Okay, let’s take a breath. The short version of this is that thanks to Brexit, companies that didn’t bother to register a .uk domain because they thought they were fine with just the .co.uk version or even the .eu version might very well need to register a .uk domain now. Except that lots of these .uk domains have already been bought by people outside of their company, which means they now have to spend unimaginable amounts of money trying to purchase their own domains. Some of that money may very well go to you.
If you’re completely up to speed on the implications of Brexit on UK domains, you can skip straight ahead to the section “How do I take advantage of domains up for grabs?”
If you’re a bit lost, stick with us. It’ll be worth it.
Table of Contents
Why has there been a .uk domain windfall?
What was happening before was that brands that wanted UK domains mostly got them in the form .co.uk or .org.uk. But in June 2014, the body responsible for granting UK domain names (Nominet UK) added a new, shorter domain: the .uk domain.
The thing is that by this time, most established brands already had a UK domain, and they didn’t see the point of buying and maintaining a new one or they missed the deadline. So, they didn’t. But, Nominet gave them time to buy the domain if they wanted to, by reserving the domain name for a certain period in which that brand had priority if they ever decided wanted the domain name. Which means that you couldn’t just rock up and buy the .uk domain of a popular brand just because you wanted it.
That free period is long gone.
The domains aren’t reserved for the brand with the top-level .co.uk domain anymore. They’re available on a first come, first served basis.
Who even wants a .uk domain?
Well, clearly, all the people who snatched up the domains as soon as they became available want the .uk domains. Just have a look at the way these Bulgarians are profiting.
But also, the companies with the top-level .co.uk domains will want to have all the extensions they can possibly get control of as well.
Can people really make money from selling domains?
Established companies will pay through the nose to protect their domains. And it’s easy to understand why.
Customers find brands by using their domains. So, brands like to have control over every domain a customer could possibly type, trying to find them. Huge brands even register common misspellings of their domains, so they can redirect the customer to their actual domain.
Not having control over a domain means losing customers.
Buying and selling domains is already a huge business! It’s what we call “domain flipping”. It works in much the same way as real estate flipping: You buy a domain you think might be valuable in the future, then when someone comes along who wants it badly enough, you sell it for a huge profit.
People have made millions buying and selling domains. The right domain will skyrocket a brand to household-name fame. The better the domain, the higher the chances that lots of customers will stumble onto the brand’s website. The more customers stumble onto the brand’s website, the more customers buy from the brand’s website, and the more money the brand makes.
A brand will happily pay millions if, in doing so, it stands to make billions.
So, even if you don’t get in on the domain windfall (and we really hope you do), you might want to look into buying and selling domains as a side hustle anyway. (Of course, if you do this, you’ll also want to make sure host your domain with a reputable web hosting company.)
Why are these UK domains particularly valuable?
Some of these domains represents smaller companies that weren’t very well established. However, some big brands have gotten caught up in this, as well. For these brands, the stakes are very high. They want to get control over their domains as quickly as possible, so they don’t end up losing customers who accidentally type in the wrong domain name.
Hidden among the domains up for grabs are also shorter, generic, less impressive names, but don’t count these out just yet. We’ll explain why:
Which are the best domains up for grabs?
Some domains connected to bigger brands may be subject to cybersquatting rules, and it may be tempting to go after these, but unless you have a massive team of shiny, well-paid lawyers behind you, these may be more trouble than they’re worth. Instead, see if you can go for the short, generic domains, because these are often the most valuable.
Let’s try an experiment: Look around you and pick a random, generic object. Type it into your browser, followed by a domain extension, like .com.
Chances are that there’s probably already a website with that domain name.
Bigger companies will often pay for these generic names, so they can redirect people who are looking for that thing. For instance, if someone sells yellow erasers with green stripes, they might want a domain like yelloweraserswithgreenstripes.com, so they can redirect customers to their actual website. It’s a way of reinforcing that the brand is the authority on whatever that thing is.
We understand why you might want to go after the bigger names first, and we have to say, we can’t really blame you if you do: If someone already has the .co.uk version of a domain, they have even greater incentive to buy the other versions of their domain.
But we suggest maybe starting with the shorter, generic domains for three main reasons:
- A massive brand’s lawyers will probably just bulldoze right over you if you try to hold their domain hostage.
- It’s harder (almost impossible) to make a cybersquatting claim for a generic domain.
- Everybody’s going after the bigger names. If you try to go after them too, you’ll just get caught up in the rush while wiser entrepreneurs quietly scoop up the generic ones you underestimated. (Cars.com famously sold for close to a billion )
Quick wrap-up (Remember, this is time-sensitive!)
There’s a one-year transitional period for companies to get fully accustomed to all the changes that come with Brexit, and nobody really knows what deals the UK might manage to work out before the transitional period expires. The market is in an agitated state right now, and people are panicking. That makes it the perfect time to buy domains and sell them for a massive profit that wouldn’t have been possible in a calm season.
Even if you don’t manage to capture one of the dream brands’ domains that will immediately sell for millions, you can get your hands on lots of medium-sized brands or even lots of new, growing brands and make a killing when everything adds up.
The most important thing to do, though, is to act fast. Many of the top-level domains have already been bought. However, this opportunity won’t be around for very long.