How to get the domain name you want


The basics of domain name registration are relatively straightforward. You contact a domain name registrar (my favorite is and you do a search to see if your domain name is GoDaddy logoavailable. If it is, you pay a small fee (anywhere from $8-$25, depending on the registrar), fill out a form and it’s done, you own the domain.

But things rarely go that simply. First of all, it’s difficult to find the domain that you want. There are currently millions of domain names that have already been registered, and there is a vibrant community of domain name speculators who are also bidding on domain names, so the pool of available names is shrinking. But there are some strategies that you can use to give yourself a better chance of getting the domain name you’re after.

If the domain name is available, buy it immediately
About a year ago, I found  a really good domain name in one of my searches, made a note about going back the next day to buy it, but when I went to make the purchase, I found out that it had already been registered and was now unavailable. This experience is not uncommon and it is happening because
someone is monitoring domain name searches. The way to avoid it is to do your brainstorming ahead of time and be prepared to buy when you find a name that is available. If you’re not sure if you want a domain name but you find out it is available, buy it anyway unless you are OK with losing it completely.

Set up an account with SnapNames so that you can bid on the domain name when it becomes available
SnapNames is a service that lets you “back order” a currently registered domain name. The idea behind this service is that when a domain name expires the expired domain name goes back on the market for anyone who wants it to buy. But, without a service like SnapNames, it would be difficult to monitor the domains SnapNames logothat you want, and depending on the demand for that domain, very difficult to get the domain at all. According to the SnapNames Web site, “about 25% of currently registered domain names–now an installed base of more than 100 million names worldwide–expire and delete each year.” This is a big pool of names that you will have access to by using this service or one like it.

Buy a domain name from a speculator or the current owner
Buying a high-price domain might not seem like an attractive option when you can buy a domain name for $8 from a registrar, but sometimes paying a little (or even a lot) more is worth the investment. There are many Web sites that offer domain names for sale at inflated prices – theoretically the price climbs the more valuable the domain. These sites include
GreatDomains or Afternic, where, for example, today you could purchase for $20,000 and where just sold for $10,100. These prices may seem high, but even one of the most notoriously expensive domain names – – which sold in late 1999 for $7.5 million, was bought in July 2007 by R.H. Donnelley Corp. for between $340 million and $360 million. The current purchase price includes the fully developed directory business, of course, but it does underscore the ability to build a huge business around a simple multi-million-dollar domain name.

Another option if you want to find out who owns a domain name is to do a WHOIS look up. Typically if there is any chance that you’ll be able to buy the domain from the owner, their contact information will be included in the record, and you can contact them directly and try to work out a deal.

~Today’s view:

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