So let’s say I’m beginning to convince you. And you’ve started thinkin’…”Huh, it might be nice to start my own business and work for myself. I’m so over being micromanaged by my boss. It’s time for me to step out on my own.”
Great! That’s an excellent first step. And your second step? Well, you’ll need a business name. It’s like naming your baby or your puppy. It’s got to be good, catchy, versatile and ideally doesn’t rhyme with any sexual body parts — (I said IDEALLY, not a rule 😉).
Here’s a ten-step guide that will help you select the perfect name.
1. Yes, size really does matter – Don’t let ‘em tell you otherwise.
15 characters or less. Yeah…I know that might be a tall order, but you know how lazy people can get. Heck, our remotes on our TVs run out of batteries, and we find ourselves watching an endless cycle of celebrity chefs because we are too lazy to fix the remote. Given that info, people don’t want to type an epistle to get to your content. And before you get all judgy and say …well, Diane, digitaltravelacademy is more than 15 letters. You would be right. It is. But I also thought it was worth the risk. Besides, “Iteachtravel.com” just didn’t quite encapsulate what this site is about.
Sadly, the truth is, many domain names under ten letters have long since been scooped up. However, you can still find creative travel business names between the 10 to 20 letter length if you are a little patient.
Just don’t get too excited or attached to a potential name until you check it out – remain open and flexible.
2. Dot Com or bust baby
So let’s say you land on a name…”luxurytravel.com” and think…no way in hell that would be taken. You are so impressed with yourself. It’s brilliant. So you type it in only to find…oopsy, it was gone day one that the interweb opened. Now what? You might notice that luxurytravel.dev is available. I mean….dev is sort of like com, right? Not unless you are drunk. Don’t do it. .DEV is not at all the same as .COM no matter how many tequilas you’ve had.
You could always approach the person who currently owns the .com and make them an offer. But if you have that kind of money to start with, it begs the question why you wouldn’t just buy a private island and forget all about hauling in an income. Besides, I’m a bootstrapper. I will always recommend the more economical (not cheap – I ain’t cheap) or affordable way to do things.
3. Unless you plan on staying local
The only time I’d say you might be able to get away with something other than a .com is if you only want to sell travel within your own country. In which case, you can opt for the .ca, .uk or .au extension if you wish. Not my preference; why limit yourself, but okay.
4. Clever and cute are great but not at the expense of clarity
Fine, you think. Fine. I won’t buy .dev, and I won’t offer some Silicon Valley computer nerd to buy the official domain. You might decide to get creative because you really love the name and didn’t adhere to my earlier advice of not getting too attached. You think…why not try LuxRWetravel.com. Twelve letters. Despite potentially attracting a bunch of Elmer Fudd clients, who may just have a ton of disposable income, I’d still steer clear of this.
I’ve met many travel agents over the years who have tried to be cute to secure the .com, but it never works. If you have to Charley|Whiskey|Tango your URL every time you meet a potential new client, you’ll lose them for sure.
Not to mention, you could spell out “L” is for Lima, “U” is for Uniform, “X” is for X-ray, and “R” is for Romeo etc. and the client will still only hear what they want to hear. This means they will type out luxurytravel.com which will take them to your competitor living in Silicon Valley. Say “Bye Bye” new client.
Hey, if you can be clever and cute and clear all at the same time, I say have at it, but ask a few friends outside of the travel world what their opinion is, and then listen to them.
And if you get stuck, try using Power Thesaurus for ideas. Just how many synonyms are there for the word “travel” anyway?
5. Avoid names with hyphens, numbers or multiple spellings
Now, what if luxury-travel.com was available – it’s not; I checked. But if it was, should you buy it? My answer would still be no. You are still running the risk of sending your potential clients into the hands of your competitor. And besides, dashes and underscores sort of scream B-lister anyway. Just move on.
Numbers can create confusion too. Now is that Luxury4You or Luxuryforyou 🤔?
And let’s say you find a name with a .com extension that uses the word “traveller.” Note that our American friends refer to them as travelers. So you’ll want to check that the alternate spelling isn’t snagged – same reasons as above – and if it isn’t, you’ll want to buy both at the same time.
I know some business coaches might recommend that once you find a .com name that you like and is available, you also buy all the extensions possible such as .travel, .org, .net, .ca or .uk. and .au. But meh…I think that all adds up in the end. It’s a personal decision.
Because digitaltravelacademy is an education site, I also own the .org, but I put my foot down on buying all the other alternate endings.
The good news is, domains aren’t expensive. They usually run between 8 to 17 USD per year.
6. Go Crazy but only a little bit
Once you get into the domain name game, you won’t want to stop playing. It’s addictive. I own over 20, and my good friend confessed to owning over 50. I think she’s betting on striking it rich one day just selling domain names. 🤷♀️ But my recommendation would be to rid yourself of that compulsive behaviour as soon as possible. Do as I say, not as I do. 😉
Except maybe buy your name while you are at it. Mind you, if your name is Jennifer Lawrence…it’s probably already taken. But if you are a one of a kind, first edition, then you might as well add Sally Schmenderpants.com to your shopping cart too.
Never underestimate the value of a personal brand, but that’s a topic for another day.
8. Is the domain available on social media channels?
The next thing to consider… is your preferred business name available across all social media channels. If it is…go grab ‘em if you can. Even if you aren’t ready to launch your social media strategy today, that’s fine. Just lock them down. You can always change them later if you need to.
9. Where to buy your domain
I use Name.com. And yes, if you click through using the link provided, I receive a small kickback, but honestly, it really doesn’t matter where you purchase your domain. Having said that, there are a few things you want to be mindful of:
Hidden fees: Some domain registrars offer cheap first-year fees and then drive up the price in the following years and charge you a domain transfer fee when you decide to split.
Support: Do they have 24/7 chat support? You may never need support, but I just did for the first time this past week. It sure was nice to get a live human within moments of logging into the chat room.
All in One Options: My preference would be to keep your domain name registered separately from your hosting site. I’ve never liked having all my eggs in the same basket even though these hosting sites make it very attractive and might even throw in the domain name for free. The issue again is if you need to dump your host, you don’t want them holding your domain hostage.
Do they include the WHOIS privacy protection: and why should you care? Every domain name comes with a WHOIS listing, which makes it searchable to anyone on the internet. This means your name, address, and phone number are available to any peeping Tom who cares to find it. You can, however, purchase WHOIS privacy protection, which blocks your information from prying eyes.
Some domain registrars include this privacy option in their overall price, and some offer it as an add-on service.
You don’t have to buy it. I don’t have it on all of my 20+ domains, but I probably should. It’s an added layer of protection against the “bad guys.” And if nothing else, it will save you from your phone blowing up for weeks after registering your new domain. Combing unprotected Whois listings seems to be the Go-To strategy for many suspect website developers to find new clients.
10. Enable the auto-renewal feature
Once you are the proud owner of your fancy new domain name – your piece of real estate on the interweb – do not make the mistake of forgetting to enable the auto-renewal feature. The last thing you want is your site to go down because you allowed your payment to lapse.
Final words of advice…relax and have fun with it.
Choosing a domain name for your business should be the fun part. It’s like picking paint colours for your new bedroom. Whatever you do, don’t stress. If you choose wrong, while it’s not the easiest thing to change a domain name once it’s established, it’s also not the end of the world. It can be done. I’ve done it.
If you found this article helpful, and know someone who is thinking about launching a business, please give it a share.