“Follow the plan outlined here and you can create your own website from scratch without writing any code for less than $300.”
Have you ever tried purchasing a domain name?
Just in case you haven’t, I want to prepare you for a major let down.
All the domain names are taken.
They’re all gone.
Okay, I’m being hyperbolic, but that’s how it can feel when you’re trying to find an available domain name for your site.
Why is it so hard to find a good domain name?
In this guide, I’ll explain the current state of domain names and a strategy to help you navigate the challenge of finding a great available domain name.
Why is it so hard to find a domain name?
The problem is that domain brokers, or as I call them, squatters, purchase hundreds or even thousands of domains that have common words in them because know someone someday will want it. Then they charge you thousands of dollars for the name because they have to offset the cost of buying all those other domains!
Shakes fist at the middlemen.
Of course, that’s not always the case. Sometimes a domain name you want will already be in use by a legitimate organization. Either way, finding a domain name can be slim pickings these days.
So now that we’ve covered the lousy part of this ordeal, what can you do about it?
How to get an awesome domain name for $10
With some persistence and strategy, you can still find an awesome .com domain name for $10. Here are the tips I use when finding domains for my own websites.
Create a master list
If you come up with the perfect name and sit around for months expecting it to be available, you’re in for a rude surprise. It’s almost certainly taken.
Do the opposite.
Come up with a list of dozens of potential domain names and don’t get attached to any of them yet. There’s no process for generating this list. Just start ideating any names that could work and avoid being picky for now.
The more names you have in your list, the more likely you are to find an available name.
Maximize your list with synonyms
Use a site like thesaurus.com to find synonyms for the terms in your domain name ideas. This will help you come up with lots more variations.
Add additional words
I use CloudApp to quickly take screenshots and share them over email when doing customer support. They use the domain getcloudapp.com. It’s a great example of a legit business using an added word to get a domain.
Here are a few terms you can try:
Any of these terms can be added to the beginning of your domain name to find an available variation.
Stick to .com
I would recommend using a domain like getcloudapp.com before cloudapp.net.
When’s the last time you visited a .net website? Or a .org that wasn’t a non-profit organization?
Consumers expect your site to use .com and they trust these domain names much more than alternatives, especially .biz and .info.
The new domain extensions are gaining acceptance, so while I wouldn’t recommend them as a first choice, I think a relevant TLD could be a better choice than another extension like .net or .org.
Check the availability
Once you have your master list compiled, you don’t want to check them all one at a time.
While there are lots of bulk domain name checkers available, I recommend using Namecheap’s domain checker since they are also great for purchasing and managing domains.
When creating your list of names you can add them one name per line in a simple text file or notes app so you can easily copy and paste the complete list into the bulk availability checker.
Where to purchase your domain name
If you haven’t signed up for hosting yet, don’t buy your domain name just yet!
You can create an account with Bluehost and they’ll let you register the domain name for free.
If you already purchased your domain name, you’ll have to update your DNS zone when you signup for hosting which isn’t necessarily hard but it can be a bit weird and technical for someone who’s never done that before. It’s much easier to get your domain through Bluehost so you can skip that step entirely.
They’ll also automatically create a WordPress website for you, so it’s a complete package for getting a website online.
I used Bluehost to make my first WordPress site more than eight years ago and they continue to be a great solution for new webmasters.
Register with Namecheap
If you already have hosting then I would recommend using Namecheap to purchase and manage your domain.
I use Namecheap to manage a lot of my domains and they have a nice interface for managing your DNS zones and other facets of domain ownership.
If you’re just beginning your domain name search, it can be a frustrating process at first.
Once you find a couple decent available names, it gets easier and with some persistence, you can still find awesome available names you can register for just $10.
As I stated earlier, the best approach is definitely to come up with a ton of names from the get-go and then bulk check them all at once.
When you do find a name you like, don’t sit around forever before purchasing it! It would be a real shame if someone got to it first especially since it only costs $10 to reserve for a year.