Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Free Expression Offer for Nonprofits

The Contest

Earlier today we announced a contest in which up to two nonprofit organizations can win an absolutely free 3 month domain expression rental from us.  The procedure to apply is simple: just fill out this form telling us a bit about your nonprofit organization, what phrase you would select, and how you would use it in a campaign.
Free offer for non-profits to rent an expression without cost or obligation.


Imagine an expression such as young.innovators.win, we.redefine.fun or help.diversify.science pointed to any web page you choose (it can be on your own website or a Facebook page, your Twitter profile, a book on Amazon, etc.). Just to show you how they work, we have made the above links live, but at the moment they point to our own Rent an Expression page.

Technical Requirements

The beauty of Rent an Expression (RaE) is that there are essentially no technical requirements for you - no domain to register, no new website to develop and host.  You simply tell us the URL, and we direct it to your designated page.

Rent an Expression in a Campaign

What you do, is for the period of the expression rental promote the phrase through means such as Twitter, Facebook, word of mouth, publications, etc. This can be useful for time specific marketing, such as for a contest or event, or as a way to highlight a feature of your business or organization. Anyone who clicks on the expression in your campaign materials, or who enters it as the URL in a web browser, will go to your designated page.  Since the expressions are simple to remember, and don't involve any domain hacks, they are effective in promotional campaigns.

Yes, Virginia, This Contest Really is Free

The contest offer for non-profit organizations is really free.  You are not signed up for something you need to later unsubscribe from, and there are no hidden charges. You don't provide us with any payment information.  Our privacy policy says we only use your email address for information related to your entry (and administration of the expression).

Why are we giving this away? 

Partly, after having assisted various non-profit organizations we know that funds are often tight, and any assistance can make a difference in you meeting your goals. Non-profits make real differences in lives, and they deserve our help.  Of course we also hope that the promotion of the contest will help make our Rent an Expression service better known, and will lead to us getting some paying rentals.

How to Win?

We plan to select up to two organizations to win a free expression. Each organization can only submit one entry, even if their are multiple people involved, so coordinate so only one entry is made.  Our selection of winner(s) will not be entirely random.  We will consider the nature of your organization and your proposed use of an expression.  So make best use of that line or two describing your organization and how you would use the expression! If we rate several entries as approximately equal in worthiness, we will do a random selection between them.

How to Apply

How do we apply again?  OK it could not be much easier! Head over to the form here, fill in all required fields (make sure you select your desired expression using the pull-down menu). Perhaps browse our expressions and ideas before filling out the form.  The contest deadline is Aug. 2, 2017.  We will notify winners by Aug. 4, 2017 and the link should be live shortly after that.  The free link is available for a 90 day period and will automatically cease after that time (if you want to extend it beyond that you of course can do so with a paid rental, and we even will give you 20% off the current prices for that).

What Does The Question About You Promoting Link Mean?

This is totally optional, but if you click yes we will list your link on our namesthat.win website, on our Twitter stream, here on this blog and possibly in other ways.  This will help your phrase get known in search engines, and probably help with your campaign. Your chances of winning the contest do not change if you select yes or no with respect to us mentioning your campaign.

What is a Non-Profit?

We do not require that you be a registered charity, simply that your primary purpose is not to make a profit. So most NGOs would qualify. Maybe you are a youth organization, science or children's centre, environmental group, etc. You can be large or tiny. If in doubt about if you qualify, just tell us about your organization in a query.

Is This Contest Only Open to Certain Regions?

No, you can be based anywhere, or everywhere!

How Long Has Rent an Expression Been Around?

We have been in the planning and domain acquisition stage for more than a year, including technical testing, but only went public with the program and website in June 2017.

But We Are Not a Non-Profit!

While the free offer is only available to non-profit organizations, our overall Rent An Expression program is certainly open to businesses! You can see the prices here, most of your questions about how it works should be answered on this page, see the available expressions here, and when ready sign up for the service with this simple form.  Up until 7 days after an expression is up and running you can cancel it without obligation and owe us nothing. Please don't confuse the two forms - the links in this paragraph are for a paid rental, while the links in the previous section are for non-profits entering the free contest.

Do You Give Away Other Things?

Occasionally.  Check this page where any new discounted and free offers will be listed. Some day we plan to give away kindness, really.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What Do YOU Mean By Win?

Our recently launched website is NamesThat.Win, and we wanted to take the opportunity to discuss what the word 'win' means. As part of that, we urge you to consider what a 'win' would be for your online presence.

The idea of a domain name and an associated website being a 'win' can be interpreted various ways, including the following.

  • The website should reflect positively on your organization. While content is clearly critical, as well as attention to detail, the impression starts with the name you adopt. Yes, the name can be catchy and even cute, but always in a tasteful way.
  • Honesty is critical. The name and website should reflect what you are about in a clear way. Never use a name to try to pretend your organization and goals are something that they are not. Many will disagree, but I say don't use a .org TLD if you are not an organization, and don't use .com if you are not a business. I wish there were controls so that someone could not use .science if they have nothing to do with science!
  •  The website should be informative.  After I visit your website I should feel that my time was well spent in terms of the valid information that I got in a timely fashion. Even if your primary goal is to sell a product or service, your website should provide information to help a potential purchaser make an informed decision, and provide support documentation. 
  • Is the website sustainable? Is it designed so that you can reasonably do what is required to keep it current? Is the total cost sustainable in terms of the value that the website brings to your organization.  If you go for a premium domain or an expensive .com, can that cost be justified.  Too many people rush into owning too much home for their means, and I find some companies do the same with respect to a domain name.
  • The name should be location appropriate.  If you plan to only operate in a single country, with essentially no customers beyond the borders, it does make sense to use a country specific domain name. Research shows that these are more respected and trusted. However, if your vision extends beyond your home country, seriously consider starting with a gTLD, or possibly multiple TLDs with a common first name. It will be interesting to see how the .gdn (which stands for global domain name) takes off - so far it has seen limited adoption, although that is increasing.
  • Almost all websites should feel current. While achieving this will depend partly on the website design, having current content is critical. Also, start with a name that feels current. Some domain names just feel ordinary and old. I realize adoption has been slow, but I think that the new gTLDs offer real opportunity here. Make social media interact smoothly with your website - it is easy to have your Twitter feed display on your website.
  • Think about the goals of your website. Is it primarily to sell, interact with clients, provide support, contribute to public understanding, provide advertising revenue, or make your organization better known. Make sure your website, including the domain name, is congruent with these goals.
The last point brings me to the primary focus of this post. Before you consider available domain names and how much you are willing to pay, or how you will design and host your website, start with the goals you have for your online presence.  Make a written list, and get the opinion of others on your list, revising it as appropriate. 

So why did we select NamesThat.win? We believe in the long term value of the new TLDs, so wanted to use one ourselves. Also, we see value in using an expression as part of a name, for some clients, and wanted to model that.  As a small operation, but with potential customers from around the world, we wanted a global TLD. Considering sustainability, the domain name was reasonable to purchase and to renew (we have it registered for 5 years). We feel that your consideration of names ideally starts before you have registered a company name or domain name, so we wanted the word 'name' not 'domain' in our website. 

We considered whether .win was appropriate, but feel that a key part of your planning process should be to set your goals and decide what would constitute a win for you. 

Ultimately we plan to offer four types of services.
  1. Sell domain names particularly new gTLDs with a Canadian connection, or in the areas of biotechnology, education,  investing, outreach, science, space, technology, and travel.
  2. Rent domain name expressions for use in promotional campaigns, mainly in the areas of education, science and outreach.
  3. Write and distribute white papers on domain name options.
  4. Provide consultancy on domain name options in areas of education, outreach, science, space and technology.
The first two of these are available now, and we expect to add the last two by late 2017. Ultimately our goal is to help you clarify your goals, to set criteria for evaluating success, and ultimately to help you 'win' by achieving success in those goals. 


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Namecheap Sale On Now

In case you have not heard, the folks at Namecheap.com have a sale on right now. Not only are they offering certain domains at just $0.48 USD (plus $0.18 ICANN fee) for one year registrations, but they also they have a great deal on 5 year domain registrations at just $5.58 USD (plus $0.90 ICANN fee). 

The new gTLDs that are in the sale include .science, .win, .bid, .trade, .party, loan and a number of others (20 in total). During the sale you can get the details and complete list here.  While one year .top are offered at the same price, the 5 year offer does not apply to .top TLDs.

We are particularly pleased to see the excellent 5 year price, as that will encourage purchases by those who really plan to use the domain name for a website, and not simply hold it for resale. To get the special deal on 5 years make sure to select that time period (it will default at 1 year).

Note that the multi-year savings only come in when you select 5 year period.  If you select 2 year, the second year will be at the regular renewal rates.

A bit after they started the sale for new registrations, they also offered the same great 5 year rate for renewals of the same new gTLDs. 

One thing to be alert for, I have noticed that they will show a domain at the $0.48 per first year rate, even if it is a premium name, but when it is added to your cart if it is a premium domain it will then show the much higher price.  So do make sure that the price is what you are expecting before you pay and check out.

We don't know how long this will be active, so why not pick up those desired domain names now? The Namecheap system is easy to use with all operations intuitive and transparent.

A Canadian Site: Excellent Domains

We recently came across the ExcellentDomains.ca site that sells a good selection of Canadian linked domain names, as well as showing the prices paid for some that have sold. While there is a pretty strong bias in favour of .ca versus the nTLDs, it is really nice to have this single site with so much Canadian content. According to their reported prices, CreditCards.ca sold for $650,000 followed closely by Jobs.ca at $600,000.

The business is maintained by Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz and members of her family from a site in Ontario. Her personal story is a very interesting one, that you can read about 
here. She is an award winning member of the domain name community, and is frequently a keynote speaker.

Domain Names as Real Estate

People sometimes ask me to explain the whole domain name - web hosting business, and I find the following analogy helpful. While I know that the comparison of domain names with real estate is widely used, I think the following account has some unique characteristics. 

I tell them that owning a domain name is like owning land (well really it is more like leasing land for a certain period of time). You need that land before you can build a house (see next paragraph). Just like the price for land varies greatly, so does the price for domain names. An important criterion for the price of land is the location - land near a city normally sells for more than land way out in a rural area. The similar idea to location for domain names is the top level domain (TLD), some are more valuable (like 
.com.org or .net) and others less so. But just like not any piece of land in a city will demand a good price, just because it is a .com domain by itself does not mean it is valuable.

The new top level domains (nTLDs), things like 
.site or .xyz or .design, are sort of like new subdivisions that are being developed. Initially land there commands a lower price, even if the long term prospects look positive.

Some country specific domain names require you to be from that country to use that domain name. For example, I live in Canada, and .
ca domain name holders must reside in Canada. That is sort of like regions that have rules about foreign ownership of real estate. For the most part the nTLDs don't have specific requirements; you can own a .science domain without being a scientist (I don't think it should be that way, but that is a topic for another post!).

But while location is important, it is not the only thing that matters. Perhaps you really want a site with a nice view or forested property or privacy, these may matter more to you than location. In the same way you may be able to get just the perfect name with one of the nTLDs, so that name will be valuable. Just as we have observed with many cities, land further out has become increasingly more valuable over time, I expect that the nTLDs will increase in value gradually as acceptance grows. The acceptance will require that some people build good reputable websites on the nTLDs.

If you want both a great location and special features, for example waterfront property on a large lot near a city centre, that will indeed cost a lot. That is why a few domain names, mainly 
.com, go for such high prices.

The land analogy to domain names suggests another truth. Land is only valuable if it serves the needs (and desires) of someone. A domain name is only valuable if someone will desire it and find it useful for their purposes. While various factors enter into an evaluation of domain name worth, for example, is the TLD respected, is the name easy to remember and spell, does the name reflect your organization positively, etc.

After you purchase land you usually have a house built, and the analogous concept is to build a website. While you need land to build a house (well if we exclude strata developments, mobile homes or house boats!), the land by itself is not enough for a place to live (unless you want to live in a tent permanently!). Also, you don't need to build the house right away, and that is like those who hold domain names, hoping that they will become more valuable in the future. A good domain name without a good website is a wasted opportunity, so it does not make sense to build a poor website on a premium domain name.

In life our needs change, and most of us live in several homes, in different locations, over our lifetime. That may happen for your organization or business needs. You may need to purchase additional domain names, or may decide to rebrand yourself with a new domain name.

You also don't want people to confuse you with an unsavoury person who lives in the same city. Let's say there is someone who lives in the same area that has almost your name, and he has been in trouble with the courts. You want to take whatever steps are possible to protect your own good name, so people won't be confusing you with him.

For people to find your house they could use the GPS location that you give them (that would be like the IP address in the world of websites), but most will look in some sort of directory to see where you live. The domain name server (DNS) has this role, linking a specific numerical address to the domain name that you have registered. There are actually many DNS on the internet, but they rapidly share the information, so if you move your website to a new location they will be able to find you at the new location.

Just as you can sell land alone (domain name by itself) or land with a house (website with the domain name), both domain names and complete websites are sold in the market. While there are domain name advisors, and others who will act as agents for a domain name purchase or intermediaries in the sale, a standardized domain name agent like a real estate agent is not firmly established.

If this analogy is helpful, feel free to use it. I hope you find just the right domain name! 


Sunday, May 28, 2017

For a really small venture, maybe keep it simple

In most jurisdictions you do not need to register a business name if the name you use is your own unaltered name – e.g. if I called a photography business Victoria Fine Photography that would need to be registered as a business name, but if my names was Jane Doe and I called it Jane Doe Photography I would not need to go through the business name registration process.

I still could register under another name, and there would be advantages in doing so, such as protection from another Jane Doe starting her own photography business under a confusing similar name.

Mainly if you want to have a very small business, with just yourself part-time doing the work, with little potential for legal or financial liabilities,  you might want to keep things as simple and inexpensive as possible.

A one-person business is called a sole-propietership. You still pay income taxes on money that you make, but you will be taxed as an individual. Keep in mind that any legal or financial liabilities are held personally, so you do not have the protections offered by registering a company.

You can still operate a sole-proprietership under a name other than your personal name, but you will need to register that business name.

You still want to have a website, though, and this is where some of the new TLDs come into play. In the case cited, a great domain name might be JaneDoe.photography or JaneDoe.photo for example.

So what are your choices in TLD extensions?  The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) maintain a TLD listing (nicely arranged alphabetically) of the current possibilities.

Some good TLD choices for professionals working under their own name are the following:
  • .accountant
  • .attorney
  • .author
  • .catering
  • .construction
  • .consulting
  • .dentist (or .dental)
  • .design
  • .doctor
  • .education
  • .engineer (or .engineering)
  • .farm
  • .finance (or .financial)
  • .fitness
  • .marketing
  • .photographer (or .photo)
  • .productions
  • .professional
  • .plumbing
  • .realtor (or .realty)
  • .studio
  • .toys
  • .training
  • .vacations
Keep in mind though that being on this list just means that some domain registrars handle that TLD.  It certainly does not mean that all registrars do. If you hope to keep your domain registration, DNS (domain name serving) and web hosting all within one service, for example with Namecheap.com, it's a good idea to explore options before you commit to a name.

Check to be sure of any regulations in your area with respect to business names. An excellent article on Naming Your Business by Canada Business Network has links to the various provincial sites.

The Fine Print: We are an education service, and nothing you read here should be considered individual legal or business advice. Briefly our background is that we have owned a business, managed numerous websites, and registered many domain names. While every attempt has been made to be current and accurate, any details important to the reader should be independently verified. We are members of Google Adsense, so you will see some ads from them on these pages, and also are members of several affiliate programs including Amazon, HostPapa, and Namecheap. We only join affiliates if we use that service ourselves, and have had a positive experience.  Unless we explicitly indicate otherwise in a post, we have not been offered compensation by any company or organization for any post or recommendation.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Eight questions to ask when choosing a name

Whether you are starting a new business or organization, an early choice that you must make is what name to use.  Here are eight questions to ask yourself as you consider a name for your business, club or organization.
  1. Is the name descriptive?  If someone hears the name, and did not otherwise know about your organization, would they have an idea about what it about?
  2. Is it positive? If two names are equally descriptive, but one has a more positive connotation, then go with that. But be careful about being so positive others will regard the name as silly or frivolous.
  3. Is it easy to remember? If you expect people to tell others about your service, or to look for it on the web, it helps if they can easily remember the name. People being able to spell it is important too! I registered the name and domain chignecto.ca, and it was in many ways a good name for the service: unique, part of our story line, available, legal.  But people unfamiliar with the name have constantly misspelled it!
  4. How unique is the name?  You don't want (most of the time!) confusion between you and someone else, so this argues for a name that is easily differentiated from others.
  5. Is the name available?  This is necessary but sometimes overlooked.  You want the name to be available both as one that can be registered as a trademark and/or business name in your region, but also as a domain name and possibly on social media, for example as a Twitter handle.
  6. Is abbreviation positive?  Some names will naturally be abbreviated, and that is usually positive, for example helping make the name easy to remember.  Make sure that the abbreviation will itself not be a negative though (some time ago a Canadian political party almost adopted the name Canadian Reform Alliance Party).
  7. Is it legal? You are not allowed to use a name that would be deliberately confused with another business or organization. Before registering your business name this will be checked, but it is good at the outset to make sure your name is not too similar to an existing name that operates in a similar business.
  8. What TLD is natural for your venture? You should think about the domain name at the same time as you consider the company, brand, or organization name. Now that we have many top level domain (TLD) choices, you should ask yourself if one of these makes more sense than the generic ones. For example, if in the design business. surely a name ending in .design makes sense, or if you are naming a new club, why not use a .club TLD?
Picking names is both easy and hard! It's easy, because you start with a good knowledge of what you want the name to reflect, and probably already one or more choices in mind. It's hard because there are so many potential options, and the choice will be important to the success of your venture.

You should be involved, so never farm out the entire name selection process to outside firms.  That being said, those with experience and expertise can provide invaluable expertise.  Even if you decide not to hire a name consultant, you should at the very least bounce your proposed names off colleagues and friends.  This is too important a decision to base only on your opinion, no matter how creative and smart you are!

The Canadian Business Network have a helpful short post that includes their take on questions to ask yourself when choosing a name, along with the legal requirements with respect to business names in the various provinces.

Want a second opinion? This article in Entrepeneur on 8 mistakes to avoid when naming your business is well worth a read.

This site is about giving you help as you decide on the name that will represent your business, service, or organization. 

In all our posts please feel free to comment, even if you disagree with the advice we offer!

The Fine Print: We are an education service, and nothing you read here should be considered individual legal or business advice. Briefly our background is that we have owned a business, managed numerous websites, and registered many domain names. While every attempt has been made to be current and accurate, any details important to the reader should be independently verified. We are members of Google Adsense, so you will see some ads from them on these pages, and also are members of several affiliate programs including Amazon, HostPapa, and Namecheap. We only join affiliates if we use that service ourselves, and have had a positive experience.  Unless we explicitly indicate otherwise in a post, we have not been offered compensation by any company or organization for any post or recommendation.

Eight questions to ask when choosing a name

Whether you are starting a new business or organization, an early choice that you must make is what name to use.  Here are eight questions t...