Domain Investing: Should I Sell for $45,000?

This post was inspired by J Money’s post about why he thankfully didn’t sell Budgets Are Sexy and Rockstar Finance.

It was a normal Tuesday morning in 2016. I brewed some coffee. Opened my email and literally spit out my coffee.

The first unread email title: “$45,000 for“. Was this for real? I called the number in the email immediately. Had domain investing paid off? Yes, it was real. Whoah.

A marketing agency that works with a large investment bank was offering me $45,000 for the domain. Just the domain – they didn’t even care about the social media accounts.

They said they could move quickly and have the paperwork and money wired within the next 24 hours. Their client wanted to build a platform for Millennial investors. They wanted an answer within 3 business days.

I acted calm and cool and told them I’d get back to them. 3-minute conversation done. I had a lot to think about.

Domain Investing is a Great Investment

I love collecting INVESTING in domains. Domains are the “real estate” of the internet.

My wife calls it my “obsession” and doesn’t hesitate after a few rounds of drinks to laugh about it with everyone. “Wait, what,” they always say, “you really own 800 domains?”. Yes, it’s true I am a domain name addict.

Some people buy vinyl, new shoes, or collect watches – I invest in domain names. I bought my first domain when I was 13 with my father’s credit card (and I still own it!).

I have been investing in domains now for 22 years and while I didn’t keep great records for all those years I estimate I’ve made approximately $50,000 – $60,000 in net profit from my collection.

See it’s actually pretty expensive to maintain them. I spend about $8,000 renewing them each year, but I’ve sold a few too that pay for my habit.

I Bought for $300 in an Auction

Over the years I have watched the value of domains increase significantly. It is not uncommon to see some domains sell for millions of dollars, and I know people who make $25,000 per domain regularly.

So how did I find

I bought it in a domain auction (yes those are real things). I thought it was a steal for only $300. After buying it I sat on it for a few years and then tracked down the Twitter account and bought it for $500.

Some domains I buy to sell and others I hold as long-term investments. Millennial Money was one that I saw huge potential in and now others clearly do too.

Should I Sell

It was going to be hard for me to part with it – even for $45,000. But let’s just do the math.

If I Sold My $300 Domain I would Generate a 14900% Return! Beat that 401k!

So should I cash out and sell it?

I hadn’t written a Millennial Money post in over 4 months when I got the offer. I launched the blog and had grand plans to write every morning for 2 hours, but we all know life happens.

The truth is that writing a blog post is hard. It also takes a lot of time to do well.

I started the blog with big plans, but then I stopped writing. Now here was my chance to make $44,700 on my domain investment and I didn’t have to write another post or have the guilty feeling that I should be writing more.

Everything rational investor in me told me to sell! Get rid of it! Take the money! Build a new kitchen!

Selling was the easy thing to do, but for some reason, I kept making excuses in my head. So I did whatever I do whenever I have any tough decision  – I went to my whiteboard.

Here are the exact questions that I wrote down:

1. How much could the domain be worth in 5 years?

Domain investing is a big business since many premium domains are just going up in value.

If someone was willing to offer me $45,000 today, why wouldn’t they offer me more in the future?

It is common to see domains selling for $100,000+, and even more if they have a lot of content and are making money. While it is hard to project the value of a domain, it is important to look at the topic of the domain itself. Money domains always demand a premium.

Also given the fact that a firm that works with investment banks offered me $45,000 – presumably, to market some investment products to Millennials, I am pretty confident this domain will continue to increase in value over the next 5 years.

Millennials are only making more and more money and will continue to need money advice over the next 3 decades.

Demand: High

2. How much time do I really have to dedicate to building Millennial Money?

This was a huge question for me. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I don’t have a lot of free time. In fact, I have a disciplined time management philosophy which helps me move all of my projects forward and also schedule some time to chill.

I dedicate a specific number of hours per week and per month to each project. Yes, I really do build in “chill time” and “wife time” into my weekly schedule.

My wife doesn’t read this blog – don’t tell her! If I end up falling behind on a project one week, I try to add hours to it the next.

So how can I fit in writing and building Millennial Money?

Dun dun dun.. something had to go. I took 10 hours from TV time and 10 hours from a consulting gig that I am planning to wind down. 20 hours.

I can spend a maximum of 20 hours per week working on building Millennial Money.

Time: Yes

3. Do I want to invest in the Millennial Money brand and platform?

This was an easy one. If you’ve read anything about me you know that Millennial Money is my mission.

Having money gives you freedom and making more, saving more, and growing your net worth is easier than you think. A lot of people just don’t have the information to master their money.

It didn’t take me long to decide I am more interested in investing in Millennial Money than selling the domain.

Millennial Money is an idea bigger than me. I want it to become a platform that empowers Millennials (and others too) to make smarter money decisions.

I believe that Millennial Money has the potential to impact people’s lives and it’s hard to put a price on that.

Although it’s more than $45,000. 😀

Sell? NO

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Read Comments

  • Comment Author image blank
    Great post, thanks. I am guessing you primary own ".‎com" domains but what about other endings? .org .us .app .store
  • Comment Author image blank
    Hello Grant. Your site for successful living is inspiring. As to investing in domain names, I'm very interested in this. I own several domains but have never thought of them as investments. When you purchase a domain name, don't you need a hosting service to create a "For Sale" landing page? It seems with over 800 domains you'd be paying a hefty hosting fee to somebody like BlueHost or DreamHost. Or do you have one page with all your domains for sale? I guess what I'm asking is how and where would I list or market my domains if I invested in some? Also, I've bought mine through Wix or Wordpress, but if I do that for investing, don't I then have to go through the process of transferring the domain to another host when it sells? Is there a neutral domain brokerage for buying domains, whereby they come to you unassigned to a host? Blessings.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Do you /should you hire a domain broker when buying or selling Domain names, why or why not? Thank you!
  • Comment Author image blank
    […] Domain names are the real estate of the Web. Certainly it’s much cheaper then buying actual land! If you don’t mind investing a little upfront domain names reselling can be quite profitable. Automate the process by creating a landing page on your domain name which provides an offer form. Read about this successful domain name reseller. […]
  • Comment Author image blank
    I had no idea one can simply buy domains and profited off it. Is Flippa the only means of buying and reselling domains? What auction site you purchased your domains Grant? Thanks for sharing your feedback.
    • Grant Sabatier
      Definitely check out sites like GoDaddy auctions. There are many more sites than Flippa!
  • Comment Author image blank
    Once I discovered Flippa, it blew my mind. Domain investing is such a fun game to get into, and there's always so much potential. Well done on resisting the temptation to sell!
  • Comment Author image blank
    Wow that's crazy. I knew about domain investing but never got into it.
    • Comment Author image blank
      It's never too late to start! There are some crazy returns. The key is to never pay more than $500 for any domain, then you will rarely lose.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Oh $hit man, that's wild!! Just now seeing this - well done! :) (And I thought my 25 or so domain hoarding was bad - hah)
    • Comment Author image blank
      Thanks J.Money! I definitely have a domain problem! I'm planning to focus on selling more of them this year while the market is hot.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Holy smokes, I think I would have thrown back double the price and probably accepted whatever they came back with, then started over with a new domain. That's hard to pass up.
    • Comment Author image blank
      Yeah it was definitely hard to turn down Money Beagle! Love the name btw. But I'm hopeful it will only grow in value. Thanks for stoping by.
  • Comment Author image blank
    I admire your persistence Grant. If I were you I would have taken the discussion further. Counter-offer >$200k. Back it up with some growth figures or outlook. The counter-party is employing investment banks. Deep pockets. I'd expect a reply and I'm sure >$120k would be a game-changer.
    • Comment Author image blank
      Thanks Stephen. Interestingly enough, the company that offered me $45,000 are clearly keeping an eye on the domain. A few days after I published this post, they reached out wanting to continue "discussions" and said they could offer more. I don't know how much more or honestly, what I would sell it for. But there is always a price. It would be hard to refuse $200,000+
  • Comment Author image blank
    Great post! I've thought about domain investing but never really looked into it seriously. Thanks for providing some insight on the subject. It seems like it's relatively low cost initial investment with some domains being less than $25.00. Looking forward to reading more from your blog!
    • Comment Author image blank
      Thanks Graham. Yeah, that's what makes Domain Investing so much fun - the low initial investment and high potential return! I don't know of many investments that you can make a 2000% return on in less than 6 months! Thanks for stopping by.
  • Comment Author image blank
    That's a crazy offer! But glad you aren't selling it. It's a killer domain. I don't think I could ever sell Dear Debt...even if I wasn't a part of it, I think I'd want it to still live on and inspire people to get out of debt.
    • Comment Author image blank
      Thanks Melanie! Dear Debt is also a great domain. Thanks for stopping by.
  • Comment Author image blank
    That's amazing that you own 800 website domains. I have heard of this but didn't really know anyone that did this. Awesome purchase of the domain name for $300. $45,000 is a boat load of money to turn down. But if you still enjoy the website and think it has potential, it sounds like you did the right thing. Congrats for putting yourself in this type of opportunity!!!
    • Comment Author image blank
      Thanks Mustard Seed Money. It all comes down to a simple calculation. I am enjoying this more than $45,000 could buy AND I think the platform has a lot more than $45,000 potential.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Wow, I don't even know how I would have said or done if I received an email like that. Kudos for building something valuable here!
    • Comment Author image blank
      Thanks Latoya!
  • Comment Author image blank
    If I had more time, I would love to get into something like this. I love a good domain name, and it's crazy what some people will pay for internet real estate. But you're right, so many good ones are taken these days! I liked your reasoning here. My blog is my personal journey, hence the name, and I can't see myself ever selling it. However, I think you're right that the value of yours will increase with time, especially as more and more millennials come into money and need a place to put it (or more education on the subject). Also, I love that you have wife/chill time in your schedule. I've been trying to keep my weekends free and I've been working later, after my boyfriend has left for work, so we can have more time together.
    • Comment Author image blank
      Thanks Erin. Take a look in the domain auctions - a lot of domains that were previously sold and still look sold come back onto the market. You just have to look whenever you have time and be ready to pounce on deals! In fact, I just bought 2 more this morning. Thanks for stopping by.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Wow - 800 domain names! How do you keep track of them all?! So how does it work - I'm curious, do you just buy the domain names and then flip them or do re-sell again at auction?
    • Comment Author image blank
      The domains are actually pretty easy to keep track of - I just have a Google doc and review it a few times a year. I am "long" on about 95% of them - so I just let them ride for the future. Then about 5% of them are more immediate investments that I am buying and flipping on auctions OR I also have an outreach strategy. So if I find a great domain at auction and there is a business or restaurant I find with that name, then I'll buy it for $12-$50 and reach out to the company and say "hey I've got this [] domain that I think would be perfect for your business". About 30-40% of the time that company will buy it. When they see how good the domain is they often form an emotional connection and have to have it. Sometimes they will pay $2,500 + for a domain I bought for $12 in an auction if its packaged right. I have a killer domain outreach email that converts well in these cases. Then big companies just write it off as an expense and I make an awesome profit. Hope this shed a little more light on my domain investing process! Thanks for asking.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Oh man! Incredible post and I agree - you made the right call. Mentally, you're now more committed to building the brand and saying NO to 45k speaks volumes to your authenticity. I find a common problem with a lot of early bloggers is they burn out after not seeing an immediate ROI. If we start the site for the right reasons, then we're bound to stick with it. I also schedule out pretty much everything - including date nights & game nights with friends. I schedule in periods of open time too just to give me free space to be more creative. I find structure gives me freedom and I love it.
    • Comment Author image blank
      Yeah, I'm definitely a lot more committed having refused the offer. I'm just having so much fun building this. The community building is important and I see a lot of younger bloggers skipping that part and then stopping. Traffic just isn't magically going to appear. Website visitors are real people after all and at first you have to go out and network. I appreciate the kinds words Matt.
  • Comment Author image blank
    I love posts like this, it is so interesting to see what can happen. And when people like you share this stuff, it helps the rest of us understand and learn about the whole business of blogging, online business etc. That's also a great and unique side hustle you have there with the domain names! Cheers, Paulie
    • Comment Author image blank
      Glad you liked it Paulie! Yeah domain names are fun. Thanks for stopping by.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Really looking forward to your post on how to do this. Very interesting business. I hope it works out for you. Income doesn't get more passive than this! Thanks for sharing. -Brian
  • Comment Author image blank
    Holy crap! I knew some people did this but didn't realize you could get a payout that big. Do you still buy domain names today? It seems that nearly every name imaginal has been taken. Type in finance or money with just about any other word and it has been registered by someone. $45k is a hard price to turn down, but if it's a big enough company and they want it badly, you can probably get them to go up higher by negotiating or just tell them no thanks and see if they present a bigger offer. Either way, what a fun decision to have to make!
  • Comment Author image blank
    This is really an amazing side hustle. I totally wouldn't have the guts to drop the kind of money you have, but with your expertise in this area, it seems like you have a leg up compared to most people. It'd be hard for me to turn away $45k for a domain name, though! Now, you don't happen to own the .com version of my name do you? Because if you do, sell it to me at a reasonable price, please!
    • Comment Author image blank
      Yeah, I've been collecting domains for a long time. Like anything you learn from experience. In the "early days" it was pretty easy to pick up premium domains, but within the last 2 years it gotten a lot harder. I chalk a lot of it up to Wordpress and services like Wix honestly - it's so easy to build a website now that premium domains are harder to find. It looks like you .com is owned by Huge Domains, a big domain holding company - I see they are selling it for $3395 - you could probably snap it up for $2,500 (just make them an offer). If you are going to keep putting a lot of time into FP then honestly it's worth it. And if you are treating FP like a business you can deduct the expense on your taxes :)
  • Comment Author image blank
    Great post Grant. I used to see domains years ago. I do still buy a them at auction and hold them for a while. It' s a great way to ear some extra cash. $45k is a nice chunk of change.
    • Comment Author image blank
      Yesssss! So happy to meet a fellow domain hunter. We're an elusive bunch. My biggest domain sale was $40,000, so this would have been a new record - but I just couldn't let it go. $40K was also by far the biggest domain I've sold. Most are in the $400 - $2,500 range. Thanks for stopping by.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Wow, thanks for showing how you navigated and came to the conclusion! That's interesting about the domain names! Never knew that there was an auction to buy them. Do you get the paddles when you go, or is it all online? Not sure I wouldn't have sold and just started over with a different domain, but I can see it being valued higher in the future as well!
    • Comment Author image blank
      Domain auctions are all online at GoDaddy or Sedo. You should check them out - I've found domains for $12 that I've been able to flip for $400 or $500 in a month. All you have to do is find domains that are memorable and have 2 common keywords. It's also helpful to get to know niches - so I buy mostly money, legal, and media domains. Domain names are brands now too, and some people will pay a lot to get the brand they want. Thanks for stopping by.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Wow, 45k! That's not a small sum of money. I applaud your decision to continue to empower others through MillennialMoney. I don't know what decision I'll take in your shoes. Everything has a price, hopefully you'll get your "right price" for your domain in the future.
    • Comment Author image blank
      Thanks for the encouragement. It definitely was a tough decision
  • Comment Author image blank
    Woah that's a lot of coin you turned down. Good point about it likely being worth more in the future, but I probably would have taken the money. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. But that's just me, you know the domain investing game it sounds like. What an interesting hobby/investment!? I also find it hilarious you schedule I wife time! Your secret is safe with me. I'm big into schedules and making to do lists, etc, but sounds like you have quite a system in place.
    • Comment Author image blank
      Yeah it was hard to turn down, but over the past few years I've realized that money isn't everything and I'm having a blast working on Millennial Money. The one thing the offer did was reignite my passion and inspired me to started blogging more regularly. Thanks for stopping by.