Random.ly hac.ki/ng doma.in nam.es

Recently I stumbled across a pretty cool site called domai.nr.  It’s a simple site that takes keywords and checks if the common domain names are registered for it… and also if there are any interesting domain hacks you can register.

What’s a domain hack?  It’s where the actual tld domain extension (and possibly the path) become part of the domain spelling.

For example, delicio.us is a domain hack.  So is flic.kr.  Almost all the url shortening services (goo.gl, anyone?) are domain hacks.  Every word I used in the post title could be a domain hack.

And, done right, they can be cool and feel like a premium domain… even though they tend to use (very) non-premium extensions.

I’m open to the possibility that I’m a bit on the OCD side when it comes to domain names.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve had projects come to a dead stop for days (even weeks) because I couldn’t find that just-right domain name for them.

It can be maddening.  Seriously.

How many times have you gone to register a domain name… only all the good ones are taken.  So you’re either left with i-cannot-believe-i-just-registered-this-sorry-domain-name.org, or some creative (read: wrong) spelling of what you really wanted.  Or worse.

For me, that’s happened hundreds of times.  Literally.

So I spend way too much time on thesaurus.com.  And justdropped.com.  And enom.com.  And nameboy.com.

(It’s made even worse when 90% of the domains I’d like to have are sitting registered, but unused, by some other opportunity chaser who had $11.00 to spend and a grand idea… that never amounted to jack squat.  Uggh.

So now I have a new tool to add to my belt.

For example, recently I decided it would be an interesting project to get into the car history business.  I got a reseller account with one of the major providers, and started looking for a good domain.

I wanted something simple.  Like vincheck.com.  Taken.  Nothing there.  Of course.

So I settled for 2 other names I didn’t really like.  But they were short and could be remembered.  I got vincop.com and squarevin.com.  Lame, I know.

Ahhh… but lookie what I found with a domain hack.  checkv.in.

I would still rather have a good .com.  But checv.in can actually be branded to appear premium.  It has to be done right.  But it can be done.  Quite easily, actually.

(btw, if you go to checkv.in, you’ll see that I’m also one of the irritating opportunity-seeker types who registers names and then doesn’t use them.  I even frustrate myself.  Uggh.)

Yesterday I was hanging out on flippa.com trolling for interesting websites to buy (a favorite pastime of mine), and I thought “I should create an auction site like flippa, only for apps.”

Of course, all of the good names were gone.  And not built.

But one that I liked was appbuy.com.  It’s taken.  And, amazingly, actually used in a real business.

But guess what wasn’t taken?  appb.uy.  Thank you, Uruguay.

If you’re interested in domain name hacks for your site, there are a few things you should know.

First, not all registrars will let you register them.  Including most of the big names.  I’ve been with enom for years (great API), but I couldn’t register through them.

There are a lot of options out there, but I use 101 Domain for my domain hack registrations.  I also have an account at United Domains… but I haven’t actually purchased any names from them yet.

Which leads me to the next thing you should know about these domain names.  They can be very expensive.  Much more expensive that standard domain names.

I have a United Domains account because I wanted to purchase a domain in a country that they supported.  I won’t tell you the name, because I still want to register it (it’s killer), but a new registration in the particular country I wanted was almost $1,500.  For a new registration!

I couldn’t pull the trigger on that.  Most of the names I buy are speculative.  I may do something.  I may not.  But locking up the name is usually a cheap way to guard against someone else grabbing it before me.  Not for $1,500.

But expect to pay up to a few hundred dollars for most domain hack names.  Many are cheaper.  But recognized ones like .ly are over $100 (I just paid $118 for a new .ly domain).

Also, many of them have ownership or registration restrictions.  For some countries you’ll need to present paperwork showing you are a real business operating in their country.  For others, you don’t need to do anything special.

For appb.uy, I had to have a registered presence in Uruguay.  Ummm… right.  But that’s one of the reasons I use 101domain.com.  They have a proxy agent service.  So my appb.uy domain was $65.00 for the name, and $18.96 for the .uy trustee service.  Done.

So go have some fun with domai.nr.  And next time you’re looking for a great domain name, don’t just limit yourself to the slim pickings of available .coms…

f.in/d you.r.se/lf a cool.ly na.med doma.in ha.ck.