Yourname.com is owned by somebody else. Does that mean you are exiled from the internet?
Of course not! This is an opportunity to get clever about how to shoehorn your name into a website URL. Here are three options:
Option one – Check the other TLDs.
Around the world, .com is seen as the most ‘reputable’ of the TLDs (Top Level Domains). It’s also the most widely used (see infographic below). If your website ends in .net or .org, it’s not a mar on your reputation – but .biz and .info could make you look sketchy. If you are a professional, getting a .co is pretty legit. Whatever variable you choose, make sure you dominate with SEO. If somebody searches for your name, you want your website to come out on top, and not the squatter on the .com.
Option two – Add a prefix or a suffix.
If you have a really common name, like Mark Smith, then try out names that make you stand out, like:
Add some pizzaz to your name, and to score some extra branding points, use NameChk to find social media handles that match. The best case scenario is that your (longer) domain name will also be your handle across all your profiles.
Option three – Slice your name, internationally.
Google the last two letters of your name + space + TLD, and if you are lucky, there is a country that uses those two letters for registering domains. Even if marksmith.com is registered, you can get http://marksmi.th by registering the ‘marksmi’ domain in Thailand. Registering an international domain can sometimes be tricky, but as long as you can point your nameservers to your regular hosting account, it will function just like any other website.
Bonus points: get a full name email address
If you have an ‘a’ in your first name, then you can do some alphabetic math to make your name into your email address. Mark Smith can have an email address of firstname.lastname@example.org, and nobody is going to care if he doesn’t have marksmith.com, because his email address is awesome.
To set this up, follow these steps: (examples in parentheses)
1 – Register your international domain (rksmi.th)
2 – Point the nameservers to your domestic hosting account (ns1.dreamhost.com, or whatever)
3 – Set up an email forwarder (m @ rksmi.th -> email@example.com)
You can email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t follow all the steps above myself, because the techies in South Sudan aren’t quite up to snuff yet. (.ss! I’m waiting!)
Any other domain name tricks?
Have you seen a clever way to use domain names? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear it.
So glad to have come across this article! Didn’t realize there were sketchy TLD’s. I just ran across this problem with a friend of mine’s website. Ended up using your option #2 and putting a “Dr” in front of her name. Wouldn’t have even thought of the international domain… wouldn’t that make people think it might be a typo on your business cards? Thanks!
It can definitely look like a typo, unless it looks brazenly intentional. http://amysato.ri is going to make people stop and say, “Whoa, this gal knows what she’s doing!”
Great in-depth article – I just ran into this problem with a side project, I’ll have to think of ways to pizzaz it up!
Very good advice. I’ve kicked myself more than once for missing out on a domain name. I really like your idea about slicing the text. Nice trick!
When I started my freelance writing business I faced this very problem, and it was not fun! One thing that I suggest is not getting too tied-down to a domain name until you know the specifics of its availability. This will save you some heartache in the long run.
I definitely love the idea of dabbling into the route of registering an international domain in order to stand out. That is very creative!
Great jobs… Greater tips!