How to Get the Most Out of Buying New TLDs
Imagine going back in time 30 years when the domain extension .com was in its infancy. There were only hundreds of .com domains registered (compared to over 100 million today). You could register just about any name you wanted.
That’s kind of what it’s like when new domain name extensions (called top level domains, or TLDs) launch. Each extension is fresh with many domain options available that would otherwise be unavailable as .com domains.
New TLDs are launched all the time, with hundreds of new ones appearing over the past five years alone. And although the pace of new launches is slowing to about one every month or two, there are still some interesting opportunities to register domains in brand new extensions.
Let’s take a look at how you can take advantage of new TLD launches as well as the upcoming .dev TLD release.
New Top Level Domains
The term “New Top Level Domain” refers to new domain extensions that became available starting in early 2014.
ICANN (the non-profit that handles domain name policy) launched a new program in 2012 in which anyone could apply to run a new domain name extension, called a Top Level Domain. The idea was to open up the domain name system so there’d be more choices for consumers. Companies submitted close to 2,000 applications for new extensions ranging from .apple to .xyz and the first ones started rolling out in 2014.
In the beginning, there were five or six new extensions launching every week! That pace has slowed down but new extensions continue to be released regularly.
A big TLD launch last year was .app, a domain extension from Google. Over 100,000 .app domains were registered in less than a day—and there are now about 350,000 registrations.
Not all launches are as competitive. Google later launched .page, but so far it has fewer than 10,000 registrations. This is likely due to a smaller potential audience than the app market.
The Next Exciting TLD to Launch: .Dev
The new TLD .dev is coming soon. Google will launch this new TLD in early 2019, and it’s sure to get a lot of attention.
Check out Namecheap’s special .dev information page for all of the latest information about the Early Access Program and how you can get a .dev domain for yourself!
Investing in New Domain Names
In the early days, many people got rich by registering multiple .com domain names. As the Internet took off and .com became the standard for website names, companies spent millions of dollars acquiring great domain names like Business.com, Diamond.com, and Beer.com.
Today, however, it’s not quite so easy to know how to invest in new top level domain names (for reasons discussed later in this article). Still, some entrepreneurs have continued to make good money in the TLD registration game.
The trick is to register the best domain names the moment a new extension comes out.
Before explaining how to create a list of good domains, let’s review how domains are launched.
The Three Phases of New Domain Launch
There are at least two, and usually three, phases to a domain name launch.
Sunrise – The Sunrise phase of a domain launch is restricted to trademark holders and not open to the public. Companies that have a trademark and have registered them with The Trademark Clearinghouse get the first crack at registering domains that match their trademark. For example, Company X can register companyx.dev during this period.
Landrush – This is an optional phase that many new TLD registrars or sellers offer. During Landrush, people can get the best domain names before they’re available to the general public for an additional fee. Each registrar or seller runs these in a slightly different way, but the most popular model is to have a Dutch auction, in which the asking price starts high and decreases until a buyer accepts it.
On the first day of Landrush, people can pay a very high premium (sometimes over $10,000) to register a domain. The price drops each day after that (usually for about a week) until prices are roughly $100 in addition to regular registration fees.
General Availability (GA) – This is the last phase of the domain launch. Anyone can register domains in GA on a first-come, first served basis. This phase lasts indefinitely.
Creating a List of Domains to Register
Given the competitiveness to register domains in the later days of Landrush and during General Availability, it’s important to create a list of domains you want to register before they can actually be registered. It can be a lot of work but you can re-use your domain lists for multiple domain launches.
The approach to creating a list depends on the type of domain name. The TLDs .page and .dev are excellent examples.
The .page TLD is generic; it can go with just about any keyword to the left of the dot (called a second-level domain). Other generic domains include .site, .world, and .xyz.
In contrast, .dev has a specific context, so second-level domains should probably have a topic related to technical development of some type.
Here are the steps you would take from here:
1. Create a generic list. Your goal is to come up with as many good keywords as you can to try to register when the domain becomes available.
2. Create a new Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet and start typing keywords that come to mind in the first column. Think of broad terms like car, house, and cloud.
3. Once you exhaust your creative juices, it’s time to turn to other sources to come up with keywords. Here are some ideas:
- Review the top domain name sales of all time. Here’s a list. Some of these names should be worthwhile to register in other generic extensions like .page. For example, toys.com sold for $5.1 million, shop.com sold for $3.5 million and wine.com sold for $3.3 million. Toys, shop, and wine are excellent keywords to try to register in new generic extensions. (Note that you shouldn’t expect to sell any of these domains in new extensions for anywhere near what the .com sold for; it’s merely an indicator of relative value.)
- Look at lists of the most common words in your language.
- Read some news articles to look for common words that might have value as a domain name.
4. Once you have a list of keywords in the first column of your spreadsheet you can easily add the top level domain in the second column and create a list to search for at Namecheap.
Here’s a tip for spreadsheet power users: Enter the new extension in Column B with a dot in front of it. For example, .page. Copy this down next to all of your keywords. In Column C, use the concatenate function to combine column A and column B. If ‘shop’ is in cell A1 and ‘.page’ is in cell B1, then CONCATENATE(A1,B1) will output shop.page. An example is shown here:
Now consider a keyword list for a non-generic extension like .dev, which is a great extension for anything related to technical development or physical development. Some of the keywords you generated for a generic extension might work, but also look at lists of topical keywords. Industry glossaries like this one are a fantastic place to find relevant domains to register.
Roadblocks to Registering New Domains
At this point, you have a nice list of domains to try to register. There are a couple of issues you’ll run across when trying to register them, though.
The first roadblock is premium domains. These are domain names that the top level domain operator has decided to sell for a higher price since they have extra value on the market. They charge either a one-time additional fee or a higher-than-normal yearly renewal fee. Domain name registrars often pass that cost on to customers.
The companies that operate these TLDs are looking at the same resources you’re using to find good domains to register when they determine their list of premium domains. Don’t be surprised to find that many of the domains you want to register come with a premium price tag.
The second roadblock is trademark terms. Never try to register a domain name that’s a trademark, such as Microsoft.dev.
In some cases, there may be restrictions on terms that seem rather generic like pizza, money, or hotel. When you try to register these domains you’ll see a notice that a company has a trademark on the word or term. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t register the domain, but it’s important to read the details of the notice carefully to determine if your registration might infringe on the trademark or usage rights.
Register the Domains
OK, you’ve done a lot of work (which can be reused, don’t forget!) and are ready to register domain names.
Now to decide within which phase you want to register domains. Consider registering the very best names on your list during Namecheap’s Early Access window even if they cost more money. This is especially the case for popular launches. Thousands of .app domains that were registered during the early window were unavailable by the time General Availability started.
Is Investing in New Domain Extensions Smart?
Making a quick buck by registering new domains is possible, but don’t count on it.
As we wrote in a previous post, the world is a different place compared to when .com came out. There is now a large supply of domains in new extensions, and it can be difficult to sell domains in new extensions. You should maintain reasonable expectations.
Some people have found willing buyers and turned a profit, however. I’ve sold a few .cloud domain names and a .work domain for around $1,000 each that I spent $15 or less register. One investor snapped up Luxury.estate for under $200 and sold it for $50,000. And another sold NewYork.estate for $9,000.
Some new extensions also cost more to register than .com domains, so keep an eye on prices when making your budget.
Get Started Now
You don’t have to wait for the next new extension to launch to register new top level domains. Try registering domains in extensions that are already in General Availability.
Many domains are available at discounted, first-year prices. You can register these domains in bulk and try to sell them before they need to be renewed. Namecheap usually offers a selection of domain names for less than $1 each for the first year. It’s a great way to get your feet wet.