Have you ever Googled yourself? If you haven’t, log out of Google, give it a try, and see what comes up. Hopefully, if you come up at all, the results are somewhat favorable: your Facebook profile, your Google+ profile, your company website where you’re listed on the Our Team page. See anything unfavorable? Maybe you’re wishing you could better control what comes up (unless you’re in the EU, in which case, you can now demand Google delete your personal data).

Maybe you change jobs every few years – or start new companies often – and you’ve found yourself with a multitude of email addresses that you’re having a hard time getting under control. Distributed content about yourself makes it harder for potential employers, recruiters, and investors to find information about you too.

There are a number of good reasons to create and set up your own personal domain, and the above are just a few. But gone are the days where most people can just grab LastName.com, so if you are one of those folks, I want to cover some other domain name ideas so that you can still take control of your web presence.

First, check for the obvious

Check a domain registrar (I like Namecheap) for LastName.com and FirstNameLastName.com. If the .coms are taken, try .me, .info, and .co. Try a hyphen between your first and last names as well (my personal domain is kelly-carter.com, for example). Try LastNameFamily.com or including your middle initial too.

Try a country-specific TLD

Consider the last two or three letters of your last name. If they’re a country code, you might be able to split apart your last name to increase your chances at an available, high-quality domain. For example, .er is in fact a valid TLD, but unfortunately for me, Eritrea’s registrar is not currently allowing new domain name registrations. Otherwise, I’d try to grab cart.er or kellycart.er. You can find a list of ccTLDs on Wikipedia.

Try some new TLDs

If you’re not having any luck, explore some of the new top-level domains (TLDs) that are being released. Namecheap has a searchable directory of new TLDs to look through. Here are some highlights:

  • .expert (available)
  • .guru (available)
  • .ninja (available)
  • .bio (available Aug. 21, 2014)
  • .rocks (available Aug. 2014)
  • .phd (TBA)
  • .family (TBA)
  • .online (TBA)
  • .mom or .dad (TBA)
  • .work (TBA)

I recommend avoiding TLDs that are professions (i.e. .florist, .actor, .dentist) because you may decide to pursue a new career one day, but use your best judgment.

One last idea

Here’s a fun one: if your first or last name has the letter A in it, replace it with an @ sign to get your new personal email address. Then use a subdomain to build a complete web address. For example, my email address would be kellyc@rter.com, and my complete website address would be kellyca.rter.com. Unfortunately in my case, rter.com is taken, but this increases your odds of grabbing a domain name that isn’t! Note that this method may violate one of our upcoming usability tests though…

Anticipate hassle

Found something you like? Before you buy it, let’s check to make sure it passes a few usability tests.

  1. Can you say the domain name over the phone and the person on the other end will be able to understand it? If you have a hard-to-spell last name already, will you be able to just say, “It’s my last name dot com,” and they’ll understand, or will you have to explain where the hyphens and dots are? The simpler the domain name, the easier it will be to convey verbally.
  2. Is it professional? You may want to avoid .rocks and .ninja if they don’t seem professional to you. On the other hand, if you’re in the right industry or have the right hobbies (are you in a band? Do you know how to throw a shuriken?), these may make great TLDs.
  3. If you picked one of the new TLDs, you might want to consider how “mainstream” it is in the context of your industry. If you’re in a non-tech industry, you may need to explain to that figurative person on the phone that .expert is like .com, only new and different.

Of course, your domain doesn’t have to pass all these tests, but hopefully it passes most of them.

Did you find something you like? When purchasing, try to buy as many years as you can afford upfront to save money. Next time, we’ll look at some different things you can do with your personal domain, now that you have one.

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