Should I Own My Name's Domain and/or Have a Personal Website?

Technology, Internet, Website


There is absolutely no doubt about it: we live in an "information age" where virtually any knowledge or information can be made available to anyone in an instant. Everything from cat photos, blog articles, research papers, assignments, and almost everything in between can be made available by anyone, for anything, to anyone.

This information also includes information on you.

Try typing your first and last name into Google. What results do you see? You may end up finding links to your social media accounts, different sites you have accounts on, various projects, as well as pages/posts you can't directly control that mention you, news articles, photos, and much more. Wouldn't you want to own your search results?

Should you create a personal website, or at least buy your fullname.com domain? Domain names aren't expensive; it could be a good buy long-term.

Your Name is Your Brand

Your name is a big part of who you are, so you really should consider owning your name before someone else buys it. A fullname.com domain can, and will, make up a big part of your online presence, even if you don't own it.

Even if you don't plan on running a website on the domain, your fullname.com domain is, in fact, a valuable asset. All it can take is one, absolutely one, unsavory individual, an angry or jealous ex, a former friend or co-worker, or anyone simply wishing harm to swipe up your name's .com domain and use it for libel or slander. The person that bought your fullname.com domain may also set up the domain as a redirect to content you may not like or endorse or to try and sell the domain to you later for an inflated price with some possible threats of what they will do to the domain if you don't buy it from them.

The Internet and the .com top-level domain have been around long enough that many firstnamelastname.com domains got bought already. However, if you have an "uncommon" first or last name, or your first and last name combination isn't common, your fullname.com domain may still be available!

Many people use their fullname.com domains for various reasons. My domain, antonmcclure.com, is used for personal emails and a website that has a blog and other content I've written.

Some people use theirs as a portfolio of their works, as seen by Ben Harris's website on https://benharris.com:

The home page of Ben Harris's site

Other sites exist for personal blogs, as seen by Drew DeVault's website on https://drewdevault.com:

The home page of Drew DeVault's site

Other sites used to be personal web sites but now exist as a memorial since the person passed away, as seen with the late Mark Hurd's website, https://markhurd.com:

The home page of the late Mark Hurd's site

The above examples are not the only uses for a personal domain. You can also buy the domain name and never use it, just as a way to keep others from misusing something with your name directly attached to it.

If you want to run a site on it, that's also a great decision. The possibilities for what can go on your site are endless. If you don't want a site, you can still use it for things like a personalized email address or to protect your name.

You may want to consider having a personal website, though, for the following reasons.

People Go By Online Information

For an ever-growing portion of the world's population, Internet access has gotten a lot easier with the availability of 4G, 5G, and some older network types. Phones have brought many people to the Internet for the first time, highlighting the importance of designing content to look great for them, along with your traditional desktop/laptop users, a task you can easily accomplish with responsive web design.

As Internet use worldwide grows, more people are turning to the Internet to research things and people.

When applying for a job, the hiring manager will most likely do a web search on you. Even just a simple website can go a long way in the sea of applicants that may also want the same job as you. Since the Internet has been around for a while now, other applicants may already have better-established web presences. You will want to make sure your site ranks well for SEO and ensure that it gives you a competitive edge over other applicants.

This site may also be what gives people their first impression of you. Because of this, you want your first impression, a.k.a. your website, to be good, giving people the best possible impression of you, who you are, what you do, and so on.

Control Your Presence

What happens when you don't own your fullname.com domain? Someone else might buy it. What happens now? Just ask Ted Cruz. He didn't buy the .com for his name, tedcruz.com, and in 2016 it got used for this:

The home page of a fake Ted Cruz site from web.archive.org

Hopefully, you haven't made as many questionable decisions as Cruz, though, and won't have to worry about people buying your domain, but it just comes to show what happens when you don't own your brand.

I've used my name as a musical artist name since February 2018 instead of fictitious artist names, but I didn't get AntonMcClure.com until December 2019. For 22 months, the name was sitting there unowned. If your name is available, anyone may try to mislead people with it. For example, someone could have bought my name for a potential fraud domain to trick people.

A Personal Website Lets You Show Off Your Works

Lillian Winter's website, https://neko.vg, has an example of this very thing, as seen below:

The projects section on Lily Winter's site

Anyone can have a section like the above image on their websites. Just make sure you have projects that you made and work on, and not just Lily's.

Quite like the rest of your potential websites, you do not even need to include projects if you don't want to. Remember: it's both your site and your choice for what content you want on it.

Do You Want a Blog?

Around the early 2010s, I became inspired to start a blog after reading blogs with authors ranging from moms and hobbyists to professional authors, people with technical writeups, and pretty much anything in between.

It's easy to get started writing a blog. Figure out what software you want to use for it, design pages in any way (or use existing themes/templates), and start writing meaningful content.

My blog uses a custom backend called Luna. The platform allows for customization, personalization, multiple sites, and so on. You could write a backend of your own, or if you don't want to maintain software as I have to, you can use an already existing program. Many free options for cloud-based and self-hosted content management systems and static site generators already exist. The problem may be finding the one that works best for you.

Name Type Description Price 1
Wix Cloud The platform that lets you make your web presence the way you want. Free2
Weebly Cloud Creates a website that grows with your business. Free2
Squarespace Cloud Build a website and turn your ideas into reality. Starting at $12/month3
Wordpress.com Cloud A hosted version of Wordpress Starting at $4/month
Wordpress.org Self-hosted Open-source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app. Free4
Jekyll Self-hosted A simple blog-aware static site generator. Free4
Hugo Self-hosted A fast blog-aware static site generator. Free4

No matter what option you decide to go with, it shouldn't be too hard to make the most of the platform.

Keep in mind: if you plan on going with a self-hosted option, you will need to pay for a server.

What Will You Make of Your Domain Name or Website?

What do you want to do with it? Do you want a blog? A portfolio? A bunch of random non-HTML files all thrown into a directory tree? The possibilities are virtually endless, but it may be hard to switch between setups once people start linking to your content and your site makes its way onto search engines and social media posts.

Just make the kind of site you want in a way you think represents you the best, and have fun doing so.

Feel free to leave a comment on why you either do or don't run a personal website or own your name as a domain with any TLD. Best of luck on your website if you decide to make one!

  1. Table — Prices may have changed since this article was written/published. 

  2. Table — Free with paid options. 

  3. Table — If billed annually. 

  4. Table — Free and open-source. 

Copyright © 2021, Anton McClure. All Rights Reserved.

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