How to pick an available domain name for your side project or business in 10 minutes

I always over-think the name of a project and I find it holds me back way more than it should, so I've devised a system that helps me get to a name I can use and move forward with. Its a work in progress, so open to feedback, but I think the steps below are a solid starting point.

Usually my ideas are web based, so the deciding factor is often domain availability. To help me, I use these steps.

Keep it simple

Only use .com and .io, it simplifies things and they're cheap. Open domainr for quick and easy availability lookup. Domainr is cool because it'll also show you other domains that might suit your keyword too, like if your keyword is mydevportfolio, it'll suggest (full disclosure, that's my side project, feedback appreciated) 👍

Think about SEO

SEO is key, so my go-to to start off the process is often things like my[keyword].com, [keyword], [keyword] etc. If you're lucky, one of these will be available, but it's getting rarer nowadays. So we need to go deeper.

Synonyms are your friend

Next, I'll look at synonyms. Open up, type in your main keyword and see what comes back. This can be fed into the rest of the steps to find suitable variations.

Use a verb/adjective as a prefix or suffix

My next port of call is usually looking at [verb/adjective][keyword].domain. Some of my go-to adjectives are: fresh, sharp, open, free, hot. Some of my goto nouns are: spark, air, bounce, break, snap. Feel free to pop these into thesaurus too to find more.

Find interesting translations for your keyword

My next goto if I don't find a suitable one in the steps above us to get a bit creative with language. I'll open up and translate from English to Latin. Often Latin spits back decent words that don't make sense, but sound cool and can give a nice story to your brand. Put in your keyword and synonyms and see what comes back. This doesn't work all the time, but can spit out gems sometimes.

Turn to the animals for help!

If I still haven't found a name I'm happy with, I'll look to the animal kingdom. What emotion do you want a customer to associate with your brand? If its strength, why not use something like lion, bull, rhino, bear. If it's friendliness, try koala, kitten, puppy, panda. Figure out the emotion and then Google to find animals that best fit that. Once you have some to try, combine them with your keyword and/or a verb or noun. So [noun/adjective] [animal].domain., Or if it makes sense, mix up the animal with the keyword., etc. One of the advantages of this approach is it gives you ideas for logos that suit too.

Find inspiration in colours

Colours. I have a blog post on how to "cheat" when picking a colour for your app, basically how to automatically inspire a certain emotion or action in a user. Use this to identify what colours might suit your business, and try inserting them instead of nouns/adejectives. Once you identify the base colour, Google different shades of that colour to get some ideas.

Rhymes make memorable names

Rhyming. This can be handy to come up with double-barrel business names that rhyme. Pop open and type in your keyword. You'd be surprised what results you get back that you wouldn't have thought of otherwise!

Think about the action your app inspires

If you don't know about Dribbble, go there now and look at all the pretty things. It's a fantastic place for design inspiration and choosing colour palettes.

But let's focus on the name, dribbble. The goal of the website is to have designs so good that you almost drool (or dribble) on yourself in admiration for the work. Hence why I think the name is so clever, it's literally what the site authors want you to do when visiting the site.

Mis-spell your keyword

This follows on from the Dribbble example above, but if [keyword].com is taken, try a slight mis-spelling of the word and see if that's free.

And that's it! As I said, this is a work in progress and I'm constantly adding to it. Let me know below in the comments if you've any suggestions, and subscribe if you'd like more of this content 👍👍

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