With the arrival of the digital age, it’s become pretty clear that our online identity, and what others think of it, is open to scrutiny, manipulation and the whims of corporations including (but not limited to) facebook, Google+, twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Be that as it may, the fact remains that it’s also increasingly necessary to have an online presence – for a number of reasons. Your CV lives online these days, we conduct our social lives and work online, and online transactions have become a convenient and efficient consumer device – where you don’t even have to log out of your social networks a lot of the time. It hardly even matters anymore whether you’re 16 or 65; the first place anyone will go to find out about you is online. If you needed convincing about whether this is a serious trend, Guardian columnist and Director of the Knight Centre for Digital Media, Dan Gillmor, has stated that future students of his will be required to establish their own domain name as part of his course, for example.
The control you have over what is put up that mentions you, or shows who you are, is extremely limited – as anyone subject to a revenge porn experience, or social media bullying, will know. Ask an expert in the field how difficult it can be to have images taken down, corrections printed and posts erased if you don’t believe the hype (sometimes it can prove impossible). Not only that, but plenty of people who have built a name for themselves don’t want to be undermined by a corporation that is out to sell advertising and turn a profit – as facebook and now twitter even are. As a holder of a social media account you supply content that is used and owned by others.
Your own registered domain gives you control
When you have your own domain name, you will have a space controlled by you and free from bias, manipulation and bureaucracy. While you may choose to keep any or all of your social media identities alive, you can run your own blog and have it pointing towards your domain name and be much more selective about what information you make public and expose to marketing efforts and invasions of privacy that you can’t do anything about.
Registering your domain name is cheap and easy
Unless your name happens to be John Smith or something equally common, registering your domain should be cheap and easy. A lot will be available for less than $30 per year, and you can sign up, conduct searches and register your domain name quickly and easily using a service such as GoDaddy. dtrade can also give you quick guidance as part of the consultation process.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning on building your own brand around your name, the online world means everybody already has one; it’s just about how well you look after it. If you are curious about what your domain name could potentially be worth, Lifehacker’s Harry Guinness has written some excellent advice on that in his post about registering your own domain name. Here he sums up the reasons for buying your domain name in three simple headings:
- You gain control over what people see when they search for you
- It’s harder for people to find those photos of you passed out in a gutter
- You prevent it being used against you