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When your name is your brand, owning the right domain is critical. That was the case for freelance writer, editor and social media expert Charlotte Ottaway.
In 2010, as a new journalism graduate, she was doing freelance work and needed an online home for her writing portfolio. Charlotte considers herself tech savvy, but found website hosting a little confusing and overwhelming. For her first website, she wanted a hosting provider that she could trust — and that’s when she turned to GoDaddy for her domain name, hosting and e-mail. “I can let GoDaddy handle that so I can really focus on running my business, which at the end of the day, is what I want to be doing,” she says.
As her career evolved, Charlotte began working for lifestyle and business technology magazines. “I was working with some small business owners, interviewing them to talk about the latest technology they were using in their businesses,” she says.
The experience and stories she wrote about inspired her, and got her thinking about how she could use her talents in social media to help small business owners. After writing for magazines, she moved on to a senior management position at a social media startup in Toronto, where she honed her social media and blogging skills.
“I got the chance to work more closely with clients and manage their social media and blogging,” Charlotte says.
Starting Web of Words
Feeling confident she could do even more for clients and wanting the freedom and creativity afforded to independent business owners, Charlotte left her full-time job in December 2014 to start Web of Words, a company that works with small business owners to help them build strong web platforms and meaningful relationships through blogging and social media. Charlotte explains:
“We’re all living in this world where we’re constantly inundated with advertisements and information, and brands need a compelling story to set themselves apart from all the noise. That’s where Web of Words comes in.”
Through Web of Words, customers learn to use social media marketing to share their brand story and, ultimately, drive traffic back to their website. One of the first things Charlotte asks Web of Words customers is whether they have bought their own personal domain name.
“If they don’t already have it, I’m encouraging them to get it,” she says. “I find that it’s really important in the initial launches for their whole digital marketing platform.”
Building a unique personal brand online
Over time, as her needs and personal brand evolved, Charlotte switched domain names a few times. She uses GoDaddy for all her domain name activities, whether changing her website address completely or simply renewing ones she likes. Sometimes she needs to launch new email addresses to build out new services, and says the process has always been smooth and enjoyable with GoDaddy.
Eventually her current domain name, CharlotteOttaway.com, became her online portfolio, resume and service list.
Charlotte says it’s important to have her own name as her website address because it is a consistent brand, and it also helps when someone does a web search. For example, most people find her through search engines after meeting her at a networking event. She also often hands out business cards with her website address and name, and if they search for her online, she needs to be the top result that appears.
She says she hopes the website will inspire others to contact her and make a direct connection:
“It was always important for me to build a personal brand online. That’s something I tell my clients — your website and your blog is the heart of your online presence. My name is my brand, so it only makes sense that it’s my domain name.”
In the same way she instructs her customers, Charlotte uses social media — including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — to share her regular blog posts, engage with others and find new business. Her social media accounts all link back to her website and visitors to CharlotteOttaway.com can easily find and share her expert advice on their own networks.
Evolving the brand
Still in the first year with her new business, Charlotte admits things are quickly evolving, as she works towards developing the right positioning and visual style for Web of Words. She launched WebofWords.ca in June 2015 — and she believes these small transformations are all part of the process of building a strong brand.
“I’m always up for experimenting and trying new things,” she says. “That’s what’s great about being a small business — giving yourself a chance to evolve. By working with GoDaddy, I have the flexibility I need to adapt my online presence quickly and easily as my business changes and grows.”