Should You Use Your Name As The Domain Name

When Scott Wainner contacted me about his new blog, one of the questions he asked was what domain name to use. Scott owned and registered a bunch of possible domains, including his own name. In the end, he went with W Revenue because I advised him against using his own name. I’ve received several questions asking why I advised Scott not to use his name knowing that my blog bears my name. Here’s the answer.

John Chow dot Com Was Never Meant To Be Commercial

I never intended to turn this blog into a commercial operation. It was just suppose to be a place for me to talk about whatever was on my mind. Most of the early readers were friends and family members. The blog was a great way for them to keep up with what’s happening in my life.

Because of a case study to see if money could be made by blogging, the blog went all commercial. In doing so, it attracted a ton and new readers but my family members hardly read it anymore. Were I to do it over again, I would have kept John Chow dot Com as my personal blog and did the case study with a brand new blog using another domain name.

It Could Be Harder To Brand

Generally, it is easier to brand a commercial name than your own name. I had an advantage in that I was already known in the tech circles so it was just a matter of extending my brand into blogging. However, for the average blogger, branding your own name is extremely hard. You’ll have a much easier time branding a trade name than your own name.

It’s Next To Impossible To Sell

How much is John Chow dot Com worth if there’s no John Chow? According to the business Opportunities Weblog, my blog is worth over $3 million but realistically, no one will pay that much for it unless I agreed to stay on (even then I doubt they’ll pay that much). However, if I’m going to sell, I want to cash out and leave, not stay on and work!

I highly doubt Matt Coddington could have sold his blog for $12,000 if he didn’t change its name to Net Business Blog. The really strange thing is John Cow can probably sell his blog much easier than I can sell mine. In the end, I can never sell this blog because this blog bears my name and I want to maintain control of my name.

You Have To Do Most of The Work

When your blog bears your name, you have to write most of the posts. Sure, you can bring in a guest blogger every now and then but for the most part, your readers will expect 90+ percent of the blog posts to be written by you.

Contrast this with the 16 bloggers that write for Blogging Tips. Kevin still writes the majority of the posts but he has a lot more leeway than I do when it comes to using other writers. If Kevin wants, I’m sure he can slowly back away from writing and leave things to the other writers and most readers wouldn’t notice (especially if he removes the writer’s picture next to every posts). This is because the name of Kevin’s blog is, not

Use Trade Names for Commercial Blogs

If you’re blogging for money, then I recommend you do it with a trade name instead of your own name. You should definitely register your own name as a domain name but keep it for personal use.

111 thoughts on “Should You Use Your Name As The Domain Name”

  1. Nick Ramsay says:

    Excellent post John (one of your best posts in ages actually). Now I’m glad I didn’t use my own name when everyone else was jumping on the “name in my domain” bandwagon.

    1. Israel says:

      dunno bout it being the best. lol.

    2. Yeah, I was starting to feel like you used your name on purpose…

    3. It is indeed a good post, but not sure if is the best. My preferred one is Are You Getting Maximum Dollar For Your Ad Space? post.

    4. KennyP says:

      I agree with you, this is the best post in ages

    5. My 5 cents worth. It depends on what you want. For me is right for me.

      1. Starfeeder says:

        ah a fellow Malaysian blogger eh?

        Well Malaysian/Chinese/American blogger….

    6. Mike says:

      It is a great post, I jumped on the “name in my domain” Bandwagon. Still not sure if it was a good idea as it is only a new blog. Only time will tell.


  2. GettyCash says:

    I want to have a domain but I don’t know what trade name I should have. I can’t have because its not available.

    1. Create one. Random alphabets arranged and meaningless like xerox did!

  3. Neil Duckett says:

    I guess it’s a similar story for many though, starting off a blog for personal reasons then the focus changes and it becomes partially commercial. I think there’s an unofficial line between a monetized personal blog and a blog intended to make money as it’s sole purpose.

  4. Michael says:

    John is right. If you intend to create a commercial blog or site, then using your own name as the domain name is ridiculous. I mean, how professional would that be! [a little sarcasm there, cough, cough]
    But your personal with your name as your domain name is a good idea because it is yours and for your ramblings.

    1. From what I see, having a brandable domain name is good if you really want to sell the site once it gets success. But if you intend to keep it I don’t see whats wrong having the domain as your name. I mean, it gives you more space to write. Would John be able to have categories like Fine Dining and Cars if he had a blog named like ?

      I hope you get my point, but as far as it regards to “build it than sell it” than yeah, a brandable domain is much better.

    2. Why would it be unprofessional? As a blogger all you have is your reputation and what better way to stand behind your posts and your blog than putting your name on it? I’m not saying it’s absolutely the best way to go but there is nothing inherently wrong with it.

      John you, or anyone else who has their name for a domain name, could easily sell this blog. You’d just need to register a new domain and redirect this domain to the new one. You might have to make a deal to keep the redirect in place for a certain period of time but you could certainly negotiate a deal to sell it.

  5. Cash Quests says:

    This is the reason why I changed my name by deed pool to Cash Quests.

  6. Eric says:

    I’m a firm believer that most people who use their names for domains are either:

    A. Unimaginative and can’t think of anything on their own
    B. Already famous
    C. Think they are famous
    D. Have a narcissistic fantasy, where they will speak and everyone will listen

    I’m done now.

    1. Michael says:

      But what about private blogs?

      1. How can you how private and blog in the same sentence, there is nothing private about the www?

        1. Maybe he meant personal blog 😯

  7. Pam Hoffman says:

    I actually own and it’s currently parked with In part, I wanted to get some things going and then add them under as an ‘umbrella’ site. I also haven’t quite figured out how to build it the way I want it (i’m still pretty new to all of this!).

    Here’s my thinking, by way of an example. Richard Branson is doing a whole bunch of stuff in the world (i plan to as well) and he probably has a bunch of sites for those things.

    Now, what if he had (he may in fact, i don’t know) and if ‘Richard Branson’ gets a lot of searches, he might consider building as an ‘umbrella’ type of site which could point you to all of his other sites.

    Any thoughts?

    I haven’t completely figured out what will eventually do tho I know what I would like to be connected with. I intend to create infrastructure by which we may travel from the Earth to the stars. My site might reflect that someday. I might sell it, I don’t know. For now, it is parked until I can figure out what to do with it…

    Thank you for your post John. Something to think about!

    Pam Hoffman

    1. Richard Branson’s equity is far less than his trademark – Virgin. That is why he uses the latter for all his businesses.

    2. CKacey says:

      Could somebody translate this please? What is..”An infrastucture by which we may travel from the earth to the stars?” I thought that was the Enterprise. Srsly. 😕

  8. Armen says:

    What about freelancers who don’t use a generic business name in the ‘real’ world, John?

    1. Those are freelancers, not make money online talkers. If you want to brand your name and want to continue for that business in a longer time, than keep your domain. If you intend to sell it one day, than a brandable name would be better. Thats the whole point of this post, that if you would to sell it would be easier to sell a brandable domain name instead of a domain name that holds your name.

  9. Rhys says:

    It’d be interesting with my blog, as whilst I don’t have my full name, it does have my first name in the title. I think a bunch of people do call it “The Gospel”, but expect to see my writing, not anybody elses.

    How do you think my blog is branded?

    1. Cash Quests says:

      It’s easy to see how well something is branded. Just ask, “would it be weird if someone else wrote for this site”. If the answer is yes, the person is branded more than the blog – like on

      If the answer is no – the blog has the brand and it can be transferred/sold a lot more easily.

      In your situation, I think it would be a little weird if TGAT was suddenly written by a Dave or a Mike.

      1. Tyler Ingram says:

        But other people do write on john’s site and it really isn’t all that weird.

        1. Cash Quests says:

          It would be if they wrote on it everyday and John never wrote on it.

        2. Thats why those are called Guest bloggers, because they are guests and not blog owners. And the rest of the answer Cash Quest already gave to you 😉

    2. My personal take is that Gospel Rhys is simply fantastic. It can do well for a domain name indeed.

  10. Muhil says:

    I definitey have to agree with you John the restrictions of getting Guest Bloggers in. One other example I can cite is which I believe has over half a dozen writers who regularly author there. If the owner had his name, as you said, it wouldn’t have been easy for him to set up the idea.

    Great Post

  11. Israel says:

    thats why i got fatmanunleashed.

    1. Michael says:

      But are you really fat? (No offense) ❓

    2. Supposing your domain had something to do with health issues, and particularly say, weight loss programs it can be a great domain name.

  12. Clement says:

    Sometimes using your own name in the domain is good especially when your name is well known (Your name is branded!).For instance if Bill Gates would come up with a blog domain name containing his own name, John Chow would be in trouble. I mean Bill’s blog would attract more visitors. But if you are not popular and if you want to sell your blog in due course, John’s advice is alright. If you do not want to sell it John Chow Junior can pick it up and continue with it.

    Clement Nyirenda’s blog world

  13. I never intended my blog to be commercial at the start either, but that’s how it became. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using your name in your domain. It gives the blog a unique URL that stands out from the crowd. gets 10 million hits per month. Even though its not a blog, it gets very high traffic for a site named after its founder. Many people think that you need the perfect name to make a web site successful, but its not the name that drives traffic (or SEO tricks), its content. My blog,, is averaging 950 unique visitors a day this month so far and I don’t think it would be getting higher traffic if I had named it or something else.

  14. ONwebCHECK says:

    A really good question. But now is John Chow a well known name :) And maybe it will be like IBM or BMW in a view years…… I will check it!

  15. Softsled says:


    You could always move all your content over to another domain and redirect everything from, or is that too risky?

    1. Michael says:

      He will then loose all his ranks that he has built for quite some time. From an Alexa ranking of under 3000, he will start all the way over 1 million and he won’t get a Google Page Rank of 5 and he will not be listed under the top 100 blogs is Technorati.

      You see, there are lots of consequences.

    2. Tyler Ingram says:

      What about the blog that John started in the shadows of this one? The one he is testing to see if he can get it up there pretty quick? Perhaps what he could do it bring that one up to surpass this one, and then take this one back to its original roots but still keep the PR and etc 😉

  16. I always go for a SEO friendly name based on keyword research and it has never failed me yet. When I first started I was told by lots of people it was way too competitive yet already I’m starting to see search traffic from that phrase.

    1. This is very good thinking and a good idea to follow.

    2. That’s true, although some SEO experts say domain names don’t matter, it does and if you look at #1 ranking for any good keyword, that keyword itself is in the domain name.

  17. If you use your name as a brand for your blog this blog is yours forever :). I agree. But this is the only bad thing about using your name. If you achieve high level of credibility in your area, this name will become your strongest trade mark and your biggest money source. :)

  18. cbenc12 says:

    Aahh.. that’s a fabulous tip. I am just thinking of getting another domain wif my name but guess I am enlightened now~ 😮

  19. Marco says:


    I recently discussed the selling problem in of my posts Get your blog an own domain. As I do also use my name as a domain, I´m involved in this problem. But I do not even think about selling my blog. But of course, this would be a matter of money. 😉


  20. nice post John…
    i don’t know if it was discussed but it’s just me with my firefox and google toolbar or did went back to PR 5?

  21. A question many bloggers face. You make some good points.

  22. The reasoning is flawless and practical. Well written John.

  23. Wayne Liew says:

    I started out wanted to have a personal blog just to share things but my blog has evolve into something that passes on information.

    I don’t think I will get another domain real soon but I guess I will want to make my blog on my name sells well.

    Wish me luck! 😉

  24. Rob says:

    It’s a great post about stating the obvious, and I mean that without any sarcasm. Sure, I can see how some people’s personal blogs exploded into something bigger and lead them down the same path you are on, John. But if you’re just starting out and looking to monetize, brand your blog.

  25. Jon Lee says:

    For my needs, I had every intention of using my own name as my domain name. I felt it gave me credibility both online and offline. It’s cool when complete strangers recognize you and call you by your name. It also looks great on a professional resume 😉

  26. Manthem says:

    Let’s see: my last name alone has 13 letters in it. Only two of those are vowels and there is a string of 8 consonants in a row. If I ever decided to use my name, no one would ever return because they would have no idea how to spell it. is much easier to remember.

  27. JCYL says:

    it’s amazing how you could come up with blogging topics all the time John! :smile:

  28. Roberta says:

    I definitely should’ve thought of that before registering my name as my domain….at least I’m #5 in Google for my first name :)

  29. I decided not to go with my name precisely because of those reasons. Mainly because I also wanted other writers to be able to contribute liberally.

  30. Rob says:

    My name is taken for basically every extension… it’s a very generic name and I agree about your “branding”. The name of my blog is Eureka Diary… mainly because it’s a journal format of the types of AHA moments I have in Internet Marketing.

    I love that feeling when you get a great idea and the concept keeps flowing and branching to new ideas and you get incredibly excited to get started. That’s why I named it EurekaDiary… but even that name wouldn’t be easily sold – not generic enough IMHO. But if you want to buy it for lots and lots I won’t refuse… hehe

  31. Tyler Ingram says:

    Doesn’t this go against the being a Dot Com Mogul checklist? Having your name as the domain name was one of the criteria 😉

    I choose to use my name because if you do a search for me, I come in the number one spot :) I’ve had friends in the past find me that way because of it it too. But then again my blog is not really commercialized. I talk about whatever comes to mind, rants, PHP coding, MySQL tips, WordPress comparisons, local or international news whatever!

  32. sir jorge says:

    I was going to use my own name, but it’s a little long…Jorge just isn’t as easy to remember as

  33. the problem only come when you are trying to sell it

    1. Wayne Liew says:

      Maybe I shouldn’t think of selling. Owning a domain with my name means forever… 😈

  34. James says:

    But would this site be as well branded with a generic name? Would it be as popular? Do people come just to make money online or do they come to find out what John Chow says to make money online? Why do they return?

  35. Ah, very true. I wish I had thought about that before making my site. 😛

  36. MP3 says:

    I think using his own name is only good for a personal/private blog.
    the most biggest Companies using all fantasy names or something like that. for example: Google, Sedo, Ayom, Yahoo ….

  37. lyricsreg says:

    It pays to use your own name only if you are somewhat famous

  38. I guess John has managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat as he was not that famous in the first place :)

    1. Tyler Ingram says:

      If you knew about TTZ then Moto is famous 😉 lol

    2. lyricsreg says:

      … in the good ol’ days. It doesn’t work like that any more

  39. Zac Johnson says:

    My blog, my thoughts, my advice… so having my name as the domain name makes sense of course!

    1. Wayne Liew says:

      I totally second your thoughts, having our name as the blog domain is like saying out to others that “Now you are in here, all of the things here are by [blogger’s name]”! :mrgreen:

  40. Jack says:

    I dunno. Blogs are personal logs. Companies have blogs, but they are usually a subdomain ( of the company name.
    Blogs should be related to names (if possible) because of the personal value they bring to the reader – Jason Calcanis for instance. We know him, his blog is an extension of him and what he writes.
    I think John’s entry suggests that all blogs are eventually for sale. I don’t think that is the case with a personal blog. A niche blog, yes. Personal, know. I doubt Jeremy would let go of Shoemoney any time soon.

  41. Domtan



    Did you already own a domain that you initially wanted to use commercially for a blog such as this one, only for to beat it to the punch?

  42. DARN! Great feedback! I just switched over my to my actual name Lindsey Harper. Mostly for credibility sake I do think there is valuein using your name and creating a brand around that. so question for you.. I also bought can I use that or is that a “trademarked” name :) and no it’s not about drugs :) I am slightly addicted to many hobbies! and web businesses and all sorts of other fun things!

  43. big money


    you know what’s really crazy? I found out about your site only a few months ago and was thinking to myself that I actually have a domain name with my name on it too. (I bought it a couple of years ago just to show off to my non-html knowledgeable friends). I saw your blog and was thinking maybe I could actually develop that domain name, and here you are posting about that idea today haha.

    I don’t know if you saw that big money website I sent the other day. It’s like a blog, but a forum at the same time, although I am manually adding posts in HTML, I don’t know how to make an automated blog software. This is one reason I am just keeping a “blog” there rather than my own name domain name..

  44. yeah I did, but I also want to blog about my current work stuff so I decided it was better to use my name.. (frankly I like more creative blog names!) so it has a dual purpose. work blogging (I work at microsoft) and also talk about things I do outside of work like web businesses, crafty techy stuff and etc. etc… so i was stumped!

  45. Jasen says:

    I agree, a personal site/blog is fine if it’s in your own name, but commercial sites should have a less personal domain name especially if you might one day want to sell it to somebody else.

  46. was already taken, so I resorted to using a company name, which has worked out nicely for me. :mrgreen:

  47. Frank C says:

    I decided to go with a new domain rather than using my own name domain which I already owned. I was tempted to use my name domain since it was several years old and has a PR4. But I thought it would be better to go with a generic domain name which would allow easier reselling if I wanted to do that plus greater flexibility.

  48. It’s funny that you have wrote about this actually because I have owned for several years and I was planning on launching a personal blog.

    As you said though, using my own name as the domain name might not be the best idea. I will never sell the domain name however what it comes down to is what will the site be about.


    1. CKacey says:

      Anything Irish. 😉

  49. big money says:

    Mr. Chow,

    I know this comment is not related to your post now, but I have a suggestion for your blog to make a “general comments” section.

    The reason? I am reading your Ebook right now and would like to provide thanks for providing that .htaccess code on page 22. I thought I had this covered but apparently not, until now. Major SEO help for me. If you have links to a www and a non-www inside your domain name with the same content, I believe you get duplicate content penalties and you get killed in google (could be the root of all my failures in the past). Just thought I would share that.


    1. Tyler Ingram says:

      He also has a Contact Page where you can send it to him if its not about a particular post.

  50. Mr Henree says:

    It actually depends. For me, i would use as domain when you plan to develope yourself as an expert in your respected field first. At least, you will gain the close relationship with your targeted market. Then, you definitely will need or for commercial purposes. I’m in the process of developing my own name then next step create other sites that sell something.

  51. I also think that using your own name for a website will make it hard to rank for different keywords… The search engines love the websites that have at least one keyword in your domain name, just do a search on an important high paying keyword, and you will see for yourself.

  52. CKacey says:

    Your theory is good but there are always exceptions. Dear Abby is still an advice column but she’s dead. Someone else is giving Abby’s advice now…serial advice… and I guess it’s working.
    Jeeze what if Stephen King could write novels for all eternity or Jackie Collins or Erma Bombeck.. 😯 ..scary. I think I’ll buy John Chow’s name…after he’s gone of course…maybe 😈

  53. It’s a two-edged sword. Somewhat one-sided to claim it would always be wrong to use one’s own name. If you’re truly trying to build online credibility for further activities like consultancy, speeches, e-book writting etc. you might need your name exposed so you can become well-known in your field of expertise – your niche. :-)

    Also, selling one’s blog would be next to impossible. Noone could catch quite the same style of writting. I don’t know if this was your best blog article John. But I do know that you are always well worth reading, and that should count for something.
    Taking John Chow out of the would be like eating a nice chinese rice and meat (and sauce) dinner without any of the sweet and sour sauce. Pretty boring. True? 😀

    Therefore: keep up the good work. :-)

  54. CKacey says:

    He could have a boy and bring him up to be the next John Chow (Jr.) Actually he could do that with his daughter. You can’t see her. No one would know. Just think how much the site would be worth at the time of “The Great Ones” demise. You diggin this John? What a legacy!

  55. Aaron Cook says:

    As a fellow “my name dot com” blogger, I really enjoyed that post John.

    But I’m on the lucky end of things…at least when it comes to selling the domain name. In fact, I’ve already been presented with some rather lucrative offers to sell it…and that’s because I happen to share my name with a major league baseball player…Aaron Cook of the Colorado Rockies.

    But since I waited over 4 years to finally snag the domain name, there’s no way I’m selling it! At least not until the offers exceed 5 figures. 😎

    As for branding, it all comes down to the approach. If you know how, you can successfully brand anything…you just have to understand the nature of your customers and your future customers. And ultimately, it all comes down to your readers and your audience. :smile:

    Shine on,

  56. Good points. Exactly the reasons I didn’t use my name for my new blog.

    But John, you can’t seriously take the business opportunities seriously lmao. According to them my blog (Internet babel dot com) is worth $23,000 + HA! as if. That tool is ridiculously innacurate.

  57. Dandruff says:

    Very good post John. When I started reading the post even I waas wondering why did you refuse Scott Wainner to use his own name as the domain name when you too have your name on your blog. But all my doubts got cleared as soon as I reached to the end of the post.
    I must say you have explained the whole concept of not using names in domain name very beautifully in your post.

  58. CKacey says:

    Credibility and reputation sells…I know that I (the general public consumer) would be a lot quicker to buy anything John recommended (even unrelated items) because I feel that I know him personally (even though I don’t ) and he’s built up a trust factor through valuable conent. When I think about someone else giving the same advice under John’s name, I feel cheated, even though it may be the same, word for word. Seems to me it’s ok, even good, especially if you have things to sell….if what you have to say has value and you don’t plan to sell your site…ever. It certainly appears to have worked for John, even if it was accidental.

  59. shy guy says:

    I really agree with you…
    Our name not suitable for income purpose..
    Yes, johnchow get more earning from his blog but he can’t using for personal purpose..

  60. twit88 says:

    Good post !!
    I am happy that I do not use my name when I started :roll:

  61. luckily I didn’t include my name in my domain where I almost did.. 😈 . Good guide john

  62. After seeing the amount of success you are having with your blog, I was worrying if I had made a mistake of starting a blog with a domain name that wasn’t my name.

    I’m glad to see I didn’t make a mistake!

  63. Apprently my blog domain is worth $23,710.68 😆

  64. Michael Woo says:

    Yeah, I think that it’s nearly impossible to sell domain names that bears your name. However, I think that domain names that has your name tends to get traffic real quick and there are lots of success cases.

    Anyway like you say, when you want to commercialize a blog it’s better to have a domain name that isn’t your name 😆 I’d pay for anyway :)

  65. warzone says:

    Ofcourse its better to use a brandable domain name. Lot of people overlook that when buying domains and stuff.

  66. Raymond says:

    That is why I use the name of my niche rather than my own name.

    It helps me a lot on my search engine ranking and bringing in visitors from Google.

  67. JCYL says:

    Has there ever been a single success story with someone who uses a blogspot domain?! :roll:

  68. Muhil says:

    14k Subscribers-Technology Blog. This guy has appeared on CNN. Success Indeed.

    1. JCYL says:

      Hey, thanks for the link! Let me go and have a look! I need some inspiration! :mrgreen:

  69. I prefer using keywords in domain i use it in mine it helps alot in SEO :mrgreen:

Comments are closed.