What to Do If YourName.com is Taken
by Dharma Kelleher
A key part of marketing your writing is having a website, ideally with a domain name containing your first and last name. Some of us, myself included, are lucky enough to have uncommon names. I had no problem registering the domain name dharmakelleher.com.
But what if your name is more common, like Tom Smith or Leslie Jordan? There may be countless other people who have the same first and last name. When you search for a domain name based on your first and last name (e.g. maryjackson.com), you may find it’s already registered to someone else. So what do you do?
Try a Creative Alternative
The best solution if yourname.com is taken is to get creative. As an author you could choose something like yournamebooks.com or yourname-author.com. Maybe throw in a middle initial or some other relevant word like stories, thrillers, or arizona. Odds are you can find an alternative that’s memorable, not too long, and available.
Try an Alternative Top-Level Domain
A top-level domain (TLD) is the part of a domain name after the period. The most common is .com, of course. But there are many alternatives like .org, .net, .co, .me, and .us.
In the past few years, new TLDs have been approved, including .guru, .photo, and .rocks. Find a complete list of delegated TLDs HERE.
Please note that some TLDs are more expensive to register than others.
Watch for It to Become Available
If the domain name you absolutely MUST HAVE is taken, there is a slim chance that whoever owns it might let it lapse when comes time to renew (usually once every year or two). If that happens, it becomes available. Some registrars offer a monitoring service and will notify you if a particular domain name opens up.
(Almost) Everything Is for Sale
There are people, commonly called squatters, who buy up potentially popular domain names so they can resell them for a higher price. Even if Hover.com (my preferred registrar) says a domain is taken, it may be for sale. Unfortunately, squatters often want a lot of money for a domain they’re sitting on. You also have to make sure that someone isn’t going to take your money and disappear.
Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe
Once you finally find the domain name you’re looking for, be sure to do two things:
First, make sure your information remains private. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization that overseas domain names requires people and companies registering domain names to provide a physical address and a phone number. Unless you have your registration privatized, anyone can go to http://who.is and find this information.
Hover.com provides this service automatically at no extra charge. Other registrars, including GoDaddy, charge an additional fee for privatization.
Also, make sure that you set your domain to automatically renew. Otherwise, a squatter could snipe it and try to ransom it back to you. This happened to a friend of mine. Getting a sniped domain name back can be expensive and time consuming. Don’t take the risk. Set yours to auto-renew.
Dharma Kelleher writes gritty, engaging fiction about gay, trans* and queer-identified characters. She works as a professional web developer for ZenPunk Web Works. Her hobbies include riding motorcycles, making snarky comments on Facebook, and shocking people with her latest haircut. Learn more about her and her writing at dharmakelleher.com.