Own Your Name's URL (It Doesn't Cost as Much as You Think, and Is a Really, Really Good Idea)

If you don't own your own domain, it's time to get on that.

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You don’t have to be a big company — or even launching a tiny one — to buy your own little piece of the internet. Purchasing land in the real world? That’s spendy. Buying a bit of the virtual one and hanging your name on it? That costs less than $9 a year.

And the best part? You don’t have to be Speke and Burton in search of the source of the Nile to have cyberspace named for you. You just need a keyboard, internet connection, and ten minutes.

Search for your own name and register it. It's easy.

But why? Is that what you’re asking?

When it comes to your own name — — because if you don’t, someone else will. And then it will be gone and someone else will control the piece of cyberspace with your name on it. And when the world comes looking for you — to give you work or tell you that an article you wrote is awesome or because they secretly love you — they will probably type in your first name and last name and stick a .com on the end. But they will find someone else. And that person, if she is without scruples, might take work meant for you, even if she knows you are a writer and she is …well…not you. And you have no control over what happens from there. Maybe she is terrible at what you do? Learn this lesson from someone who learned it the hard way: If it’s still available, register your name.

Do it. Even if it’s not your name.

There are other reasons to own a piece of cyberspace, even if your actual name isn’t available. If your name is Jon Smith (or even Jon Snow) for example, there is no way that you will be able to buy that URL. Do you have a nickname? A middle name? Something else you can add to that? Do it. Because there are good reasons to control where searches for you end up.

When someone searches for your name, something will come up. If it’s a not a site you set up, it will be something else: Your Facebook page, Twitter handle, embarrassing photos someone with a huge social following took of you at a company retreat ten years ago. If you want people searching for you to land on your Twitter page—or whatever else—you can set up a redirect from your domain so that they do. If you own that domain, you can change where it lands whenever you want. So, even if you don’t have the time to build a web site today, buy your domain and tell it where to land.

Someday you will likely need a web site to apply for a job or school or who knows what. Right now, it helps to have a Web site. It shows you take yourself, hobby, small business, or job search seriously. Buying the domain is a big step in that direction.

A Much Better Email Address

Once you buy your domain, you can have a custom email address using it. You will no more be judged by the Yahoo address you got when you were 12. You will no longer have to have a series of random numbers that no one can remember in your email address. If you own the domain, the first part of your address can be anything you want. It would look like this: Slick, right? That’s someone who knows her way around cyberspace, I’m betting.

It’s Super Easy

There was a time when all of this required skills. That time is in the past. All you have to do now is find the domain you want, enter your credit card, and click “Buy.”

Want an email to go with it? Tick a box, pay $.25 a month. Done!

While you are at it, does the dog need a web presence, too? How about the kids? That business idea you have been tossing around? Once you get in the habit, staking out space online is fun.