So you have this awesome idea for your business. You know that you need website. Let me to be the first to tell you: Resist the urge to type that perfect domain into Google, or any where for that matter.
When I was about to launch my business I started thinking about setting up my webspace. Shortly before I purchased my domain I did a quick search to see if anyone already had cbgraphics.com. I was nervous that it would be gone since I knew there was another business that operated under the same name in the New England. Turns out the domain name was available.
The next day I got up and started to go through the process of purchasing the cbgraphics.com domain, only to find that it was gone. Someone had purchased it overnight. Now, instead of a dead-end website I see a sales page, telling me how to get in touch with the owner to purchase it. Alright, I’ll bite. Two fishy contact forms later I get an email from the owner with a price: $5,000. Hell. No. cbgraphics.net it is!
There are thousands of bots just looking to grab that domain address that you want before you do. Once they have purchased it, they will charge you a premium to buy it back. From an economics stand point they can ask for whatever price they want, no matter what the demand, because they are have a very singular product: your domain name.
Be fully prepared to purchase every domain you want when you start your search/purchase process.
DO NOT type your domain into a browser.
DO NOT type your domain into GoDaddy or other domain purchasing service.
Wait until you are ready to buy to do your searching.
Sit down and write on paper your ideal domain name. After you have the ideal domain, brainstorm alternatives in the event that your perfect address is crazy expensive or not available. Alternatives may be as simple as adding a word to the beginning or end.
Brainstorm alternatives to your ideal domain address before searching the web.
Be careful about adding too much complexity. Ideally you want the address to be easy to remember and highly associated with your brand. Any deviations from the obvious should be connected to the brand identity. For example: if your business is selling trendy workout gear you might consider “daily” as a prefix, which further emphasizes how current you are. But if your business is selling custom workout gear your brand would benefit more from using “my”, “your”, or “custom” as a prefix.
Once you have all that organized and written down, go and try to register your domains. It is recommended that you register all common extensions of your address. You don’t want to end up in a situation where a unsavory person purchases the .net version of your site and posts content you don’t want associated with your brand.
Learn from my mistakes: DO NOT look up your domain until you are ready to buy it.
The short answer. No. You don’t have to have the dot-com version of your website. For most small businesses this is not a deal breaker. Think first about how people will find you. Are they following a link from your business card? Are they clicking on a Facebook ad? Are they getting there from your email signature?
If the primary mode of traffic on your website will come from direct links don’t fret over the .com, especially if someone is trying to charge you thousands of dollars for the domain name you want. It’s just not worth it as a small business owner.
The .com does become important if a lot of your traffic is going to come from people searching for you blindly, or literal word-of-mouth traffic. If the majority of your business online will come from Google searches or someone typing in a domain that they think is yours, the domain will be important.
There are lots of place on the internet to buy domains. Surprisingly some vendors will charge more than others for the exact same domain name. My preference is to purchase the domain wherever I am going to have the site hosted, so that everything is in one place. Because who has time or mental energy to remember that many vendors, usernames, and passwords.
This is by far my favorite vendor. I have used a lot of different vendors, from the big guys to smaller side vendors. I’ve had the best consistent experience with 1&1. They have awesome customer service. The kind where you pick up the phone and there is always someone there to answer your questions. If you are unsure of how to set things up or not sure what you need they are there to help. Not to mention the fact that they have awesome prices and ridiculously good discounts.
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