I have been designing websites since 1998, when it was GeoCities and not Yahoo! GeoCities. I learned how to code in HTML, all on my own. My very first website was *NSYNC Revolution, a fansite about the boy band *NSYNC. I was constantly at odds with my family because if someone picked up the house phone, I would be kicked off the Internet and I’d have to start all over again. Am I showing my age yet?
I didn’t invest in my own domain name until about 2000, when I purchased metal-idol.net. It was to be my first vanity domain name, and housed my various projects such as my fanlistings and my blog. The name was inspired by one of my favorite anime, Key the Metal Idol. Over the years, I’ve been through quite a few domain names. Most of them were inspired by music (nothingbutsong) and strings of words that were simply good together (chaos-serenade) or for the subject itself (thekillersonline.net).
The problem is it’s 2017, and coming up with an original domain name is hard to come by. If you think it’s original, you do a whois search on NameCheap, and boom! Someone has it, and probably has had it for years.
I wanted gpacheco.com for Writeropolis, because I saw it as a nice, clean, easy to remember domain name to house my portfolio. I quickly discovered that I have an evil twin with the same initials who snapped up the name years ago. Of course, I wasn’t forward thinking at the time, never believing I would need a professional domain name. That was my first mistake!
Here are some quick tips to think about when deciding on a domain name:
- K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It’s a cliche, but it still holds true. The only thing that should be long are your hashtags on Twitter, and when used as a punchline.
- What are you selling? Your domain name should reflect the subject matter and be memorable. If you are using it in a professional capacity, consider your name, or a variation of it if someone has already taken it.
- Hyphens are okay, numbers are not. This is my personal preference, but when I see numbers in a domain name, I see laziness. You shouldn’t have to pilfer someone else’s domain name by sticking numbers in it unless your whole business plan is to sell phone numbers or something. I like hyphens in domain names, when used in moderation (such as chaos-serenade), but anything more than that is overkill to me (such as dancing-in-circles). Yes, I have this opinion based solely on aesthetics. I’m an artist, sue me.
- It’s okay to use a different TLD. Try a different extension (rather than the .com, try .net, or .org). such as .me, or .TV, or .nu. I have had domain names with those extensions in the past, and they make you stand out. Mind you, they are expensive compared to the Big Three, but as with everything, you have to decide if the investment is worth it.
If your creative well has run dry, there are always domain name generators available. Here are a few that I have used in the past:
- LeanDomainSearch is an easy to use tool. For example, I used this to create the name for my Facebook page, Writeropolis. I didn’t want the page to be strictly about me, I wanted it to encompass everything I write about: music, movies, books, fandom, STEAM, history, travel, and so on. I needed a name that was universal but catchy. I knew it had to have writer in the title, so I plugged it in and it spat out a whole list of names. I landed on Writeropolis because it reminded me of Metropolis, one of my favorite movies.
- NameBoy looks like something out of 2002, but it is handy for inspiration. It provides a quick graph of what domain names are available and in the different popular TLDs. The simplicity of the website is useful.
- Shopify’s Business name generator is supposed to be used as inspiration to create a Shopify page, but you can always find the inspiration to check and see if the domain name is available.
Of course, the next step is finding a good host for your domain. I am partial to JaguarPC because I have hosted with them for years. They are the most stable and consistent host.
Readers: what do you think about domain names? Do you have one? How did you come up with yours?