What's in a Domain Name?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Years (and years) ago, I had a feature on my blog called “What NOT To Do.” The concept referred to my early days as a writer, when I had a lot to learn. Sometimes, I did something I shouldn’t have and other times, I didn’t do something which I should have. 

And even after making a ton of mistakes, I am still learning lessons the hard way. Recently, I tackled domain names. 


So a little backstory, friends. A dozen or so years ago (Eek!), I decided to create a website for my freelancing business and I’d need a domain. A quick search brought up about 2 gazillion Cathy Halls and so I opted for Cathy C. Hall, using my middle initial to differentiate myself from the pack. Luckily, no one had my name and so cathy-c-hall.com was my first domain (and website). But after a few years, I decided to combine my freelancing and children’s writing; I was not so sure how I’d do that. I canceled my website and allowed my domain to lapse whilst I gave some thought to my writing future.

You know what happened, right? When I went to get my domain name again, it had been bought up, along with a LOT of iterations. See, I SHOULD HAVE renewed my domain name. Which is why I now have c-c-hall.com. 

I learned then what NOT to do: if you have a domain name that’s unique to you and/or your business, keep renewing it, even if you’re uncertain about your future plans. It’s a relatively inexpensive price to pay for continuity. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Before I could go any further in my book cover design search, I needed to decide on the name I’d use in the adult fiction market. You’d think Cathy C. Hall but I wanted a name and a domain that would match. But I also wanted to take advantage of any name recognition I’d built. Easy, right? Not so much. 

First, just for a lark, I checked Cathy C. Hall again. Still not available. A foreign company apparently has an auto renewal on my name for infinity. (GRRR!) So I figured maybe I’d go with C. C. Hall (since that’s my current domain and website). But a quick search of C. C. Hall goes to a whole page of CC Hall and the Italian American community’s hall or a restaurant or whatever. 

 As lovely as I’m sure the whole CC Hall is, it’s not helping me if someone just types in my author name as C. C. Hall. And besides, I didn’t think I could suddenly start referring to myself as C.C. So then I thought I’d go retro and check the availability of CathyHall.com. It was available! It was a Friday night and I decided to mull it over till Monday. 

You can guess what happened on Monday, right? What I SHOULD HAVE done but DIDN’T do was buy the domain name for ten bucks the minute I saw that it was available because, of course, some bot had bought it up. Seriously?? 

So what NOT to do if you’re checking domain names and there’s any chance you might want to use a name? BUY IT WHEN CHECKING. You can always toss the name (s) later and keep the one you like.

After a bit of fussing (using some rather unladylike words that made Libs the dog blush), I continued searching. I now have a domain name that will match my author name and I hope draws on my present name recognition. I should have a contest…like “Guess My Author Name and Win!” 

Ooooh, I’ll think about that this Friday night. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping my current website for a (long) while, just to avoid another domain name What NOT To Do. (Ugh.)


Angela Mackintosh said...

A few days ago The Muffin had a some old posts flagged by Blogger and reverted to draft mode because supposedly we had a link that sent viewers to a malware/virus site. The posts were old blog tour launches where we link to a bunch of blogs and author websites. After investigating these posts, it appears the authors let their domain names lapse, and then someone snatched them up and put up a malware site! It's so common. And here's something I heard from a person who works for a domain name company: they look at search queries and will buy a domain name if it's been searched for. So when you're checking on the name, it's possible someone from a domain name company will snatch it up, like what happened to you. And it's not illegal! So yes, if you're searching for it and it's available, definitely jump on it. Thanks for sharing that super important tip, Cathy!

I remember after Margo Dill's website lapsed and someone bought it, I searched for AngelaMackintosh.com and immediately bought it. I haven't done anything with it but continue to renew it each year until I do. So, what's your author name?? Cath Hall? Libby Hall? <- I like the sound of that as an author name. Lol! Cathy C.? Cathy H.? C. Hall? I hope I win something. Lol!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yep, it's just a shame I always have to get those tips at my own expense, Ang! :-)

(And good guesses on the name, but no, you haven't won anything. All shall be revealed soon!)

Renee Roberson said...

Domain name squatting is real and it can get crazy! There's a southern female pastor named Renee Roberson that often pops up when I google myself, but I don't believe she owns the domain with my name. It has been unavailable for years! Luckily I managed to get the domain name for my podcast but I'm still not sure what I'm going to use for my "author" website when I officially put that together. And hearing your story, Cathy, I'm not even going to speculate on what I'd use in this post (Someone's ALWAYS watching . . .) Can't wait to hear what you finally landed on!

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