How to Buy a Domain Name

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My quick take? I prefer Domain. com over other top registrars. They have great prices and super easy to use. It’s the registrar that I personally make use of and always recommend.

You need a domain name.

More specifically, you need the RIGHT domain name.

It’ s likely to stick with your business for the long haul. That’ s why you need to get it correct early.

Don’ t just register whichever domain name is available and call it a day. That’ s a big mistake.

In this guide, I want to stroll you through my process for buying a domain name, starting with how I go about coming up with a name in the first place.

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Brainstorm Concepts and Ideas

If you curently have a name you want to purchase, awesome! Head on down to the following section.

If you want to see if your domain is in fact good (or if you don’ t understand what domain name to pick), keep reading.

Your domain name is going to be used for something, perhaps a business, or a campaign, or perhaps a blog. You probably already have ideas around what it’ ll be called, so you’ ve already started the process.

Create a Idea List

Period project and write down of all of the words, descriptors, phrases, tips, mantras, etc . that come in your thoughts. Come up with as many words as possible. Use a thesaurus to help. I love to call this a concept list. It’s the list before your final name list. It isn’t necessarily names, but for now, just concepts.

Some higher level rules:

  • Don’t worry about SEO or keywords — that doesn’t matter.
  • Avoid hyphens.
  • Stick with a. com only. If you are in the UK, Australia, etc . then of course a. co. uk,. au, etc . is also good.
  • The shorter the better, generally speaking.

I personally find a mind map useful for this process.

Ideas are intrinsically more generative than specific words due to the fact concepts can include other ideas. —Operative Words

Choose Potential Domains

Once you have a thorough concept list, you can develop a more refined list of possible names. Start by listing all of the names you like. Since you might not have an unlimited budget, make sure to drill down deep here. You can’t be too picky yet , because that will end up limiting your options. Write down all you think might work.

I recommend browsing through these websites to get more ideas. You may get lucky and find something you want just by browsing. If you do, include those to your list too.

BrandBucket — They put together more creative, brandable domain names and then sell them. I’ve found lots of names here I would not have thought of on my own.

BrandBucket domain name research screen

BuyDomains. com — They have a huge selection of domain names for sale. They have transparent pricing and offer a smooth experience. This is always the starting point, and preferred approach to acquiring a domain name. domain purchase flow

Sedo. com — Probably the biggest selection of domain names and the most well known place to acquire a name.

Sedo domain purchase flow

BuyDomains. com and Uniregistry are the biggest players in selling domains. More times than not, if a website name is for sale when I type it into my internet browser, it is one of those two companies that is behind the sale. I find them to be the best. HugeDomains. com is another one I have bought from.

More Naming Tools to Come Up with Concepts

If you get stuck, I recommend listening to this podcast episode along with Anthony Shore from Operative Word, a company that specializes in naming things. Recently, he’ s named the on demand fitness system Tonal (love how it’ s a word that conveys health and fitness tone and some sense from the futuristic) and Virgin Trips (formerly Virgin Cruises, which usually really, who wants to take a vacation cruise when you can take a voyage? ). He uses a variety of tools, too, which I’ ll list here:

OneLook. com – This is like a thesaurus juiced up with killer capabilities and wildcarding options. Say you want a title that starts with Bl and ends with rd, and it’ s 7 letters long — you may literally search for that.

RhymeZone – Fairly self explanatory. Bet you didn’ t know that Fast Sprout rhymes with six out, big trout, this crowd, clear out, and sixth round. In addition to rhymes, you can also find synonyms and adjectives.

Sketch Engine – This is very intense corpus linguistics database; it uses a large entire body of real world language that it runs through a computer to arrange and tag that language. Anthony sets his to any or all the news articles from 2014–2017. You can look up words which are used near or in relationship with other words. Generally, you’ re finding phrases that are already natural together. This makes your name more relatable, credible, plus adoptable. He talks about it more on the How Brand names Are Built podcast.

MRC Psycholinguistic Database – He talks about this a lot more in the podcast — it’ t a pretty advanced way to look for words with certain criteria. You can use it to find phrases that start or end a certain way for example.

Now that you have a giant listing of options it’ s time for you to narrow down the list.

Narrow Down the List According to Viability

Narrow your list straight down quickly by typing within the. com for each name that you like. Type it into your browser and see what is there.

  • If there is a well established website built on the domain name, cross it off your list. It is very unlikely to be a practical option.
  • In the event that nothing comes up at all, then keep it on your list. That could mean that the domain name is not registered yet, which is great!
  • If a squeeze page with ads comes up, the domain name is parked. It is owned by someone already, but might be an exchange target. Keep this on your checklist.
  • If the website name is for sale, that’ s the best case scenario. It’ s exactly what we are looking for. Keep this option on your checklist, and take note of the detailed price if there is a shown price.

The best domains are typically those for sale unfortunately. But if you might have the budget for it, it’ s well worth the investment.

Once you have the narrowed down list, the next step is to drill down even deeper to determine exactly what your final options will be.

Choose Your Name

It’ s now time for the big decision.

Remember the rules-of-thumb:

  • Don’t worry about SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION or keywords — that doesn’t matter.
  • Avoid hyphens.
  • Stick with a. com just. If you are in the UK, Australia, etc . then of course a. company. uk,. au, etc . is also good.
  • The shorter the better.

Then, ask yourself these 10 questions about each of your domain name options:

  1. Do you feel good about the name?
  2. Do you like it?
  3. Are you confident when you say it?
  4. Can it feel good when you write this down?
  5. Whenever you read it?
  6. Is it brandable?
  7. Is it unique, easy to keep in mind and meaningful?
  8. Is it easy to read and spell?
  9. Does it complete the Google test? Google the name. Ideally there are not any other organizations that pop up. If there are, you at least want to make sure they are not within the same industry, or even within a closely related industry.
  10. If it passes the Google test, you are probably all set, but just in case is it trademarked?

The Starter Domain Approach

An approach that I am a fan of is to use the beginner domain approach. The idea the following is that you can start with a domain name with the intention to move to another one down the road.

Let’s say you determine a domain name that you love, but it is out of range for the budget. For example , when I has been coming up with a name for my latest company, I really loved GoodLife. com. Someone else has it and isn’t necessarily looking to sell it. If I wanted to buy it, I would have to give you a lot of money — a lot more than I was ready to pay. If I desired to take the starter domain method, I could have gone using the name Good Life Media, and acquired GoodLifeMedia. com which is for sale for $24, 500. (That price should have gone up, because it wasn’t that high when I was in fact considering this as an option. )

In any case, I could start with GoodLifeMedia. possuindo and eventually try to acquire GoodLife. com. It would be very easy to rebrand from Good Life Media, to Good Lifetime. Internally, we would just go simply by “Good Life. ” Your day that we eventually acquire GoodLife. com would be a huge milestone and would create a built/in company goal that we could go after as a team.

If you want a real life example, The particular Wirecutter just recently rebranded in order to Wirecutter.

Considerations for the starter domain approach

  • Make sure the names will translate cleanly. The two brands have to be very closely associated. Ideally they’ re therefore close you could use the desired title everywhere outside of the actual website name, including in your logo.
  • It’ s the risk — there is no ensure your desired target domain name will be there when you are ready.
  • I recommend engaging in discussions with the broker or even domain owner of your desired name as soon as possible. Even if you know there isn’t any opportunity you can afford it these days. They don’t need to know that will. This is actually a huge advantage for you personally, because it is common that over time the owner will drop the cost as they realize their higher price isn’t going to happen.

An email on Social Handles

In a perfect planet, you’ d pick a website name whose social handles can also be available. This isn’t a perfect entire world. My take on this is that it’s hard enough to get a good domain name. Don’t make it also harder or nearly impossible by also adding this requirements. When it comes to picking up the interpersonal handles, you’ll have options. You may get creative, or even potentially acquire the handles from the current proprietors.

It’s a smart idea to consider social handles when making your final decision, but don’t let that stop a person from picking the right name.

How Much Domains Cost

You can find two options when it comes to having your domain name:

  1. Register a name that will isn’t already currently authorized.
  2. Buy a title that is already registered from your person that owns it.

Regardless of which usually option you go with, you will pay an annual registration fee of $7–$15/year on average. In case you are acquiring the name on top of that, you’ ll pay an additional order price.

The expense of acquiring a domain name varies widely: You can easily spend 4–5 figures on a name. In some cases you can find a good one for hundreds of dollars. Some domain names are not for sale at all, while others have sold for millions of dollars. Recently, someone bought CoolQuotesCollection. com meant for $2, 500 and Shoe. com for $70, 1000.

There’s nothing wrong with registering the domain name that is available, as long as you’ ve thought it by means of and are intentional about it. In fact , I encourage that.

The issue is that in many cases, people don’t even understand that there are other options. Getting your hands on the perfect name is more doable than you might think.

It is advisable to put some budget behind your domain name — especially when it’s for your business. The particular tighter your budget, the more limited you’ll be more limited in what you can do.

Like the majority of things you don’ t buy, a domain you get for free sometimes shouts to your customers that you’ re cheap. I agree with Anthony Shore of the naming agency Surgical Words that a non-natural word name probably won’ to serve your brand well because it comes off when he puts it in this podcast, “ domain desperation. ” It’ s not a good look.

Buy Your Domain Name

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  • Great for multiple domains
  • Easy domain exchanges
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At this point you should have a narrowed down list of viable options for your own domain name. The next step is to own this.

All of your options should fall into one of three categories:

  1. The domain name is available and unregistered.
  2. The domain name seems to be acquirable, but it is not crystal clear.
  3. The domain name is clearly for sale.

We’ ll tackle each one of these situations.

What to Do If the Website name is Unregistered

In this case, all you need to do is usually go to Domain. com and register the domain name (get 25% off with coupon code QUICKSPROUT).

You’ll find out for sure if that is an option or not once you type the domain name into the search bar.


You’ll go through a straightforward process here. Don’t buy any of the add ons or worry about web hosting or any of the yet except for “ personal privacy protection”. It’ s what is going to keep your name off a number of spam call lists. You need to use Domain. com to register your domain name and keep your information private (get 25% away from with coupon code QUICKSPROUT). That is it. They are the best domain name registrar and I use them specifically. I do not use them to get anything else because there are other companies that I use for the rest of my web needs. I’ m a huge proponent of going to the expert in each area of our business.

After you finish registering the website name, you’ re done! You might be officially the proud proprietor of your new domain name. All you have to do moving forward is renew the domain name each year. In case you fail to renew it, after that someone else will be able to replace you as the owner. I recommend environment your domain to auto-renew. It’ s just one less thing to worry about.

What to Do If the Domain Name Appears Acquirable

If the domain name seems acquirable, but it isn’t clear — you might have two options. Either you can test to figure out who owns the website name yourself and reach out to all of them. Or, you can hire an agent to do it for you.

If you hire a domain broker, there isn’t much risk. Typically, the only way you will need to pay a fee is if you buy the domain name. That’ s the biggest downside.

Sedo is a good place to start if you want to hire a website broker. I’ ve utilized them before and have learn good reviews from others.

In the case of carrying it out yourself, you can start with a WHO IS search to try to figure out the master of the domain name. Googling the particular domain name and seeing when it is tied to any social media profiles or other websites can also be a good approach.

More times than not really, I will fail at discovering who owns the domain name personally. It is common for people to use personal privacy features that hide their own contact information. Most area registrars offer this at no cost, so people tend to do it by default. (Like I stated above, you should definitely opt into this feature. )

The benefit of the domain broker is that they have a huge network. They almost always know who owns what, and if these people don’t, they have ways of foreseeing it out. Back to the GoodLife. com example. There is absolutely no way I would have determined who owns that domain name if I didn’t have a broker number it out for me. Naturally , I still do not know who owns that domain name, but at least I have a broker who does.

Another benefit of the broker is that you do not have to handle the awkwardness of discussing price. You have a middle man who can be the bad guy for you personally.

What to Do When the Domain Name Is Clearly on the market

Domain names that could be acquirable, as outlined above, can be challenging. I much prefer to focus on names that are clearly for sale. These are simple.

If the name is already for sale, the process is straightforward. The only thing you really need to think about is negotiating price.

Negotiating Price

There is often opportunity to negotiate price. Depending on who you are coping with, there could be some room to find the price down. I don’t suggest pushing too hard or overthinking this. That might just lead to wasting time and possibly losing out on the name. However , there is no harm in giving it a shot and doing some degree of negotiating.

Following the Acquisition

Once you acquire the domain name, the next step is to transfer to your domain registrar. Again, I recommend Domain. com (get 25% off along with coupon code QUICKSPROUT). You can see the procedure for transferring your domain name here. It also helps to understand how domains work.

Regardless of how you acquire your own domain name, the final step is to see it sitting inside of your account. Then it’s official!

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