Most people are familiar with the domain name extension “.com” (dot com) that ends the majority of websites. “Com” was meant to be short for commerce, but it really gets used as a catch-all for things that don’t belong in other web extensions like .gov, .edu or .org.
As you can see from the report I pulled from domaintools, the extension “.com” is currently the undisputed king of website name endings. But that may change soon.
Since November 2013, new extensions are being released each month: .today, .tips, .photo, .sexy, .vip, .lgbt, .cool, .ninja, .social, .love, and many more are already available, and there are more coming out each month.
Of interest to authors – .blog, .guru, .diy, .bio, .events, .how, .reviews, .expert and more are already available. These are coming soon: .fans, .new, .buy, and .free. In Jan of 2015, the extension .you becomes available. That should be interesting. And I’m sure we could make all kinds of interesting sites out of the ending “.ing”. And there are many more soon to come…
Since these new name extensions have started going public, the sheer number of new domain name purchases has taken off. Expect to see all kinds of clever new website names, rebranding, redirection, and general mayhem as these new extensions shake up the internetaverse.
Keep in mind that all of this info regards just the website name registration. The website hosting is a separate issue, although some businesses will handle both registration and hosting for you. (For all web hosting and registration needs, I recommend dreamhost: referral link!)
The Virtual Land Grab
Imagine entire planets of virtual real estate opening up, and you’ll immediately imagine a “land grab” for the prime spots of short, catchy, clever website names. Imagine all the interest in ilove.berlin or trash.talk or dead.sexy. But there is a process for introducing new top level domains into the wild. There are three generally recognized phases:
1- Sunrise Period / Pre-registration
As domain names are introduced, the first phase is called the “sunrise period.” This phase is intended to protect patent, trademark and copyright holders. In order to register a domain name during the sunrise period, you’ll need a registered trademark or other proof that you do already do business with that name.
For example, if you already own myauthorwebsite.com, you may be eligible to apply to register for myauthorwebsite.author during the sunrise period for the .author domain names.
Note that just because you qualify to register for the name at this phase, you are not guaranteed that you’ll get it! If other people have patents, trademarks, or copyrights using the string “myauthorwebsite” or if they do business under myauthorwebsite.gov or .net or .biz etc, they may also be eligible to register for the name during this period. If there are multiple registrations for the same domain name, the registrar may have an auction or lottery.
Guess what? If you want to register a domain name during the sunrise period, you’re going to pay more than the regular rate. Possibly thousands. Possibly tens of thousands.
You can also pre-register during this period for a specific name. Again, this is not cheap. Some names will set you back $13, 000 for priority pre-registration. But if the name is not claimed by someone else during the sunrise period, those who preregistered will be one of the first in line for the next phase.
2- Landrush Period
This is when the domain name becomes publicly available. There are no prerequisites for purchasing the domain name at this point. All the corporations should have picked up their domains during the Sunrise Period, and unclaimed names are supposedly first-come, first-served. People who preregistered for domain names during the sunrise/preregistration period are first in line here.
But there may be many people who preregistered for popular names, including those who didn’t want to pay the high cost of registering during the sunrise period, but also land barons. Land barons are people/companies that buy up website names that they think will be inherently popular, usually to turn around and sell them for a profit. For example, autoinsurance.org sold on auction for $440,000 so there is definitly some money to be made/lost in virtual real estate.
It’s because of people like this that you shouldn’t go to whitehouse.com. Because if you were looking for the place where the President hangs out, then where you MEANT to go was actually whitehouse.gov, and not whitehouse.com which is a porn site, purchased by a clever land baron who snapped up the name before anyone else.
Registration during the land rush can still be expensive as the registrar may still hold the price higher than normal during this initial public release period.
3 – General Availability Period
When all the pre-registrations and land barons have finished fighting over the prime cuts, the unclaimed sites fall into the category of ‘general availability’ during which anyone can register them for the standard rate.
The standard rate for webname registration varies. According to https://www.name.com/pricing a .com name will set you back $11 per year, while .rich costs almost $3000. Go figure.
How Does This Affect Authors?
First of all, don’t panic. You don’t have to sign up for every extension for your name or your existing website(s). You need to consider how static websites play into your overall digital portfolio, and look through the name extensions that are coming up, and think of how they apply to your business so you don’t miss out on useful opportunities. If you’re trying to be a guru or expert, you obviously want to look into how those domain names could contribute to your image, SEO and other aspects of your business. The most important website extension for authors is probably “.author” which will become available within the next couple years.
There is no guarantee that adding a .author or .guru or .expert domain to your online virtual estate will give you any more or less credibility. Keep in mind that the ‘.biz’ extension has been available for a long time, but has seen little use.
You’ll want to decide how much it is worth to you to get that site name, long before the sunrise period. Forbes has a great article regarding Seven Things To Think About Before You Register That New Domain.
Check with name.com or your webhost for both pre-registration and general-availability pricing.