These days there are many places to hang your digital shingle— Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Mastodon, Reddit, etc. And there are many ways to communicate— Messenger, Instagram DMs and WhatsApp and others not owned by Meta, like iMessage, Slack and Discord.
But you own none of these.1 It’s like building a business in a building you don’t own. Maybe it’s the right move, but your landlord can always decide to kick you out at renewal time. There’s nothing wrong with posting or messaging on platforms you don’t own. But you should have at least one place where to control your access to the platform. Check the terms of your lease. You can get kicked off Facebook, banned from Twitter, and have your Gmail account suspended for any or no reason.
You should go out today to buy
FirstNameLastName.com if it’s available. If it’s not available, then buy another version of your name, like
FirstNameLastName.site . I would recommend searching for available domains using NameCheap’s Beast Mode Search which lets you search 100’s TLD’s at the same time. And then buying the domain on Hover. Hover is a domain name registry which is easy to use and has amazing customer service. Customer service is an very important to consider when picking a domain name registry because you’ll be a customer for possiblly decades.
It’ll take less than 20 minutes and cost less than $20. If you don’t do anything else, you should buy this domain. Then, you can procrastinate for years before you do anything else.
If you want, you can buy LastName.com, so that send email from [email protected]. Using Hover, you can set up this email and forward it to your normal Gmail account so that nothing about your day-to-day emailing experience will change. So even if your Gmail account gets banned, you’ll have access to [email protected]. How many sites is your Gmail account the credentials for? What happens if Father Google wakes up on the wrong side of the bed? Also, sending email from [email protected] is cool.
If you are a software engineer or a designer or do anything creative, you probably have some (or should have some) artifacts of your work you can share to with others. Your personal website is a great place to share them. Even if they natively live on GitHub, Vsco or Vimeo, you can link to and back them up here. I am using Ghost for this website and using Jekyll for my personal website ramvasuthevan.ca.2
Remember, you can set up your custom email and personal website anytime, but time might be running out to register FirstNameLastName.com . Go do it now.
You do control your phone number. In general, phone companies won’t seize your phone number; you take it with you when you change carriers, and it’s a safe bet that it’ll still work 10 years from now. Which is why social media apps ask you to upload your contact book. ↩
I procrastinated for years on building this site. But inspired by this tweet, I decided to just go for it and host some RAW HTML generated by Stackedit using CloudFlare Pages. It took about an hour to set up. I moved to Jekyll after getting annoyed at having to replicate changes to the footer and head on multiple markdown pages. ↩