Finding a Short Domain Based on a Name is Harder Than Ever

January 10th, 2015 • filed under Johnathan.org

I’ve always really enjoyed having a short address to rely upon when I tell people where to find my sites. I’m personally of the idea that the shorter you can get your address and have it still make sense, the better, especially on mobile devices. Not everyone is willing to type in myreallycoolmobileapp.com when having appname.com is much better, or even app.co, if it’s available.

Update : I wrote this post a couple years ago. Some things have changed since then. A lot of the two-letter TLDs belong to countries and some have rules or restrictions on who can register with them. The ones that don’t have rules or restrictions typically still charge an arm and a leg. For example, we all know the URL shortener bit.ly. Would you believe me if I told you that the .ly TLD goes for $150 for the first year on 101domains.com? Renewals are $230 for a single year. That’s a lot. There are TLDs that are much cheaper, like .co, .io, .is, .me, and whatnot, which is great! Some however aren’t…

The Differences

There are several acronyms for the various top-level domains you see:

  1. gTLD – Generic. (.com, .net, .org, .ws)
  2. ccTLD – Country Code. (.us, .uk, .ir, .br)
  3. IDN – Internationalized (.中国 / .xn–fiqs8s)

The Struggle is Real

My problem is, however, that when I want to register a short domain that uses my name with a short TLD, I’m limited on options, unless I’d like it to make zero sense. My first name is Johnathan, and that right there is too long for my tastes (hence why I currently use jlyman.net; 6+3 is better than 9+3) I I now own johnathan.org. I’d like to register a john.TLD domain but all the cheap ones are taken. Not surprising though, since John is an incredibly popular name. In 2017 I ended up doing just that, snagging john.ly, which makes this next section almost irrelevant, but I’ll keep it for posterity’s sake.

Varying Difficult.ly

With the proliferation of the Internet and everyone having an app, service, blog or portfolio, short addresses are harder to come by and the ones that are free will cost you. In the grand scheme of things, if I were to register a .ly address (for example), $150 a year isn’t too bad, and if I went straight to the source for the .ly TLD, I could save a lot of money. Finding “the source” wasn’t as easy as some are, however. With .ly, the country is Libya. Libya isn’t necessarily known for being the number one country for technological ease of use or freedoms. However, their NIC (Network Information Center) at nic.ly provides a link to another site, ltt.ly (Libya Telecom and Technology), which gives a list of approved vendors of .ly domain names. On this list, is LibyanSpider.com, a Libyan hosting and domain name registrar. They say I can register a .ly domain for 40 LYD, but since I’m an international customer, I have to use Register.ly. Now four levels in, I finally find a registrar that doesn’t charge as much as 101domains. At $75, while still a serious markup (one LYD is $0.84 as I’m writing this) over the 40 LYD ($33.48 USD), it’s about as good as I’m going to get. I can’t reasonably expect to get a foreign domain name that hasn’t been completely mainstreamed by the Internet for the price of a .com or .co.

.An(d) it’s gone.

There are other registrar setups like this one out there for other countries, too. Some are harder to get into, like .an, which isn’t even available anymore, since the Netherlands Antilles dissolved in 2010 and became the distinct countries of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten, along with three smaller still-Dutch-owned municipalities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba.

.is This Just Fantasy?

The TLD .is is gaining in popularity, too, but isn’t dead easy (unless you want to pay the 101domains price). Iceland owns this TLD and can be registered directly via their NIC site at isnic.is. At roughly $36 USD, it’s not a bad price, but their site isn’t very intuitive. Sometimes, paying a bit more makes the whole process that much easier. I could go on for days talking about all the different gTLDs out there, but I think you’d have a lot more fun looking them all up yourself. Luckily, Wikipedia has pretty much every TLD out there in one list.

New gTLDs

With the launch of newer topic-based gTLDs like .photos and .club, a lot of sites will eventually transfer over and older ccTLD and gTLD domains will eventually expire, unless a company chooses to keep renewing it and use it as a redirect. I’ve thought about having something like john.blog or jltech.blog, but I haven’t been able to make up my mind. There are a lot more options in the word-based TLD space. I think this’ll forever be an ongoing battle. People with short names will always have the one-up on me.