Conquering the Google*
I just made a momentous purchase. I bought the web domain barbaracarter.com.
Wait, I hear you say, don’t I already have my own domain? I have a website, and it shows up (right at the top, in fact) if you Google my name.
Yes, I’ve had my own website for a long time. But not quite that one. I had barbarajcarter.com. With a “J” in the middle. Because J is my middle initial. (I’m logical like that.)
I could say I chose to include my middle initial because it sets me apart from all the other Barbara Carters out there. (There are a lot of them!) But the reality is I wasn’t able to get the domain I wanted when I first started out.
It was quite a shock, frankly. I was pretty early into the “grab your domain” game when the internet was new, so I figured there wouldn’t be any problem getting my name. Yet when I went to look, I discovered that some singer had already grabbed barbaracarter.com. Drat! What to do? My artistic career seemed to be going up in smoke before my eyes. How could I become a famous and well-respected artist without my own website?
Oh sure, I could have stuck “art” to the end and used barbaracarterart.com or something. But I hated the idea. It was too obviously a second-best choice. I knew putting a hyphen in the middle (barbara-carter.com) would be a bad idea: no one would remember the stupid hyphen. So I gritted my teeth and made do with the J.
And with that, I decided to embrace the J. It would become my unique identity, my signature. I determined to use it everywhere. I included the J in this blog (barbarajcarter.wordpress.com), my Twitter account (@barbarajcarter) and Facebook (Barbara J Carter). It’s on all my business cards and postcards. I sign all my paintings with it. If I’m showing at an art festival and they give me a booth sign without the “J,” I write it in. I put it everywhere.
Not long after, the singer let her website lapse and a
squatter domain flipper snapped up barbaracarter.com. They didn’t use it for anything, they just wanted to sell it to the highest bidder. They were asking $700 for it. I just smiled. No way could I justify that kind of expense. My art business was operating on a shoestring budget in those early years. Paying that kind of money for a “nice to have” was out of the question.
So, I made do. I learned how to optimize my website for search-engine traffic looking for my name (with or without the “J”). Soon enough my site was #1 ranked for a Google search on “Barbara Carter.” I was satisfied, for the moment.
Fast-forward to 2012. My art business is doing much better now, and my budget is no longer quite so shoestring-like. I thought maybe, if I bargain them down a little, I could afford to purchase the domain. I don’t absolutely need it, I’ve lived this long without it, but it would be nice to have. It would help secure my #1 Google position. I looked, and now they wanted $1000. Greedy bastards, I snorted. But I got someone on the phone and dickered him down to a more reasonable number. Ta da! I am now the proud owner of barbaracarter.com.
And I won’t ever let it lapse.
(*Thanks to my Twitter artist friend @rejinl for the phrase “conquering the Google.”)
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