I am sharing a couple of questions from artists who have emailed me with concerns about domain names. This is a great opportunity to share these discussions with other artists as the importance of grabbing and owning the right domain name cannot be underestimated! I have selected two questions that I feel are of major interest to other artists.
Question One (edited):
I use my name for one of my domain names as well as the other with my first two initials and last name. The problem with the first name is that when clients do a search, it leads to an undesirable site. The other, with the initials, simply causes confusion with my clients. What would be a solution to this problem?
Yep, that happens and there are a couple of ways to address it. First of all, if you have a domain name now where everything is linked to it and yet it has the problems that we just mentioned, find another domain name that is better suited to your purposes and then forward it to your established site. That way you have simply paid for a new domain name. We like www.godaddy.com as a registrar for cost effective ease in all things pertaining to websites.
When initially shopping for a domain name, try to capture your name so that it does not lead to a negative site. And while we are on the subject, go on and collect the names of your children for safeguarding. If your name is a common name (try Brown) you may want to capture the domain name JohnDoeArtist or JohnDoeArtGallery (or reverse the words) and have it forwarded to your current site.
We have numerous domain names that all forward to the same websites. It is a well known fact among marketing experts that many people still simply type in ***.com directly into the www without going through a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. For instance on our van, we have graphics that say "OnRoadArtists.com" which goes to a page that links to our websites. What that does is make it simple for people on the road to remember our domain name while we zip down the Interstate. They would NOT remember (or even be able to spell) our names ...they just don't. To double insure, I also have OnRoadArtist.com (singular) and OffRoadArtist.com in case they get confused in a search later. All 3 domain names point to our main website. None of those names are on our business cards because these domains are designed to be easy to remember "visual" reminders at a quick glance!
I also recommend having a domain name the same as the one in which you sign your artwork. It makes finding you a simpler task later on! As we know, sometimes that is not possible. So come up with something as close to it as you can. Think carefully about what you want to convey and how to keep it simple yet effective!
Since your current name is linked to a site you cannot control, GoDaddy also has a service in which you pay GoDaddy to try and capture that name the instant it becomes available. It has worked for me and I did not have to keep trying to see if the owner had renewed it. Good luck!
Question #2 (edited)
During a search on Godaddy.com, I discovered that Artist***.com is available. I haven't thought much beyond that and my family and friends are telling me I don't even know if I have a marketable product yet, so I'm jumping the gun. Would it make sense to go ahead and claim that domain name for a start? And should I stick with a .com domain name?
There are millions of computer users who wish they had grabbed a particular domain name first, so jumping the gun? Not at all!
This is also a great example of "learn to take advice from people who are where you want to be." No offense to your family as they care about you. But in reality, they have no clue as to what you should or not do for your art career-just their opinion. So learn to trust your own instincts! :-).
You will, over the span of time of your business, invest money in many things....a domain name is less than $10.00 for a year....that's almost a combo meal at a fast food place right? So my advice is to ignore naysayers...you can still have one main website and then additional domain names you also have and like can forward searchers to your main site.
As far as a marketable product, don't let anyone discourage you! So grab whatever you feel may work, register it for a year and put it on manual renewal and then decide at the end of a year if that particular domain name was useful to you or if you want to let it go!
Most domain registrars offer you a choice or try to encourage you, along with your new domain to add .net, .me, .biz, .etc..... As in everything pertaining to marketing, some brands become generic words themselves (ie: grab some Kleenex, I need a Xerox copy, etc.) and so has the .com on the world wide web. Had the world wide web started off with a .net or a .org, then that would be the current focal point but, as it stands, the average person on a computer thinks in terms of a domain name with a .com behind it. Our recommendation is to stick with just a .com domain name. If you just HAVE to have a particular domain name and the .com version is gone, do a search before you opt for a .net or .biz.... and see where it leads because I guarantee you, when people look for you, they will head for that .com site first. See if it is worth the possible confusion.
So put your thinking cap on and look at your art business as though you were a prospect looking for YOU! What words would they use? How do they see you? Can they remember your name? Your domain names need to be simple, easy to remember and point a viewer to your site with the least possible confusion. And always try to capture your name in its various forms, preferably as a .com, and especially the name you use to sign your artwork!
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