Domain Name Buyer's Guide

    You have decided that you want to buy, or at least may want to buy, a domain name. So, let's amble together through the buying process. By the end of this section, you should be able to make an informed decision about purchasing the domain name you want -- and you will know how much impact it will have on your wallet. 

Brainstorming Domain Names

     With so many millions of domain names already registered, you may find it very difficult to find a "suitable" name that you are happy with. The reason you are purchasing a domain name will influence your choice of which domain name to buy, and may inspire sufficient lateral thinking to come up with an unregistered name. The following guide should help you...

1. For "Personal" Use

     You are buying a domain name to have your own personalized site or email address, or just to impress your friends: "You watched the game on TV last night? Well, that's nothing -- I set myself up with my very own domain on the Internet..." Alternatively, you might be jumping on the domain name bandwagon like everyone else. If you are buying a domain name for "personal use", you
are probably going to choose a domain name based on one of the following:

A) Your name

     Think about registering your first and last names together (, your initial(s) and last name ( or even your
first name or last name on its own ( or ( Unless you've got a very unusual name, you're going to find it difficult to get just your first or last name, and even when you take your full name into consideration it's going to be tough finding a suitable combination. Try hyphenating your name, or using hyphens to space out your initials. Explore using .net or .org instead of .com - for a personal site it's not going to matter to you very much.

Note: Be careful - if your name is the same as a famous trademark ("McDonald" for example) then you face a possible lawsuit even though theoretically you'd expect to have every right to register your own name as a domain name. Always expect the unexpected where the law is concerned! For more information on this issue, see the Trademark Article in the list.

B) Your hobbies, inclinations or habits

     If you are a sports fanatic (, an ardent role-player with a favourite character ( or a heavy
sleeper (, you'll probably find it easy to come up with a domain name that fits your interests or habits. If you're a hacker, or a card-carrying Nerd, you're likely to find much leaner pickings as so many related names have already been bought up.

C) Your taste, or lack of it

     You might want to register a domain name that makes a religious ( or personal statement (, or one meant to provoke outrage (

2. The Successful Web Site

     If you have been running a successful web site for some time (apply your own definition of successful here), you may wish to move away from a subdirectory provided by an ISP, and boldly stake your claim on a small corner of cyberspace with your own domain name. Remember you may still be able to pay an ISP to maintain a virtual link to your domain name -- choose wisely.  You may consider our offers at our webhosting services  

     The choice of domain name will usually be obvious, as it should derive directly from the title page of the web site you are running. For instance, if your web site relates to golf, and is called "The 19th Hole", your choice must inevitably narrow itself down to a limited selection such as "", "", "" and so on. If you are unlucky, somebody else may have already taken the name you covet. Either think of an alternative, as above, or if your pockets are deep (and your web site is VERY successful) you may wish to gulp, seize your chequebook and try and buy the rights to the domain name.

3. The Company

     If you are purchasing one or more domain names on behalf of a company, there are several issues that you will need to consider.  The domain name may be purchased to protect a product name, brand name or trademark. You may wish to associate a generic  word with your product. You may be looking for a domain name for your company's web site. You may also wish to have one or more dedicated domain names to provide unique e-mail addresses to certain divisions or branches of your business, or for specific products and services. These issues are considered below: 

A) Protecting Trademarks

     An extremely topical issue, and currently a highly contentious one, is the protection or lack of it that a trademark or registered brand name affords companies seeking to register a domain name.

     There has been a lot of bad press about speculators "hijacking" popular brand names, trademarks and company names, and then holding companies to "virtual ransom" with demands for exorbitant payment in order to cede possession of the domain name. Some
cases include MacDonalds, MTV and Kaplan, who have been fighting for the rights to the related domain names.

     While no binding resolution has been reached on this issue, some preliminary conclusions can be drawn. Firstly, a trademark or similar device does not seem to offer full protection on the Internet. Secondly, a majority of companies appear to have been successful in suits to recover their domain names. Thirdly, InterNIC has recently changed its registration rules to prohibit the wilful registration of obvious trademarks. Fourth, problems are compounded if two companies with the same name, both of which have been trading for a long time, lay claim to the same domain name.

     From the above, it would seem that, while it may be possible to "repossess" a domain name, the burden of proof rests squarely on the company challenging the legitimacy of the original owner, and that sizeable legal fees may well be incurred in reclaiming the domain name.

     It would therefore appear to make good commercial sense to register as many domain names as possible, for all combinations of
trademarks, brand names and the like, that you would like protected. While the short-term costs incurred will be of the order of $35 or lower  per domain name as an initial payment to InterNIC, the long-term costs of fighting a legal battle over the ownership of a domain name could prove far more debilitating.

B) Associating a generic word with your product

     The commercial benefits of linking a generic word with your product in the minds of potential customers does not need spelling out here. Proctor & Gamble is just one of the companies that has gone for a blanket approach, registering hundreds of generic domain names relating to all aspects of personal hygiene and health care. You may be too late to snap up obvious sites like or, but a little thought into alternative appellations for your products or services may well bear fruit. These alternative domains can be linked easily to your main web site, in order to funnel in more customers.

C) Hosting your company web site

See the Hosting Facts Article for more details on option C.

D) Creating unique e-mail addresses

     While you may be satisfied with a centralized e-mail system, and addresses in the form <>, there may be attractive benefits to be gained from creating original domain names to which e-mail addresses can be linked. For instance, if you are in the car servicing business, the domain name "" could yield potential e-mail addresses such as "", "" etc. Businesses such as travel agents are blessed with countless options, such as "reservations@...", "tickets@...", "late-breaks@..." and more. Set up an auto-responder to mail information directly to interested customers.

4. The Investor

     The fire behind the quest for domain names has been stoked to a white hot blaze by the remarkable sums of money, running into tens of thousands of dollars, that have recently changed hands in exchange for the rights to various "select" domain names. Have a look at the Pros and Cons of investing in domain names, or read my advice. 


Low startup capital: only $35 or less  per domain name.

Easy maintenance: domain names do not degrade over time, nor do they have to be stored like physical goods.

Very easy purchasing system, should you choose to go with one of the many companies specialising in the purchase of domain names.

The rewards, if and when they appear, may be substantial -- five digit sums have regularly been paid for the rights to interesting domain names.

     The registration system gives you a chance to pit your wits against the world. The challenge is simple: to dream up a domain name that is catchy, interesting and which has obvious commercial potential, while at the same time one which is not obvious enough to have been bought up already.

     The effort required to sell the domain name can be minimal, although the appearance of interested buyers is never guaranteed. Take a look at the "Selling your Domain" Article page for more details of how to dispose of your investment.

   You own the rights to the domain name for ever, and unless it is a trademark or similar, it can never be taken from you. It is yours to dispose of at will, but ALSO TO USE. This last statement is very important: a domain name can be used in any way, and then traded at a later date.


     The market is growing rapidly, which means more potential buyers, but also more sellers. Commercially interesting domain names are disappearing at a rapid rate.

    There is no guarantee that a purchaser will come forward for your particular domain name(s). Thus, the maximum exposure is 100% of your original investment.

The cost of maintaining your investment is $35 or less  per year after an initial one or two  year period covered by the registration fees paid when acquiring the domain name.


     There is no "sure" thing in any investment, no matter what certain advertisements may want to lead you to believe. But if you have a few hundred dollars to spare, that you don't mind losing in exchange for the chance to parley them into a much larger sum of money, and to be at the forefront of the world's latest gold-rush, go ahead. Dip in a toe, buy a couple of domain names, and see what happens...

     Of course, you will want to maximize the commercial value of your domain name, which leads us nicely onto...

5 Golden Rules for creating Domain Names

     Domain names are being registered at such a furious rate that it is becoming more and more difficult to come up with good domain names. These rules are designed to help you in the process of creating new domain names. However, please remember that your domain name many not catch fire and light up the 'Net, even if you follow all these rules scrupulously.

     It is probably better to consider these rules as guidelines. If you want to break these rules, be my guest. There are no absolutes in the domain name market. Please choose a rule and get stuck into dreaming up domain names.

1.) Avoid Clever Puns

     A joke often sounds great when you hear it from a friend after knocking back a few beers in a bar, and positively side-splitting when recounted for the second time during a futile quest for pizza, a taxi or the way home after a few more beers. The same joke turns the stomach when heard for the third time the next morning, over the hammering in your head. Equally, a "clever" pun or catchy play on words may well come back to haunt you later. 

     Many domain names have popularized the "minimalist spelling" approach in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the morass of similar names. Usages such as "2" for "to", "4" for "4", "U" for "you" and dozens more have all been deployed in the quest for a good domain name. I am not sweepingly condemning this practice, but please, please, seek a second opinion. And a third! What seemed like a
great domain name on the spur of the moment may prove to be far less clever after the second or third visit to a web site bearing that name.

2.) When investing, think like an investor...

     A good commercial domain name must be able to distinguish itself from the crowd of pretenders to the throne. Some ways you can try and distance yourself from this crowd include: 

Consider the target audience

     Try and aim a domain name at a specific, but broad, market. Use search tools and other resources to narrow down categories of businesses, and then try and find domain names that would be of interest to such businesses. To revisit the travel industry, for which I seem to have an unexplainable passion, sites such as "" or "" would seem to offer a certain attraction. Hackers might like "", or possibly even ""

Follow trends... or create them

     If you are serious about picking good domain names, try and follow the trends on the Internet. There are thousands of sites that provide information on the latest net developments -- make use of them. Even the daily newspaper may prove a fertile source of information. Current hot topics include on-line banking and stock trading, intranets, on-line marketing and sales and more. Remember that if it is good to catch the edge of the current wave, it is positively wonderful to be the first to paddle out to the next

Act on a whim

     Creativity does not lend itself easily to logic. If you are hit with a great idea, and nobody else has noticed its potential yet, go for it. Don't hesitate, have second thoughts or dither. The exception to this is any domain name that might fail to pass muster under Golden Rule 1.

3.) Buy up all the alternatives to a domain name

     This Golden Rule applies especially to companies, or to individuals with very deep pockets. Remember to check the singular and plural forms of your domain name, and to make liberal use of the "-" in forming domain names. For instance, the domain name might foster the following:, & 

     Use a thesaurus, and a little lateral thinking. If a domain name containing the word "money" is already taken, how about "cash", "credit", "finance"...?

     Protect your trademark against similar domain names. A dispute is currently going on between Yahoo and Ya-hoo cakes, for instance.

     If you have a great idea, don't let somebody ride your tail. Equally, please see Golden Rule 4 before parting company with thousands of dollars to register lots of permutations of a single name.

4.) Don't "tailgate"

     If you are a serious investor, you should be leery of "tailgating" on another domain name unless you feel that it has enormous potential. A company is hardly likely to snap up "" the week after its main competitor grabbed "" for its own.

     On the other hand if you hear of a really fantastic domain name, you could try skirting around the edges of the same name. For example, could give rise to,, and more. Although the "clones" will be worth less than the original, they may well have some intrinsic value of their own. 

Beware: Never try to tailgate on a registered trademark!

5.) Don't rush, but don't dawdle

     Don't be lured into buying up the first domain name you can think of. Think some more, sleep on it, ask your friends for their opinions. Although the supply of domain names is running out, it is better to expend a little more thought at the beginning of the process to save money later. After all, an unmarketable name that you would not want to use yourself if nothing but a liability.

     At the same time, don't sit on a good idea forever, because I guarantee "forever" will never come, as somebody else will stumble on the same idea sooner or later and take it away from you.

How painful is the buying process?

     Let me put it another way: how much pain can you take? Actually, it is remarkably easy to buy
domain names, as long as you use the services of an accredited registrar. You will have to provide the addresses of two name servers if you like but we provide it for free if you don't have one for yourself right now. If you already have access to the required two name servers, the extra effort involved in submitting your application direct
to InterNIC will save you in the order of $50++ per domain name. On the other hand, if you don't have access to two name servers, or if you are currently wondering what on earth a name server is, it is probably easier to pay a small fee and let a company do all the legwork on your behalf. 

     There are many companies in the business of registering domain names. Some are listed on this links page, and a quick search on any search engine will yield many more. They vary widely in price, ease of registration, and additional services offered. I would expect the following to be standard for any domain name registration service: use of two domain name server addresses, simple on-line purchasing procedure, fire-and-forget handling of the registration. [Just send in the details, and the money, then relax.] Check that the company you are considering offers these standard services.

     Buyer beware: I would suggest that, as long as you only want a domain name registered, why pay more for the same thing? There is no such thing as a branded, or no-name domain name. All domain names are created equal. When all is said and done, what you will receive is exactly the same: a domain name registered in your name. Let me repeat myself: the only way that a company can add value is by providing an additional service, such as web page design, web site hosting or trademark-related work. Phew! Now that I've got that out of my system, let us proceed on to the thorny issue of money...

How much will a domain name set me back?

There are three costs to consider. 

     1. The fixed InterNIC fee of $70, which covers the first two years' registration of your domain name. You cannot avoid paying this fee, as currently InterNIC are in a monopoly position, controlling the supply of all domain names. Essentially, therefore, the minimum cost of a domain name is $70.  But if you register with us, you will have the chance of getting your own domain name for only $18 or P800 per domain per year

     2. An additional fee to use the services of a domain name registration company. While we offer our services for free, most companies are charging between $25 and $250, with many variations in between. If you are not sure how much you should be paying, why not have a quick look at the "How painful is the buying process?" section of this document.

     3. Domain names are like food: they come with an expiry date. In the case of a newly registered domain name, that expiry date is one or two years from the day it was registered with any registrar. Luckily, unlike food, a domain name can be revitalised by an additional payment: InterNIC currently charges $35 per year after the two year period covered by the initial $70 payment. only charges $18 or P800 per year extension.  If you are buying the
domain name to keep and use, you will want to bear this extra cost in mind, as essentially the value of a domain name registration are now more affordable. And don't think that InterNIC will let you keep the domain name without paying!

     In summary, a domain name will cost you $18 for the first year, plus a renewal fee of $18 every year