Get your own domain name and build an online presence

When it comes to personal branding, securing your own domain name is a must. Registering a personal domain that consists of your first and last name is a great way to share your content with the world.

Our domain is namecheap.com and is made of a second-level domain (namecheap) and a top-level domain (.com). If you like, check out our ‘What is a domain name?’ guide for more information.

The definition of a personal domain is a web address that’s all yours. You own it, you control what goes on it — it’s a corner of the web, just for you.

How about an online portfolio to show off your work, a web-space to connect with family around the world, or give your child a head start by registering their name before someone else does? Get your own domain for a website, and you can use it however you please.

Personal domains aren’t only for personal use. They can accommodate many aspects of your professional life too. Your domain could include examples of your work to date and a link to your LinkedIn profile. It can be a living, breathing business card or a resume to showcase your talent.

You might want to set up a fully-fledged blog and website on it for greater control of your brand, including the address you give to recruiters. Even if you don’t have a new site to launch, or you’re not a fan of blogging, you can use your domain for fun or self-promotion.

Once you’ve got a domain name, and you’re free to use it for whatever you want!

That extends to creating a place to link out to all your social media outlets, a page to link to your blog, or a virtual business card or an online resume.

If you’re looking for good ideas for domain names, we’ll be addressing this later in the article.

Let’s dive in.

Why do you need a personal domain name?

If you’re new to the world of domains, you may be wondering, what does having your own domain name do? Well, for starters it gives you a place on the Internet to call your own, a blank slate to build your dream online. Pretty exciting, right?

There are many benefits of buying your own domain name, so let’s take a look at some of the reasons you need to grab one.

Google likes it

While there’s no way to predict how Google organizes its search results, many SEO professionals believe that keyword relevancy in a URL plays a role. Keywords in a domain name can act as a ranking factor.

Google looks at the domain name when calculating a website’s relevance to a particular search. So, when your name is the keyword, and you’ve used your name as the domain name, you’ve got a better chance of people finding you.

You get a matching email address

If there was ever a reason to purchase a personal domain, it’s for a personalized email address. These frequently come standard when you register. By switching to a personalized domain, you get a slick email that can be set up almost instantly.

At Namecheap you can set up free email forwarding or set up a Private Email account, a fast, secure, ad-free email for your personal or business use.

Why settle for a free webmail option like everyone else when you could have something like myemail@tomsmith.com, info@businessname.com or contact@myblogname.com.

The fun doesn’t stop there. With a personalized domain, you can set as multiple emails up which end in your website URL. Your family could have a shared domain like thetestons.co and have individual email addresses, like isobel@thewestons.co, michael@thewestons.co and so on.

Take back control of your online presence

When was the last time you Googled yourself? What appeared at the top of the results? Your LinkedIn profile? Your Facebook timeline? Perhaps it was the time you featured in a local news article when you played in a death metal band as a teenager? Or was it that NSFW snapshot of your spring break shenanigans in Cancun?

With a personal domain, you have a greater chance of controlling what people see first when they Google your name.

What does that mean, exactly? Imagine an HR manager, a new boss, or a potential customer types your name into a search engine. What are the chances they land on these snippets of your alter ego, misspent youth, or that one problem customer sounding off?

A unique domain with your name on it is going to work in your favor. They’ll see what you want them to see in the search results.

Own your content

When you use free social, blog or website platforms, you are essentially outsourcing your content hosting – and promoting the platform before your brand. You may, admittedly, be sidestepping some technical challenges. But not hosting your own material (on your own domain) can lead to some severe consequences.

One of the biggest challenges of hosting content with platforms like Medium, Twitter, and WordPress (hosted) is that you risk losing your content, readers, and even control over your site if you move platforms. The work you’ve put into getting your site indexed for search engines to crawl will also be wasted if you start again. It will take some time to show up in a search result.

If your content is predominately on a platform like Medium and you’re worried about moving your content, with URL forwarding, you can redirect your traffic so that if people visit your domain, they will automatically then be taken to Medium.

When you host your own domain and content, you can switch between web hosts and web designers. Plus, your Google ranking and traffic won’t be affected because you remain on the same website. People can link to your site instead of your Twitter, which further helps with SEO.

Blog and social media platforms come and go. But by hosting your own online content, you have a permanent spot, total ownership, complete control, and greater search visibility. The best bit is that hosting your own site is extremely inexpensive. Between $10 and $15 a month should cover it.

How to use a personal domain

So, what do people use personal name domains for? Perhaps you've registered a personal domain name because you thought you'd create a website and never did. Or maybe you're just hosting a custom email address and you wish you were doing more.

There are plenty of benefits to having your own domain, whether you use it to promote yourself, provide quick information, or just do something cool. Here are our favorites.

As a central location for your social channels

In the early days of the internet, it was en vogue to build your own website bursting with content. Today, third-party sites like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. host most of our content and general online shenanigans.

You may have a sizable social presence that you want to continue to use. Having an individual domain won’t conflict with that. Personal landing pages are commonly used to forward or redirect to other profiles you may have online. Use your personal domain to place the sum of your content spanning the web and bring it into a single, centralized location.

Your special domain could then serve as the hub for your digital life. Share the same content you post on all social networks all in one place, or embed shortcuts to all your social media networks. Naturally, your data seems secure on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels, but you can’t be 100% sure. With a personal domain, your information is safe as long as you renew your contract, and store it with a dedicated hosting or website builder platform.

A place to host a blog

Why not use your own name as a domain for a blog? It’s a common route to getting your personal brand online. Seth Godin runs one of the most popular blogs on the net using a personal domain URL (sethgodin.com). His site offers a glance at the books he’s published including a link to his blog. White hot truth blogger Danielle Laporte has also fully branded her blog around her name.

A domain name for personal branding - present yourself or your business

Everyone has a story to tell, whether it's your business, your day-to-day life or your passion. Take a domain that’s as unique as you are, to tell your story. A unique URL with personal branding shows interested parties that you’re running a professional outfit.

Trailblazers like Laura Roeder branded their entire business and web strategy around their persona. With her signature domain, she’s created a page that reflects her love of videos, and the branding that goes into her products.

Keep your digital profile up to date with your latest work, so your older clients and people that may have heard of you in the past can be impressed with what you're doing now. They may keep you in mind for future projects.

To impress clients and recruiters

“Where can I find you online?”

“Do you have a website?”

These are now common questions, especially if you run a business or are self-employed. In this digital age, people expect businesses and individuals to present themselves in a professional manner on the web. There are a few ways to go about this.

Create a virtual business card

Think of those times you’ve been given a business card. It gets crinkled up in your pocket and becomes indecipherable, lost, thrown away or stuffed in a drawer never to be seen again. That’s why online business cards are becoming commonplace.

You might simply want to be more environmentally friendly, or maybe you enjoy the real estate a website affords you to flex your acumen. An online business card is a smart, and cost-effective way to run your business. Plus, when recruiters Google your name, your digital business card will be presented to them. How about that for a first impression?

If you’re still a fan of physical business cards, then don’t forget to try out our Business Card Maker. With free shipping and beautiful designs, you can order them right to your door.

We also have Site Maker, an easy way to make your personal website come alive in minutes. If you’ve got a business and want to show the world, it’s an all-in-one package — address, hosting, and site security encryption.

Present your Virtual CV or resume

One step up from a business card is a full web CV. Creating something unique that reflects your personality can be an important asset for your professional career. Having a personal resume site brings benefits in two ways:

  1. It boosts your credibility
  2. It makes you easier to find if employers, HR managers, or recruiters receive your resume in their inbox. Chances are, they’ll discover what they can about you online anyway.

You can include as much information as you want and present it in a visually appealing way, compared to the stacks of PDF Word documents recruiters are sent. Compared to your traditional one-page version, a virtual CV can be more elaborate. It can also be dynamic, which will be a nice surprise to anyone browsing between competitive candidates. Just remember to keep updating your site as you acquire new skills.

Best selling author Joshua Millburn uses a full name domain as a resume. From there, he uses his full name domain to direct people to everywhere he can be found online, and show anyone a glimpse of the press attention he’s had over the years.

Forwarding a virtual resume is miles more professional than a LinkedIn address. Make it easier for yourself with tools like VisualCV, a visual résumé service that uses your LinkedIn profile to automatically generate the relevant graphics. The results are pretty stunning, and of course completely customizable. There is, however, no option to customize your own domain. This is true for most online resume builders, your website’s name will look something like yourname.resumebuild.com. They often add watermarks or ads unless you upgrade to a paid account, which detracts from the ‘professional’ angle. Also, in this sense, they’re not really ‘free.'

There are some online resume builder alternatives where you can use your own domain name. Use an HTML resume template for example, where you simply replace the text with your information.

For family business

Thinking about crafting a space online dedicated to your family? Use your family name as your domain name. You can set up family members with pages and email addresses like your son’s firstname@yoursurname.com. To make it easy to manage, get a hosting contract with a basic email management system. You could even use a .family extension such as lastname.family for example.

To secure your child's namespace on the web

You’ve had a baby and you want to reserve their place online. It’s not just the rich and famous snapping up domain names relating to their children's names. It might sound a bit presumptuous that your newborn will want their own website, but it helps keep cyber-squatters at bay.

Cybersquatting is the practice of buying the domain name of a person or company and making a profit by selling the name to the relevant person. Mark Zuckerberg recently bought a domain name from electronics student Amal Augustine. Amal registered a version of the short form name of Zuckerberg’s daughter Maxchanzuckerberg.org (full name Maxime Chan Zuckerberg). The deal closed at a reasonable $700.

Whether you are famous or not, your baby’s domain name-sake is still at risk of being snapped up by someone else. The number of people registering their baby's name is reportedly growing at 400% each year, so it seems more and more parents are keen to secure a little chunk of cyberspace for their children.

Being online is all about branding. If you already have a personal domain, and it’s on the longer side, create a shorter link that’s easier to remember. Shorter URLs keep your shared posts and those of your readers, uncluttered. If you are someone who promotes a lot of their own events, you might want to make the URL shorter. Shorter URLs are easier to share on sites like Facebook, Twitter and the rest.

Let’s say your band wants to link to your tour dates, or you might have some book readings scheduled nationally. You could use a URL shortener. For example, your Beatles tribute band the thebeetles.com could use the URL thebeetles.com/indianapolis for your gig in Indiana. Using a URL shortener not only gives you a more memorable address, but helps track where your traffic is coming from, and what your visitors are doing once they get to your pages, you can even use them to track how well your tweets are performing.

With a unique domain, you can set up your own URL shortener. Bitly is the most popular service to date, but you can host your own short URLs. This involves setting up a few things to get more control over your analytics. It’s also a matter of branding. With short URLs, you get more recognizable links so people who don’t visit your site often will remember your name.

Your own start page

A bit off the wall, but if you like things “just so,” create your own startup page on a custom domain. Many browsers offer the chance to see a selection of your most visited sites when you open a new tab. The benefit of creating your own means it’s always online, so you can access it from anywhere. This means you can keep any bookmarks or other information readily available and accessible from any computer with an internet connection.

A more attractive and customizable option is to take a static site. There are a bunch of free self-hosted start pages you can use. The following options require no coding knowledge and are easily editable. You just need a domain and hosting.

  • Estacado is an elegant startup page template for web browsers. Group your favorite websites in one place, and as many pages as you like. It’s compatible with many different browsers. You can add your own thumbnails to represent websites, and personalize to your preferences to make this a highly flexible start page option.
  • Alternatively, check out Startpage.wrt by developer Christian Brassat. This one’s incredibly easy to configure and can be set up in five minutes. Download the package, open up index.html in any text editor and start adding links. You’ll need a URL and a link name in this format: https://namecheap.com || Namecheap.

For use at a later date

As long as your desired domain is available, someone else can snatch it. You don’t have to use it now, as long as you renew it. Just secure the name now in case you want it for bigger things later. At a minimum, you should at least use it to redirect people to your current website, blog, or primary social media presence.

Tips to help choose your personal domain name

If you want to choose a personal domain name, it isn’t simply a matter of taking what’s available, or picking a name at random. There are some rules to stick to have the best chance of being successful online, whilst equipping yourself with a domain name that’s appealing to you.

After seeing some of the examples above I think you will agree that using your FirstNameLastName.com or a variation to “brand yourself” with an online calling card should definitely be at the top of your to-do list. Location Business domains are also worth getting hold of.

How to find the best domain extension for a personal website

Choosing a domain extension for a personal site can seem overwhelming at first. There are so many available, from generic top-level domains (gTLDs) like .com and .org to country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .us or .ca.

Luckily for you there are many domain extensions for personal use to choose from. There may be a suitable domain for your industry, like .law or .accountant, or your personal interests like .cooking or .photography.

Check out the “How to choose the right TLD“ article for more helpful advice.

Domain name ideas for a personal blog

If you’re looking for ideas for a personal domain name, we’ve got some unmissable tips! Let’s dive in.

The best domain names for a personal blog

If you want to create a blog with your own domain name, you may be thinking what should my personal blog domain be? The first option to consider is of course your name, for example, isobelweston.com, or just your initial and surname, like iweston.com.

Ideally, you’ll land a yourname.com domain name, but if your name is common then unsurprisingly, a personalized URL based on your name can be tricky to get hold of. If this is the case, it might be worth taking a look at alternative top-level domains.

Top domain extensions for a personal blog

When it comes to coming up with top-level domain (TLD) ideas, take a look at our name checker and see what comes up when you search your name. Some great domain extensions for a personal blog are .me, .site, .website, and .work.

Ultimately the choice is yours, a TLD that’s perfect for one person, may not suit another. You might find the .net TLD is available and that you work on computer networks, or the .icu TLD is free and you run a portrait photography business.

Tips for a personal domain when .com isn’t available

1. Play with domain extensions

As you search for a domain name, chances are you noticed there is more than one extension available. These are known as TLDs (the bit at the far right of the domain name). Shoot for .com where possible. If you don’t find a .com extension to go with your chosen domain, don’t despair. There are many extensions suitable for personalized domains. Extensions like .name and .me have risen in popularity and have come to be associated with personal domains. To create short and memorable domain names with alternative TLDs, go for whatever else is available, and makes sense.

2. Creative combinations

Focus on your domain name before the extension. Ideally, your full name together is available, but a personal domain name doesn’t have to be a strict FirstnameLastname.com format. The first port of call is to play around with different combinations of your name. For example, when Sophie Jones’ personal name isn’t available she might try:

JonesSophie.comLastnameFirstname
soph.comLastnameFirstname
sjones.comFirstinitialLastname
sophiej.comFirstnameLastinitial
sophjones.comNicknameLastname
sophj.comNicknameLastinitial
sojo.comTwolettersfistnameTwolettersLastname

If your first name and last name aren’t available in any combination, add a middle initial, or even your full middle name. How about a combination of first and middle initials followed by your surname for a domain? For example, SophieHannahJones is on the longer end of the spectrum, so how about SophieHJones?

The important thing is to simply keep your full name together.

3. Add your occupation or other terms

If your full name isn’t available, add a qualifying term. The most important thing is that your domain name indicates what your site is about. Of course, there are many factors in play but a site domain using your full business name has a much better chance of ranking vs. one that does not.

Leverage any keywords that support what you do. For example, if you run a cafe in Boston, you might want to check if yournamecafe.com, or yournameboston.com is on the market. The word resume can also be used: michaelwalmanresume.com.

When you first begin the search, it helps to have at least 5 terms or phrases in mind that describe your business. When this list is ready, you can start adding suffixes and prefixes and pair the keywords to create good domain ideas.

4. Keep it short and simple

Keep your domain name as short as possible. There’s less chance of making a typo in a short name that’s under fifteen characters. If people routinely misspell your domain name because it’s hard to spell, think about the potential traffic lost.

“If you have to spell it over the phone, you’ve lost.” According to Jason Calacanis (entrepreneur and investor behind Uber).

It just makes sense that your domain is readable so avoid quirky spellings if possible. For personal domains, it will only increase ambiguity and confusion, and misspellings because it’s hard to figure out.

Going with a short domain will make it easier for people to remember, but, anything too short can have the opposite effect. Despite having fewer characters, some abbreviations won’t work in your favor.

Compare “rogercam.com” to “rogercameraman.com”. Strike a balance. Don’t be tempted to hack off parts of words for the sake of a shorter domain. Many people use an acronym for their domain name instead.

5. Use a descriptive TLD

If you’re looking for a top-level domain for your personal website, might be a suffix that talks for your business, like .shop or .biz. For creative sites, how about .art, .studio, or .design? There are countless TLDs to consider.

Get local

You can also play around with country code top-level domains (ccTLD). Search engines will rank you for local searches, and employers or customers will immediately know where you are based. Well-known ccTLDs like .uk, .us, .nyc, and .eu are all a good choice.

Check which extensions are coming

The powers that be, aka the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), are constantly expanding the internet by rolling out new domain suffixes. Check here for the most up to date list of available TLDs on the market right now.

You can also check which extensions are coming soon, and the latest TLDs drop just here. If you see something that catches your eye, work on your web design in advance so you’re ready to go when the new TLD goes live and is available to purchase.

5. Avoid using hyphens

When a preferred domain name is no longer available, people often resort to using hyphens. They keep costs down, and you can include lots of keywords. While it might be tempting to go with something like your-name.com or youname-yourprofession.com, It’s best to avoid using a hyphen in your domain name wherever possible.

Hyphens are a hot topic in the SEO community. According to David Ball of Silktide, we should avoid hyphens at all costs. “Avoid Hyphens. Hyphens detract from credibility and can act as a spam indicator.”

He makes a fair point. If you saw the domain sarahs-portfolio-services-website.com, would you expect to see a quality site? Another issue with hyphens is that people tend to forget them and end up on a different website, or a nonexistent page.

6. Don’t double up on letters

If your first name finishes with the same letter as the first letter of your last name, switch them around to avoid typos and potentially losing traffic. For example, LauraAndrews.me to AndrewsLaura.me.

How much does it cost to buy your own domain?

Now that you understand a bit more about the top-level domain names that will suit your purpose, it’s time to think about the cost. The price of having your own domain can vary, and depends on:

  • The type of extension;
  • How popular it is;
  • Where you buy it from.

It’s difficult to work out a common price tag because of these reasons, but traditional TLDs like .com and .org are usually priced between $6 and $15. Newer TLDs like .club and .online can cost between $10 and $25.

If you’ve registered with another registrar, don’t forget you can transfer domain names to Namecheap. You can save money, benefit from great transfer prices, and get help from our customer support when you need it.

Examples of personal domain names

If you want to buy your own domain, and you’re looking for domain name ideas, you’ve come to the right place! Here are some good examples of personal domain names you might consider:

  • isobelweston.com
  • isobelweston.biz
  • isobelweston.online
  • isobelweston.site

Consider previously registered domains

Keep your eyes open for domain names that have previously been registered. Millions of domains have been registered over the years and a fair chunk of them are up for sale once again. If your dream domain has been registered by someone else, check to see if it's available on a domain marketplace or Aftermarket. This is a great way to purchase your own domain.

If you’re buying and selling domain names on the Marketplace, you may be able to find a great price on a domain you’ve always wanted. If you use our domain lookup tool, you can discover information about a site owner, and make an offer which they may accept.

Domains are re-released and available to the public after a grace period of around 75 days. One of the advantages of snapping one of these up is snapping up some of their traffic. Registering it can work to your advantage but don’t be tempted to buy a domain based on existing traffic alone. You’re on to a good thing if a relevant domain name that was receiving traffic has recently expired.

Some things to keep in mind

  • Purchase immediately
    It’s nearly impossible to claim a domain once it’s been taken unless you’ve got deep pockets, so act fast.
  • Register it for as long as possible
    Registering for longer periods (such as a domain with a 10-year registration price) saves you the hassle of renewing each year, reduces the risk of expiry, and usually means discounts.
  • Pay in advance
    Also works out cheaper if you can afford to pay for hosting etc. in advance. The advantage being you are saved the hassle of renewing each year.
  • Shareability
    A clean URL, one that is not full of numbers and letters just looks better. People are more likely to share a simple URL that doesn’t take up two lines of text. Keep it as simple as possible such as your full name or company name, for a cleaner look.
  • Private vs professional
    Might make sense to get two distinctive domains, one focusing on your professional life, one on your personal life.
  • Upkeep
    You should build high-quality profiles, and a website if desired, and optimize all to rank as high as possible for your personal domain name.

Another key point to remember is consistency. It’s good practice to maintain a consistent name across all the platforms you are using. Use your business name or actual name (or a variation of it) when creating vanity URLs on Twitter and Facebook for example. This lends credibility to your brands. It also keeps things memorable and helps avoid any confusion as to whether visitors have stumbled on the correct profile. Plus they will find your profile more easily.

You’ll also get an SEO boost. Sites like LinkedIn all rank at the top of search engines. Search engines like Google read through URLs for keywords. So if you want to be found online, include your brand name in the site address.

Setting up your personal domain

Congratulations, you’ve completed the task of creating your own domain! Now you may be wondering how to make your own domain work as a website and if there are any best practices.

To build a website on your personal domain name, you’ve got two options. Use a website builder which comes with hosting, or choose a self-hosted option. How do you build a website or blog with a custom domain? Let’s find out.

Using a custom domain with a website builder

Website builders are fantastic if you need to create a website from zero, and have little experience creating websites. A common question we get asked is ‘“Do website builders allow you to connect customer domains”, whether people can use a previously purchased domain name, or “Are there any site builders allowing to connect my own domain for free?”

The answer is a resounding yes. Many website builders allow you to connect your custom domains. Let’s look into how to build your own website with a domain.

Most of the free website builders will offer a custom domain as part of a premium package. Otherwise, the basic free plans allow you to create a site and host it on a subdomain. It’s important to have your own domain instead of a subdomain (example). Subdomains lose some professionalism and SEO brownie points.

Popular builders like Wix and Weebly will only allow you to create your site on their domain if you pay extra to use your own domain name. The danger in buying a domain name through sites like this is that you’ll often pay a markup.

If a website builder is what you want, choose one according to your personal needs, your budget, and its simplicity to use. Alternatively, take one from a domain registrar. Almost every web hosting provider offers some kind of site builder when you buy a domain through them. For example, Namecheap has a free site builder for our customers to use.

Another option is to avoid a site builder completely and use your personal domain in tandem with a content management system. Most are free, and the only price you’ll pay is for web hosting to put the site live on the internet. To make this process as straightforward as possible, for WordPress, the world’s most popular CMS, there are options for managed hosting.

Using your custom domain with a CMS

Alternatively, host your domain independently and use a content management system to build your website. WordPress, Drupal, and all the other CMS heavyweights are set up to cater for personal sites. With dedicated personal domain templates, in a few clicks, you can have a professional resume, or personal site live on the internet. All of the above can be installed with our hosting options.

All CMSs are self-hosted meaning you buy your domain, set up hosting, and choose someone to create your website with. WordPress is the most popular CMS by a longshot. Managed WordPress hosting solutions like EasyWP take the heavy lifting out of hosting a domain yourself. Start a website in minutes and connect it to your particular domain. It does the hard work for you.

Conclusion

Once upon a time, domains were expensive things only big corporations and high-flying professions could afford. These days, you can register a domain for a few bucks.

Looking forward, it doesn’t seem such a stretch of the imagination that personal websites will be commonplace. Creating an online profile helps to promote yourself and that’s good news whether you're looking to start a new company, looking for a new job, or simply want to draw attention to your blog.

Spend some time thinking about which distinctive domain name will have longevity in terms of what you want to do with it. Then do it!

It goes without saying that it’s desirable to have a personal domain to showcase your work online. But, don’t fret if your .com version isn’t available or is out of your price range. Direct your effort to the next best thing. Fill the page with interesting and related content and it will be traced back to you in the SERPs.

Right now, for the price of a drink or two, you get endless benefits, a matching email address, and control over your online image. If you don't have your own domain name, go get one!

Register your personal domain now.


Andrey Ivaschenko

Andrey Ivaschenko

More articles written by Andrey.

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