I just spent $8,692.71 on domain renewals. Here’s how I decided what to keep

Here’s my (imperfect) process.

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One day last week, I sat down with a mission: look through my domains expiring in the next 6-8 months and decide which ones to renew. I ended up spending $8,692.71 renewing 937 domains. I also decided to drop about 70 of the domains expiring during this period.

I’ve walked through my renewal decision process in the past, but I want to give some insight into my thinking this time around. I’d love to hear if others follow a similar process.

First up, why renew domains now that don’t expire for months?

I renew my domains in batches for a few reasons. One is worthy of another blog post, and I’ll publish that soon. But one to reveal here: it’s a lot easier.

Making these decisions every month is a pain. It’s much easier for me to dedicate a few hours in an afternoon a couple of times a year to clear out any renewals.

There is another impetus for renewing domains now. .Com prices are increasing on September 1. I currently pay $8.85 per year for .com domains at GoDaddy. If they raise their prices 7% like Verisign is doing, my renewals would have cost another $500 or so.

Also, I’m not worried if I renew a domain and someone buys it before it would have expired. Sure, I paid an extra nine dollars, but does it matter when you sell a domain for $5,000?

Here is the process I used for this round of renewals:

1. Sort my list by expiration date to see which ones expire soonest.

2. Bulk renew domains I know I want to keep. Most domains are obvious to me. I’d say I chose about 80%-85% of domains to renew in this first pass, leaving about 150-200 to sort through and make decisions about.

3. Take the remaining domains and run them through Estibot. This helps identify outlier domains that might have value I’m not seeing. It also shows which domains are registered in any of the other main top level domains. If I’m going to let a domain expire that’s registered in “inferior” extensions, I want to research this further. I plug those domains into dotDB to see if the domains are actually being used. (Note to dotDB: it would be awesome for paid users to be able to do this in bulk.) For some domains, I’ll check who registered them and how long ago it was. I put less weight on the registration if it was registered years ago and hasn’t been developed yet. I’ll also take a quick look at the GoDaddy appraisal for domains it thinks are worth more than “usual” and investigate why. I decide to renew about 25% of the remaining domains based on this data and related research.

4. Make a final call on what’s remaining. There are a couple of factors that help me eliminate domains. One, if my list price for the domains has been fairly low (about $1,200 or less) and it still hasn’t sold, I might let it go. I’m not going to cry over an occasional missed low-priced sale. Second, I think about if I’ve sold any similar domains. If I’ve owned 25 similarly-themed domains for 5+ years and none of them have sold, that indicates that perhaps my original supposition for registering the domains was wrong. Two, I go with my gut. Is it worth spending another nine bucks to hold this domain for another year?

A few other thoughts about my process:

  • I look at my acquisition date, but not in the way you might think. I try to avoid the sunk cost fallacy (as hard as it is). Instead, if I’ve owned a domain for a long time, that’s a bad sign since it hasn’t sold yet. Of course, keep in mind that with a sell-through rate of below 2%, domains can take decades to sell. I use acquisition dates mostly for themes; if I’ve registered a bunch of domains with the same theme and held them for ten years and none of them have sold…that’s not good.
  • I have given up on .miami. I registered a bunch of domains in .miami that were snapped up in .nyc for big prices, but none of them have sold. I also haven’t heard of other .miami sales.
  • Finally, I know my process is not infallible. I can’t know everything. I can’t get into the minds of every potential buyer. Occasionally, after turning off auto renew on domains, I’ll end up selling one. This means there are others I probably should have held onto, too.

Coming up: a post about a “hidden” benefit of renewing your domains early.

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