There are many ways to obtain your domain name, and it may be cheaper than you think. And you’re not limited to purchasing names through a domain name registrar, either — you can get names through your hosting company or purchase an existing domain from an end-user or a reseller.
If your domain name is available, your best bet is to go through a domain name registrar. Click here for a complete list of ICANN-approved domain name registrars.
There are literally thousands of registrars offering domain names for sale. The fees will range from as low as $4.95 to $50 per year, depending on the company that you select. Some great places to start are Yahoo and GoDaddy.com.
You may also want to purchase several domains at once, which can reduce the price per domain. Consider buying the .net and .org versions of your desired domain in addition to the .com version to help ensure that your customers find you. This will cost a little more up-front, but it can be a lifesaver later if you can prevent domain-name hijacking.
Do some research before you select a company. More and more registrars are fighting over smaller and smaller pieces of pie, so it’s definitely a buyer’s market. Many companies offer budget registration, quantity discounts, or other premiums to try and get your business.
Many of these resellers also offer additional features like email accounts, email forwarders, and other useful features. Many also offer “domain parking” — posting a temporary placeholder page with your company name until your site goes live. Don’t be afraid to comparison shop for the best registrar.
If the domain you want is already owned, but is parked or not in use, you can try to purchase the domain from its current owner. Many parking pages provide the owner’s contact information, and some even state that the page is for sale. If there’s no contact information (or no page at all), do a Whois search to get the owner’s contact information.
If you’re buying a domain name secondhand from an individual, you may pay dearly. There’s nothing to compel the current owner to part with it, so it’s up to you to tender an offer the owner can’t refuse.
Buying from a professional reseller probably won’t be cheap either, but in this instance, the reseller is likely to have an asking price in mind. The market sets the price, so short, keyword-laden domains will command high prices. If you’re looking for a built-in traffic base, with customers who easily recognize an existing domain, it may be worth the cost. If you simply like the name and it has no other value besides being catchy, you’ll need to decide if it’s worth paying a premium for.
Your best bet is to research all your options before jumping in. A domain name is one of the most important facets of having a successful online business. It’s who you will be, and it’s how your customers will come to know you. You’ll need to weigh your choices, especially if you’re considering purchasing an existing domain, before you take the plunge.