I used to have a serious domain name addiction.
Late at night was the most dangerous time. I’d get all these ideas that seemed better in the dark, when I was hopped up on my second bowl of Haagen Dazs Vanilla Bean.
This was back in 2009 and 2010. My business was young. So was Facebook. It didn’t give me the hours-worth of bored, scrolling semi-pleasure it offers now.
So when I needed a burst of oxytocin, I’d open godaddy.com and start typing things into the search box.
Clicking that search button ignited a thrilling moment of tension. Like pulling the lever on a slot machine. And then…
Unable to believe my luck — and the world’s idiocy for not scooping up that preemo URL — I’d add to cart.
Worth noting: a domain only cost $7.69 back then. Cheap as rock salt.
My domain purchases fell into these categories:
1. Business names to replace Talking Shrimp.
Around 2am (AKA the Cray-Cray Hour, when I’d also freak that there were ghosts in the basement laundry room or start tweezing an untweezable hair till I made a scar), I’d get insecure that my business name wasn’t descriptive enough. Because, well, it isn’t.
When I was feeling confident — OK, cocky — I’d think, “It’s called Apple, not ‘Cool Computers.’ My name will be iconic like that. The words Talking Shrimp will become synonymous with great copy.”
And then, other times, I’d shell out for names like these:
That was when I wasn’t thinking beyond TV promos. After copywriting gigs for entrepreneurs started picking up, I thought I’d switch to one of these:
I still own badasscopy.com. Because I think to have it and not use it is badass.
Then, there were…
2. The insane “dreams of riches” domains.
When you go down the rabbit hole of learning about online business, your head gets filled with visions of easy-income sugarplums.
One dark night of the soul, I made this tidy investment:
Why, you ask? I decided that domains ending in “tv” were the next frontier.
If I made a well-timed land grab, I reasoned, these new Youtube stars would come a-knocking, with bags of gold bullion in hand. They’d let me name my price. “Please, Ma’am, I’m a humble Millennial. I’ll pay anything for sweettalktv.com. It’s the only possible name for my channel that teaches the lost art of sweet talk.”
I also decided that marianbtv would be the ultimate birthday present for my sister, Marian. I wouldn’t even ask for a kicker when it made her a very wealthy woman. A gift is a gift.
That same night, according to my Godaddy purchase history, I logged back in and snatched a hot piece of internet real estate for my hubby. Because I couldn’t go to bed before buying him this gem:
Can you believe he didn’t turn that into a blog?
A month or so later, it dawned on me that Twitter was going to give rise to all kinds of businesses, and they would all cleverly start with a “tw.” I think I got the idea from my friend Laura Roeder, who was then teaching people to use Twitter and joked that she was called “the Tweacher.” I knew I’d be an idiot if I didn’t get:
I got Twignorant et al because nothing could be more shameful than being ignorant about Twitter. (And Twitter + ignorant = twignorant.) It was a problem, I thought, that people would pay infinite sums to fix.
Tweetgrinder because I liked the play on “meat grinder.” Duh.
And Twavel Agent, of course, because evewyone wants to put their twavel pwans in the hands of a pwofessional with a name that sounds wike baby tawk.
I also got on a ‘preneur streak, thinking every play on “entrepreneur” would soon be taken. I bought:
And, just to cover my yenta bases:
Note for the Yiddish-ignorant (note to self, see if Yignorant.com is available): Yenta is Yiddish for someone who’s a busybody. I thought for sure, that’s an online business.
Hottypreneur is versatile. It’s either a highly attractive entrepreneur, or an enterprising person who sells hotties. AKA a pimp or human trafficker.
Niche sites were hot then, too. You know, those trashy one-page sites that are all affiliate links to retail sites?
Screw copywriting, I crowed to myself. I’ll make a fortune off of those, and then teach other people how to do it, too.
So I wisely snagged:
NICHESITES101.COM, NICHEGENIUS.COM, NICHESITEHELP.COM, NICHESPAY.COM, NICHEPAYDIRT.COM
I never did set up a niche site. The giddiness wore off before I could figure them out. And that brings us to the final category:
3. What was I, high?
One night, thinking, “I know, I’ll set up a site that links out to the world’s best panini presses,” I felt unreasonably blessed to get an “available” result on this one:
Have I ever made my own panini? No. Not a single panino. And yes, that’s the singular form of panini. Saying “I’d like a panini please” is like saying “I’d like a sandwiches.” This is a pet peeve I’ve given up on because when you’re asked “Do you want to split a panini with me,” and you pointedly respond, “Yes, I’d love to split a PANINO,” nobody likes you anymore.
I’m telling you this to distract you from the fact that at one time I thought I’d set up a site about making panini.
And then, there was this final coup:
If you were a fan of Little House on The Prairie, you know that url’s based on the unforgettable story arc where Mary Ingalls, Laura’s older sister, goes blind. And then she went off to blind school, where she learned to read Braille and met her future husband, Adam. None of that explains what I thought I’d do with the URL. Maybe I thought I’d start a business life-coaching people like me who couldn’t let go of that TV memory. But in that case, why didn’t I also buy ALBERTGETSADDICTEDTOMORPHINE.COM, or get an umbrella url called RUNGETDOCBAKER.COM? That’s what someone would say every episode: Run, get Doc Baker! He was the only doctor in town, and boy – did he do a brisk business. I wonder how much he would’ve paid me for that url.
So you’re probably wondering, how’d I make out?
Sitting on that mountain of untold internet riches and all.
I sold one of those domains. EATDRINKTV.COM. Guy paid me a cool 500 bucks for it (I asked for a thousand) and, by all appearances — it’s now a parked “buy this domain site” — let it go. Someone pounce on that prize!
How much did I pay for all those? You can do some math. Add in a year where I accidentally let them all auto-renew, and then spent many hours on the phone crying to Godaddy. (Note: look up CRYINGTOGODADDY.COM.)
I think they refunded like, one domain.
Hey, there are worse addictions. Cost me less than a year of heavy crack use, which is the standard by which I measure all regrettable purchases.
Plus, I learned some valuable lessons worth sharing:
- If you’re in “what to name my business” purgatory, stop losing sleep and just pick something.
And stick with it. Build the best business you can. The name will be every bit as memorable as you are, for better or worse.
(In fact, speaking of Apple, remember when they came out with the iPad? Everyone gagged and said it sounded like a feminine hygiene product.)
- Don’t buy domains JUST because they’re available.
It’s like buying all the bread in the store before a hurricane, even if you haven’t bought a loaf of bread in 12 years. When I looked back at all these purchases, I started thinking, hmmm. Maybe I shouldn’t have let some of these lapse. And then, when I checked them, there they were, up for grabs again. (Really? Nobody wants diyrepairtv.com? It’s such a nice looking url!)
- Know when the f*ck to go to bed.
Have you ever fallen into the domain addiction void?
Have you gone through the obsessed-with-all-things-online-business phase that costs a fortune in courses and other things you thought would pave the way to collecting passive income from a hammock on the golden sands of the Seychelles?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
Loved the post – I actually searched for something exactly like this to find someone to tell me that I need to stop obsessing over domain names and cut to the real stuff. Some of my ill-conceived domain collections include:
ArTradition.com (hey, at least someone else got it after me and made it into a site)
ContentMint.org (a content-writing charity that I’d hallucinated about)
Mashwaray.com (Translates into: advice.com – which I still own. Hey, I’m not perfect)
And a bunch of .XYZ and .CO domain names because, well, they were available.
Ruthie Haskins says
Like Mr. Oberhausen, I too am currently in “what to name my business” purgatory. My chosen side hustle is a bit stodgy, proofreading transcripts for court reporters, but I am a smart-ass who loves a good pun. How do I come off as professional and not flippant and still maintain the ME in my business name/website? There’s no way I’m putting out a photo of myself in a grey suit holding a Merriam Webster with a pencil stuck in my hair.
Your “Tackle Your Tagline” .pdf is helping with ideas. Thank you.
Godaddy is addicting…step away from the laptop.
Michelle Braun says
It’s like you peeked into my soul. And my Go Daddy account 🙂
Two nights ago, I realized I drunk-bought “iamexcite.com”. Any takers?
Jodi Trudeau says
What? There are other people out there with this same affliction/addiction?
In my pursuit to avoid having a lame business name, I have bought many a domain name with all its many spellings. In the end I have let them all expire. I have a fear that someone will buy up that perfect name, causing me to settle for something less desirable.
I have long held the belief that your name should tell people what you do. Only recently have I started to change my mind about this. I love what you wrote and it has inspired me to let my creative side have more control over the naming process.
You are right. There are no perfect names. It is the intent, people and purpose behind the name that matters. In life, you are going to have people that like it and people that think it sounds like a feminine hygiene product. The point is to pick a name and quit letting that stop me from moving forward!
In regards to online course addiction; I have spent so much money on them in the last year, that I am afraid to add it all up. I’m pretty sure I could have had a nice vacation in the Seychelles.
Luckily, I now know to resist courses, too. I don’t think I’d have a penny to my name if I’d kept going on that nonstop spree.
Jodi Trudeau says
So how do you resist?
I have only a few courses that I would recommend to anyone. One is B-School and the other is Copy Cure. I have a photography course I really like and a film course I feel was worth the money. The others I get sucked into and then am always let down.
OMG I guess I should´ve consulted you when searching domains for my business! Thanks for a hellova laugh you sly domain-dealing girl!
I wish I knew how to steal them. Would’ve been a lot cheaper.
I snagged quite a couple…and of course they lapsed without having come to an inch of my grand vision for them. How dare they!
Anyways, I did check out http://laurabelgray.com/. Didn’t look like it was taken. Hmmmm
I used to own that, for years, and I guess the credit card on file expired. I should probably buy it again. Just so someone doesn’t turn it into a porn site.
marian belgray says
Hilarious. You really kept your domainnamefetish.com under wraps. Either that or I was busy procreating at the time. Sorry I wasn’t there for you in your darkest hour.
I was thinking about you buying me that domain name before I got to that part of the post! Thank you again. It was the weirdest gift. But you made it seem like I would’ve missed out big time if you hadn’t stepped in. Why Marianbtv.com? Was MarianBelgraytv.com already taken? Also, shouldn’t it be .tv?
You remind me of Dad calling late at night with hot stock tips. Or telling us that he bought some himself and we each now own (a very small part of) an airline.
Yeah, I thought it was a keeper. I think it was around the time that Marie bought marietv dot com – and I was there when she was negotiating to buy it. She was so mad that some guy had bought it and was just sitting on it waiting to extort big bucks from someone who needed it. I didn’t want that to happen to you. MarianTV might’ve been available, but I liked the ring of “b” and tv.”
You know what part of an airline we own? The blue water in the lavatory toilet.
It looks as though belgrayvia.com is still available. You could hobnob with such denizens of the dark as Mary Shelley, Alfred Lawn Tennison and Henry Grayvia, author of “Grayvia’s Anatomy.” And belgravy.com looks to be available for when you get serious about raking in the dough. And, as you know, Sylvia Plath’s final resting place was the Bel Grayve also available tonite.
I like belgravy. I might just get serious about the gravy business. Why not? There’s never enough, and never too much.
Past my bedtime. Don’t give me any ideas!
Loved the post, Laura.
Stacy Walsh says
I love domain names, but am happy to realize I am not addicted to buying them (yet). I have a handful of potential business name ones, nothing too cray-cray, but this post does make me realize that I spend waaaay too much time obsessing over what to call things rather than getting down to the damn work. However, I am a writer and sometimes filmmaker and I just happen to think titles are so damn important. Thank you for the genuine laughs – a great post!
I agree that titles are important. But getting something out there is MORE important.
Kendal Swinski says
“Know when the f*ck to go to bed!!” The wisest words. So much stupid happens (day or night) when I try to keep doing things after my “good” brain has turned off. As an entrepreneur, it can be hard to let go of wanting to get things accomplished. Some things though, should not be accomplished! 😉
The things I’ve done to my skin at that hour, too. Luckily I know not to cut my bangs.
Hi Laura! I always had an urge to chase those brilliantdomainidea.com and such , but had a will power not to and I don’t binge on icecream at night???? . But what it made me thinking of was that you’r right that some of my not very thought through purchases were made at imparedjudgementmidnighthour. So it was aha moment … Hit’em with your Buy it before someone else df does at the midnight! ????
You know you’re right? That must be why carts always close at midnight. Should be 2 am, really.
Jamey Jones says
TWAVELAGENT.com, Elmer Fudd, at your service.
Damn! I should’ve said Elmer Fudd. I was channeling him but didn’t realize it.
Jill Davenport says
Yes to twavelagent.com! That was my favorite. I have dabbled in the domain grab but not as boldly as you. I have gone back and forth on my business name so many times though! I love your point about the iPad. It doesn’t matter! Thanks for that 🙂
My advice: Just twy your best with whatever name, twuly.
Too funny. I think Batman Episodes would be much better than Little House or even Batman Villains. If you want to go wayback.com those cheesy Quinn Martin Productions had some funny episode titles. Ranking real low on creativityscores.com now! Searching for “bottomlesscopy” may yield some scary results. Love this! @eevi mypiggytail is epic!
Hahaha! Thank you, @wally! I think so too!
Hmm. Quinn Martin. How about whatscannoneatingtonight dot com?(Back when TV Land had no advertisers yet, we got to make 2-minute promos. I made one called “The Cannon Diet,” showcasing everything he ate.
Ruthie Haskins says
Kevin Oberhausen says
I could see you creating an amazing spoof-blog on prententiousartsnob.com. Is your hubs a re-gifter?
PS This is coming at a great time for me, as my podcast creation & launch is about 6 weeks delayed based on name selection.
There you go! Nobody cares. Pick a name. Get Ober It. (That’s the name. You’re welcome.)
Dang! You’re GOOD, Laura! Now I wish my name were Oberhausen.
So YOU were the one that snagged up all the gems of the domain world?!?! OMG, Laura. laughed so hard. Good to know I’m (was) not the only one with this addiction; although, mine didn’t go as far as yours. I simple don’t have your wisdom.
Here are some of my proud late-hour moments:
Loewenherz-creative.com (still have this one)
Teejag.com (shirts for JAGs, an insider thing, clearly)
Love your posts so much!!
HOW WAS MATZIBABY STILL AVAILABLE??? These are the best. I’m glad I’M not the only one. Thank you.
Lol Laura! Love the Twavel Agent one. Oh ya. I’ve fallen for that before. Many times. You get the .com and how could you pass up the .org, .co, .io, .ca. And how could I let .me go? Someone will buy it and rip off my idea. Plus it’s 62% off!!
Phew, glad those days are gone.
BTW, http://www.laurabelgraycopy.com is still available. Can’t believe it’s only 14.99. I better buy it before someone else does!
Hey! Don’t trigger me!!
Don’t you mean “twigger me”?