Why You Must Own Your Own Domain Name

This is a guest post from Xavier Lanier, publisher of Notebooks.com and a strong believer in getting the right domain name for yourself and your online business.

If you don’t own ‘yourname’.com, stop reading this and head over to your favorite domain registrar and buy it. If you don’t someone else eventually will and may even turn it into a web site dedicated to making fun of you with a naked puppet.

That might sound outlandish, but that’s exactly what’s happened to Shel Israel – a blogging expert, co-author of Naked Conversations and host of a video show over at FastCompany.TV.

Shel is new to the video format, and New York blogger Loren Feldman had some harsh words about the new show. Loren stepped it up his criticism by publishing videos of a naked puppet ‘Shel Israel.’

To make matters worse, Loren registered ShelIsrael.com, which is now home to the videos of the Shel Israel sock puppet. While Shel still needs sponsors for his FastCompany.TV show, ShelIsrael.com and the puppet has a sponsor after a few short days.

I’m not going to pass judgment on the quality of either bloggers’ videos, motives or expertise, but not owning your own domain is really bad move. Even if you don’t plan on using ‘yourname.com’ in the near (or distant) future, owning it is cheap insurance against a debacle like this. If you have some cash to spare or you’re even mildly famous/controversial you should also look into buying the rest of the TLD’s that include your name (.net,.org, etc.).

Understandably, Shel was upset and he’s sounded off on his blog and on twitter about the situation. Shel got really defensive and sounded off on twitter and his blog, but came to this conclusion:

I did investigate the law, and on the surface of it, it appears that Loren is in his legal rights and there is nothing I can do about it, without a major legal effort, which I have neither time nor inclination to pursue. I lose. Loren gets to keep the site. If Loren were a decent sort, could call as you suggest, and ask him to take down the content and turn the site over to me at cost. I doubt that action would be successful.

What comes out of this is probably a victory for GoDaddy and other domain registrants. I imagine there’s a whole lot of people registering their names these days, because now–like me–they understand what malicious people can do.


55 thoughts on “Why You Must Own Your Own Domain Name”

  1. Michael Kwan says:

    Ouch. You should also be on the lookout for accounts with popular services like Twitter. John couldn’t get his own name because someone else took it six months ago.

    1. Good point. Something similar happened to Seth Godin. 👿

      1. Chetan says:

        @ Hafiz, Seth’s profile name was maintained by someone else but that someone didnt do any harm to Seth’s identity.
        Publishing a website solely to oppose a person, using his name in the domain is beyond stupidity.

    2. cooliojones says:

      I actually thought about doing that with some of the American Idol contestants, trying to predict which ones would blow up, then creating a fan club from that name. Maybe the artist could earn a cut by giving me an endorsement on their own name, lol. MAJOR hustle, maybe not ethical, but I know I’m not the first to think it.

  2. Lol, good point, Michael.
    I just named my kids unique names that no one else has. Nowhere. Ever. And I did register their gmail address anyway, but not the domains. But it’s important for your personal branding to own yourname.com.

  3. kellex says:

    I definitely waited to long to do this with my first blog. What a pain in the arse that was. 😉

  4. Tyler Ingram says:

    With the price of domain names ($5/yr) how could people not register their names as their domain? Especially if they plan on being on the internet in some form or other?

  5. The WWW really is the Wild, Wild, West. Anything goes and usually does. You cannot rely on people being kind and decent because they won’t be either.

    1. Syed Balkhi says:

      exactly … in the world wide web anything can happen ..

  6. baldeagle says:

    While good advice, it probably isn’t practical for most people to tie up resources defending their name. While I agree that owning the dot com is a good thing (I have had mine and my daughter’s name registered for years), a malicious person could find a similar domains/usernames to do these things. You couldn’t possibly manage to thwart all of the potentials.

    It is probably best to take the high road and just ask for a truce. If they decline, then the conflict is laid at their feet. Controversy is a great traffic driver and it is best to be the one in the right.

  7. Ecko says:

    Having own domain like .com, etc doesn’t mean that the blog will better than the blogname.blogspot.com or the blogname.wordpress.com. Don’t judge the book from its cover…

    1. Mercy says:

      I don’t think it is about content, it is all about image branding.

  8. Infogle says:

    i like this “If you don’t own ‘yourname’.com, stop reading this and head over to your favorite domain registrar and buy it.” :mrgreen: nice way of expression 😉

  9. Rhys says:

    I don’t own rhyswynne.com (though I do have the .co.uk which is good enough in the UK, most companies around here are .co.uk), so – whilst I appreciate the concern expressed by the guest poster – it’s not the end of the world (especially if you have a common name).

    Then again, I’m not a huge meganational blogger, and really if anybody is serious about making money over the internet, then you should really own yourname.com

  10. Ashley says:

    Also, I’m finding that there are now domain name harvesters that suck up every and all expiring domain name, post junk banners, and then try and resell them to the original owners for around $1,000. So if you do register your domain name, make sure you never ever let it expire or you’ll be in worse shape than if you had never registered it in the first place.

    1. Chetz says:

      I’m one of the victims! I just missed a few days and my domain is gone! 🙁
      http://www.ChetzTV.com

  11. Tom says:

    why doesn’t this fall under trademark type of law?

    1. Hannah says:

      Well it does… if you trademark your name.

      You could argue on the basis of having the name registered in bad faith, but that could mean more trouble than it’s worth. John probably could have pursued the owners of JohnCow.com, but he made a much better choice in just embracing the concept and taking the joke.

  12. diet says:

    That’s nuts man. I guess I need to buy my name. For a few bucks it’s worth it. Plus I can make myself look really good.

  13. Steve OY says:

    How about names with just initials like SteveOY.com? Would that count as having your own domain name? The truth is, when someone takes the time with register your name and makes fun of you, that means you’re a somebody worth making fun of! Congrats! If that happened to me, I’d be quite flattered.

  14. Alex says:

    This cannot be a trademark issue IF Shel Israel did not registered a trademark for his name (which most likely he didn’t considering he didn’t even register his own name). Furthermore, how could anyone register a trademark for “Alex” or “John”. What about us, people? Wouldn’t we be able to name our kids Alex or John? I do believe for name there is a special regime when registering trademarks.

  15. Gregg Gordon says:

    Sounds like a great idea… but what if you share a name with a famous poster artist who sells his wares online?

    Oh well…..

  16. First rule of starting a brand is to own the rights, it was the first thing I did even though while starting up its painful sometimes to dish the cash for all the different domains. Well worth it after seeing this event. The blogger is seriously lucky this other blogger did not do a courage puppet type deal and totally rip him from end to end. Lesson learned and life goes on. Now everyone can protect themself and have the wisdom of the experience for free.

  17. Well, I bought my own domain name, but I’m not sure how much this helps. If someone decided they wanted to go after me for whatever reason, they could buy davidnordmark.net, davidnordmarksucks.com, etc. It’s just not possible to buy all the different variations. Plus, if someone does go after you like this, why not look at it from a positive perspective? Potentially, this will create some controversy and buzz, and this will drive traffic to your site.

    Just my two bits,

    – Dave

  18. Dr. Teeth says:

    I know how important it is to have your own domain, its like your identity online!

  19. Azrael says:

    This is the same reason why I got mine! 💡

  20. Rob says:

    I got mine too. Thats really sad how someone would do something like that though. Thats horrible. Hope this never happens to anyone or myself. I’m just glad that I was able to get mine.

  21. Caleb says:

    This is how I ended up with MarketSecrets.biz about a year ago because the ‘.com’ extension was already taken by none other than John Reese.

    No problem though because I registered the ‘.net’ and ‘.us’ as well plus I recently saw the original ‘.com’ up for bids 😈

  22. Mike Huang says:

    This post should be sent to Entrecard lol. Entrecard is bringing out thousands of bloggers that own blogspot or any other free domains. Not to mention they don’t provide any sort of content, but rank high on Entrecard. They may never get to sell a free domain for as much as a real one.

    -Mike

  23. Chetan says:

    There are many domain extensions like .net, .org, …. and others.. So its not that much possible to stay safe on the web.

  24. Terry Tay says:

    I agree with what others said above that there are so many different variations someone can use with a name that you can’t cover all your bases. If someone does take the time to make a site about you, congrats you made it to the internet big leagues.
    ~Terry

  25. No naked puppets will mock me! I just bought my name.

    1. Terry Tay says:

      Oh yeah…

      TheRealTrueStoryAboutAffiliateConfessionsLoveForSockPuppets.com is available 😆
      ~Terry

  26. If my name was available I’d grab it in one second. Note that in canada there recently a big deal about a political .ca firstlast.ca name. Basically if you can say that you are using the site as some sort of comment/review site thats an easy defence in Canada (even if your name does not match the firstlast.ca). Just don’t start firing off letters asking people to buy your domain or you’ll roast them.

  27. Robin says:

    Malcolm Glazer is the owner of Manchester United. His name dot com was bought to oppose himself. A total bad sh*t.

  28. rodel says:

    wew! … good thing ive got my own domain as my surname hihi.. and im not considering my complete name as my domain since its too long.. :).. and my complete name doesn’t ring a bell.. :mrgreen:

  29. My name is so common; there is no way I could have gotten a domain name even close to my full name.

    So I just went with something I liked. Bottom line is the content will drive the blog, not the name.

    Cheers!
    scott – manvsblog.com

  30. CrazyOval says:

    I have owned my own name as a domain for around 11 years now and had a fun page up for a while, getting emails from other people with my own name. Fun for a while. Maybe one day another blog site, but not for now 😉 at least I have protected myself 😀

  31. Bookmaker says:

    Unlikely to happen by my real name is the same as a famous person and thus the domain name is taken so that’s a load off my mind :mrgreen:

    http://bookierant.com

  32. Fitness Site says:

    yes, for branding, your own domain is important.
    Though for some it’s a costly option but long term resutls are great. 🙂

  33. Miker W. says:

    Interesting advice. I think this mainly applies if you are famous or if your name is fairly rare. If your name is common, I don’t think you really have to worry about it too much. If you are even the slightest bit famous though, you really should probably buy ‘yourname’.com.

  34. Robert says:

    Good point. I’ve been thinking about doing this, and I’m going to have to. Protecting yourself and your reputation is priceless.

  35. Domains are so cheap these days.
    It’s pretty unbelievable that some people are “saving” $10 on such an essential investment.

  36. nipoole says:

    You could argue on the basis of having the name registered in bad faith, but that could mean more trouble than it’s worth. John probably could have pursued the owners of JohnCow.com, but he made a much better choice in just embracing the concept and taking the joke.

  37. Nathan Hill says:

    Yeh i definately wouldn’t some one making fun off me on a site with my name lol. Probably better register it quick!

  38. Robinoz says:

    Only get your own name as a domain name if you work in your name like porn star, Sylvia Saint. She could have http://www.sylvia-saint.ws or some other suffix.

    If you are trying to sell something eg, web names, get a site name that is a keyword of your business like this: http://www.web-names.ws

    Choose your domain name carefully, it could make the difference between earning a heap of money and not.

    Regards

    Robinoz
    http://www.employment-one.com/blog

  39. Wade says:

    I really dislike seeing blogger and other free sites. Not only are you on small web space and bandwidth, but your control is limited. Not only do you have whatever.blogger.com in your URL, but it just looks unprofessional. My web hosting is $5 a month. Anyone wanting to make money online should be able to afford 5 bucks a month. You pay for internet don’t you? So you aren’t completely broke or you wouldn’t have luxuries.

  40. Robinoz says:

    Not all blogs are on free servers. My “All About Jobs” blog for example is on my site at http://www.employment-one.com/blog which is on a server in Perth, Western Australia.

    I pay for it because it’s a serious business for me. However, many people run blogs for fun and personal reasons and they like the free sites.

    An excellent deal at GDI provides not only a domain name and hosting, but a real business opportunity as well for only $10 per month. (See http://www.web-names.ws)

    There’s plenty of options and that’s what makes the Internet interesting. Nobody has only one option, yours or anybody else’s.

  41. I wonder how many people check domain name availability when selecting their kids names.

    John, did you check if SallyChow.com was available before picking that as her name? 😀

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