Picking out a domain name can be tricky, but it’s a low cost and essential part of getting your website started. The length and content of the name will also contribute to the web design (think ‘bluebank.com’ vs. ‘spiritualagency-cockerspaniels.org’) And if you’re looking for a fast start, having your name locked down means you can start ordering related collateral imprinted with the website name, such as business cards.
If you haven’t figured out your domain name yet, first find out the answer to this important question: is it available? There are easy to use registration tools, which will allow you to enter many choices at once, and will tell you which, if any, are available. Try out the name finder at Network Solutions.
When coming up with name ideas, you may find the first ones that come to mind were taken years ago. If so, get out your pencil and come up with alternatives. Numbers and dashes are legal, so you might consider those (for instance, 2dollarbill.com is taken, but 2-dollarbill.com is currently available). Also consider how firm you are on your domain extension (.com, .org, .net, etc.). Some of the domain name tools (at Godaddy.com for instance) will offer you other naming combinations.
The name finder at Network Solutions lets you check for availability on up to 10 names in one submission. This will give you an idea right away as to whether the names you like are available — or if you’re in a really competitive area, you’ll be working on some innovative word combinations. The domain name purchase itself is low cost, so if you’re down to two names and can’t decide, you can purchase both, and decide later — it’s more important to lock in your name. The purchase charge is annual; you’re actually leasing the name annually, although you can also buy a multiple year lease.