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How Domain Names are Like Real Estate


Last  summer a major online media property inquired about buying my freelance writing blog. At the time, I wasn’t interested in selling, but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever sell. You see, I’ve always thought about my web properties as real estate. That a significant brand was interested proves to me that I’m on the right track.

Like real estate, care of your domain is essential.

If you’re going to choose a handy man special, be sure you can fix it up

My husband and I bought our house almost eight years ago. It needed work, but as it was a starter house we figured we’d fix it up and sell it, using the profit to buy something bigger and more beautiful. Mr. Ng used to be a carpenter and is handy like that, and I had high hopes. So he gutted the master bath, pulled up the living room floor and de-wallpapered and primered the walls. Eight years later, I’m still without a master bath, my walls are still primer white gray, and we really need to do something about those floors. Though things are slowly coming together, right now in it’s gutted, half finished state, our house has a lower value than at the time of purchase.

Blogs and websites need similar upkeep. Unless a domain name is in demand and can sell on that name alone, blogs and websites require constant maintenance. They need to be updated and added to or they’ll languish, driving down the resale value. Though it often requires a major investment, most of us know the importance of nurturing and loving our online properties just as we would our offline properties. Curb appeal matters online too.

When I chose the domain for my freelance writing blog, I wanted “freelance writing jobs” the name of my blog. However, the owner of that blog wants tens of thousands of dollars to give up that name. Instead, I chose “freelancewritinggigs.com.” I maintain my blog every day, adding and promoting new content.. The owner of the expensive domain does not. Guess who is at the top of the search engines for “freelance writing jobs?” Guess which will eventually sell for more money?

No one wants to buy personal

No one wants to see family pictures and fishing trophies on a house tour because the personal touches discourage a potential buyer from seeing the home as his own. That’s why Realtors® insist on staging a house before showing. Probably, no one wants to buy your personal blog, either.

You know why there’s no deborahng.com? Because no one but another Deb Ng will buy it. Since there are only two or three of us in the world, but I’m thinking it’s not the greatest investment. Consider this: if Chris Brogan or Perez Hilton sell their blogs today, would those same properties do as well after the sale? Probably not. Both Chris Brogan and Perez Hilton, the people, will always do well, without them, their blogs will just be blogs named after people.

The exception to the name rule is celebrity names. If you own Madonna.com or MichaelJackson.com you can fill it with Lorem Ipsum and it’ll still fetch a tasty chunk o’coin when it’s time to sell. So, celebrity name = good sellable domain, personal name = limited opportunities.

Location! Location! Location!

The three rules of real estate matter online too, but there aren’t “good” and “bad” online neighborhoods as there are in the real world. Instead, the location is the domain.

Those looking for a new place to live are concerned with crime rate, proeprty taxes and the effectiveness of the school, the location is very important. In the virtual world, the location is just as important. Choosing the right location for a domain is the most important decision one can make about a blog or website.

Someone who blogs about elephants (hey, it can happen!) would do better to land elephant.com or elephantblog.com rather than Iblogaboutelephantsonthisblog.com or thisisanelephantblog.com. The easier a domain is to identify, type and remember the better the location for your blog. Domains having nothing to with subject matter might also indicate a bad neighborhood. SEO is another consideration, though to be fair, I know plenty of blogs that don’t have a keyword laden name and do very well.

Treat your blog as your online home

If you’re looking for a good return on your investment, treat your domain as an online home. Take good care of it and regularly maintain its appearance and inner workings. Though selling may be the last thing on your mind, always consider the resale value.  Just as you would your home, the better care you take with your web property, the higher return you’ll receive on the sale.

Deb Ng is Conference Director for BlogWorld and Founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network of blogs. Feel free to follow her on Twitter at debng.


  • Andy Hayes | Travel Online Partners

    Following with the analogy, Deb, I suggest everyone have a place that they call home. For most, the best choice is their own website name (debng.com?). I find it very useful as a personal branding tool, a virtual business card, and a nice place to gather all of your virtual real estate in one place.

    It can also be a useful, albeit limited, SEO tool.


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