How to Choose Your Domain, Email Address, and Social Handles


Photo Credit: Bjorn Bolinder
Article Updated: August 12, 2019

Beyoncé, Madonna, and Ellen: These are all personal brands that have a singular name. In a perfect world, the idea is that you can claim your name offline and online. Here are two examples…

Your Name


I'm going to be honest with you: we live in a world of 7.8 billion people. There's more than one Mandy Moore, and there's more than one Tony Howell. I understand the pain when someone’s taken your name as a domain, email address, or social media handle!


1. Research Your Name

Before you go about reserving your website, email, and social addresses, first take a look at your name. Search with Google (alongside your unions if you’re a performing artist) to make sure that you can most easily build a brand with that name. If you have a unique name, you’ve won the lottery and should quickly reserve your domain, email address, and social handles.

If you have a more common name, you will certainly run into “real estate” challenges. The solution is to differentiate. I know you're going to have a lot of questions about this, so here’s a helpful resource for you:

Using this free tool, you can type in your name and see what's available so that you can be consistent across the board!

2. Consider Middle Name or Initial

You may want to add your middle initial (i.e. Michael C. Hall vs. Michael Hall), or you may want to add your full middle name (i.e. Neil Patrick Harris vs. Neil Harris). This is the quickest and easiest way to create some differentiation.

3. Consider Name Change

Your name is something you can change. However, changing your name is also tied to your identity: internally, externally, and legally. It’s something that I want you to really be conscious of. 

Still, many public figures change their names. You may take your married or maiden name, get rid of a given name, or create a pseudonym (such as Whoopi Goldberg for Caryn Elaine Johnson). You might even play with spelling. 

4. Get Creative at the End

If you’re fighting for your name on the internet and don’t want to add your middle name, middle initial, or alter your name, I encourage you to put the creative differentiators or identifiers at the end. For example, choosing @YourNameNYC vs. @IAmYourName or @TheYourName.

If someone starts typing in @YourName (to search for you or tag you), we can't guarantee their device, network, or browser is going to auto-fill and connect to you if you’ve started your address with other characters. By getting creative at the end, this gives enough time (milliseconds) for all the potential variables: slower devices, apps, browsers, connection speeds, etc.

It’s unlikely that your identity thief lives in the same city as you, so I always recommend using your location as a qualifier: such as @YourNameNYC. You may find it possible (and fun) to name your channels with a verb, such as @Tonygrams or @TonyTweets. 😆

Speaking of getting creative at the end, .nyc is now a domain extension, alongside .today, .fyi, .me and more. I’m open to a fun domain extension if it fits your brand.

When your name’s already registered online, it’s time to get creative! Here are some ideas and combinations to try.
— @TonyHowell

Little Action Steps

Using and, do your best to create consistency in your name (or personal ID) both online and offline.

1. Official Name

2. Website Address

3. Email Address

4. Social Addresses

Make the best choices possible today. Represent yourself as intelligently, professionally, and consistently as possible!


How have you creatively solved this problem? Comment below!

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