By now, you know what the internet is. You know how to Google, and you have a profile on one or more social networks. Think you’re done? Not even close. If you don’t own your own name as a domain name, you are making a big mistake that could bite you big in the near or distant future.

1. Keep Control of Your Brand

Who you are online is a big deal. Let’s face it, people Google you. Be honest- you probably Google yourself, don’t you?

Think about this: if you Google yourself to see what’s out there, who else is doing it? Even more interesting is what they will think of what they find. If you don’t own your own domain name, you don’t have complete control over what they see.

Something like 90% of all people won’t make it past the first page of a search engine’s results. While this is a sad statistic, think about what happens if people see something unfortunate before you have a chance to get a word in.

Controlling your own domain name gives you the control over what should be the first entry when someone searches your name. On this page you can list all of your amazing accolades, and control their first impression of you.

2. Don’t Limit Your Future Options

If you’re like a number of students I went to school with, and a small number of adults I currently know, you don’t really know what you’ll be doing 5 years from now. Maybe you’ll get into politics, or become an award winning journalist, or even an amazing consultant.

Regardless, it’ll be in your best interest to own your own domain name. Imagine that you waited and finally got around to trying to register your domain name and it was taken. Looking up the site, you find that someone has registered your name and created a site that directly contradicts what you want your personal brand to be.

I actually threaten my interns with this. I require that they buy their own domain names or else I’ll put up a website devoted to pinky toes under their name online.

Since digital data never really leaves, you’ll have to factor this contradictory branding into every online decision you make, and also may have to explain countless times why this message shows up associated with your name.

It’s not worth the headache, and I’m sure you’d rather be giving amazing value to your customers, right?

3. Instant Credibility

In the past few months, an explosion has occurred in the number of people who carry a certain job title – Social Media Expert.

If you asked me what a social media expert was 2 years ago I would have had no clue what to tell you. Today, anyone with a Twitter account and some gumption can profess that they are a social media expert.

While many others have devised in-depth ways to prove they are truly what they say they are, the first thing I always do is type their name in a search engine.

In fact, when anyone makes any type of claim of expertise, Google, Bing, or any other search engine you choose should be the first place you look for proof. Not owning your domain name insinuates a few things in relation to credibility.

First, it might say that you are a Johnny-come-lately to the game and may have missed the opportunity to buy your own name. This lack of longevity may damage your credibility a bit. Secondly, and most importantly for me, you are failing to control the message about yourself.

You have a prime opportunity to decide what the vast number of people will think about you, and if you fail to do that, it may bring in to question how much effort, or how dedicated you are to building your brand as advertised.

Owning your own domain name may be the best low-cost investment you can make in yourself. Even if you never place a site on it, you can still make sure that your name is never associated with something that can directly contradict the message you want to send about yourself.

Do you have more reasons to control your domain name? Have some personal branding advice? Send us a message or leave a comment to we can hear your story!

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