What to Do When You Can't Get Your Dot Com

If you read Four Must-Haves For your Domain Name, then you know it's getting really difficult to get that perfect domain name for your brand or business. In today's post, we're giving strategies to make the next best thing work out awesome for you, including a few case studies.

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To quickly summarize my advice on the subject: do what you can to get your dot com but don't exceed 25 characters to get it (including the extension).  At that point, move on to another extension.

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Remember: Your domain name should focus on what's most important: that your URL is brandable, short, pronounceable, and unique.
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Trick #1 Use Filler Words and Characters

Back in "the day", it was advised to not use numbers or hyphens in domain names.  That's still usually a pretty good rule. But, sometimes a hyphen can be advantageous when breaking up words anyways, for instance with skill-space.com.  I was able to purchase skill-space.com at an affordable price point and since it is two words the hyphen functioned to break up the words nicely.

Using filler words and hyphens should be very strategic.  But numbers are still considered a bad move that very few can pull off (think 1800flowers.com).

Anther popular trick is to add filler words like "the" like The Green Collective did with thegreencollective.co.nz or The Brand Creative with thebrandcreative.co.

Trick #2 Rock The Newer TLD's

A TLD is a Top-Level Domain, that's the official name for the extension of your domain (e.g. yourcompany.com versus yourcompany.net). 

In the technology world of today, it actually matters less and less what TLD/extension you use as long as it matches the four must-haves.

Here's some input from copywriter Tina Eaton

I was able to get a domain (tinaleaton.com) that matches the email address I’ve always used, which is also my name. I agree [...] that as long as it’s easy to say/remember (for word of mouth or offline advertising), the old rules about .com and such don’t matter. Some of the “hippest” startups these days are playing with extensions like .icecream or whatever. For the most part, it really is all about clicks these days anyway. When was the last time you actually typed a URL from memory into your search bar? One caveat is some extensions can come with connotations. Many people I know from the digital agency sphere agree that .net implies an out of date website the same way .edu implies an educational website.

Examples of websites using other extensions:

these brand are having fun with other extensions:

  • it.ly
  • Card.io
  • Chirp.io
  • Conserve.io
  • Context.io
  • Dispatch.io
  • Driftaway.coffee
  • Filepicker.io
  • Gist.io
  • Jacksonville.attorney
  • Insight.ly
  • Lionsgate.academy
  • Pancake.io
  • Rust.studio
  • Scratchtown.beer
  • Squarestud.io
  • Sush.io
  • Vid.io
  • Visual.ly
  • WantSome.studio
  • Wyoming.fish
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Trick #3 Settle...Temporarily

There are usually three reasons your domain name is taken or out-of-reach:

  1. People with good intentions just already snatched up what you want.
  2. Sometimes there are people stealing domain names they aren't using (and don't plan on using) just to make a profit.  This is called squatting and, yes, this happens.  
  3. Big buzz words are automatically going to add a higher price tag to your domain name making a startup with a limited budget unable to afford the domain name they want. These big buzz words include infinity, space, business, etc. Fun fact: passivestream.com, which combines two keywords for passive income earning streams is available to purchase but with a $4,000 price tag.

Regardless which one of these happened to you, you might want to figure out how to settle on something until you can get what you really want, which usually means you have to buy the domain name from someone (which can take at least a year or so) or save up the money for a premium domain name. 

Erin Flynn had someone squat on her domain name originally asking $5,000 for erinflynn.com.  With patience (and time) she was able to negotiate that down to $1,000.  Here's her insight:

My URL is erinflynn.com and I had had erinEflynn.com while I was waiting to get erinflynn.com. I also had erin-flynn.net for a while.

... I think investing in a domain is really important if you're branding yourself under your own name--or have big plans for a company. You don't want to confuse people with your URL, and having the right one can make a big difference in people finding you. I'm now the top search result for "Erin Flynn" which is important to me and my business!

What have you found in your domain name research?  What is your story and experience with getting your ideal domain name?  Comment below!