Contact the owner. Before so much as hinting at a price, simply email to ask whether or not the domain is for sale. If you are known or can clearly be linked to a thriving business, create a generic alternate email address through which to contact them, as your success might be leveraged against you. Be aware, however, that an informal-sounding email address is more likely to be regarded as spam or junk mail.
Most people assume a domain name ends in .com so if you buy a domain name with one of the other extensions (.net, .info, .org, etc.), you’ll have some extra work to get people to remember that your site has a different extension. Don’t automatically assume you should only buy domains with .com, though. Many sites have done quite well with other extensions. (Look at us!)
Even if the term isn’t trademarked, don’t buy domains that are just a variation of another domain name. This means avoiding plurals if the singular is taken (mediatemple.net vs. mediatemples.net), hyphenating a phrase (media-temple.net), or adding “my” or some other preposition (mymediatemple.net). Alternately, you might consider buying these variations yourself and set them up so that if someone types one of the variations, they are redirected to your main site.
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