What is a domain name?
A domain name is your online address. It tells people where they can find you.
When my friend and client Laura Cohen came to me looking for a new site, she already owned a domain name. Great! First step done.
Soon after starting her project, however, we realized that her old domain wasn’t going to work. It was clever and artistic, but nearly impossible to spell. Lots of hyphens. Lots of syllables. Not a great fit for professional artist who wants to apply to grant and residency programs, as well as build an audience for her work.
Rules of Thumb for Your Domain Name
As a general rule, domains work best when they’re:
- Easy to spell and type into a browser
The simplest domain name is often best
For solo business owners, creatives, and artists, I generally recommend keeping things simple. Buy yourname.com and use all the time it saves to finally write your sales page or catch up on Game of Thrones.
What if my domain isn’t available?
For Laura’s project our ideal domain, lauracohen.com, wasn’t available. This is often the case with commonly used words, phrases, or names. Not to worry, though (and no need to pay someone thousands of dollars for a domain name!) With a little creativity we came up with the perfect solution, lauracohen.art.
3 steps to pick Your Own Perfect Domain Name
1. Experiment with different extensions
Can’t get the domain you want? Don’t panic. Not every site needs to be a .com. Try experimenting with different endings, like .art or .yoga. If you’re a local business, you might also consider adding your city to your domain name (bonus points for the extra SEO juice!)
2. Think outside the box
3. Buy multiple names
When possible, buy your own name and any common misspellings. Even if your business name is different, it’s a smart move to make sure that you have full control over your online image.
How to buy a domain name
To buy your domain name, I recommend Google’s domain services. Unlike budget services, Google doesn’t try to offer you confusing upsells or add-ons. They offer one simple, reasonable price. As an extra bonus, Google domains are a snap to integrate with Gsuite email services for business.
A Common Mistake to Avoid
In a Facebook group I’m in, a woman recently posted about a cease and desist letter that she got from Harpo. As in Oprah’s company. The woman on Facebook was distraught. She’d worked hard to build her online business. Unfortunately, her domain name was too close to a trademarked brand that’s owned by Harpo.
I’m pretty sure you don’t want to go up against Oprah, so make sure you do your Google research. Future you will thank you for it.
I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t a substitute for legal advice, but a little Googling goes a long way. While you’re at it, check social media to make sure the handles you’d like are available.