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Why register my own name as a domain name?

Back in 1997 I spent a lot of time 'preaching' to organizations about the coming of the Internet - and how it would fundamentally change the way they worked and operated. However, preaching doesn't pay the bills, and I earned my 'e' money selling domain names [for a business called DomainNames.com - THE domain name if you were selling domain names] to those organizations which recognized that the web wasn't a fad that would soon go away [historical note: in 1997 'fad' was the most common opinion]. That led me into advising organizations on which domain name was right for them [something I have done ever since, including writing a book on the subject of choosing the right domain name].

As the century moved into its final throes I was also teaching part time in HE, and I would advise my students to register their own name as a domain name. I did this up until around 10 years ago when I assumed - wrongly as it turns out - that Internet-savvy students already knew that it was a good idea without me telling them. Fast forward to the present day when I mentioned the idea in a class - and all the students sat with puzzled looks and asked for more details.

So ... why register a personal domain name?

Well, you never know ... you might become famous. Aside from that, I would suggest that it will aid any job seeking you might do now or in the future. It is now common practice for recruiters to use online searches to check the background of applicants [actually, it's another thing that started back in the '90s]. Yes, they will find your LinkedIn profile - you will have one if you're job seeking - which is good. They will also find your other social media pages, which might not be so good. But how impressed will they be if they find your web page on your domain name? That would be a web page - or site - on which, because no one else has editing access, you control the content. Yep, your CV complete with carefully scripted bio, a couple of professional photos - plus a couple of pics that will enhance your employability ... you on that mountain top or you helping folk on some voluntary work you did. Important note: NO SELFIES.

It might take a while - a good reason to do it now - but if you have an unusual name [more on this in the next section] it is relatively easy* to get your site/page to the top of the search engine results pages [SERPS] for a search on your name. How impressed will recruiters be at that? * Make the title of the page your name, the meta tags your name, the header on the page your name and the alt text on all photos your name - then get some links into the page: from Facebook and LinkedIn will probably be enough. If your name is more common you will have to work harder. If you're another Alan Charlesworth, for example - and there are only three Alan Charlesworths in the world who care about their search enging ranking - you will have to displace me and the other two ... and we've been there for a while.

You can also use you domain name as an email address. So on that job application instead of JohnBoy12345@Hotmail.com, you can put jobs@yourname.com, jobapplication@yourname.com or contact@yourname.com. In fact, you can set up your domain name so that - literally - anything@yourname.com will be forwarded to any 'free' account you have. For example, if you send an email to anything@alancharlesworth.com that message will arrive in my alan.charlesworth@gmail.com inbox. You can also have outgoing messages from the gmail account carry your domain name email address - the instructions are on your gmail account [I assume the same is true of all free email accounts, I've only ever used gmail].

Finally, perhaps you should consider registering your name simply to stop someone else getting it and putting un-flattering content on it.

What personal domain name should you register?

If your name is different then you have no problem. If your name is George Clooney or Miley Cyrus you are struggling. If your name is less common, simply register your name. If it's more common, register your full name including a middle name or just its initial. No middle name? Then just put a letter between your given and family name in your domain name [in the movie North by Northwest, Cary Grant's character Roger O Thornhill comments that the 'O' in his name stands for 'nothing', and intimates that as an advertising executive he needs to stand out from the norm]. Whilst all one word is always preferable as a domain name, a dash can also be used - I [also] have Alan-Charlesworth.com.

With the exception of the phantom initial, never, ever, use an email address-type name - you know, the one you chose for your gmail account because your actual name had already gone. No matter how staunch a supporter of a Nottingham-based football club you might be, ForestAlan1.com is not a recommended domain name for your job seeking website. Note; other football teams do exist.

Note also that if you're using a middle name or initial - phantom or otherwise - in your domain name, make sure that is what you use on your CV or application form. My search engine optimization tips above only work if the searcher types your domain name name into the search engine.

The other way of securing your name as a domain name is the use of the suffix [the bit after the dot - the Americans call it the extension]. For reasons I won't go into, .com is the one to go for - which means it will almost certainly be gone if you have an anything-like common name. A good second choice is .name with .info and .net also being good alternatives, and .me is supposed to be for personal websites so is worth consideration. New suffixes are coming out at what seems like a weekly basis - you could check them out. However, unless you have a particular career in mind, I would avoid the likes of .sexy. If you're from the UK, I would avoid .co.uk - it sounds too much like a business - .uk is better.

A choice of suffix is probably the way to go in securing your personal domain name - at the time of writing even GeorgeClooney was available as a .uk, .co, .info and .me. Bizarrely, although it is registered, GeorgeClooney.com is not in use. Maybe the coffee machine salesman and part time movie star is famous enough not to have his own domain name? MileyCyrus.com is, however, the official site of the kiddies' favourite come raunchy songstress.

Note that domain names are not case sensitive, so when you present your personal domain name, capitalize it as you would in every other circumstance e.g. AlanCharlesworth.com.

How do you go about registering a personal domain name?

This is actually the easy bit. Back in the day, DomainNames.com was one of only two domain name registrars in the UK, ours being the first to offer online registrations. Now there are thousands based all around the world - just stick "domain name registrars" into a search engine. For ease of contact if anything goes wrong, I would stick with one in your own country. They all offer domain name search faculties and prices are similar. Note, however, that an annual registration fee is compulsory - watch out for deals that are 'cheap' or or even 'free' up front with an increased annual fee. If you register a name from outside the EU, where privacy is cover by law, you might also want pay extra to have your name and contact details [as owner of the domain name] hidden in the Whois lookup where people can find out who owns a domain name.

And a website and emails on your domain name?

Most domain name registrars will offer some kind of web presence for your domain name. The most basic will be part of the domain name fee - offered as being 'free' - and will probably be one page of WYSIWYG design, which might be enough if you just want to put a basic CV online. Be sure to check that ads will not be included on your page however ... they are 'free' for a reason. Other deals with more web space will cost more - but offer more. Like anything, take a while looking through what is available and choose what is best for you. Note that most domain names are available at most registrars - so you can shop around for the best deal on the name you have decided on.

Any reputable registrar will offer some kind of email access in the deal. The set up is pretty much tick-the-box and so nothing to worry about from the technical side of things. Cheaper deals will be cheaper for a reason. An 0800 phone number for customer support is a good sign of reputation - though you will pay a bit more. As with everything in life: you pays your money and you takes your choice.

A footnote to this sage advice should be filed under; do as I say, not as I do. You see, back in the day I never dreamed that I would ever have need of a website under my own name. Oh sure, I did have a fancy for Alan.com, but that had been snapped up by a New York DJ in 1994. But AlanCharlesworth.com ... nah. So, when I became an author and needed my own website, AlanCharlesworth.com was owned by, yes ... another Alan Charlesworth. I used a .eu suffix for a few years, but one condition of that suffix is that that owners must reside in the EU. So with Brexit looming I took the plunge and bought AlanCharlesworth.com from Alan Charlesworth ... for 500 USD. That's around 500 dollars more than I could have registered it for back in 1997.

Ho hum, live and learn.

How to cite this page:
Charlesworth, A. (2018). Why register my own name as a domain name? Retrieved [insert date] from AlanCharlesworth.com: https://www.alancharlesworth.com/registering-a-personal-domain-name.html

This page was first published in March 2018 ... but it is based on material published previously by the author and may have been updated or amended since then.
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