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The Domainer’s Checklist to Start the Year Off Right

A new year is a new start, and it’s important to start off on the right foot. This domain investor checklist will help you take stock of what you achieved in 2019 and how to make 2020 your best year ever.

Run Your Numbers for 2019 

First things first: how did you do in 2019? It’s critical to understand your domain investing results from last year in order to make plans for this year.

Run the numbers. How much did you spend acquiring domains and how much money did you make from domain parking and selling domains?

If you spent more than you made, was this on purpose? Perhaps you are trying to grow your inventory of domain names and are investing money to do so. After all, it can take years of building a great portfolio before it becomes cash flow positive. Check to make sure that your forecasted number of domains sold to verify your estimated sell-through percentage. Update your assumptions and financial plan if the numbers aren’t meeting expectations.

If you made a profit, was it enough to justify the time you spent on domains? Also, ask yourself if you should reinvest this money in more domains or take it off the table.

Once you have this information, work with an accountant to figure out your tax situation for the year. U.S. taxpayers don’t have to pay until April, but you should understand if you’ll owe taxes or get a refund. Now is also the time to recalculate your quarterly estimated tax payments for the coming year. The same goes for investors in other countries. 

Also, if you’re in the U.S. and you paid contractors (such as web developers, lawyers, or landlords) for services last year, check to see if you need to send them a 1099 form and file it with the IRS. These are due at the end of January.

Set Goals for 2020

Once you know how you fared in 2019, put the pencil to the paper and set some goals for this year.

Ask yourself:

  1. How much money do I want to generate in 2020?
  2. How much will I reinvest to buy more domain names?
  3. What is my acquisition strategy

When considering your acquisition strategy, here are a few more questions to ask yourself:

  • Will I buy expired domains?
  • Should I hand register domains?
  • Should I buy marketplace domains (such as Sedo and Afternic) or approach companies to buy their domains? 
  • How many domains should I acquire and at what average price?

Check these numbers against last year’s results to see if they are reasonable. Then, use these annual goals to set quarterly and monthly goals. 

Think about your sales strategy when coming up with these goals. If you are selling fewer domains than you would like, consider doing outbound sales rather than waiting for inbound purchase inquiries. You might also reevaluate the prices you are asking for your domains. 

Check Your Inventory

The new year is the perfect time to check what’s in your domain portfolio. If you have domains at multiple registrars, it’s important to maintain a list of domains. 

list of domains on laptop

The most basic way to do this is in a spreadsheet, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Also consider Watch My Domains Pro, which is software that keeps tabs on all of the important dates and information about your domains.

A hosted solution for managing your portfolio is DomainIQ. It also keeps track of important dates and information. As a bonus, it ties in with Estibot to keep running tabs on the estimated value of your domain portfolio.

Speaking of Estibot, after you have a good list of your domain portfolio, run them through Estibot to see if anything has changed about your domains recently. For example, Estibot will show you if someone has registered your domain name in a different top level domain, which might present a sales opportunity.

Estibot may also identify some domains that are worth more than they used to be worth because of changes in the market.

Check Your Nameservers

If you use Watch My Domains Pro or DomainIQ, you can easily view the critical data for your domains such as which nameservers they point to.

Make sure your domains point to the right nameservers. Pointing to outdated servers means you might miss out on domain parking revenue. It also means that potential domain buyers will have trouble contacting you if your domains don’t point to landing pages that allow people to submit a form to contact you.

Consolidate Your Domains

Managing domains across different registrars means you have to juggle more passwords and there are more chances to accidentally let a domain expire.

People often use multiple domain name registrars if they’ve registered domains over many years. And if you acquire domains through expired domain auction and other marketplaces, they are probably at a handful of domain name registrars.

Make things simpler this year by consolidating the domains you’ve collected at one domain name registrar. Take advantage of transfer pricing at Namecheap.

Verify Your Marketplace Listings

If you list domains on domain marketplaces Sedo or Afternic, it’s important to keep the listing information up-to-date.

Compare your listings to your updated portfolio information to make sure you aren’t listing domains that you no longer own. Add any domains that you haven’t yet listed.

If you set “buy now” prices, double-check that the prices still reflect your expectations. It’s wise to adjust pricing once a year in case certain keywords and terms in your domains have become more or less popular.

Review Your Domains that Expire Soon

Take a look at all of the domains that expire in the first half of the year and think about what you should do with them.

calendar with expiration dates

If you want to renew them, make sure auto-renew is turned on.

If you think you’ll let some expire, reduce their prices on marketplaces such as Sedo and Afternic to give them a greater chance to sell.

Don’t wait until the last minute to decide whether or not you want to renew your domains. You might forget to renew them, and you won’t have as much time to try to sell them at reduced prices before you let them go for nothing.

Get Motivated

Hopefully, 2019 hit the mark for you and you are ready to do more domain investing in 2020. It’s important to take a look back and project forward, and this domainer checklist should point you in the right direction.

Here’s to your success in 2020!

And if you haven’t checked it out lately, be sure to visit the Namecheap Marketplace to buy and sell domains. It’s a great way to see what others are selling and maybe pick up a great investment.

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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