A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#Sponsors#web ReadWrite Sponsors Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Editor’s note: we offer our long-term sponsors the opportunity to write ‘Sponsor Posts’ and tell their story. These posts are clearly marked as written by sponsors, but we also want them to be useful and interesting to our readers. We hope you like the posts and we encourage you to support our sponsors by trying out their products.The concept of personal branding online has become a part of many conversations about social media and social networking recently. The popularity of social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and various smaller niche sites has continued to skyrocket, offering individuals a chance to create a more robust online presence. The age of anonymity online has all but ended, and individuals should seek to gain further control of their online identities.A great deal has been written about how to engage in social media to establish a name for yourself online, but a commonly overlooked piece of the puzzle is also one of the simplest: owning your own domain name. A domain name complements the rest of your online presence through branding, using yourname.com or a similar variation.Some Personal Branding BackgroundPersonal branding is inherently somewhat egotistical, but not necessarily more so than networking at a conference or sharing business cards. The influence that personal branding online can have has continued to grow as people change the way they seek and consume information. Just over a decade ago, social circles were limited to face-to-face interactions and numbers in a phone book. Now, you can have a much larger reach and audience online. Think of personal branding simply as conducting some marketing as the president of Brand You.The key to successfully branding yourself online is sharing. This could include contributing valuable information to an online conversation, creating original content, passing along great content from others or sharing knowledge from your experiences. Whatever your interests, social networking provides the opportunity to connect with others who share those same interests and want to hear what you have to say. The tools you can use are nearly infinite, but some of the larger social sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are great places to start if you’re not already there.Where a Domain Fits With Personal Branding Whether you’re just starting out online or you’re a social media power user who has more social profiles than you can keep track of, a domain is an essential part of owning your brand online. Domains were around long before social networking sites, but many people have never owned one, and they’re more relevant now than ever. Owning a domain is very affordable, at under $10 per year, and well worth the cost as long as you put it to use. If you don’t already own yourname.com, do a domain search to see if it’s available. If yourname.com is already taken, the .net or .me extensions are also great options for a personal site. If all else fails, you can use a middle initial, nickname or other variation. Once you’ve found the perfect domain, consider registering other extensions (.net, .org, .tel, etc.) as well and redirect them to your primary domain.Once you own your domain, you might wonder how best to use it. The option that comes to mind for many people is to build a website. If you have some knowledge of HTML or a website-building program, then creating a basic website is relatively simple. Content management systems like WordPress and Joomla are increasingly popular among people who want to build personal websites or blogs without learning HTML or Web coding. Here are just a few ideas of what you can do with a personal website:Showcase your work in an online personal portfolio.Build an online resume that highlights your strengths and creativity.Make a website that features your hobbies and interests.Create a hub that links to all of your social networking profiles.Start a blog about a professional field or subject that you have expertise in.If you don’t want to create a website or blog with your own domain, there are still many other uses for it:Brand yourself with custom email ([email protected]). You can even hook up services like Gmail to your domain using MX records, if you don’t want to use separate email hosting.If you already have a blog set up with a service like Blogger, Posterous or WordPress.com, use URL forwarding to direct visitors to that blog when they type in your domain.Forward your domain to your Facebook, Twitter or other primary social networking profile.Regardless of what you use the domain for, connecting your name to your online presence is important. When you connect with someone in your everyday life, you can share your domain name rather than having them search for you on Facebook. Use your domain on business cards, resume and other professional materials. Whatever the purpose, your domain can be an essential part of your online identity, without you having to rely on numerous online profiles. As Marshall Kirkpatrick puts it, “I’m in charge here at Marshallk.com and that’s the way I like it.”Why Create a Personal Brand Online?Personal branding has a great number of applications, particularly in the professional world. If you’re searching for a job, having a well-rounded online presence is an increasingly important factor that many companies consider. Businesses often take more than a peek at what comes up in Google search results for candidates, whether you think they should or not, so use your domain name to rank well in Google to put the content that you want potential employers to see front and center.Similarly, use your domain and social media profiles to network on a professional or personal level with others who share the same interests and goals. If you have consistently useful knowledge and content to contribute online, you can come to be known as an influencer and thought leader in your field. If you aim to start your own business or new project, having an established presence and network of online connections that trusts you can make a huge difference in your ability to succeed. Regardless of the direction you take with personal branding, a domain name is a great place to start and can serve as the backbone of your online presence.Have another innovative use for your domain? Please share it in the comments.