Domain name prices are on the rise.
Ugh, right? Verisign upped the .NET price again in January 2015, after they already did so in January 2014. New TLDs are far from cheap, too, with few exceptions.
And what about the worldwide economy? No matter where you live, the crisis is still around as of July 2015, so keeping money available for emergencies is vital. Extra, unused, or low traffic domains can wind up eating money you could save for living expenses instead.
If you, like me, run multiple blogs on different domains, you may want to go for cheaper options or to rethink the number of domains you own, perhaps by cutting some of the extras— you know, those services and domains that don't result in a consistent ROI or never get enough traffic.
Easier said than done, you may argue.
You're bound to some of your domains and you would never let them go. Some other domains you own may not have a purpose now, while you're still brainstorming and planning for them, but you are definitely going to use them later.
Also, you may own other domains that you know you will use in the next few years, but right now you have no time for them so they are not a priority.
This is all good. Been there several times; done that, too.
However, when TLD prices raise and financial issues call for a change, you need to be prepared for that change, and to go for it as painlessly as possible.
You don't have to get rid of your low-ROI domains right away. Explore the possibilities first; letting go is really your last resort.
The options I give below are a good way to get started with your emergency domain planning.
Domain Name Budgeting and Planning
1. Compare Registrars
Where is it cheaper to buy and renew a domain name?
Where can you get benefits for domain investors?
NameCheap and Name.com run special monthly coupons for domain investors with 25+ domain names on the account. If your budget for domain registration and maintenance is limited, these two registrars make it easy to keep your domains running for many years to come.
Consider transfers if a certain registrar raises its prices beyond your budget possibilities. This sometimes happens when a registrar's bills increase suddenly due to registry price raises or if they see an increment in maintenance cost.
Unless you are able to increase your budget for domains, my advice here is to start looking for alternative registrars as soon as possible, so you can transfer your domains safely several months before their expiration date.
2. Consolidate (or maybe don't?)
Depends on what's better for your budget and your monthly income.
If you can afford consolidation, do it! But if the thought of paying hundreds to thousands of dollars in one go to renew all of your domains scares you or is outside of your budget (for example, if you only have a monthly budget you can collect step by step), consolidation is not for you.
So far, consolidation has not been an option for me, because the only months available for consolidation are – alas – the months in the year I get sick more often – and therefore I work less, and my budget is lower.
Check the available consolidation dates with your registrar and see if they fit your needs. Otherwise, keep consolidation as a very last option.
3. Closely monitor ROI
Keep track of the income generated by each domain name.
At the end of the year (before the renewal date), compare the domain incomes and consider getting rid of any domain names that didn't generate enough earnings to at least cover expenses.
How can you monitor your domains ROI?
1. Evaluate the content production/promotion ratio
Brian Dean from Backlinko.com managed to reach a high ROI for his domain thanks to his “more promotion, less content” strategy, as reported in a podcast at Niche Profits. If you are keen on writing in-depth content for your blog, this is a good strategy to follow to make the most out of your domain name. Other ROI metrics will follow suit.
2. Check your traffic numbers regularly
Weekly or monthly. Always keep a comparison table of all your domains and run yearly checks on how much incoming traffic each domain generated. You can start planning on what domains to remove by just looking at this table.
3. How does this domain compare to your overall domain management?
Does this domain mean a lot to you and your blogging (or other website) efforts or did you just buy the domain for redirection, promotional or test purposes? Are you going to keep this domain around or do you just want to use it for a couple of years and then delete it?
It goes without saying that any kind of temporary domains should be the first target of your emergency clean up, especially since such domains are subject to the TLD price raise this year.
If you have domains for personal use and you don't make money out of them, make sure other domains generate enough income to cover for the expenses connected to these domains.
4. New Domains? Wait for Coupons
Every month, almost every registrar releases coupons for new domain registrations and renewals. You will either get coupon codes via email (if you are signed up for the registrar's newsletter) or through online services that collect coupon codes of any kind or domain discount codes specifically.
Below is a list of websites I personally check weekly to monthly for domain coupons:
Tip: Study registrars and wait for the lowest coupon offer before you make a purchase. For example, if you use NameCheap as your registrar, you can wait for Black Friday/Cyber Monday and The Domain Day coupons to register new domains or renew some you own and expire any time around the release of the coupons.
How Do I Manage Domains?
I use a local version of DomainMOD (‘local' as in installed on my Linux computer localhost) to manage and plan my domains.
DomainMOD is open source PHP software, so you can download and install it on your server for free. If you wish to install the software on your localhost or your hosting account, just follow install Method #2 from this guide.
Note: Domains.intranet is NOT an actual domain name from a certified authority. .INTRANET is a custom TLD I created for my computer's local DNS to make all things work more interesting and… fun. It does not exist on the public DNS, so don't worry about it.
The software also tells me the yearly spend on domains and it helps me keep things manageable with connection to WHM/cPanel. See an example below:
Another method I use is to keep an Excel file organized as follows:
- ‘Type' is the type of website I run on a specific domain (in this case, I had some Sci-Fi names for personal reasons).
- ‘Name' and ‘Alias' are the name and nickname of the owner of the website (in this case, sometimes it was myself, sometimes a role-play character).
- ‘Domain Name' is the domain name.
- ‘Login' and ‘Password' are the cPanel and/or FTP account for the domain.
- ‘Registrar' is the registrar the domain is registered and/or maintained by.
How To Win The Initial Resistance To Clean Up – A Personal Note
Letting go is hard.
Letting go of domains you really love and grew an attachment to can be painful and nobody should ever see their domains go that way.
However, when the stakes are high, you have to do it.
I did it often over the last four years; I did it back in January 2015, too, after I learned about Verisign's price raise for .NET TLDs and I realized my budget was slimming down due to poor health (I could safely say I have almost not worked at all in January, as most of the time I was ill in bed) among the other reasons. I did it again between April and June 2015, when sudden health and family emergencies called for it.
Letting go takes courage, creativity and — yes — tears. But also hope.
Here is a shortlist of ways to cope with the ‘loss' and get on with your projects.
1. Be a realist (courage).
You know you couldn't handle it better than you have already done. You did your best to keep your domains running until today, so there's no room for regret. This is life, with its ups and downs. It's important that you know you did your best and you take courage to accept any outcomes that come from it, be they positive or negative. You can always recover any domains in the future, right?
2. Move to a subdomain (hope).
Letting go of some of your domain inventory doesn't mean you have to give up on the websites linked to each domain. You still have hope, and that's your other domains! So grab those websites and move them to subdomains on other domains you own. Nothing is lost– it only changes name.
3. Merge projects (creativity).
If two or more of your domains carry blogs, tackle different angles of the same topic or niche, you can merge them together into a single blog (and domain) and temporarily redirect, then delete, the other two. Use your creativity to come up with an optimal way to merge your projects. A hint? Look for patterns and ask your current readers about what they want to see!
4. Sell, give away or delete (tears).
It can take a great effort to finally get rid of domain names you've owned for years. It can take tears, too. However, this can be a necessary step when your other options are exhausted. You can either let your domains expire, or you can sell them or give them away for free if you are certain you will not buy them again in the future. No matter what option you choose, know it was for the best.
Can You Buy That Domain Again In The Future?
Definitely, if it's available for registration and if you have the budget and time to dedicate to it.
A word of caution, however– the domain might have been used by another person before the registry made it available again, so you want to make sure that the domain you're buying again after months or years has kept a good reputation over time, or you might have to do some clean up to restore at least some of its good standing in the eyes of users before you produce new content.