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The mad rush for vanity URLs has been around for quite some time now. Unsurprisingly, personalized URLs based on your name can be quite difficult to get hold of. But it’s not all over yet.

Where can I find you online? and Do you have a website? are two common questions people have for you when you’re networking, both online and offline. You better be ready with an answer, especially if you run an online business. In any case, isn’t it nice to have a slice of the Web to your name?

We have already covered why it’s a good idea to register for a personal domain 5 Reasons You Should Have Registered A Personal Domain By Now 5 Reasons You Should Have Registered A Personal Domain By Now These days I think it’s important for everyone to at least register (if not use) a domain that is personal to them. Not only are domain names under current top-level domains running out , but... Read More and also outlined some cool uses for a personal domain Considering A Personal Domain? Here Are Some Cool Uses For It Considering A Personal Domain? Here Are Some Cool Uses For It Even if you’re not a fan of blogging and don’t have an amazing new website to launch, a personal domain can be an awesome tool to own for fun or self promotion: from a customized... Read More .

Aaron has even dispelled the common myths surrounding the creation of a personal website You Are Missing Out By Not Creating A Personal Website: Disproving The 6 Myths You Are Missing Out By Not Creating A Personal Website: Disproving The 6 Myths Have you ever considered having a personal website? You know – a place where people can go to read about who you are, what you do, your goals and aspirations, and of course to contact... Read More . So you have no more excuses not to have one. Getting the right domain name is where you should begin. But that’s easier said than done. If your name is quite common, it can be downright frustrating.

Thankfully, by using one or more of the following simple methods, you can find a domain name that you like and that can be registered.

Learn The Rules Of The Web

As messy as it seems on the surface, the Web is surprisingly quite well-organized underneath. There are also certain rules that define Web behavior and the management of our activity on it.

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When I first decided to work online, ignorant as I was about the workings of the Web, terms like SEO and keyword research made no sense to me whatsoever. Being excited as only a 22-year-old who has discovered the key to an online income can be, I went ahead and registered a domain name without doing any research about the right way to choose one. After a few false starts and failed projects, I had no choice but to sit up and pay attention to what I had initially thought was useless Internet jargon that I could do without.

You can give yourself a better start by reading up on the rules of the Web. Ryan’s post on picking a great domain name How Do You Pick A Great Domain Name? How Do You Pick A Great Domain Name? Choosing the perfect domain name for your website is like choosing the perfect name for your first child. Increase the likelihood of online success with these tips. There's a lot in a name! Read More introduces you some of those rules, so that you can be well equipped to choose a domain name that is not just appealing to you, but also comes with the best chance of being successful online.

Use A Tool Or Two

Not only do the top-level domains get taken up with shocking speed, but even the most bizarre combinations of names and words (like BarackObamaIsYourNewBicycle) get registered on a regular basis. You can still manage to finalize a domain with the help of tools like Domai.nr, which generates interesting combinations of names based on keywords you submit. The site also shows whether a particular domain is available for purchase.

domain-finder-tool

While you’re going through this name generation exercise, use a tool like NameChk or KnowEm to see if the domain name you have set your mind upon is available as a username on some of the most commonly used websites. That will help you use the same name across the Web and keep your identity consistent.

Be Creative

Focus on the domain name ahead of the extension. Ensure that it is fairly short and readable. If it’s easy to memorize, that’s a bonus. Experiment with different combinations like Firstname, Lastname, Nickname, FirstinitialLastname, FirstnameLastinitial, NicknameLastname, NicknameLastinitial, etc.

Leave out the quirky spellings, unnecessary multiple letters, etc. Such tweaks do seem to work for various companies and services (ifttt, for example), but when used with personal domains, they only increase ambiguity and confusion.

While there’s nothing like getting a .com extension, if you don’t find one to go with your chosen domain name, don’t despair. Try extensions like .me and .name, which have come to be associated with personal domains. Going by its rising popularity, .co is another option worth considering.

If you’re planning to use the personal domain to promote your business, depending on your target market, you can opt for a country-based extension like .uk, .eu, .au, .in, etc.

shakespeare-google-search

I registered the domain akshatashanbhag.com after my full name, Akshata Shanbhag. My name can be somewhat difficult to read and pronounce, especially for those who are not aware of its origin. By clubbing my first name and last name, I complicated it further, both from my perspective and that of the potential visitors to my site. Clearly, I had not put much thought into it.

After sticking with that domain for too long, recently I decided to switch to a shorter one with just my first name. Unfortunately, the .com extension was taken. When I contacted the owner, he quoted a price that I thought was quite high, and frankly, it did not seem worth paying that much, so I registered akshata.co. If I had paused to think some more, someone would have probably snatched up that domain too.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Expired domain names are re-released after a grace period of about 75 days. Buying one of these domains can work to your advantage if the original domain was popular and generated much traffic when it was in use.

There are also other domains that are advertised for sale. These can turn out to be expensive, but if you spend some time doing your research, you can find a fair deal on them. The important thing is to stay alert for opportunities that have a chance of giving you a nice, workable url.

website-for-sale-sign

Have A Little Patience

The powers that be have given the go-ahead to expand the Internet by rolling out more than a thousand new domain suffixes. Can you imagine the number of options that you will have when that happens? If all goes well, as early as the end of January 2014, you can sign up for domains with suffixes like .bio, .page, .contact, and .web. Till then, work on getting a nice web design ready.

new-domain-suffixes

A Good Domain Name Is Important, But…

These days, it’s desirable to have a personal domain with a vanity url, especially if you have plans of showcasing your work online. But remember, if you don’t manage to find the URL you want, it’s not the end of the world.

Instead of fretting over it, choose the next best thing and direct your efforts toward putting up an appealing website and following it up with interesting content. Eventually, netizens will trace it back to you even without the help of the right domain name.

Did you have trouble finding the right name for your personal domain? How did you work around it? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credits: Nomadic Lass

  1. sai kumar
    February 14, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Akshata,

    Useful info, I have domain with my name since 8 years (saikumar.com) I used to get calls from fans of actor Sai Kumar, hold on I am not actor ;)

    Most of my friends ask me to buy them a domain like myself, but I couldn't find their names available, so I request you to give some ideas / hints to use as suffix/prefix.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Akshata
      February 16, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Sai Kumar, how about using other popular suffixes like .co or .me? Maybe even .in or co.in if your friends are based in India.

  2. Kev Q
    January 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

    I'm quite lucky having a weird surname like "Quirk". It enabled me to grab kevquirk.com, but I also have kevquirk.co.uk and kevq.me for vanity URL's. I love domain names (it's my dirty pleasure), but I do think that everyone should have a good quality personal domain name. For instance mail@myname.com is much better than funky_biscuit_x1x@hotmail.com - imagine having that on your CV!

    I even have quirk.eu for when I start a family. :-)

    • Akshata
      January 15, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      I agree with you about the quality personal domain name thing. I love domain names too. I have more than I know what to do with (akshatashanbhag, thewriterista, shinesolo, thefootloosefreelancer).

      What a coincidence that you chose to comment on this post. While writing it, I had thought of using your domain name as an example for something (I don't remember for what exactly, but I think it was in reference to shortening firstnames/lastnames - I assumed Kev was short for Kevin).

  3. Andy Crofts
    January 8, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Yep, but when you get one you like, DON'T drop it, esp. if it's a .com!
    I live in Oulu, Finland, and wanted a column about life here.
    Years ago I registered oululife.com.
    Somehow (OK, I cancelled a credit card I forgot I was using for automatic renewal) I didn't renew on time.
    It went as soon as some Chinese outfit could register it for 5 years.

  4. Sira Fredericks
    January 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    When I started my new business in 2010 I worked on some favorite names in concert with web searches for a URL. Working the two together helped me both name my new enterprise and get a desirable URL to match. It would have been much more difficult for me to have an established business name and then try to match it with a URL.

    • Akshata
      January 8, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Sira, that sounds like the best way to go. Thanks for sharing that. I'm sure it'll help many others struggling to decide what to give top priority - the business name or the url.

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