Let’s call her Hannah Haberman.
She’s my client and I’m building a website for her personal brand. So obviously the most appropriate domain name for her site is HannahHaberman.com. In fact, it’s pretty much the only suitable domain for her site, which is all about her ideas, books and projects.
But when I checked the availability of that domain, I was annoyed to discover that the domain was already taken. I was a little surprised as her name is not so common.
So, after sending her an email to note this issue, I started brainstorming alternative domain names for her.
Let me tell you, it was hard!
If she was a doctor, it would work to buy DrHannahHaberman.com (though a little pretentious to my no-nonsense ears, unless referring to a medical doctor). Rabbi can also work. But she is no doctor or rabbi.
And I don’t think we can get around the idea of using her name in the domain. Any attempt to sum up her work in 2-3 adjectives and nouns will box in her broad-ranging activities and probably come back to bite her in a year or two, if she takes a new direction.
So I started considering other domain extensions. As in HannahHaberman.org (that’s OK, but not really accurate, as she is not an organization), or HannahHaberman.net (that looks old-school) or maybe one of the funky newer domain extensions, such as HannahHaberman.me.
These were the best candidates I could think of, though all of them are second best.
There is no getting around the fact that the best domain for a personal brand is YourName.com.
And then I felt concerned about the possibility that we may have to compete with whoever owns HannahHaberman.com.
So, while still waiting to hear back from her, I decided to go find out who actually owns that domain by checking it on BetterWhoIs.com.
Lo and behold, what did I find? It is registered by none other than my client herself – the fakely named Hannah Haberman!
She didn’t tell me that she already owns her domain.
My relief at discovering this fact, as well as the whole frustrating experience of trying to brainstorm a domain for her, reminded me how important it is for each of us to own our personal domain names, if possible.
You may not need it at this moment, and it may actually be pretty unimaginable that you’ll ever want to use it.
But here are 4 good reasons why you should still buy your personal domain name if you can – today:
1. Take Control of Your Online Reputation
Your online reputation is basically what people see when they type your name into Google search. (If you have a common name, you might have to type in the name of your country or city after your name.)
What results show up? Hopefully nothing personal or embarassing.
What you see there is your online reputation. That’s what your next potential boss, spouse or landlord sees when they want to find out more about you.
Owning your own domain name can help you take charge of your personal Google results, should you ever need to do that. A site about Hannah Haberman built on HannahHaberman.com is highly likely to rank #1 for the search term “Hannah Haberman” in Google.
Owning your domain is not a total solution for reputation management, but it can certainly help a lot.
2. Avoid the Doppleganger Problem
If someone else has the same name as you and builds their site on yourname.com, this could confuse people looking for you. If your doppleganger’s site is in Swedish, people will figure out pretty quickly that it’s not you.
But what if there happens to be another young Canadian writer by the name of Hannah Haberman? But, unlike you, she writes poetry about wanting to die and chronicles her passion for cord-free bungee jumping (with lots of photos included).
Now that could be bad for Shidduchim
So buy a little insurance. Buy your domain name while you have the chance.
It could come in handy if you ever have a doppleganger problem.
3. Mail that is Black
It is not at all improbable that 2 or 200,000 other people should happen to share the same name with you. Especially if your name is John Smith or Chaim Cohen. This could lead to a situation where your personal domain name is already taken. Possibly by a bungee-jumping poet.
But what you definitely never, never want to happen is that someone should buy your domain name with the specific purpose of harming your reputation or trying to extort money from you. G-d Forbid.
Let’s assume that will never happen to any of us.
But, especially if you are a prominent person, or one day hope to become one – and certainly if you are in business – insurance for this problem cost about $11 a year. I recommend you buy it!
4. One of a Kind
I bought NaomiElbinger.com years ago, and I still haven’t gotten around to using it (it’s currently redirected to the about page of this blog.) But I have never regretted a penny of the $11 a year I pay for it.
That’s because, in the entire universe, there is only one NaomiElbinger.com. We marketers use terms like “one of a kind,” “unique” and “once in a lifetime” so much that they have lost their meaning.
But there can truly only be one YourName.com!
Just that thought scares me a bit and makes me realize that I have to own it, because if someone else owns it, that means that I never will. (Unless I buy it off them – which would be complicated and expensive, if at all possible. Don’t go there!)
I know people who already own a few domains – for their business, or blog, 0r project – yet they don’t own their own personal domain. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the most important one to own!
Where to Buy Your Domain
There are a million domain registrars – but here are two that I can recommend. Both sell .com domains for $10-$12/year.
Name.com is the registrar I mostly use for my domains. The main reason I like them is that they don’t try trick you into buying other stuff you don’t want or need during the checkout process. This is unfortunately so common in the domain and web hosting industry.
GoDaddy is the world’s biggest domain registrar, and is very well-priced and reliable. Someone recently asked me why I don’t use them. The answer is that 5 years ago, when I started buying domains, GoDaddy had a different brand direction. Bizarre and gross stuff used to go on on their homepage That all ended about 3 years ago when their CEO proudly posted a video of himself shooting dead an elephant in Africa. The fall-out from that marketing blunder led to his replacement as CEO and a whole new era for the GoDaddy bland… er, I mean brand. It is now perfectly safe to visit GoDaddy’s very parev corporate website and buy their domains. Many of my clients use them and are very satisfied. Search for your domain on GoDaddy
So no more waiting or excuses. Buy your personal domain name today, if it’s available. I have a feeling you’ll never be sorry.