These days, finding a good domain name is about as hard as finding a place to sit in Times Square. If it’s too long it’s hard to remember. If it’s short, it’s probably unavailable or costs a fortune. To avoid taking out a loan with your house as collateral, take some time to strike a balance. After all, this choice is going to have to go on your business card.
Try To Stick with .com
A lot of people are tempted to grab a .net, .ly, or other domain name extension beyond the standard .com, but in most cases you want to try to stay true to the standard. There are exceptions to this rule, particularly if you are outside of the United States or if a different domain name extension makes the name memorable, but in most cases the number of leads you get as a result of search engines will make this decision worthwhile.
Get Crazy with the Brainstorming
One of the first rules of product design innovation at Frog Design is to let go of conventions. Let yourself go, combine the unthinkable, and see if it works. You never know where you could end up.
Note: If you need some help with this process, the somewhat silly Brand Name Generator may help.
If You Like It You Should Put a Dash On It
If you can’t let go, try adding a dash between the words of your domain name. This increases availability quite significantly. Just remember to check out what exists at the site without dashes. If you’re looking at a domain squatter, fine. If the dash-less domain is a competitor, forget her and move on.
Make Up Your Own Word(s)
Startups are notorious for making up catchy, unheard of words. In most cases they combine two existing words (e.g. a power adjective and an industry related noun or verb) to build something entirely new. If you need a little name brainstorming help, the Wordoid word generator is particularly good at this.
Get Creative with Spelling
As a writer I sometimes feel like this tactic degrades the English language, but in the world of domain overcrowding you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Startups are notorious for dealing with misspelled domains until they land some serious funding. Exhibit A: Kickstarter (which used to be called Kickstartr).
Note: Before pulling the trigger on a cleverly misspelled domain name, scope out what exists on the real spelling. You don’t want to reside next to something sketchy or (gasp) give your traffic to competitor.
Use the Master Tool
My absolute favorite tool for quickly getting a handle on domain name availability is domainr. Spend a night putting it to use and then go get those business cards printed. It’s time for the fun part.