Your domain name defines your identity online, much like your actual brand name. It can even affect your SEO. There are numerous ways of choosing a domain name. You want something memorable, relevant to your niche and short enough so that it can be easily typed.
But what if your chosen domain name is already taken? One option of course is to move ahead and find another one. Now what if you really want that domain name? Then you have the option of buying it from its owner. And here’s how you do that:
Identify the domain name owner
Actually, what you need here is their email address so you can contact them. You can do that by simply visiting the website and checking the contact page. If there’s no contact info (or no website at all), then you can use a service called WHOIS. “Who is” is a public tool to look up information on domain names, contact information as well as nameservers and where the domain name is hosted.
When someone registers a domain name they have to provide an email address for the registrant, admin, and tech contacts. It’s a requirement from ICANN, the governing body overseeing domain names. Usually, these are all the same address, and it may be the address of a domain holding company. A registrant can use a domain privacy service, it’s a service that keeps the contact information private to protect and hidden from public Whois, but emails will still get forwarded to the person’s or company’s “real” email address.
Making an offer for a domain name
Now that you have the owner’s email address, your next step is to make an offer. As the one who needs something, you may want to be polite in your approach. For example, don’t tell them that they have no right to the name because they haven’t setup a website for the domain name. They may just be using it for their email addresses.
You can let them know that you are interested in the domain name, and you may want to make an offer or even haggle. Prepare yourself for some rather outrageous prices. Many people tend to overestimate the value of their domain name, and some may even have already turned down other offers before.
If you’re lucky, you can agree on a price, have it transferred to you and you can use it for your own purpose. If not, then perhaps you can use a brokerage service like Sedo. These services can buy the domain name you want and the fee will then depend on how much they got the domain name for, if they are able to get it at all.
Wait for the domain name to expire, or “drop”
Your last option in regards to that specific domain name is to wait for the domain to expire – if the owner lets it expire, that is.
You may back-order a domain name when it’s near its expiration date, although there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get it. Some registrars may just sell it, although they may offer a monitoring service that alerts you when a domain name has expired.
But other registrars may put the domain name up for auction. Bidding is done online, and you’ll need to pay first before you can get the domain name.
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