Tips on Finding a Great Name by a Domainer

Finding a Great Name

I’m always being asked what constitutes a good name, and though there are many factors to consider, I feel the below 2 are the most vital. Whether you’re in the domain name industry and looking to expand your portfolio of names, or an entrepreneur in need of a great name for a startup, you must consider these tips on finding a great name.

Keep the syllables and words to a minimum

We all know that. The shorter your name is the better, but you also have to use as few syllables as possible. The majority of names in my portfolio are compound names consisting of one or two keywords that make sense with each other. Almost all of them are 2-4 syllables. A couple of examples from my portfolio are and has 9 characters and only 2 syllables and would be great for a food -focused online community, but we don’t have to stop at a food crowd. We can replace “food” with a wide variety of nouns, adjectives, or verbs to make a great name with “crowd” as the basis: FunCrowd, GreatCrowd, StyleCrowd.  All of these names are short, punchy, and easy to remember. If you use memorable and easy to spell words, you can turn any of your names into a family of domains. comes in at 11 characters and 3 syllables and would be a great for a network of entrepreneurs or a startup incubator. In this example, we can replace “start” while keeping “circle” as the base: WinnersCircle, LaunchCircle, and SupportCircle for example. Try this with some of your names but make sure you keep your compound names as short as possible. Keeping your syllables and characters to a minimum is important when you purchase names that end in ly, sy, able, or the like. The vast majority of my sales that contain these endings have 3 or fewer syllables. Some examples include,, and You shouldn’t avoid 4-5 syllable words that contain these endings – I own many such as uniteable, expansively, introducely  – but you should register most of them or pick them up for under $50 in an auction. Like any domain, short, simple, and beautiful trump long, complicated, and awkward.

It’s spelled like it sounds

You can bend this guideline, but for the most part, you want domain names that people can spell when they hear it. You can accomplish this with made up names. I don’t have a whole lot of invented names in my portfolio, but a couple of my better ones are and Even though these aren’t real words, someone listening to the radio and hearing these two names would have a pretty good idea of how they are spelled. I also have names that are misspellings of common English words such as Chemyst works well as an alternative spelling for a couple of reason. First, myst is a real word and pronounced identically to mist. Second, it is very simple to explain how it is spelled. You can say “It is  spelled like chemist, but with a ‘y.’” Now if you spelled chemist like Kemyst, it will take longer to explain how it is spelled even though someone seeing the word could phonetically sound it out. Spelling something the way it sounds can be tricky. This step has been a little challenging for me. When I first started to dabble in domain investing, one of the first names I hand registered from the droplist was I thought that I struck it rich and I’d get mid $xxxx. That didn’t happen. So where did I go wrong? If you heard someone talk about their company and said the name is Eatsy with a “C,” I don’t think you’d have any idea where to put the “C.” Since eatsy isn’t a real word to begin with, you’re assuming that people have an idea how to spell a fake word that you in turn further changed the spelling. That’s too many levels of assumptions. Around the same time I registered,, I also registered Again, I thought I had a great five letter pronounceable that would easily fetch mid $xxxx. In turns out that when you add an “a” to cozy, it can turn into co-AZ-y when someone is reading it. Definitely not a great branding statement! I made a similar mistake with a llll .com, and this time it cost me more than a registration fee and yearly renewal. When I saw in GD auctions, I immediately thought of mixer, but unfortunately, others did not see the same thing. So where did I go wrong with this one? Well, the biggest culprit in this domain is the “S.” Obviously, there is no “S” in mixer, and the “X” has the same “S” sound when you say it. The far better version of MXSR would be So to summarize:

  • Look for names under 13 characters in length
  • Try to limit names that have a maximum of 4 syllables.
  • If you are uncertain if a name passes the radio test, mention the name to a few friends, and see if they can spell it.
  • Choose alternative spellings of words that can be explained in one sentence. I.e. is spelled Chemist, but with a “y.”

Got any more advice to share with others? Share them in comments.

One Comment

  1. Dimitris Pagkalos December 15, 2014

    Michael, great tips!

    I’d like to add that you can use free spreadsheet programs to create your own functions (e.g CONCATENATE etc.) that produce names with popular suffixes and prefixes, make character replacements and even check for availability on-the-fly (more advanced scripting skills are required for availability checks).

    If you don’t want to spend that much money into new domain registrations, drops and auctions, I’d suggest that you first research well which keywords and topics are trending hot, and then register related brand names using Michael’s tips and your own methods. That way you save your money, you increase the chances of selling your names and you have a portfolio that you can afford to maintain on the brandable domain marketplaces.

    Thank you,