For Dallas-area real estate agent Alexis Claire, a personal domain name isn’t about vanity — it’s about branding. “I was switching brokerages, and I got my custom domain so I could have a personalized website and email address,” says Alexis, a law school graduate who discovered a love for sales and marketing and hasn’t looked back since.
She relies on a memorable web address that clearly and quickly says what she does and where she does it. And alexissellstexas.com — which Alexis now uses for email and points to her Facebook page — does that job well.
A personal domain is a custom web address that includes your name or the name of your business for marketing purposes. It’s usually short and descriptive, and easily recognized as part of your business or personal branding.
No one else can claim the same domain name, and you can choose where to send your visitors. It’s an online branding opportunity that Rabbi Dan Medwin, Publishing Technology Manager for the Central Conference of American Rabbis, has embraced.
“The web is now the defacto place where folks go to learn about a person or company. I registered danmedwin.com so, if some day I wanted a personal website, whether a blog or a resume, I’d have it available. And with squatters out there (not that my personal ‘brand’ is that valuable), I wanted to grab it while I could. It is essentially my personally curated ‘brand’ of myself for the world.”
Dan’s experience aligns with the results of a recent survey of GoDaddy customers who’ve registered personal domains and forwarded them to Facebook. Why?
- More than 60 percent of respondents said they wanted to maintain control of their domain in case they wanted to change to a different Facebook page or website in the future.
- Nearly half of respondents wanted a more personalized or memorable domain — like alexissellstexas.com vs. facebook.com/AlexisSellsTexas.
- And, on a related note, about 20 percent wanted a shorter name.
The majority of the customers we surveyed registered their personal domains for business use, and over one-third said they were temporarily forwarding those custom domains to Facebook until they could get around to creating their own websites. (Please note that customers could provide more than one response.)
In fact, Verisign reports steady growth in the number of .com and .net domains redirecting to popular social media sites. Redirects to LinkedIn and Facebook led that growth from the first to second quarter of 2015.
It’s a trend that shows no signs of slowing.
So many possibilities
These days, domains come in all sorts of flavors — from the traditional .com, .net and .org variety to more descriptive new domain name endings known as generic top-level domains (gTLDs) that show what you do or where you do it at a glance, like .photography and .club. If you can get the .com version of your name, do it. The .com’s a classic. People know it. But you’ve got plenty of other options, too.
Say you’re a wedding photographer in Las Vegas. Check out a few of your personal domain choices:
- yourname.com or yourbusinessname.com
- yourname.photography or yourbusinessname.photography
- yourname.vegas or yourbusinessname.vegas
- yourname.photos or yourbusinessname.photos
- yourname.wedding or yourbusinessname.wedding
Why wait? It might be a good idea to claim your name as a personal domain before your doppelganger (or competitor) does.
Name your web space
Now that you’ve registered that nifty domain, what are you going to do with it? A lot of people — especially business owners — want to connect their custom domain to a dedicated website. That’s smart.
There are plenty of other important reasons to have your own website — including the control you’ll have over your online identity. Your site, your vision. You choose the look and feel of your space on the web. You decide when to refresh the design or update the copy. You make the rules for selling and advertising on your site. A website is uniquely yours.
And with so many flexible and affordable website building options — from DIY site builders like GoDaddy’s Website Builder, to Managed WordPress, to pros who will do it for you — it’s never been easier to get a website up and running. Just build it, connect your domain, and go.
But if you’re not quite there yet, you can still put your domain to work by pointing it to your favorite social media site.
Brand your social space
There’s a good chance you’re already using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or another popular social platform to make personal and/or professional connections.
Maybe you’ve got a Tumblr blog about that wedding photography business in Vegas. Or follow other foosball fans on Facebook. Or, like Realtor® Alexis and Rabbi Dan, use a Facebook page branded with a personal domain to connect and communicate with colleagues and clients.
“I work for a membership organization that has members all over the U.S. and the world,” Dan says. “There are also many groups — professional and personal — of which I am a part on Facebook. So a great deal of communication between myself and my ‘clients’ occurs via Facebook.”
Between her personal and business pages, Alexis gets many of her sales leads from Facebook and praises the platform for touch marketing and brand recognition. At alexissellstexas.com — which forwards to Facebook — she frequently posts about new listings and open houses and shares inspirational memes. She says she’s been so busy building her business since she started selling real estate 15 months ago that she hasn’t had time to launch a website. “I pointed my domain to Facebook because I figured it was better than nothing for now.”
Besides Facebook, a lot of people use LinkedIn to foster professional connections. Yoga instructor Erica Bray does just that — so she registered a short and descriptive custom domain to brand her LinkedIn page:
“I have yoga-specific business card that I pass along to prospective studios, students and fellow yoga teachers. It features my email address, phone number … and this very, very, very long LinkedIn URL:
I hate this domain name. It’s ugly. It’s long. It’s one that nobody will remember, much less have the patience to type into a browser. And it looks terrible on my business cards. Absolutely terrible.”
Now, anyone who types www.ericabray.yoga into their address bar or browser goes directly to Erica’s LinkedIn page. It might be a temporary solution until she gets her own website up, but it’s a smart one. And it looks much better on a business card.
How to forward your personal domains
With GoDaddy, it’s a snap to connect your personal domains to your favorite social media sites. No technical skills required. Oh, and it’s free.
Just follow these links to connect your new custom domain to your preferred social site with one click:
Note: If you’ve already got a domain, simply use your Domain Manager to connect your domain to one of 18 different sites. Bam!
Having your own domain means you’re in the digital driver’s seat. You can control where your custom domain points — and it’s easy to make changes as your online presence evolves.
Search for your personal domain
How do you use your personal domain? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!