Finding a Domain

If you're starting a company, you're going to want a home on the web. Finding a domain isn't easy, though. Many of the best domains are already taken. Many others are currently owned by people "squatting" on that site and hoping to re-sell that domain to someone like you for a signifcant markup.

As a general rule: An available .com domain name typically starts at about $10, and can run higher, depending on the name. The domain name isn't the pricey part; finding the hosting service to accomodate all your web traffic could get expensive, though.

Here are the questions you should be asking:

Is my domain name available?
If you already have a domain name in mind, then you can search for it at sites like:

How do I buy the domain?

If your domain name is available, you're in luck. You can buy the domain directly through any of the sites listed above.

What if I need some help finding an alternate domain name?

Of course, it's possible (or maybe even probable) that your domain is already taken. So you'll need some help brainstorming alternate domain names for your business.
  • Domainr -- Searches for available domain names and offers alternatives to those names. (For example: Awesome.com may be taken, but aweso.me may be available.)
  • DomainTyper -- Searches for available domain names. It also generates random names for available .com domains. (One recent search from the name generator turned up Goowire, Atomnic, and Djanpoint. So helpfulness may be limited with this tool.)
  • Domain Hole -- Tools to check for available domain names and help you brainstorm other names
  • BrandBucket -- Lists of domain names and prices for niche web topics (including news). Costs can range from several hundred into the low thousands.
  • Stylate -- A one-stop shop for domain and logo assistance. They've already purchased domains and designed a unique logo for that domain. They then re-sell the domain/logo to you, starting at $250.
  • YummyNames -- Find a better domain name based off of keyword searches.
  • Wordoid -- Generates suggested domain names that include a word of your choice
  • Lean Domain Search -- Finds available domain names that include a word of your choice

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What if I really want to buy a domain that's already taken?

You can always search for the owner of the domain via DomainTools and contact the owner directly.
  • But know: Buying a domain from a squatter can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the domain name, the seller, and the reputation of the buyer. (If you're Bill Gates, the seller's likely to increase the price tag a smidge.)
  • For help in the process, here are tips on buying domain names via James Siminoff, founder of PhoneTag.com.
  • Domai.nr also has a step-by-step guide to acquiring a domain name that's already taken.

If you're uncomfortable negotiating on your own, GoDaddy offers a DomainBuy service. They charge $69.99 + commission to help you buy that domain name. Or you can buy from these vendors, which sell unused/unwanted domain names:

The domain purchase websites are telling me to buy the .net, .tv. and .org domains as well. Should I?

That depends on what you're doing. If you're looking to expand into video, maybe a .tv domain might be helpful to your brand.

Otherwise, no, you probably don't need the extra domain names. The only reason to buy them is to keep a competitor from buying them and using them to redirect traffic toward their site.

Some Tools To Find Right Domain Name And How These Are Relevant