Your guide to a successful online business!

Rob Taylor is a domainer with twelve years experience of internet development. He’s been actively involved in the domain community for seven years.

Rob runs ‘Hey‘, a company which provides domain name brokering and acquisition services along side building useful websites on great domain names such as and We recently chatted to Rob about domaining, the business of buying domain names and selling them for profit.

There are two main criticisms levelled at domaining:

a.  It fills the web with sites which consist solely of pay-per-click links, cluttering up the internet and making it harder for people to find what they’re looking for.

b.  It artificially inflates the price of domain names, making it hard for people with good business ideas to afford a decent URL for their website.

Do you think these criticisms are justified?

“Excellent questions, let me address them one by one:

“a – Domaining is not solely domain parking. Lots of domainers try to create mini or even full websites that have great information for the user. One thing to bear in mind is that often domainers have a big list of names, and although the intent to develop out domains is there, sadly there are not enough hours in the day.

“Similarly it does cost a fair few quid to run networks of sites and thus income needs to be created from somewhere.

“Parking pages, or site with pay-per-click adverts can be seen as internet clutter, however, if someone types in a domain name is it better they have a site that shows people or companies that want to pay to get that user to click, or a 404 ‘Page not Found’ error? I think former is more useful for the user.

“As for B, I believe there has to be a realisation that it is the year 2008 and 99.99% of good domain names have been taken. Much like I would love to have a top highstreet store for 1920’s prices, it won’t be happening any time soon.

“Often I get told that my domains are not worth more than a tenner, but when I tell them that’s fine with me and point them towards or which are often available they do not want to know. It seems certain extensions are more desirable than others, and thus have a premium attached. To me that is not artificial but just normal market forces at work.

“One further element puts a more understandable value on domains: the targeted traffic! I have a music related domain name that gets considerable traffic. To rent a high street store with similar ‘footfall’ would cost 6 figures a year and that’s not including rates and other such costs. Again some may see things overpriced compared to registration fees, but in the wider context domains are still very cheap.

“Leasing and rental of domain names is growing and is a good way for start-ups to get a top dollar domain names at a lower outlay and I would suggest readers explore that option if prices are unaffordable.

“Domaining often gets a bad reputation, but like any industry there are cowboys out there and genuine business people. Domainers have a responsibility themselves to ensure that the reputation is cleaned up and cowboys are not welcome!”

Can you explain the process by which you make your money from registering domain names?

“Domaining has several models for dealing with fresh registrations, usually focused around either the resale, development or speculative value of a domain. As it is 2008 it is very very rare to be able to hand register a great generic or short domain, so often the money is to be made either by dropcatching those that do
expire, or focusing on keyword rich domains.”

How much money do you make from domain names?

“Never enough to do what I want. Sadly it seems you need billions to own and run a football club so there’s a long way to go yet!”

What’s the most amount of money you’ve made from a single domain name?

“Without going into specifics due to NDA’s and the like, figures like 2400% return on investments are not uncommon with some people I know factoring much higher!”

Is domaining the only thing you do for a living, or do you have other sources of income?

“It is a main source, but all others are internet related activities in one way or another.”

How did you get started in domaining?

“I have a history of internet related development and thus I was looking at a domain that was suspended several years ago and attempted to manually register it and failed. I delved further into the great world of domaining and ended up where I am today.

“Internet based business is great for lifestyle, as you literally just need your mobile (and laptop sometimes) to work. I have been lucky enough to travel around while working, however there are the downsides, such as Orange’s £14-a-meg charge while roaming in the Australian wilderness! Needless to say I binned them as a provider shortly afterwards..!”

How do you go about finding new domain names to register that you think will make you money?

“It is becoming harder and harder to do this with fresh registrations so now I am often buying names from resellers and the like. This does mean the cost rises from the usual fiver to several, or tens of thousands of pounds.

“There are lots of free and paid research tools out there that will check keyword search volumes, discover if the domain has previously been used and other such goodies. These are useful in assessing if a domain is worth having, or worth registering.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start doing this?

“My top advice would be to read read and then read some more. It is too easy to waste money when starting out, but if you do your research and see what mistakes others have made it can be a free education.

“Domaining often seems very easy when sales are published and the results of development is unveiled, but that often disguises the many hours of work that goes on behind the scenes and you need to be prepared to put in the legwork to get the rewards.”

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16 Responses

  • Eugene

    Now everyone is talking about the American economy and eclections, nice to read something different. Eugene

    October 21, 2008 at 5:49 pm
  • Craig Edmonds

    I have always been interested in domaining and started doing it in the last year.

    I have not had any high profits yet but its good to see that some out there are making some dough!

    November 17, 2008 at 6:26 pm
  • Ed

    Agree with your comments about ‘internet clutter’, surely its better to place meaningful/relevant content on your parked domains, thus increasing future sale value?

    November 17, 2008 at 6:36 pm
  • Johnny

    Rob, you are my new hero!

    November 17, 2008 at 6:44 pm
  • yo seo

    Where is the best place to get hold of aged UK domains – is there a specific website you can use?

    November 17, 2008 at 7:42 pm
  • Lee Owen

    I love Rob

    November 17, 2008 at 7:54 pm
  • Luke

    With vehicle plates, prices are realistic and static with only the most very special going to auction.

    Essentially, experienced dealers prevent ‘silly money’ being charged by opportunistic individuals for often mediocre names.

    This needs to happen here to give smaller companies a chance to own the many names that are in the middle ground but held by the greedy.

    November 17, 2008 at 8:01 pm
  • Martin

    Nice to see that the whole issue of domain squatting was completely side-stepped in this “balanced”? article.

    When a name directly associated with something you’ve worked very hard to develop, build and promote is snapped up by some squatter then I’m sorry it’s just beyond the pale.

    … and yes you could buy the domains in advance but when it comes to typo squatting and the associated acronyms, hyphenated versions, etc… it’s just not going to be feasible unless you’re a lottery winner.

    Granted some can and do work hard to develop their own ideas and/or genuinely innovative names but in the main my own experience is of folks more than happy to buy up real-estate where someone already put the infrastructure in, cut the lawn and generally made it attractive. All the “domaineer” does is pay a silly amount and they have everything at a bargain basement price.

    Frankly I wish the domain registrars would auction off the most promising names for charity or internet infrastructure development instead of the current system.

    November 17, 2008 at 9:05 pm
  • Hoipoloi

    So, I have a couple of domains on 123-reg that I no longer require. How do I go about offering them for sale?

    Why is there no facility at 123-reg to be able to list them as available?

    November 17, 2008 at 10:35 pm
  • aZooZa

    Rob’s a catcher like me. What’s the big deal? Once you have spent a ton writing a script and a front-end, what is there to moan about? Altruism is an easy philosophy/philanthropy without the blood, sweat and tears that goes into it.

    November 17, 2008 at 10:49 pm
  • Rob Taylor


    I dont think anything has been sidestepped, I can only answer the questions put to me! To be clear – I never endorse cybersquatting and do not recommend it as a route for domainers to follow at all.

    As you say some domainers work hard, and as I mention there are domainers who act illegally in a ‘cowboy’ manner and cybersquatting is one example of that.

    Oddly enough you will find domainers less likely to follow this route as they more than anyone are aware of the dangers it holds.

    Cybersquatting is much the same as starting a coffeehouse called BarStucks or a bookstore called WWaterstones, people are basically being mislead and passing off as someone else.

    A fine line has to be drawn though, as with the case of who has the ‘right’ to use it? Polo sports? VW Polo the car? The mint with the hole? Bob Polo’s family etc etc

    It certainly is a large issue which encompasses all areas of names, but the key bit is that a large proportion of domainers really do what to do the right thing. When we hear of cybersquatting or abusive use of names really does not sit well with us either.

    November 17, 2008 at 11:16 pm
  • Pertinax

    Rob says “There are lots of free and paid research tools out there …. discover if the domain has previously been used and other such goodies.”
    Well, how about sharing a few then ?

    and “…focusing on keyword rich domains.” I don’t understand how anyone/any bot can possibly find a keyword rich domain.

    For myself, I have no interest in domaining, it sounds like a meaningless and soul-destroying occupation.

    November 18, 2008 at 12:02 am


    Where to start…why should anyone share the precise strategy of their trade? The tools Rob uses are obviously in the public domain, and he’s spent his time and effort in sourcing the most effective for him – if you’re so interested, you should put in the time and effort to work out your own strategy rather than expecting it handed to you on a plate.

    Finding keyword rich domains is more than possible, by hand and by bot, and this is generally a pretty stupid point.

    As for domaining being a meaningless and soul-destroying occupation, I would be interested to know what you do for a living? I’d rather be involved in developing and reselling domains any day than working the nine-to-five. And there’s nothing soul-destroying or meaningless when it comes to feeding your family and creating a comfortable standard of living through online business and investment.

    November 18, 2008 at 10:57 am
  • Shooting Star

    The anti-Cyberquatting brigade needs to make a distinction between generic names and ‘Branded’ names.

    Polo is a generic name for a sport so why should anyone have a unilateral right to it just because they chose to call a car or a mint by this name…? Clearly they don’t so good luck to any domainer who lands a TLD with Polo in it.

    It would be a sad day if we decided that we couldn’t call the openings in our houses that let the light in ‘windows’ anymore because Microsoft owned the rights to the word.

    For what it’s worth you only need one really good generic TLD to make a small fortune & domaining is no different to prospecting. As for it being soul destroying, when I receive my earnings each month, for essentially doing nothing, the only soul destroying part is sharing it with the tax man once a year!

    November 18, 2008 at 11:08 am
  • Rob Taylor

    RE: Pertinax

    Computers are very clever at plucking out and filtering lists to criteria you set. As for a human, its easy, just takes the time.

    Remember keywords are just one element to domaining, just like doing up houses is one element to ‘property’.

    Domaining has allowed me the freedom to travel around the globe and get involved in many new (often charitable) ventures. With a ‘normal’ job such things would simply not be possible.

    Each to their own, but if what you write is true then I love having my soul destroyed 😉

    November 18, 2008 at 11:39 am