The short answer: Yes, you do.
Over the years, I've helped people and companies craft websites to tell the story of who they are. Whether they were launching their business or revamping it, they had one thing in common. They already owned their domain name.
Your domain name is your digital address. If you live abroad as I do, it just might be your most permanent address, too. It’s also the only online identity you can control 100%. So when I say you need a website, what I'm talking about is your domain name.
Nearly a decade ago, when I was just starting out consulting I began putting together a website. I built a beautiful website that I was proud of and was ready to publish it. And then I hit a snag. The domain I wanted—marywarner.com—was not available. Someone else owned it and they wanted to extort a handsome fee from me.
I considered my options. I could:
Buy another domain name alluding to my name like themarywarner.com;
Create a domain under my business name; or,
Just pay the guy.
In the end, I paid the guy.
Now, there are times when you should not pay the guy, like when they are cyber-squatting—but I neither had the time to come up with another perfect name other than the one given me at birth, nor the patience to check against the more than 350 million domain names registered online.
And this leads me to my point. Website domains are the new real estate. Prospecting skyrocketed with the tech boom of the Nineties, and today, there are even brokerages who handle domain name acquisitions. As more and more domains are registered on the internet, it is becoming increasingly harder to create a unique and digital home online unaffiliated with a social media company.
So why not own your name? If you use the Internet, are entrepreneurial, creative, or just like collecting things, buy your domain name. You’ll thank me when you don’t have to settle on therealYOURNAME.com.
If you happen to be born a Smith or Warner, there's a good chance your name in every iteration will be taken. As a published writer, practicing artist, and someone highly entrepreneurial, I knew I would use a name-based domain so I was willing to pay whatever the price.
If you aren't willing to pay the squatter, here are my tips for coming up with a memorable domain name:
Keep it simple.
Avoid very long website address. We chose ep-communities.com because empoweringperspectives.com was already being used, but we also thought it was too long.
Consider an action word in your domain.
A fun website domain for a writer name Sue Bee might be suebeewrites.com or beethewriter.com. You get the idea.
Use your catchphrase.
A therapist I know didn't want to use her name and instead chose the phrase "deep dive", which she uses to describe her work with clients in her domain deepdivelife.com
You really should like your domain name. I LOVE both of mine. If you can't come up with an alternative to the domain you want, consider investing in it. In the US, domain name registration for businesses can be tax-deductible. (Do check with your accountant first). And it's money well spent. I was relieved when I finally received the confirmation of my domain name. I would always be the one to control my name in the world. And so should you!