Case study: How I got hold of nicholasjohnston.com

Since 2006, I've been trading in domain names. Mainly purchasing first-hand or at auction, with an occasional sale. As I built my domain name portfolio, I came across an occasional sticking post - a domain name that I can't acquire, for love nor money.

Once you've bought a domain, however much you've spent to buy it, it's yours for life, with only minimal renewal fees to pay. But, if you miss out on a sale, the opportunity to own that name may have passed forever.

Three years to acquire nicholasjohnston.com

In 2007, I had my eye on nicholasjohnston.com. My full name, as a dot-com. Useful, I would imagine, for the next fifty years or so.

At the time the domain name wasn't being used, and the owner at the time allowed it to expire. During the 30-day grace period that followed, I registered for Snapnames - a popular aftermarket domain name service, which monitors expiring names for users to register. Minimum prices start at $59, while domains with multiple bidders go to auction.

It's important to remember that Snapnames' auction times extend with each bid, so there is no last minute rush.

On this occasion, I tussled with another bidder. Odd, considering the market for this name is really limited to people with my name. Clearly though, he saw some potential profit, and as bids rose past £500, I decided it wasn't worth it.

Found on Sedo

I kept nicholasjohnston.com on my list though, and checked up on it occasionally. It popped up on Sedo after a month or so - a marketplace for domain names. Sedo allows owners to list their names, with fixed prices, for negotiation, or for auction.

After several bids with no response, it became clear that the seller wasn't interested. I was quite determined not to offer any higher than the price he paid at Snapnames, so he was clearly aiming to make a bit of a profit.

Back to Snapnames

Finally, after three years, nicholasjohnston.com expires. I'd had the renewal date in my calendar on the off chance that it wouldn't be renewed. And it wasn't! Definitely a lesson to keep a record of any domain names that would be of benefit to you, and keep an eye on their renewal dates.

A quick check on Snapnames shows an expected drop date of the 5th of December, so I put down a fairly low bid, expecting to fight for it again. But this time, without issue, the domain name was in my name by the end of the day.

Finally acquired

Following a confirmation email from Snapnames, the process was very smooth. The domain was provided at it's previous registrar, so I quickly went through the transfer process to move it over to 1&1 - I absolutely recommend keeping all your domains with one company, to avoid forgetting any renewal dates. Some companies don't automatically renew domain names, so this is something to look out for.

Bizarrely, within a day of successfully catching nicholasjohnston.com, I was contacted by the previous owner, who seemed keen on buying the name. He made no reference to his previous ownership, but said that he was interested in the name for a client. I mentioned that he'd beaten me in the bidding process three years ago, but sadly he didn't reply.

Related guides

Essential services

Last updated on 29 February 2012, at 12:13.