Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
A writer I know has a distinctive author byline that incorporates her first, maiden and married name. Her books are loved by young folks, and she has a heavily-trafficked website. Unfortunately, back in the dark ages when she purchased her domain name, she missed one of the elements. Her website uses two names instead of three and the person who snatched up all three of her names doesn’t want to give it to her. Indeed, he’d be happy to sell back her own full name for a substantial sum of money–think five digits. Oh, and by the way, he’ll post anything he wants in the meantime. Including pornography.
The author’s webmaster couldn’t negotiate a reasonable price, but was able to convince the domain owner to take down the pornography.
The Walt Disney Company has battled a similar problem–though in their case it has to do with easy typos to their distinctive name and where that can take an unsuspecting child or adult. It’s an ugly world out there, and it can be expensive to try to protect your good name and your readers’ sensibilities.
So, for those who are not yet famous–and that does not mean infamous–how can you protect yourself?
By securing your domain name.
Your domain name is what people look for when they search for you on the Internet. Your website will be linked to it, and your blog may as well. It’s important to nail all the permutations of your name. For most of us, domain names can be purchased for a very reasonable price through web hosting sites. You might want to consider close misspellings of your name or of your business just to make sure.
And while you’re at it, if your site is called something other than your name, make sure it’s spelled correctly before you swipe your credit card!
But what if you’re like our author? What can you do? The Domain Sherpa has six suggestions found here: 6 Ways to Recover a Domain Infringement.
In addition to website problems, you also could run into trouble if your good name, your brand, gets hijacked. How you respond to attacks on your character via social media or even in the press can make a difference in your professional life. While some folks argue all publicity is good publicity, there’s a way to handle it that works better than others. Read about it here: 5 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Your Brand Online.
What steps have you taken to ensure your public persona is safe? Have you ever had your good name impugned? How did you deal with that? (Don’t name the offender, please!)