Are you a personal brand who’s just getting started? Are you wondering what would make a great domain name for your personal brand website? This is a question we get asked a lot by our clients and by the members of our membership, Make Your Mark Online. So let’s look at some of the options available to you.
What different kinds of domain names could you choose?
When it comes to domain names for personal brands, broadly speaking, you can go one of three ways:
- Use your own name. So you could have YourName.com, YourName.co.uk, or YourName.net – whatever you decide to go for. A few highly-successful online entrepreneurs out there, like Marie Forleo or Chris Ducker, do this.
- Use your business name. A couple of examples that come to mind here are Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income and Chris Marr with the Content Marketing Academy or CMA.
- Use a keyword. Your domain name includes a keyword that your ideal customers or clients may search for on Google. An example of this is Mark Shaefer, whose domain name is businessgrow.com.
Now let’s look at the pros and cons of each option in more details.
Why would you use your own name as your domain name?
1. It makes it easier for people to find you online
When you meet someone at a conference or an event, don’t you tend to remember their name, rather than their business name?
When people mention you, recommend you, or refer you to others, they are more likely to use your name. Because it’s generally more memorable and easier to remember.
Whenever we Google Pat Flynn, for example, we never search for his actual business and website name – Smart Passive Income. It’s quicker and easier to just search for Pat Flynn because his name is what we remember first!
2. It makes it easier for you to change business direction
If you start off in business by offering a service, but then decide to switch to something else, you can make that transition quite easily if you use your name as your domain name.
Generally speaking, you can take your name in whichever business direction you want! It’s certainly more adaptable than a business name or a keyword-rich domain name.
So if you want the flexibility to change direction or course-correct in business, pick your own name. That gives you the space to test a few things out without feeling too restrained.
A good example of this is Janet Murray. Who started out talking about PR, but as her business has grown, she now talks about growing your audience and wider marketing tactics.
What are the downsides of having your name as your domain name?
1. It makes your website harder to sell
If you’re a personal brand using your own name as your domain, you might struggle to find a buyer for your website. That’s if you ever decide to sell it.
Unless you find somebody else with the exact same name and offers the same services, it may be trickier to sell your website on.
2. It makes it hard to work out what you do
Another reason why you may decide against choosing your own name as your website domain name is that your name doesn’t immediately tell people what you do and how you help.
If we had used MartinHuntbach.com or LyndsayCambridge.com for our website, for example, it’d be a lot harder for our clients to work out what it is we do!
3. Your name may be hard to spell
If people struggle to say or spell your name (like in our case with Martin Huntbach!) you may be reluctant to use your own name as your domain name.
And that’s part of the reason why we decided to use Jammy Digital and not MartinHuntbach.com! Of course, if you have a nice comfortable name that everybody can easily spell, then it’s a different story altogether!
4. It makes it harder for you to change your business structure
While Martin first started our business on his own a few years ago, Lyndsay has now joined and co-owns the business.
Had we gone for MartinHuntbach.com, it may have been harder to communicate to our audience how Lyndsay had joined the business.
If you’re ever thinking of changing the structure of your business, you may find the transition harder if you’ve used your name as your domain name.
Why would you choose your business name as your domain name?
Using your business name as your domain name is a common choice for personal brand websites. And here are some benefits of doing this.
1. It makes it easier for you to sell your website
Because your business isn’t linked to a specific name or person (i.e. you!), you might find selling your website easier, if you ever decide to.
A great example of this is Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com. A few years ago, Martin Lewis successfully sold his website. And while we’re just speculating here, it’s reasonable to believe that he may have struggled to find a buyer, had he called his website MartinLewis.com.
Of course, this point is only relevant if you’re planning to sell your website. But even if you’re not setting up with the intention of selling, you never really know, do you?
2. It makes what you do clear
By using a business name as your domain name, you can be 100% clear and specific about what it is you do.
Using the MoneySavingExpert.com example once again, just by looking at the website name, you know exactly what you’re going to get! But before Martin Lewis became associated with the brand, you wouldn’t have known what Martin Lewis did. Had he called his website MartinLewis.com, his story may be entirely different!
Why would someone NOT use their business name as their domain name?
1. It makes it harder to change business direction
While using your own name as your website domain allows you to change business direction fairly easily, your business name can tie into a niche or an industry.
And obviously, that can be frustrating if you want to tweak or change business direction months or years down the line.
When we first started out, we offered both SEO and web design. And when we gradually stopped offering some of the services that we originally provided, the word digital in our business name meant our services still fell under the umbrella of digital marketing. So that worked out well for us. But of course, had we decided to become estate agents, we might have had a slight problem with our domain name!
2. It makes it harder to build a personal connection with you
Occasionally, if you’re a personal brand using a business name as your domain name, your customers and clients may not feel that strong personal connection with you.
But this is something you can easily fix.
An example of this is Pete Matthew, who runs Meaningful Money. A lot of people know Pete Matthew because of the incredible effort he puts into his podcast and his content marketing. Yes, he’s using his business name as his domain name. But he still builds rapport with his audience by being at the forefront of his brand. If you follow his work, you’ll know his name.
So if you are going to use your business name as your domain name, it’s important you get yourself, your name, and your face out there!
3. It makes it harder for people to find you
As we mentioned earlier, people tend to remember names and faces more than they remember business names. This means someone is more likely to look for your name in Google, rather than your business name.
And sometimes, when we search for someone’s name, their social media channels may come up in the search results before their website. Because of this, sometimes finding your actual website may take a bit longer – not a huge issue, but keep in mind that this may feel frustrating to some.
What about including a keyword in your domain name?
It certainly used to be easier to rank on search engines for a particular keyword if you had that exact keyword in your domain name.
But that’s not really the case anymore.
Yes, having a keyword in the domain name still has some weight, but not as much as it used to.
1. Including a keyword in your domain name makes what you do clear and could help your rank higher
Had we picked WebDesignBlackpool.com as our domain name, there would be no doubt about what it is we do, right?
And for many small local businesses, that’s still common practice. Assuming your local competitors don’t know much about SEO, if you included a relevant keyword in your domain name, you could still potentially rank higher than your competitors.
However, Google has changed so much over the years that just stuffing your domain name with keywords isn’t really going to cut it anymore.
What are the disadvantages of using a keyword in your domain name?
1. It can make your website look spammy and old-fashioned
As a user, if you’re looking for someone online, you’ll either expect their name or their business name to pop up. Having something else that sounds a bit generic (like AccountantsManchester.com), in this day and age, can come across as spammy and old-fashioned.
2. A keyword ties you in
Using a keyword within your business name ties you in even more than a business name does. If your website is WebDesignBlackpool.com, and you decide to move to Manchester or start selling flowers, that’s not really going to work!
Overall, we wouldn’t recommend this practice to personal brand website owners.
Our favourite domain name option for personal brands
If you’re a personal brand, our recommendation is to use either your name or your business name. And of out these two choices, we encourage our clients to use their own name. After all, you’re building a business based on your knowledge and your expertise!
Yes, you may have a complicated name (bet you can’t beat Martin Huntbach). But plenty of successful people online have not-so-obvious names. And they still make it work, especially when they have the full weight of their business behind them. Go all in, and people will link the business name with your name.
And of course, if your aim is to sell your business a few years down the line, go with your business name!
Always buy the domain for your own name!
One last piece of advice we’d like to share is to always buy the domain for your own name. Renewal will cost you around $10 a year. And you can have a landing page with forwarding rules so that when someone types your name in Google, they’ll be redirected to your main website. Martin does this here.
It’s a really easy, cost-effective way to futureproof your business.
The Make Your Mark Online Membership
If you’re a personal brand business owner, and you’re just starting out with your website, why not come and check out our signature membership, Make Your Mark Online? The doors are currently open, and it’s been amazing to see so many of our members get great results with their websites since joining in October last year.
Our aim is to help you build and grow a successful personal brand website. We have videos that cover a range of topics – from how to choose a reliable host all the way to writing your website copy. We meet every Wednesday morning for our Q&A and have an amazingly supportive and active community in Slack. Come and check it out!