop catch minimum and even bidding war to get an expired listing. I might advertise a name for under $25 to purge my portfolio and see that it's been caught for $24 and up ... generally like $59. I used to just list on namejet. There's something about thinking you're getting a "deal," when you see expired auctions advertised by a registry - I think because there's transparency about popular demand.

I ask that people consider supporting their fellow domainers by purchasing directly, particularly if the price is lateral and/or better than buying an expired name from a registry. And sellers - list a price. If I see an offer/ counter-offer - I move on.
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