Buying a domain name is a very simple process. Choosing a domain name, however, is not.
These days, trying to find a domain that you really want is like showing up to a department store on Black Friday a few hours before closing—you can expect all that the good stuff is gone.
So what can you do?
Be Creative. Perhaps your first choice for a domain name is not available. Try spelling it differently. Sometimes a twist on the spelling just might do the trick. Choose something catchy and easy to remember. Domain names that are too long, as well as those that have complicated spelling, could have an adverse affect on your site's popularity and search engine ranking. Use Google's Keywords Tool to educate yourself about how people use search engines to find similar products or information that you have to offer. (It's FREE)
Dotcom Alternatives. The .com domain extension is by far the most popular for all domain names. Because of this, it is likely that your domain name of choice is not available as a .com (i.e. kenhaskins.com). One workaround is that you may need to add a twist to the spelling. Another alternative is to search for other domain extensions. The .net and .org extensions are the common solution when .com is not available. They're also very search engine friendly.
What about Top Level Domains (TLDs) like .CLUB, .MUSIC or even.WEBSITE? You have to be careful with these extensions. Not all TLDs get the same level of treatment from search engine results. Not to mention, they are more expensive than .com, .net or .org.
I have .WEBSITE because I build websites and most of my business comes from word of mouth not search engine results. You may have different needs for your online business.
AVOID extensions like .us, .ly, .me and the like. While it might seem cool or funny to have domains such as wanna.be or friend.ly, the truth is, these domain extensions represent countries or geographical areas (.us = United States, . ly = Lybia, .be = Belgium). Having an inappropriate domain could have an adverse effect on search engine rankings for the country in which you live.
Spend Wisely. Buying a domain name is like buying your dream house. You want to get a domain name that you truly love and can successfully market.
Just because it's not available doesn't mean it's not available. If you find that your domain name of choice is not available, Google it. If it's not a live website, it could mean that someone owns the domain, but may not have plans to do anything with it. People buy and sell domain names all the time. Look up the owner at Whois.com. If contact info is available, reach out to see if the owner is interested in selling the domain.
Domain names with common words can be very expensive. If you want it that badly, go for it. If not, look for alternatives. True story: cmswebsites.com is currently available for a mere $2,588.00. But cmswebsites.net was available for only $8.99. Needless to say, the alternative was the smart choice for my wallet. Yes, I've had other websites, too!
Additional Information. Firstsiteguide.com has very valuable information and details about "How to Choose the Right Domain". I highly recommend giving it a read BEFORE purchasing a domain.