Dear Lifehacker, I have a question about personal domains. Should I go for fullname.com or nickname.com ? Which one is better? Thanks, Domain Man
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There is no single correct answer to this question for everyone, but there are some issues you need to consider before taking the plunge:
Is the domain name you want available? If you dive back 20 years or so, it was feasible to register just your surname as a domain. This was potentially very handy -- you could set up email addresses for everyone in your family ([email protected]) and also personal web pages using subdomains (susie.smith.com). Unless you have a very unusual surname or are prepared to put up with a really odd top-level domain, you probably won't be able to manage this trick these days.
Even your full name is quite likely to be claimed as a domain name these days if it's at all common. Many people register the .com, .net and .org version of their name, to say nothing of regional variations such as .com.au. If yourfirstnameyourlastname.com isn't available and you're not happy with yourfirstnameyourlastname.info (or other variants), then your nickname may be a wiser choice.
If both your full name and your nickname are available, I'd suggest grabbing both. You can always make one automatically redirect to the other, and you can switch how that works depending on what you use the domains for over time.
What are you going to use the domain for? There are many potential uses for a personal domain -- we rounded up eight of the most interesting last year. If you're setting up a personal branding page to advance your career, you'll want either your name or something that reflects your professional skills. If you're intending to roll your own file sharing service, you may be happier with a nickname.
Where do you use the nickname? If you already use the same nickname on forums, for Twitter, and in other public-facing contexts, then registering that same nickname as a domain gives you a consistency of identity.
Would you be happy for potential employers to know your nickname? This isn't a problem if your nickname is something neutral, but sheepshagger.com might give the wrong impression if it's the first result from a Google search.
While a personal domain is very handy, it isn't always necessary. If you want to set up a personal landing page, there are plenty of useful services to help with that. If you're looking merely for a neutral email address, Gmail and Outlook.com are fine. Good luck with the domain search!
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