How to Park a domain name
The easiest way to monetize a domain is domain parking.
You do not have to sell your domain to make a profit, the most comfortable way to get back some of your registration costs is parking your domain.
It is estimated that around 20-25% of all registered domain names are currently parked.
Some domainers even have portfolios that earn a lot more in parking revenue than what they pay in yearly renewal costs. But even if you do not manage to make a parking profit on your portfolio you can still be highly profitable at the end of the year if you have enough domain sales. That said it does not make sense to delete all domains in your portfolio that are not profitable with domain parking.
What is domain parking?
Basically there are several domain parking companies (like Sedo or Namedrive) that let you set up a domain parking account. Each of these companies has a contract with an ad network, like Google or Yahoo. These networks supply ads that are published on your site and earn money with every click a user makes on one of the ads.
How does domain parking work?
After setting up an account with one of the domain parking companies (be aware some companies have certain restrictions for applying), you are asked to list the domains that you want to park there. Fortunately most parking firms offer a solution that lets you upload many domains at a time, so you will not have to type in every single domain. After that you mostly have the chance to award certain keywords to specific domains and you might also be allowed to choose designs and pictures that will be part of your web page. Some companies automate certain parts of that process. The most important part on your side is to change the nameservers of your domains with your registrar (a task that is usually done within minutes for all your domains, if they are with the same registrar), so that your domains point to the parked page with the domain parking company.
The domain parking company will now display ads matching your keywords on your domain. Every time a user clicks on one of the ads you will get money (mostly between 5 and 15 cents). So you can imagine that over time it adds up nicely if your domains gets at least some traffic.
So even if you are planning on developing your domain you might still get some extra cash, if you park it before you bring your website online. One should never have a blank page or just a welcome page. Instead grab the extra cash, it’s free money that you can spend on anything, including more domains that can make even more money.
How can I maximize the parking income?
If your parking company allows you to make changes within your parking pages then try to optimize the domains that get the most traffic, by switching keywords, pictures and layouts. Optimizing domains with only a few visitors a year are usually not worth the effort if you have a large domaining portfolio, but making small changes on the domains that have the highest traffic can have an impressive impact.
In addition one can always test several parking companies and compare the results. In most cases domains will have different earnings with different parking companies even if they are on the same ad feed. If you want to make even more cash you will either have to wait for new solutions or develop your domain which is a lot of work, but is also usually more profitable than parking.
Of course the easiest method would be to increase the traffic to your domains (e.g. through linking, paid ads, frames etc.) but none of the larger parking companies allows that.
Which domains generate parking revenue?
As you can not increase traffic by any means only domains that receive direct type ins will be able to earn revenue. These are mainly generic .com’s and ccTLDs, typos or domains that still receive traffic because of a former project under that domain.
Controversy on domain parking
Yes, there are people out there that think domain parking is not in the interest of the user that gets to that website. In my point of view, as there is so much advertising money online these days, there are also lots of relevant ads for almost any subject. That means that visitors get links that are very targeted and that are in many cases far more valuable than some developed websites out there.
Disadvantages of domain parking
Don’t get me wrong, before not monetizing your domain at all there is not better way than parking. Still there are two huge disadvantages over a developed site:
No search engine traffic as parked domains usually drop out of the search engine index
No repeat visitors as there is no valuable unique content on your web page no one will want to bookmark the site or remember to come back
So if you have time to develop some your domains, go ahead with that to maximize your return.
Future of domain parking
Some parking companies already offer the possibility to customize parking pages. Hopefully other parking companies will be allowed to open this service for their clients. In that case one could combine traditional parking with other affiliate ads or own content.