One of the first questions you must answer as a would-be platform-builder is this: What do I name my site? This is also one of the questions I am most frequently asked when speaking on the topic of Platform.
You basically have four options:
Use your own name.
Use a company name.
Use a niche name.
Use a project name.
So what’s the best option? The short answer is, it depends.
In this post, I want to talk about the pros and cons of each, so you can think through this for your own platform.
Option #1: Use Your Own Name
More and more, people are distrustful of institutions. They are looking for human connection. They want a name, a face, values, and a style they can trust.
This is why this is the age of personal brands. This is by far my favorite option when it comes to building a platform. It’s the one that provides the most flexibility.
For example, I have owned MichaelHyatt.com since 1998. Over this fifteen-year period, my brand has morphed at least five times. But my web address has remained the same. This ensures that I take most (if not all) of my audience with me as my interests and activities change.
If you are just starting out, I suggest you start here. Secure a domain name with your personal name or some variation of it. Yes, your name may already be taken. If so, you just have to get creative.
For example, if someone else owned MichaelHyatt.com, I might try:
These all have their pluses and minuses. There’s no right answer. You just want to make it as easy to remember as possible.
The only disadvantage to using your name is that you can’t build a platform you can easily sell. If you build your business around your personality, it won’t be worth much if you aren’t included as part of the package.
Option #2: Use a Company Name
You may or may not also need a company site. It depends on the nature of your business and what your goals are.
In my case, for example, I have a corporation: Intentional Leadership, LLC. But that’s really just a legal entity, not a brand. I don’t sell products or services under that name, so I really don’t need a website.
On the other hand, Dynamic Communicators International, LLC is a corporation I co-own with my partner, Ken Davis. It is the company that hosts our live events. It has some brand value, so we have a small website for it. Primarily we use it to tie together our three conference brands: SCORRE, Launch, and Platform.
So if your company has brand value, either with consumers, constituents, or businesses, you will likely need a corporate site as well.
Option #3: Use a Niche Name
This can work well, too, especially if want to make it clear what you are about, are committed to serving this niche for the long haul, and want the option of being able to sell it eventually.
Another advantage is that you can use other people to create the content. If it’s not built around you, but around the niche, then you can recruit other writers.
This is almost like a magazine, but way cheaper to get started. But that’s how you should think about it.
Examples from my own RSS reader include:
Option #4: Use a Product Name
This is where you have to be careful. I would not build a website or a blog around a product that has a limited shelf-life. I see authors making this mistake a lot. They build a site for their new book rather than having a dedicated page off their personal site.
When I was the CEO at Thomas Nelson, we spent literally hundreds of thousands of dollars doing this from about 2000–2006. We built a site for every major book we published. It was a complete waste of money.
With a book, you just don’t have enough time to build an audience and sustain it. The exception might be if you want to create a community around your book and plan to provide ongoing content and other resources to your audience. This is what I did, for example, with my Platform University membership site. It’s not just about the book.
A product site does make sense for products you intend to launch and make available for the foreseeable future. In addition to Platform University, I have a site for my new Get Noticed! Theme for WordPress. (There’s not much there to see yet.)
I also plan to create one around the The Life Plan Manifesto book that I am writing with Daniel Harkavy. But that’s because we plan to offer an assessment tool there, along with some other resources.
I wish I had a simpler answer for you. I know this is a lot to think about. But if you are just starting out, I recommend you build a site based on your name first. This will give you the maximum flexibility. You can use it to find your voice and begin building a tribe.
Once you get that up and running, and depending on your business interests, you can add a portfolio of other sites to it.