Purchasing Your Domain
Once you’ve selected a name (I suggest selecting 3 to be safe), you want to check the domain availability so that you can purchase it. Most people check the domain simply by typing the URL in a browser to see if a site comes up or not, this method is not accurate. Typing the URL will tell you if there is a website and competition for your chosen name but it won’t tell you if someone owns the domain. To check if someone owns it, you’ll have to check with a domain checker. Most web hosting companies and domain registration sites have a domain checker right on their front page. Here’s a quickDomain Checker:
Checking the availability of the name is the first step for most of these providers. If domain name is available I recommend purchasing it right away even you aren’t ready with the site. Getting the domain early before you start building the buzz for your online boutique will save you from huge issues later on. A fairly large number of hosting companies offer you with free domain for the first year, so if you are ready to get your domain name and set up your site within a few weeks of purchase then I recommend using a host like Dot5hosting.com and purchasing the hosing and domain together. If you aren’t quite ready yet then you can purchase your domain separately and transfer later to your hosting company (some site builder solutions like big cartel and shopify also offer the option to point your purchased domain to your shop on their site). For domain registration try 1&1 Internet, Inc. If possible stay away from Go Daddy.
Another consideration is if you choose a name but domain name is already in use or it is unavailable, it is possible to try purchasing the domain secondhand from the owner or an auction company. Of course if the owner is using the domain, he/she will not sell it. But there are cases where people don’t use domains after purchasing them, or the site it was used for is obsolete or the owner just needs to make some extra cash. You can look up your desired domain on a free site called Whois.com. The listing may show the name or the company that owns the domain. From there you can contact the owner.