A JobMob reader asks:
I have a professional question. Do you know how someone gets a domain name that is their name? As in email@example.com?
There are actually 2 parts to the question:
1) How do you get your own domain name?
2) How do you use that domain for a website and/or email?
In this article I’ll answer the first question, and I’ll answer the second question in a follow-up.
Getting your domain name
First, a little terminology.
www.personalbrandingblog.com is a fully-qualified domain name where:
- www is the hostname
- personalbrandingblog.com is the domain name, and
- .com is a generic Top-Level Domain or gTLD but often just called a TLD for short.
Before looking, you need to know what you’re looking for.
A good format to start with is firstnamelastname.com, because if anyone is likely to guess what your personal website would be, that’s probably the first address they would guess if you’re in America, at least. Otherwise, aim for the most popular TLD in your own country such as .ca or .co.uk.
If you have a middlename, you could also look for firstnamemiddlenamelastname.com but only do this if your middlename is used in your personal brand name, in which case you should aim for this format BEFORE trying for firstnamelastname.com.
Next, before you can buy your domain (or any other), you need to check if it’s even available and not already owned or being used by someone else.
This is one time where a Google search is NOT the best way to go.
Instead, you would do what’s called a “WHOIS search” using a site such as… what else… who.is. You simply type in the domain name you’re looking for, and click to search. The results will tell you who owns it or that it isn’t owned at all, in which case you can buy it via a domain name registrar, an online seller of domain names.
Better yet, do the whois search via a reputable domain name registrar because if the domain is available, the registrar might propose a discount to “buy it now!” or propose a similar domain that you can “buy now!”
I use and recommend Namecheap (aff link), which has a monthly coupon for discounts on new domain registrations. I’ve been with them for over 5 years, and they have great customer support too.
What happens if your domain is NOT available?
You could try to buy it from the current owner, but it’s a lot easier to:
- Change TLDs and buy the .net or .org version instead of the .com version of the domain, or
- Change the format e.g. buy firstname-lastname.com or lastnamefirstname.com
Of these two options, it’s much better to change the TLD. People are more likely to remember firstnamelastname.net than a hyphen or lastnamefirstname.
Namecheap‘s search will automatically tell you if the domain is available with any of over 20 different TLDs.
Once you find an available domain, create an account, buy your domain and then you can use it for a personal website and your own branded email address, but how you do that will need to wait until next time.
Question of the article
Have you bought a domain before? If so, who is your favorite domain registrar and why?