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How to Get a Domain on a Budget

Whether you’re trying to take your offline business online, start a side hustle, or start a brand new business, getting a domain name is your first step.

Selecting a good domain name is important. You’re going to use the domain for a long time and it will become an extension of your brand. Business owners should look at a domain as a long term marketing investment, not just another necessary purchase to get your business off the ground.

At the same time, money can be tight at the beginning of a venture. Getting a domain name for your business doesn’t have to be expensive, even when the domain name you want is already registered by someone. Here are some ways you can get the right domain for a price that fits your budget.

yeti and hedgehog negotiating a domain price

Creative Negotiating for a Good Domain

Many good domain names are already registered, which means you might need to buy the domain from the current owner. Most so-called aftermarket domain names sell for under $5,000, but even this can seem like a lot for a budding entrepreneur.

Regardless of the price, there are some ways you can bridge the gap between buyer and seller so you can afford the domain.

  • Lease instead of buy

Many businesses lease equipment to keep costs down. The same can be done with domain names. Instead of paying thousands of dollars upfront, you can make smaller monthly payments.

If your business takes off, you can buy the domain name. If it fails, you didn’t lose as much on the domain as you would have otherwise. This reduces your risk while securing the domain name you want.

When leasing a domain, consider a lease-to-own/payment plan or an option to buy. Under the former, you split the full cost of the domain over a number of payments. The domain is yours forever once you make all of the payments. With an option to buy, your lease payments don’t count toward the final price, but you always have an option to buy the domain for a set price if you decide to.

  • Offer equity

New businesses are usually light on cash but high on hope. If a domain seller likes your business idea, they might be willing to trade their domain name for equity in your business. They will share in the upside if your business is successful. A combination of cash and equity can help seal a deal, too. 

Uber bought the Uber.com domain name with equity. When it went public, that equity would have been worth $532 million!

  • Barter services

If you have a unique skill or product, try trading it for the domain or to close the gap. Perhaps the domain seller wants $2,500 and you only have $1,500 to spend. Can you offer your services, such as logo design or copyrighting, to the seller in return for a reduced price?

Find Another Domain

Sometimes it’s impossible to buy the domain you want. The domain owner doesn’t want to sell it or you’re too far off on price to make a deal work. It’s time to go back to the drawing board.

At this point, try using a name spinner to find domain combinations you haven’t thought of. Lean Domain Search, for example, creates suggested domains by combining keywords with prefixes and suffixes.

If you can’t find what you want in .com, take a look at alternative domain name extensions.

Many startups—including ones with substantial investments—choose alternate extensions like .io and .co. .Ai is popular for artificial intelligence companies. There are hundreds of domain extensions that might make sense for your business.

It’s true that non-.com domains aren’t as familiar to most consumers. And your second choice domain might not be as intuitive as the domain you really want.

But getting a next-to-perfect domain for your venture and starting to build your business is better than struggling to find the “right” domain and never getting your business off the ground!

Need inspiration? Search for a domain at Namecheap.

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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