Happy New Year! This week I want to highlight a big mistake that almost every individual makes online and in hopes that you will resolve to fix it this year.
The moment we are born we’re given an identity. This identity is recorded in many places, including on our birth certificates and social security numbers. We go to great lengths to protect our identity and it’s a crime to steal someone else’s. Given how seriously we take our identities in person, I often wonder why almost no one bothers to own their identities online.
Regular readers of this blog might recall that we spend over eight hours a day online either on social media, emailing, or texting. Given that we spend over half our waking hours online, we should probably own an equivalent of a birth certificate or social security number there, too, but again, most people don’t. The good news is, it’s easy to change that.
Purchase your name in a URL
You can purchase your first and last name in a URL (website link) by going to GoDaddy.com or a similar online merchant. Even if you never do anything with that URL, it’s a small price to pay to own your online identity. If your first and last name are taken, consider using your middle name or another combo. If you’re a business owner, consider pointing your URL to your business (I point vanessaerrecarte.com to marketingsimplified.com).
Start socially listening for yourself
Social listening is a powerful way for brands to figure out what ideal customers are saying about them and set their strategies accordingly. However, this is another area where we neglect our most valuable asset: ourselves.
To get started, set up Google Alerts with your first and last name so that you are notified if you are mentioned online somewhere. I recommend binding the alerts as an “exact match” so that you don’t get dozens of false alerts a day.
While you are at it, Google yourself the old-fashioned way every once in a while, too.
Take it a step further
There is a difference between owning your online identity and creating your online identity. Owning your online identity in 2023 is crucial, but creating it can be a huge step toward becoming an industry expert as well. In a world that is becoming increasingly virtual, if you want to take it a step further and create your online identity, start by adding a bio, resume, case studies, or even a blog to a simple website. Build it from a plug-and-play platform like WordPress. If you do this, I recommend HostGator or BlueHost for hosting small websites.
At the very least, though, just make sure you own your identity BOTH in real life and online.