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Making a (domain) name for yourself

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Published: 27 November 2018

By Senior Lecturer Alan Charlesworth, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism

Back in 1996 - 1999, I spent a lot of time selling domain names to those organisations which recognised that the web wasn't a fad that would soon go away (historical note: in 1997 'fad' was the most common belief). That led me into advising organisations on which domain name was right for them – something I have continued to do ever since.

As the century moved into its final throes I was also teaching part time in higher education, and 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 when I mentioned the idea in a class – and the students sat with puzzled looks.

A male using a laptop

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. Another thing that started back in the '90s was recruiters making online searches to check the background of job applicants. 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’s your CV complete with carefully scripted bio, a professional photo – plus a couple of images that will enhance your employability... you on that mountain top or helping folk as part of 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 it’s relatively easy to get your page to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPS) for a search on your name. How impressed will recruiters be at that?

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. Whilst all one word is preferable as a domain name, a dash can also be used between fore and family names.

The other way of securing your name as a domain name is the use of the suffix (the bit after the dot). Ideally, .com is the one to go for – which means it will almost certainly be gone if you have an anything-like popular name. A good second choice is .name with .info and .net also being sound alternatives, and .me is 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, 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 actual name as a personal domain name – at the time of writing even GeorgeClooney was available as a .uk, .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.

How do you go about registering a personal domain name?

This is actually the easy bit – just put ‘domain name registrars’ into a search engine. The sites all have search facilities, just select your domain name and ‘buy now’. Most domain names are available at most registrars – so you can shop around for the best deal on the name you have decided on.

A couple watching TV

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." 

And a website 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. Other deals with more web space will cost more – but offer more. Take a while looking through what is available and choose what is best for you.

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’ve taken 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.

Alan Charlesworth is a Senior Lecturer and has been involved in what is now referred to as digital marketing as a practitioner, consultant, writer, trainer and educator since 1996. Alan also writes about and consults on the phenomenon commonly known as the Digital Transformation, a subject that transcends marketing into all aspects of business and management. Read more about his teaching and research interests and studying Business and Management at the University of Sunderland.   

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