One of my favourite things to do is help entrepreneurs find the perfect domain name for their new business startup. Over the last 15 years, I've had the privilege of helping hundreds of companies with this, and I take a certain amount of pride in knowing that I helped play a role - no matter how small - in giving birth to a new business or product.
If you're planning to launch a new business or product, or are in the early stages of a startup, here are five expert tips to help you find the perfect domain name.
1. Give yourself ample time to hunt for a domain name.
The more time you have, the more options you will have, and this will also mean you probably won't have to spend as much. I usually recommend that you allocate at least four weeks to do a thorough search of what domains are available, to gather the prices of domains, and to complete the negotiation, purchase, and transfer of ownership of your chosen domain. In a perfect world, give yourself several months because this will give you the greatest amount of choice and puts you in the best negotiating position.
2. Set a realistic budget.
I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but you are not going to be able to buy a fantastic, one-word .com domain like pizza.com for only $500. (It sold for $2.6 million.) The likelihood of you getting a quality .com domain name - one that is suitable to build a new business or product around - for less than $500 is pretty slim, especially if you are in a hurry. If you are willing to spend $500-$1,000, there's a lot of pretty good inventory available for immediate purchase. Move into the $1,000-$10,000 range - which is a modest sum when amortized over the life a business - and you should be able to find some very good inventory. And if you can justify spending $10,000 or more, you will open yourself up to a world of fantastic inventory. Sure, you can spend five figures or more (sometimes much more) on a killer, one-word .com domain, but there is a plethora of good quality inventory out there in all price ranges if you know where to look. Speaking of which...
3. Look for "buy it now" inventory in the leading domain name marketplaces.
If you have given yourself a decent amount of time for your hunt (see point #1) and have a realistic budget (point #2), you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality and quantity of domain names that are available for immediate purchase in the more popular domain name marketplaces. Most of these marketplaces will allow you to do very specific advanced searches of their inventory, e.g., .com domains that are 10 characters or less and begin with the word "scuba". The domains that you find in these marketplaces can typically be purchased right then and there for the listed price using your credit card. This removes the vagueness of the domain's availability for sale and its purchase price. Here are the domain name marketplaces I recommend you check first when looking to obtain a premium domain name:
- BuyDomains.com - millions of domain names starting at $100, with lots of fantastic inventory in the $1,000-$5,000 range
- Sedo - millions of domain names starting at $10
- Go Daddy Auctions - hundreds of thousands of domains starting as low as $5 (plus registration fee); a great source of bargain domain names if you are patient
Some other marketplaces you could also look at, if you wanted to be really thorough, are:
There are lots of other smaller marketplaces where premium domains are listed for sale - heck, you can even buy domain names on eBay - however a search on BuyDomains.com, Sedo and Go Daddy Auctions will probably capture 80% of the inventory that is available for immediate purchase at a fixed price.
4. Use a domain name broker.
If you want to pursue a domain name that is not listed for sale in one of the marketplaces but is owned by someone else, get help from a domain professional. A good domain name buyer broker will typically have better success in tracking down the owner of a domain name, can usually get you a better deal than you could get on your own, and should offer you valuable advice along the way. BuyDomains, Sedo, and - of course - Name Ninja (the business I run) all offer domain brokerage services.
5. Protect yourself and the transaction through an escrow service.
When it comes time to purchase the domain name, use a domain escrow service (or reputable marketplace or broker) to safeguard the transaction. Chances are you will be buying the domain name from an individual or company in another city or even country that you've never even met. When you are spending thousands of dollars to obtain a domain name, you want to make sure that you don't get ripped off. I recommend using Escrow.com to facilitate the transaction. Reputable domain name escrow services can also be obtained from Agreed.com, BuyDomains.com, and Sedo.
In summary, if you give yourself a decent amount of time, set a realistic budget, and know where to look, you should be able to find a great domain name for your startup, new product, or marketing campaign.
Good luck, and happy hunting!