Collis Taed at the North x East blog has posted a list of suggestions about what to do when the domain name you want is gone.
Increasingly, people who are really wedded to the word or idea they have for their domain name are starting to use alternative extensions like .net. While .com has been the net standard for a while, obviously we have .com.au - but the rules are much more strictly enforced in Australia and the domain name must reflect your business name very closely. While there can be challenges with non-typical extensions, Collis suggests overcoming the tendency for people to assume your site has a.com assumption by continually marketing your site with the extension, for example writing Flashden.net rather than Flashden.
Playing with spelling is another one to be careful of. I've had trouble locating Australian social news aggregator Kwoff on a few occasions because I default to the correct spelling, Quaff, which is actually a wine website. I thought it was just me having the memory of a leaky seize but I noticed a couple of weeks ago on the Kwoff blog that after a mention on Radio National (where people only heard the name, rather than seeing it spelled out) a lot of people tried to visit the site by typing www.quaff.com.au. Kwoff responded by buying a Google Adword so that if people googled looking for it, they'd see a sponsored link saying "Looking for Kwoff?" with a link to their site.
The Kwoff story is a good reminder that you need to pick your domain name carefully, and consider the kinds of spelling or navigational mistakes people may make when looking for your site.
What to do when the domain name you want is gone [North x East]