How a Domainer Uses Pheenix and BrandBucket

Michael Krell, owner of, recently spoke with, and talked about how he bought brandable domains. This post is basically notes on that discussion with further information on two of the tools he uses: BrandBucket and Pheenix for dropcatching domains.

Notes on Krell’s Expired Domain Buying Process

• Searches for domains on GoDaddy’s expiring auctions filtering for names with less than 13 characters / at least 6 years old / all .com domains. “When I started, I looked at maybe three years old because I had more time to search for some of those names, but now I do not know why I choose six. It is just a good number, I guess. So, I look and there is maybe one thousand names or so that meet that criteria every day that are coming up for auction, and then have just a little web software that I had developed that I put in a list of maybe 60 keywords, maybe 70 keywords with under 13 characters long, and about the same, maybe eight hundred or so are dropping every day.”

• His domain names are almost exclusively tech related. “It is almost all tech names, and so just keeping up to date and just knowing what other companies are naming themselves and just words that you often hear in the tech world. And if you have a keyword and you have one of those words, then generally they are going to work.”

• He’s basically trying to maximize the odds that one of these domains will be valuable enough to find a buyer: “I can get one thousand bucks for one in one hundred of these names if I register it.”

• “Are other people going to put in a backorder? If not, I do not want to pay the 59 or 69 dollars at SnapNames or NameJet, and then I can go to the next level, which is Pheenix, which has a pretty good capture rate, but it is going to cost you $18.95, or can you just wait for it and get it for registration fee.”

• He sells his brandable domains on His MediaPlow site also includes redirects for his domains – the[specific page for that domain name] (putting in a redirect on that domain name on the registrar level to that specific sale page on MediaPlow). Before that, Michael would just use a Wufoo contact form. “I’d just make one form and put that in the root file of the domain, and then it would take them to the contact page when they visit the domain”. He doesn’t use parking pages as the focus is on selling the domain name.

• He opts for more brandable domain names. “I would say the majority of my names are two real words that you put together, and so it does not have to be made up … I’m not investing in You know what I mean. Most keyword domains are going to be out of your budget to begin with. The real money is definitely in brandable names and the keywords, and then some people say well, you should develop it. Developing takes a long time to do anything right and it is a pain in the butt and you still do not make any money off of ads anyway. And for passive income, definitely brandables is the way to go.”

pheenix brandbucket

Pheenix for DropCatching Domains

After finding promising domains, you need to still secure it. Many people start with the least effective means of securing an expiring domain – either a desktop dropcatching app or using the $21 backorder service which is notorious for being ineffective (or only effective if no one else is bidding on the domain). Pheenix is a new dropcatcher backorder any name for $18.95 ($18.95 for a .com or .net, $58.95 for .CC and .TV) and this comes with free WHOIS privacy (Pheenix is its own registrar). Although Pheenix cannot compete with the big drop-catchers like BackorderZone/SnapNames/NameJet/HugeDomains (Andrew Reberry), the reported success rate from domainers has been positive. Customers are only charged if they successfully acquire the domain – if you are the only backorder then the domain gets moved into your Pheenix account. If multiple people bid on it then the domain is sent to a 3 day auction and you only get the domain name if you are the highest bidder (at which point your purchase price becomes the $18.95 fee + your high bid). Domain names that are allowed to be backordered must have ‘Pending Delete’ status, and an easy way to find pending deletion domains is to use and sift trough the ‘Pheenix Del’ datafeed (FreshDrop owns Pheenix so they go well together – the first to sift domains, the second to acquire them. FreshDrop costs $19.95/month).


BrandBucket is a marketplace where domainers can submit their domains and once accepted, be listed for sale there along with a logo that one of their designers create for the brand. The idea is that a new startup / company can save time by buying a ready-made identity complete with domain name and logo. The domains that BrandBucket sells through their marketplace are brandable – they sound kind of nice but don’t give any clue as to what they’re about. These domains don’t get any type-in traffic and BrandBucket has said that most of their end-user customers (domain buyers) are tech companies / tech startups. They like names that are pronounceable and shun keyword domains / niched domain names (although they do have different categories). Think spellable / pronounceable domain names (singular more than plural as the ending ‘s’ is not often heard by customers) that are applicable to many different industries. Envato was one of the domains that was sold through BrandBucket and is often used as an example of the type of domain they are looking for. Three and four letter .com domain names that are actually pronounceable are also in demand. Mike Navarini who owns Namerific mentioned that he likes to look through for domain name ideas.

BrandBucket’s minimum price is $1,000 and though some domains go for $20,000 on up, their average price is between $2,000 – $4,000. A large component of the listing price (which is chosen by BrandBucket) is how large the potential pool of buyers are (and how deep the pockets are in that industry niche). All their sales so far have been .com domains, and although they do accept other hot domain extensions like .io / .ly / .co, they will only take the more premium domains in these other extensions. Although they no longer list sold domains on their site out of respect for the buyers of the domains BrandBucket’s 2013 domain name sales were analyzed by TLDInvestors. BrandBucket demands exclusivity (if a buyer contact you through WHOIS they want you to forward them to your BrandBucket listing) and although you can always retract your domain with 30 days notice they prefer you to stay with them for at least 6 months. BrandBucket will cancel the account of a seller with repeated offsite sales. Single word domain names will sell at a premium, and the best way to see what domains that BrandBucket accepts is to start listing some domains. Every domain name that is accepted onto BrandBucket requires a $10 fee for listing. They also give you an option to vote for other names to accumulate credits (100 votes = 10 credits = one listing credit). There is a 30% success fee upon your domain selling and a $100 logo fee due at that time as well. Competitors in the same space include Brandroot (who also charges a $10 fee and a 30% commission) and Namerific, who also charge a 30% success fee but unlike BrandBucket don’t require an exclusivity agreement.

If you’re tempted to list on a brandable domain marketplace, note that you will have more success with a large number of domain names. Here’s what a rep from BrandRoot had to say:

At Brandroot we try not to even approve sellers who have less than 100 domains. We see many domainers who get frustrated when they don’t sell 1 of their 5 published domains. The ones that complain the least are the ones who have more than 100 because they are seeing sales.


  1. Thanks for roundup…Michael did a great job sharing and explaining his process. A few times in the article (including the link) you incorrectly wrote “BitBucket” instead of “BrandBucket”. Could I please ask you to correct them? Thanks!

    • George Grove says:

      Oof .. BitBucket is a competitor to GitHub which kept popping into my head while writing the article. BrandBucket is a place for getting your business a domain / identity (and BitBucket a place for a company to stash their code revisions). Thanks for the heads-up Margot.

  2. George Grove says:

    At least one big domainer is not a fan:

    • partony says:

      The best place to buy BRANDABLE .COMs is
      They are a mix between a Domain Name News Aggregator and a
      Marketplace for Brandable & Keyword domains. They offer “Rent-To-Own” plans (through or all their
      domain names for sale. Worth a look …

  3. George Grove says: is another marketplace for brandable domains.

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