You have a great idea for a new website, blog, or e-commerce site. There is just one problem. You cannot seem to find any domain names that represent your idea. They are either all taken, or the seller of that domain name wants thousands of dollars.
Do not worry. You have options.
Finding a domain name these days is like finding a needle in a haystack. That is if you want a high-quality domain that is easy to spell, easy to remember, and a top-level domain. I personally recommend sticking to the .com domain name as your first choice.
Another common problem for those looking to buy a domain is the availability of social media handles. You may find the domain name you want but all of the social media accounts are taken. For example, the domain bestdomains.com may be available to purchase but @bestdomains may be taken on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others. What do you do?
How to brainstorm domain name ideas?
Create a list of relevant words
This is the old school way of coming up with a domain name for your website. I personally like to start by writing down or typing as many words that describe or relate to my idea for a new website, blog, or e-commerce site. Simply open a new Word document and let the words start flowing. Use the thesaurus to find additional words.
Once complete, go ahead and start putting one or more words together. Many times, people often look at what other, established brands have done. This includes pairing your words with trending words such as hub, source, bay, finder, deals, price, pricing, stop, exchange, shop, market, save, savings, guru, locator, expert, help.
Use a domain name generator
Another method for brainstorming domain name ideas is to use a domain name generator. A domain name generator is an online tool that automatically pairs words together based on a list of words you provide. You can make this as simple or complex as you want. The only problem is that domain name generators are somewhat generic and the odds of you finding an available domain name that is easy to spell, easy to remember, and short is highly unlikely.
Make up your own words
This takes a little bit more creativity. It will also require more marketing efforts to build your brand awareness and recognition. It also might not be clear as to what your website, blog, or e-commerce site offers.
That is not to say that you cannot use this strategy and be successful. Numerous companies have created very successful brands and businesses based on made-up words.
Finalize your list of domains to buy
You should have a list of at least 10-15 domain names that you are interested in purchasing. I would actually recommend 20-30 domain names to be safe. Odds are that many of these will be taken if you are searching for .com, .net, .biz or .co names.
Again, I typically only purchase .com domain names. They are the easiest to remember. If someone sees your logo but not your domain name, what are they mostly likely going to type into a search? I would bet that nine times out of ten, it will be yourname.com.
Check domain name availability
Now that you have your list of potential domains to buy, you need to check if they are available. What is the best way to check whether or not a domain name is available for sale?
There are a couple of different options to select from.
Use a domain name checker tool
The best option in my opinion is to use an online, domain name checker tool like NameChk.com, NameCheck.com, or NameCheckr.com. Not only will these tools check for available domain names, they will also check social media name availability. This is great for seeing the bigger picture when it comes to branding and marketing your website, blog or e-commerce site online.
Using a domain name checker will save you a ton of time and frustration.
Use a domain name registrar
You could also go directly to a domain registrar such as GoDaddy, Names.com, Network Solutions, NamesCheap.com, or another website. Obviously, you can start searching for available domain names by entering your names without the .com into the search box. You can filter your search results by selecting and deselecting options.
Search premium domain names for sale
This is one of my favorite options. Did you know that you can buy existing, aftermarket domain names that are other people own? These are domain names that have already been established and carry a premium over new domain name registrations. Premium domain names range in price from $10-15 per domain to millions of dollars. The most expensive domain name ever purchased was business.com for $345 million.
Where do you go to purchase premium domain names? You can go to your standard domain name registrars such as GoDaddy.com, Network Solutions, Names.com, NamesCheap.com. You can easily search their premium domain name listing by filtering your search results to premium domains.
In addition to standard domain name registrars, there are also domain name brokers and brokerage websites like Sedo.com, Flippa.com, NamePros, and NamesCorp.com.
How to buy a domain name?
Congratulations, you found your perfect domain name. Now what? You are ready to buy a domain name, but you are uncertain what you need or how to do it. There are several things you should consider when buying a domain name.
Domain name term – 1 year, 2 years…
Domain names are registered every year and there is an annual renewal fee for the registration. Be careful, this can be more than the original domain name registration cost. For example, at GoDaddy.com, you may pay $1.99 initially to register your new .com domain. However, it may cost you $14.99 to register it each subsequent year after the first.
There may be a discount and you may be able to save money by registering your domain name for multiple years. Registering your domain name for 2-3 years makes a lot of sense from a cost and search engine optimization (SEO) perspective. Google and other search engines seem to prefer domain names that are registered for multiple years.
Add domain name privacy
Did you know that anyone can look up who owns a domain name? There are online tools called “Who Is” which enables users to look up domain name owners. There are also published lists of newly created domain name owners and their contact information. These are often used by website design companies, hosting providers, SEO and digital marketing agencies to target owners of newly registered domain names.
You can get around this with domain name privacy. Domain name privacy allows you to keep you contract information private. It will only be available to the domain name registrar where you purchased your domain name.
Domain name privacy comes at a cost and is an add-on feature for each of your domain names. Typically, registrars will charge $19.99 a year for domain name privacy. Should you get it? It depends on whether or not you want spam like emails. It also depends on whether or not you want your contact or business information attached to the domain.
Buy domain name bundles and packages
You can often find great deals on bundled packages that include the domain name, web hosting, and email. Sometimes hosting providers like GoDaddy.com offer a free domain name and email with the purchase of an annual hosting plan.
A word of caution on buying bundled packages. You may receive a bunch of freebies, but it will cost you later on. For example, you spend $59.99 for hosting for year and receive a free domain name and email address. The following year, you will spend $59.99 for hosting plus $14.99 for the domain name and $4.99 a month for the email. Be careful as most of these services will be set to auto-renew. Turn off auto-renew for each service just in case you forget about the services next year.
Tips on buying a premium domain name
There are additional costs associated with purchasing a premium domain. You will have the purchase price for buying the domain name from the seller plus the registrar costs and any additional fees associated with escrow. Commissions are paid to the domain name broker from the seller and are typically a percentage of the purchase price.