I first published this story in February 2007 on my personal blog and decided to repost it here because it is still current and useful.
A good name is very important if you are starting a new project. It helps if you have something cool to refer to and it gets things moving. So one of the first things I do if I start thinking about a new project is the name. And a good name is no good unless you also have a good domainname attached to it.
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Often people complain that all the good names are gone. This is simply not true. All good names are still available! You just have to know how to find them…
Here is how I come up with names for my projects:
1: Collect a lot of related words
Take a few minutes and just brainstorm and try to come up with a huge list (about 100) of related words. If you get stuck just go to Answers.com and look up some of the words you came up with and read the descriptions. This will immediately lead to more new words.
2: Get a dictionary and a needle
Take a dictionary, close your eyes and use the needle to go to a page and select a random word. Do this 10 times. Don’t forget to write down the words and read their descriptions. This leads to more words too.
3: Don’t use a browser to check for domainnames
Don’t check for availability by typing a name into your browser. Use InstantDomainSearch.com and Nameboy.com to easily check names for availability and more brainstorming. Nameboy will give you lots of suggestions and alternatives. InstantDomainSearch uses an AJAX interface to check for domainnames instantly. Bustaname.com is also a great tool for finding names. You can enter several keywords and it will check for combinations of those words with ‘le’, ‘ster’ and other options.
4: Invent your own words
Combine words in original ways. Doing something with email and photography? Try ‘mailography.com‘ (still available!).
5: Get inspiration from others
Google and Feedster are good names. So if you want to do something with the name ‘Josh’ (see tip 6) try ‘Joshster.com’ or ‘joshle.com’ (not free). Just add ‘Le’ and ‘Ster’ to each keyword you came up with and see what that leads to.
6: Buy a second-hand name
All good names are gone? Well yeah, but they aren’t always in use. A lot of great names can be bought secondhand at Sedo or similar domainname collectors. In fact, josh.net is for sale at Sedo.com! We bought Fleck.com second-hand for a few thousands dollars and always thought it was a great investment.
In fact, searching for names at Sedo is a great of coming up with new names. Just enter one buzzword (like ‘RSS’) and Sedo will give you a list of domainnames which contain those characters.
There are more benefits to buying a name this way: If you have an older domain Google will trust you more than if you registered your domain one week ago. Fleck.com got visitors right from the day we went live. A lot of those came from google and other search engines.
7: Browse a supermarket, library or fishing store
or any place with lots of strange words to get inspiration from. Just browse the aisles and write down all words that are cool, strange or interesting for your business.
8: Translate to Spanish, Greek and Latin
Get some of the related words and translate them into spanish, italian, danish, latin and greek. Answers.com will do it for any word you look up. Just scroll down on every page.
9: Rmove some or all vwls
Take your related words and remove all vowels (A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y) and see what you get. If that leaves you with a too short word only remove a few vowels and try again. Examples: ‘Exmpls’, ‘Etctra’ and ‘Cmputr’.
10: Call your mother
Seriously! When you are thinking about your business you often are blinded by technology and industry slang. Explain your business to an outsider and ask them what a good name would be. Try you mother and your crocery clerk and the homeless guy asking you for spare change.
My mother came up with several names for several business including the name for my personal holding Bomega and bomega.com. I asked here if she knew a good name and without thinking twice she said “‘B0’ for ‘Boris’ and ‘Mega’ for the amount of money you will make makes ‘BoMega'”.
I rest my case…