Why It's Worth It To Purchase Your Own Domain Name

Before I start, you should know that buying domain names is my dirty little habit. Some people smoke, others cheat — I go online in the dead of night and have a look at what domain names are available.

Image by Warren Goldswain (Shutterstock).

Just one look. But with all addicts, I can't leave it at a look, so I often buy a domain name... just the one... it's cheap — until you own 10 of them!

With that guilty admission out of the way...

We have the opportunity to purchase millions of desirable domain names, from our own FirstnameLastname.coms to good LocationBusiness.coms and Singleword.coms. While a great LocationBusiness.com is worth holding on to, just like a good Singleword.com, the most important domain name is your own FirstnameLastname.com; those are the ones I'll be focusing on for this post.

For example, the most "valuable" domain name I own is HarryGuinness.com. Neither of the other two Harry Guinnesses can have it; they're going to have to settle for some alternative like TheAustralianHarryGuinness.com or maybe HarryGuinnessRandomJobDescription.com; HGuinness.com is available, but I'm seriously considering buying it as soon as this post goes live. Whoever wants HarryGuinness.com is going to have to pry it from my cold, dead, keyboard-gripping hands.

I'm lucky that my name is rare enough that I was able to get its domain. But the odds are that someone shares your name somewhere in the world. No matter how uncommon it seems where you live, the chance of someone having it in a different country or on a different continent are staggeringly high. If you're curious, just plug your own name into a Facebook search and see how many others show up. That will search about one-eighth of the population of the world so it should give you some idea.

So I've convinced you that domain names are being snapped up like beer at a student party but why should you care? You don't even need a domain name, what would you do with one?

First, trust me, you need a domain name. You might not need it today, but in a few years time you will want it. The way people think about websites is changing, and more personal landing page services such as flavors.me and re.vu are popping up — and it takes a matter of minutes to set up. In a few years it may well be common to send a link to your online CV. It's worth future proofing yourself now, rather than gambling on ending up with some godawful domain name because it's the only one that includes your name.

Second, even if you never totally need it, it's damn handy. It doesn't need to link to your own website, you can forward it to Twitter, Tumblr or one of the personal landing pages that I mentioned above. Set up Google Apps on it and get [email protected] as your email address. Save yourself from giving out that ridiculous Hotmail address you set up when you were 16.

So that's why you need one, and what you can do with it, but what are the advantages of having your own domain name? Honestly, they're endless:

You gain control of what people see when they search for you

OK, so how Google organises search results is pretty much voodoo, but there's a good chance that it weighs the words in the domain name pretty heavily. If you're looking for Big Boys in Boots magazine, odds are BigBoysInBoots.com is the website. This means that when people enter Firstname Lastname into Google, you have a good chance at controlling the first information they see. This means that…

You make it harder to find those photos of you passed out in a gutter

We all know they exist. Those horrible photos of you dressed up as Peter Pan for a pantomime, that photo of you in a bear suit that your brother submitted to AwkwardFamilyPhotos and, yes, those photos of you engaged in a bit of one-on-one time with a friendly, and very supportive, lamp post. For every search result that you control, you knock those awful awful images one step further away from prying eyes. They're still there, but at least it's on page 10, not the top of page one! Also…

You prevent it being used against you

What happens if you piss off a tech savvy individual? I have to admit, on more than one occasion, I've had a quick look to see if the someone who's gone on my bad side was stupid enough to leave their FirstnameLastname.com available. If you don't have some control over what appears when someone enters your name into a browser and adds ".com", then you could rapidly find yourself in some awkward situations. Having an online presence that you have some control over is so important. Don't leave it to Google to decide what people see when they search for you.

Right now you can get a domain name for 7 quid (about $US11) a year. That's ridiculous. The price of a drink or two gets you endless benefits, an awesome email address, and control over your online image. How is that not worth it? If you don't have your own domain name, I urge you, go out and get one. Goto GoDaddy.com or any other domain name registrar and buy the best and most relevant domain name you can find. You won't regret it. And hell, if you decide after a year you don't need it, just let the registration expire.

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Harry Guinness is the founder of Bawdy Zebra and a fan of protein, cocktails, and the gym. You can follow him on Twitter @harryguinness.


Comments

    There are restrictions on some domain names (eg *.au need an ABN, and there are rules on company names matching domain names) which can make this difficult.

    I also found that my surname .com wasn't available (and its not a particularly common surname), as a random company in the Cayman Islands was "camping" it (not using it for anything) and wanted hundreds of dollars to sell it...

      .id.au domains don't need an ABN

      Registering an ABN for a domain name is not hard at all.

    I have ejparker.com but haven't got around to doing anything with it homepage on it and some storage, so it's just a expensive Dropbox without the sync'ing and all other features :P

    e- firstname
    j-middlename
    and parker is my last name.

      As this article says, it's well worth setting up Google Apps on it. Then you can get a personalised email address on it even if you don't do anything else with your domain. The benefit of this is that if a new email provider ever pops up in future and you decide to move away from GMail you can just 'point' your email address to the provider and so keep the same email address. It's like a modern version of not locking yourself into an ISP by getting tied to their email addresses etc.

    I really question the ethics of recommending GoDaddy. I transferred away after that elephant shooting business, but I had been pretty disgusted before.

    what about crazydomains.com.au as a domain whatsit and hosty place?
    They look cheap n stuff.

      Fine for buying the domain, but not great for dns hosting or storage. I use them, but transferred my dns to zoneedit for free dynamic dns.

      I moved to CrazyDomains from GoDaddy and have had no problems at all. Except I didn't realise they charge for DNS. Theres a few free DNS providers though and the one I picked works well enough for me to forget who it is.

    Excellent idea, I've just bought my own domain and linked it to a free VPS from ChunkHost (THIS IS A REFERRAL LINK.. GIVING YOU WARNING but if you're going to sign up don't skip the last bit of the URL please <3) https://chunkhost.com/r/Angel775

    I'm on holidays now and so it should be a great opportunity for me to test and refine my HTML skills by making my own landing page :P Thanks for the idea of how to stay preoccupied for the next few weeks :P

    I came to the same conclusion last year, namely because there is another academic, in Sydney with the same name (which isn't that common). We both privately consult, so being top billing has been really useful. I used a half-assed tumblr page as the landing, but ended up liking it so much, I kept it.

    Ha ha, that was a cool way to waste some money. Just picked up two versions of my full name, my online pseudonym, my wife's name and my Xbox gamer tag. If you do this, just be mindful that godaddy will automatically bill you on renewal and it probably won't be at the cheap rate they are currently offering. It would be best to set a calendar reminder to go in before the renewal is due and turn off auto-renewal, then renew using one of the discount codes you can find online

    Ok so stupid question, but what does it cost, and where exactly do you register them?

      Have registered www.ramblers.org.au/
      with http://www.serversanddomains.com/
      This one costs $14 a year for the domain name and $12 a year for the hosting. All in USDollars

    Did this ages ago! Good advice definately. I know plenty of people who have tried and their name is taken too.

    I use VentraIP for .com.au domains. $20 per 2 years (not a promo) and includes DNS hosting, service I have found to be quick/competent when I have needed it. There is literally no-risk with .AU providers because they are under strict AUDA/AUSREGISRY rules, and if you want to change registrars, you can bypass the Registrar completely and use the AUSREGISTRY domain password recovery form (just make sure your email is valid). Melbourne IT on the other hand is an absolute joke. The most expensive and support is next to 0, they never answer emails/support jobs, and have to constantly call them and the operators are all incompetent.

    For .com domains, I use Namecheap. Not as cheap as GoDaddy, but at least they are not evil and give you a much better DNS manager than GD (supports URL redirects), and don't try to upsell the hell out of you. In fact they offer DNS Hosting for free even if you are with another provider, which is pretty good.

    Just be careful with GoDaddy, or any other cheap domain and hosting sellers. If you check the fine print you might find that they actually own your domain name and you're just renting it off them.

    Abns are free!

    Namecheap for the domain. If you want free hosting and total control, Amazon is offering a free Micro EC2 instance per user for 12 months when you first sign up.

    I know my name has been taken for atleast the last 10 years........

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