In an increasingly social world where we are beginning to be defined by our online presence, one of the most important things you can have is a custom domain (aka URL) of your name. For the newbies, a URL is a web address (like http://AwesomelyLuvvie.com). URLS are owned by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and we are all technically renting them because we buy them for 1-5 years at a time.
I am a firm believer that everyone needs their FirstnameLastName.com. Or FirstMiddleLast.com. Or BusinessName.com. Whether you have a blog, a business or are just a regular person, it is essential because without it, you’re already behind.
If you have a really popular name (like Sarah Jones or Jessica Smith), odds are that your .COM is already gone. Well, if it makes you feel better, you can find your name on a mug or keychain. HA! Anywho, you might need to get it to include your middle name or something else that identifies you. JessicaSmithTheWriter.com Or SarahMichelleJones.com. If those are taken, get creative and put some hyphens to work. Do something.
In order of importance: .COM — .ORG — .NET — everything else. .COMs are still top in terms of priority and then .ORGs are next. If your .COM is taken, grab the .ORG and use that. Then stalk the .COM, in case it expires soon so you can grab it.
URLs can be bought for as little as $1.99 for one year on sites like GoDaddy if you find a good coupon code. I recommend that you grab both the .COM and the .ORG, and no matter which one you want to use as your main one, have the other one redirect to it. Example, if you type AwesomelyTechie.org in your browser, it brings you to AwesomelyTechie.com.
Last week, I had to talk a peer through why they needed to purchase their name and I realized that many might need the same push. “Why do I need a URL?”
Reasons why you need to buy a custom URL
Gives you an online home. It is your surreal estate.
It is a way to ground your online presence and have a place to refer people. It can be a resume space, a portfolio place or a blog. It can even be that it sends people to your LinkedIn page. Owning your domain name is an opportunity to deepen your brand identity.
I own Luvvie.org and it is what I call my “mothership” site. I run a lot of websites but that place links you to all of them. It tells people who I am, what I do and how they can reach me. It also holds my press and bio pages. Basically, it is the gateway to everywhere else that I am online.
It gives you great Google juice.
When you own your name’s domain and someone searches for you, it is more likely to come up as #1 in Google because it will be an exact match. For those who might have something that isn’t flattering come up when their name is searched, this is a good way to push down the unfavorable result. It gives you control of your digital footprint and what people see about you. This SEO (search engine optimization) perk is incredibly valuable.
Again, you do not have to build a brand new website just because you buy your URL. You can just forward it to somewhere like an About.me page or LinkedIn. Anywhere that you would want someone to land FIRST if they wanted to learn more about you is appropriate for it.
Because if you don’t, someone else will and they will profit off your name.
If you do not purchase your own custom URL, someone else might and they will profit off it. This is especially true if you’re a public figure, writer or anyone with anything remotely close to notoriety. It’s because there’s value in your name and if you don’t take advantage of it, they can.
If you’re famous and someone buys your name’s URL, they can build a site and business on it and you might have very little legal recourse for it. One of my friends is a respected actress and she doesn’t own her name’s .COM because someone already bought it. It sucks because they don’t even have to build a real site to make money off it. They can just throw ads on a static page and pull in thousands off people landing on the site.
Because if you don’t and someone else does, they could charge you thousands for it later when you need it.
Some people make a living out of buying domains and then flipping them for thousands (or millions) later on. They buy them and squat on them (aka don’t use them) and wait for someone who really wants them to pay hella money for it. Similar to the top but also different because people can essentially hold your name for ransom for money. What can you do? Pay up or just be mad about it.
OR you can buy it with another extension and rock it out so you won’t need it. I don’t own Luvvie.com because it costs about $7,000. I own the next best thing: the .ORG. And I’ve created such a strong digital footprint that if you google “Luvvie” I come up (in spite of the fact that it is synonymous for “darling”).
Now that you’re convinced about why you need it, you’re probably wondering how you can procure your own piece of surreal estate. Easy.
How do you buy a URL?
Go to any number of sites (like GoDaddy.com or Register.com) and enter your desired URL. They will tell you whether it’s taken or not. Add to cart and BUY! Before you buy, though, do a search for coupon codes (example: “godaddy coupon code.”) They’re ALWAYS available. ALWAYS. Most of the URLs I own are on GoDaddy.
I know many people who have children and have bought them their URLs. Their kids will thank them in 15 years for it. I think it’s incredibly smart to do so and I plan on doing the same for my future minis.
Be proactive and grab your surreal estate. Know that by doing so, you’re preventing someone else from profiting off you. Offense is defense here.
I only own 30 domains (yes, only). I’m not addicted. I can stop whenever I want. (-___-)
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