It's happened to lots of us at one point and is becoming increasingly more common.
You're working on a project or come up with a fantastic web project to get started on, so naturally the first thing you do is run to your favourite domain registrar or Twitter itself to see if the domain name is taken.
And it often is.
Long before your idea came to you, someone else came up with a brilliant use for that domain. Or just parked it for future use/profit.
Or you can get a decent domain name, but the Twitter username to match has been taken. Or visa versa. You get the idea.
So, what do you do when that perfect domain name or Twitter username is taken?
This question came up just the other day, via Dave Briggs on Twitter:
bit of advice folks: twitter name that matches URL gone. Acceptable, non-cruddy variations I could use? i.e. suffixes etc?
— Dave Briggs (@davebriggs) May 15, 2013
Dave was pleased to hear (and you will be too) that there are plenty of options for decent mear-alternatives to the name you'll want - with a lot more availability than any .com domains. Think about .co or .io domains, prefixes such as 'get' or 'weare', and suffixes such as 'hq'.
Some of these domains are even being treated by Google as generic top level domains, rather than country specific. So if you have a .co (Colombia) or .io (Indian Ocean Territory) domain, you are now treated as top level by Google. Which go.co welcomed with open arms:
— .CO(@dotco) May 2, 2013
Here's my top list of alternative domain names (which can also be used for Twitter usernames):
- hq - as in basecamphq.com (before they changed to basecamp.com)
- the - as in thefacebook.com (before they changed to facebook.com)
- try - as in tryghost.org
- weare - as in wearefuturegov.com
- get - as in getpocket.com
- use - as in @UseClear
- io - as in Action.io (and lots more on Russell Beattie's site)
- direct - as in Direct.gov (before they changed to gov.uk)
Other ideas to use, but I couldn't think of examples to put here (feel free to suggest examples in the comments):
One other service worth mentioning is Domainr, which finds shortened domain names and short URLs for you to play with. Instantly check availability and register for all top-level domains.
Here's what I got when searching for facebook.com alternatives:
Try it with your own preferred domain and see where you get. There's also a Domainr iPhone app if you get an idea for a domain on the move.
Incidentally, Dave's original question was almost answered by his own blog domain url, which takes a Domainr-like format: http://da.vebrig.gs/
I guess it's more difficult when trying to get that perfect Twitter username...
What do you do when you can't get your perfect domain name or Twitter username? What other prefixes or suffixes do you use? Leave your suggestions in the comments.