What happens when someone else owns my .com?

After days of brainstorming, you finally come up with the perfect business name.

You check for trademarks.

All clear. 

You check to make sure the name was available with your state.

All clear.

You type it into GoDaddy to buy the domain name.

Not available. 

You have a sinking feeling in your stomach and you're pissed some other jerk stole your name. 

There are a few steps you can take before you start the name search all over again. 

1. Check to see if someone is actually using the domain. A.k.a type it in the URL bar and see if something comes up. If it's in use, you probably should pick a new name (see this post on picking a name that doesn't suck). If it's not in use, proceed to step 2. 

2. Check to see who owns it. Use GoDaddy WhoIS to find the owner and their contact information. 

 You have two options here - Try to get it yourself or hire a domain broker who gets paid off a commission to handle the process for you. Typically you'd pay them a flat rate, you'd give them a budget, and if they could negotiate within that budget then you would pay them a commission (usually around 20%). The broker would take care of the entire domain transfer to make it painless for you. There are tons of reputable options. You can find one with just a simple Google search

3. If you prefer the DIY approach, then go ahead and attempt to contact the owner. Let them know you're interested in buying their domain if they are willing to let it go. See Step 5 for negotiation tactics. You can run an appraisal of the domain name based on comps. Don't get discouraged by the number, many people holding domains don't know how much they are worth. 

4. Start negotiating. Set a budget first so you know what you're willing to pay. Don't tell them what your budget is. It's always better to ask what they would consider letting it go for instead of naming a price first. That's my only negotiation tactic. 

5. Once a price is agreed on - pay for and transfer ownership. 

 Use a third party for this. 

Use a third party for this.

  Use a third party for this.  

My favorite is Escrow.com. They hold the money until the name is accepted and confirmed in the buyer's account, and then clear funds for the seller prior to authorizing the movement of the domain to the buyer. 

6. Voila. Congrats on your new baby. You're ready to hire a web designer.