Think Before the At-Sign

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, June 21, 2007 at 06:47 AM with 6 comments

So you picked the perfect domain name for yourself or your business and you’re ready to apply it to your new Web site. That’s it, right? Wrong. People often don’t think about email addresses for their business or themselves ahead of time, and a little forethought will help in managing your business and the image it presents.

First of all, if you have a domain name, use it for your email – don’t use an address of your Internet provider. By doing so you have the right side of the at-sign in place, but what about the left-side, the email name? First recall that there is a difference between an email mailbox and an alias, and think about which is which after you come up with the names.

There are two types of email names – people and roles, and in this post I will talk about people. You will want a naming standard for how people’s names will be structured. In thinking of how names will be used, take in mind the current size of the business, anticipated size about a year from now, multiple people with the same name and how formal you want to be.

If it’s just you and you want to be personal, then using just first name is fine. So if your name is Mike, then using “mike” as the email address is fine. But what if you have another Mike? And what if their last name starts with the same few letters or even is the same? You may want to opt for something like “mikem” or “mikelastname” or “mike.q.lastname.” As for formality, this will drive whether you want to use “Mike” or “Michael” or just a first name and initial or a first and last name. Some people may want their choice on this – for example, I am “Mike” not “Michael” as the latter name is used only when someone is yelling at me!

Note that in the email names I have used a period – it or an underscore are the only punctuation you can use in an email name.

Next I will talk about what to keep in mind regarding roles, and how they can be used in conjunction with or in place of people’s names.

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How Much Is Your Blog Worth?

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, June 16, 2007 at 03:56 PM with 3 comments

image of the worth of The Hot IronAfter being declared a low-rank nerd, I was suspect to trying any other Web site “calculators” that make generalizations on a subset of data. After re-reading that opening sentence, my apologies to political pollsters.

Domain name guru Frank Schilling wrote on this calculator of the worth of your blog which is based on Technorati data. Only this week I created a Technorati account, to right away find I had an authority of 15 without even trying. So I gave it a try, and I found The Hot Iron is worth $8,468.10. For a blog that I started in January of this year and with rough calculations of the amount of time I spent on writing just over 100 posts, I’d say that is not a bad return.

Not that I am actively selling my blog. And just like those real estate reality shows there could be more to do to simply pump up the value of my blog. However my commitment is to my community – now and in the future.

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Own the Domain Name for Your Name

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 06:08 AM with 7 comments

John Hancock's signatureDo you own the domain name for your name? For example, I own mikemaddaloni.com and own a few names with just my last name, Maddaloni, as the dot-com name is owned by someone else.

Owning the domain name may seem vain, but it is an important component of your personal brand. What you say – personal brand? Yes, just as a company brands itself and its products and services, individuals should do the same. If you think about it, if you are a jobseeker or have your own business, you are doing this to a certain extent. By developing a personal brand you are making a constant and consistent effort to market and promote yourself.

Recently I have seen several references to personal branding, including this article on a brand trainer in Forbes as well as Chicago networking guru Jason Jacobsohn who has been writing and speaking about it. A service from a Chicago company called Naymz allows you to develop an online profile and a link to it will appear as a Google text ad – try Googling me and you will see it.

So what do you with your personal domain name? You can create a personal Web site and use it for your email. If you are not ready for a Web site yet, you could forward Web traffic to another Web page, such as your blog or LinkedIn profile.

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Beware Unsolicited Invoices for Your Domain Name

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, April 05, 2007 at 01:15 PM with 2 comments

Earlier I had posted about knowing who manages your domain names. I would like to build on this by adding being aware of solicitations that appear to be invoices for domain name renewals or services.

Recently the mail has increased with what appears to be an invoice for the renewal of a domain name or for Web site services such as search engine submissions. These usually come by US Mail, but are now starting to come by email. Where they look like an invoice, they are in actuality a solicitation, and further inspection will show small print to that effect. The hopes of these scam artists is to trick you into moving your domain name to them or to pay for services you may not want.

In that original post I said there is a big business around domain names. You can register domain names with any number of sources. My business Dunkirk Systems is a reseller of domain names, and all domain names are registered through ICANN-accredited domain name registrars. Asking a person or entity for their business is not deceptive or unethical itself, but it can be in the way it is executed.

If you receive such an invoice letter or email, verify who it is from. Contact whomever you have your domain names registered through to verify if the invoice is legitimate or not. If you do get a letter or have any questions, please post a comment here – I am more than willing to help!

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Protecting the Brand with Domain Names

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, March 16, 2007 at 07:05 AM with 3 comments

Years ago when I was working at a dot-com, I got together with our Marketing and Operations heads to determine what domain names we should be registering to protect the brand of our company. In our meeting we came up with just about every derogatory word to describe our company’s name and product, including words to prefix and suffix them. It was as much fun as it was serious. Unfortunately, by the time we went to register the names, the company folded.

Johnson and Johnson, the global giant that makes everything from Band-Aids to pharmaceuticals, went through this process for their alternative sweetener, Splenda. DomainTools.com reported on the list of Splenda domain names. What is interesting about the list is that it goes well beyond adding “sucks” to the end of the product name and hints at some of the product's dangers, including diabetes.

J&J is smart to do this. It is common practice to register such names in the branding process. The cost of a domain name is small as compared to the damage to a new brand when someone registers a domain name that is against it. Some of these names may be disturbing to the common consumer, including myself. If they wanted these domain names, maybe they should have registered them in the name of an individual who worked for the company, and not in the J&J name, so not to draw such attention.

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GMail Going the Way of MediaOne.net?

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 10:31 AM with 7 comments

Recently I wrote about the canceling of the use of domain names by Internet providers, sending their users into a tailspin to change their email address and notify all of their contacts of the change. Now it seems like Google may be the next to do so.

The search giant lost the trademark rights to the GMail name in the UK, and the company that won the case is now taking the case to the US. This article on the GMail trademark case outlines much of the detail that led to Google losing the case.

Yet another reason to own your own domain name!

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Know Who Manages Your Domain Name

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, February 23, 2007 at 12:44 PM with 0 comments

If you own a domain name, you should know who manages it. This includes who you should be paying when it is time to renew it. Where some may think this is obvious, there are businesses out there who want you to be confused and they will use various online and offline tactics to do so.

If you register a domain name with company X, you can continue to renew your domain name through company X or transfer it to any other company. In some cases, you may have your domain name registered through a reseller, who then has it registered with an accredited domain name company. Dunkirk Systems is a reseller of domain names, and works with accredited domain name companies to handle hundreds of domain names for its clients, but I digress.

As domain name registration is a business, and there is money in registrations, companies will tempt you to transfer your domain name to them, and they will offer add-on services or low pricing to do so. That is called legitimate business. You may have received spam emails from "companies" who want to manage your domain name that you have never heard of, and probably have typos in the emails. That is not legitimate business.

However spam is not the only way companies may try to get your domain name business. One such company is called Domain Registry of America, and they use both the emails and letters that look like bills to try to get you to pay them – usually higher fees than you are paying now – to get you to transfer your domain name. Yes, it looks like a bill, and if you look at the small print, it says that you are transferring your domain name to them. The large print, however, does not say this. I get these letters every so often, and they go right in the shredder.

Once again, consumer beware! Know and trust who you are working with, and you will be fine.

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Mailboxes vs. Aliases

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 07:57 PM with 0 comments

(this is another post in the Domain Names category, where I am collecting thoughts for a larger body of work, one piece at a time. Please check out the entire category and your comments are always welcome!)

Many people complain about how many email addresses they or their friends have, and the difficulty with managing them. If you own your own domain name, you can have all the email addresses you want and only check mail in one place. By adding aliases to a mailbox, this can be easily achieved.

Allow me to make a few definitions. An email mailbox is an email address you configure in an email client program (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird) to send and receive email. Think of a mailbox in the real world. This is sometimes referred to as your account or address, but for the sake of this discussion I will use mailbox (which is also my personal preference). An alias is a valid email address that simply redirects email to a mailbox – with the same domain name or to another domain (e.g. Gmail or Yahoo!). An email administrator can create either mailboxes or aliases for your domain.

There are many reasons for having aliases to forward email to a mailbox. I consider the main reason is organization, where you can create specialized email addresses for different purposes. For purchases online you could have "shop@" or "ebay@" and for your eCommerce store on your Web site you could have "orders@" or "shipping@." Aliases also help you prepare for growth. An alias can also send mail to more than one mailbox, so "us@" can forward to "craig@" and "lana@." Aliases can be reassigned to other mailboxes, allowing for growth in your organization when mail to "inquiries@" should go to the new customer experience manager.

Aliases allow you to create "throwaway" email addresses. If someone or something asks for your email address, and you are leery in giving it, you can give an alias, and if you start receiving spam, you can delete the alias. I used to have aliases such as "june06@" and "jan07@" which by their names would indicate where and when the source of the spam came from.

But with every good there sometimes comes a bad. Some hosting companies do not allow aliases to forward to certain domain names. I have also experienced a large Internet provider blocking email to their domain from a client’s personal domain name as they considered all of their mail spam. Where that came from I don't know, but one thing we did not get was a notice of the blocking. As we had the aliases in place, once we found the problem we were able to route emails to another mailbox.

Aliases are a useful tool for managing email. Use them as needed, document that you have them, and monitor their effectiveness.

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Theirs is not Your Domain Name

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, February 17, 2007 at 03:21 PM with 4 comments

It may be your email address and your identity, but if you have your email through a third-party service, using their domain name, you don’t have complete control of it. These examples have caused grief for thousands, and hopefully it drove some of them to their own domain name.

Many people have their email addresses through their Internet provider. This is a very common practice, and all tends to work well with sending and receiving email. But what happens when you decide to change Internet providers, or you move and have to choose a new provider? Or if you change from dial-up to broadband and go with a new provider. In all cases your old email account will cease to exist when you stop paying for it. Some providers may offer limited forwarding, but that will soon end.

The extreme case of this was when AT&T (note the capital letters) bought cable and broadband provider MediaOne. They decided to terminate the use of the email domain name, mediaone.net, in favor of their own, attbi.com. Individuals and businesses were then forced to change their email address, and in some cases business cards and letterhead. And to add insult to injury, when Comcast bought AT&T Broadband and they eliminated attbi.com for comcast.net, more changes ensued.

Up until recently, individuals and businesses were paying AOL monthly fees just to keep their AOL email address, even when they have moved on to broadband. AOL’s announcement of offering their email services for free changed this; you must contact them to make this change.

If you own your own domain name, your email address would not have changed in any of these cases, and saved you printing costs and time wasted telling everyone of your new email address.

Domain Names • (4) CommentsPermalink

Be the master of your own domain (name)

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, February 16, 2007 at 09:26 PM with 2 comments

I believe everyone should own a domain name, and use it - at a minimum - for their personal email. This way you have control of your email address, and don't have to solely rely on – or be hostage to – an ISP or service.

Over the next several posts, I will be writing about domain names and email addresses. My hope is to present my thoughts, hear what my small but mighty readership has to say, and will shape them into larger publications of some form or another.

As I believe strongly in controlling your own Internet presence, I hope this forum can serve as a springboard to sharing this information to an even larger audience.

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