Why You Might Need Additional Domain Names for Your Art

Yay! You have a URL and website.

Boo! You only have one.

But . . . Yay! You’re a savvy businessperson and willing to listen to why you should care about buying more URLs.

Carol A. McIntyre, one of my Gold Mastermind members, has her site at carolamcintyre.com and pointing from paintingharmony.com. She also owns 16 other URLs for her art, teaching, and books.


Carol A. McIntyre, one of my Gold Mastermind members, has her site at carolamcintyre.com and pointing from paintingharmony.com. She also owns 16 other URLs for her art, teaching, and books.

Here are four reasons you want additional domain names (URLs).

1. Search. People might conduct a Web search for the keywords in your URL.  (But please do not do this for SEO. Read the comments below for thoughts on that from people far wiser on the subject than I.)

2. You want to be the owner of the URL. You’d be devastated if someone else got it.

3. You have multiple audiences. It confuses people when they see work that isn’t in line with what they know about and expect from you.

4. A branded URL is easier to remember and to share.

Now for some real-life examples to support my points.

You’re a Woman (or not!)

All women should own the URLs of their married and maiden names, including any version you can find in between.

Owning multiple versions of your name applies to you guys, too.

I have kept my maiden name, but I own AlysonStanfield.com, AlysonBStanfield.com, and ABStanfield.com. Why? Because people can search for me using any of those and I’d be mad at myself if I let anyone else get them.

You might also own versions of your name, in addition to URLs with your name + words like “art,” “studio,” or “sculpture” attached.

Multiple Audiences for Your Art

Dora Ficher's licensed work.

Dora Ficher’s licensed work.

Artist Dora Ficher asked in a coaching call for the Art Biz Incubator if it would be good to separate her licensed art from her fine art. Absolutely!

©Dora Ficher, <i>Parallel</i>. Collage, encaustic, oil sticks. 8 x 8 x 1.5 inches. Used with permission.

©Dora Ficher, Parallel. Collage, encaustic, oil sticks. 8 x 8 x 1.5 inches. Used with permission.

It doesn’t mean the two sites can’t be linked, but you don’t want people looking at paintings to be confused by seeing bed sheets.

Branded Products and Programs

It might be wise to buy a domain name for a class you teach, a trip you lead, a book you wrote, a big exhibition, or a year-long project. For example, I own the following URLs.

IdRatherBeintheStudio.com
ArtBizBootcamp.com
ArtBizMakever.com
OrganizeYourArtBiz.com

Celebrating Color classes with Carol McIntyre


Carol A. McIntyre’s site for her programs and classes: CelebratingColor.com. Another of Carol’s sites is http://www.paintwithcolorconfidence.com. When you click on it, notice how it is forwarded to the specific class on the Celebrating Color site.

While it sounds like a lot of work to build multiple sites, please note that I don’t have separate sites for all of these domains.

Only my book has a dedicated website. The others are built as pages on ArtBizCoach.com, and the domain name is pointing to the page name.

For example, ArtBizMakeover.com goes to ArtBizCoach.com/golden2013.

Wondering why bother with another URL if it’s just a page on your website?

As I mentioned in the opening, the first reason is that you’ll probably be upset if anyone else gets the URL.

The second reason is that it’s easier to send people to a quick URL that contains your branded name than to one with a string of backslashes.

What domains do you own?

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66 comments to Why You Might Need Additional Domain Names for Your Art

  • OMG! I have been wondering about this exact thing. Thank you so much! I also own Amantha.us. I cannot afford Amantha.com. I know I am not as big as Cher – but I am working on it – and like using just my first name. I am a bit annoyed that there ARE other Amanthas out there. I lived my whole life never finding my name on a mug so it is annoying when just “Amantha” has already been taken by another human. ;)

  • Do you think having a URL other than .com is worthwhile? Like Amantha, the ones I’ve looked at with .com can be over $1000!

  • I wholeheartedly agree with Alyson on this – even when I have the inkling of an idea regarding a special project, I go to see if the domain name is available, and then….purchase the .com, .org, .ca, .tv name etc. as appropriate. The other thing to consider is that domain name ownership can become a stream of income. Even if you don’t get to the project, someone else might have the same idea. They’ll contact you, and you can offer to sell the name. I’ve done it once, and it was a lucrative investment. I still went along with my project, but I found a way to reframe it.

  • I’m on the watchlist for buying the dot com of my name.

    I got stuck with the dot net. However, of my full name, was able to get all the dot coms. I just re-direct those to my art page dot net.

    In 2009, there were articles beginning to talk about how valuable it is to own your own name as a domain name. Some people were building sites or blogs and using them to get “real” jobs, etc.

    As for me and my dot com, many domain sellers will offer (for a fee of course) to watch when the original owners lapse on paying the renewal. I get first dibs to buy the dot com if this happens. Sadly, I’ve been watching for over eight years, and the owners keep renewing it for two years at a time. The website is NEVER updated…which makes me wonder too many nasty things, but hey, what can I do? Only hope they let it lapse.

    Great advice, Alyson.

    • Angeline: This begs the question: Is there ever a time when you should give up? Oh, and “Do you really want the URL if it was a site you didn’t like previously?” (e.g. a porn site or a shady businessperson)

  • Angeline-Marie, I am not sure which name you are watching and I don’t know if this would help….you might want to add your middle initial for you dot com. I had to do that because “Carol McIntyre” was taken and now is for sale at a high price.

    I had to comment because my middle name is Angeline. LOL! :)

    Thank you Alyson for using my URLs as an example.

  • ina bernard

    Even though I have not done much with them, I did buy several URLs related to my name and art (felting). As a matter of fact, as silly as it may sound to some, I even bought the .com URL for my daughter’s name. She is only 7 now, but one never knows if she will want a web presence when she grows older.

  • Great article. I own two domains. One thing to be aware of when purchasing extra domain names and pointing them to one site. In my maddening pursuit to increase SEO, I thought, why not just buy the domain “abstractart.com” and point it to my site, then I would definitely come up in the top of the search engines for people looking for abstract art. What I found is you will be penalized by google, and lose your ranking if the site is not pointed correctly and there is no content or duplicate content. Just an FYI if your thinking of having more than one name pointing to one site.

  • this is something I’ve been thinking about. When I started, I couldn’t get Vickiemartin.com – so I went with Vickiemartinarts.com. When I went to wordpress – I changed to vickiemartin.net. Now I look and vickiemartin.com is available – and I let vickiemartinarts.com expire. Now – I have to figure out how to incorporate them into my website. I guess I should get vickiemartinconison.com too – even though I’m not using it in the artworld – you never know. I want to start doing collage parties – and COOLAGEPARTY – which is what I call is available. I need to go back to basic wordpress because this kind of stuff trips me up.

    • For all reading this . . . Vickie and I had a private email conversation when she posted this.

      If you are ever thinking about a domain name, don’t post it in public before snatching it up because the domain trolls might get it and offer it to you for a greatly increased price.

      As soon as I saw Vickie’s comment, I unpublished it and contacted her. She found out that she wasn’t interested in the URLs and it would be okay to publish her comment.

      • Just fyi: I didn’t mean that people could find the post in a search and buy the URL. I just speak from knowing of an experience where someone at a seminar (not one of mine) mentioned a domain she wanted and someone else in the audience bought it out from under her.

  • I sort of agree that it is a good reason to own a domain name that you don’t want someone else to own. The problem is there are too many Top Level Domains (tlds) available to protect. The problem is going to get much worse as domain registrars are set to release up to 700 new general tlds. They will come in waves. The first batch will be released soon as the Fall of 2013 is the unspecified time frame. You can learn more and get on the interest list at your favorite registrar.

    I have two domains: barneydavey.com and artprintissues.com. If I were doing it over, I would only have one. The latter would be blog.barneydavey.com. If you own more than one domain, you have to use it. That means you have to spend time and money to promote it, which dilutes time and money from your main domain. Yes, you might get lucky and sell one you are not using, but it is a wasting asset in the meantime.

    You can do lots of on-page SEO with keywords that will be just as effective as having a keyword descriptive domain name. Google looks at keywords in domains, but it is a low-level algorithm that does not carry that much weight. If it exactly matches a highly searched query, it may be worth owning, but you still have to promote it, or why bother?

    • I agree with Barney. I have makebigart.com and lisacall.com and if I had it to do over I’d only buy lisacall.com. I don’t have the time to maintain 2 sites and it is a time, resource and energy drain.

      I plan on folding them into each other and just have one (someday – when i find the time) as I think SEO and keywords and a well designed site is all that is needed to sort out the differences.

      • Lisa: I totally agree with you. I don’t see any reason why you should have 2 separate blogs. Your work is consistent and has one market. Even your teaching is in line with the art you make.

        Two blogs are a crazy hassle. “Make Big Art” would have to become a full-blown brand in itself in order for you to take advantage of a separate URL.

      • Lisa, you could do a 301 redirect, sending visitors to makebigart to your new site–it changes the URL of a site in search results so that makebigart would start to show up in Google as lisacall.com.

    • Barney: I agree with that! If I were to do it now, I think I’d not have “Art Biz Blog” and put the blog on my ArtBizCoach site. However, I’m very glad that I am the owner of artbizblog.com.

  • I am judymillerdesign.com because I was a ceramic artist when I got that domain. Now I am a pastel painter and the design doesn’t really apply. As Judy Miller is a surprisingly common name I don ‘t know what else I could get but would a different url still go to my website? And how do I let people know of my other url’s? No sense in putting more than one on a postcard…thanks…

    • Judy, yes, you could keep the old name and point it to your site for free. Then if someone typed in either the new or old name they’d get to it, and they would see the new name in their browser. It’s easy, you just have to change a little thing in your hosting account, you can ask the host for help. You could also replace the name with a new name but I would recommend pointing the new name and keeping the old name, or else you might need to manually change all the links in the site.

  • Agree with Barney. Google’s EMD update (supposedly) stopped giving much weight to exact match domains (EMDs).

    I have a number of domains I have yet to use. Things like titles of books I’m working on, or niche of greeting card (I do POD cards), a separate site for my services, and just names I like. They are mostly 99 cents or free for the first year so it doesn’t hurt to get one then see if you use it.

    You can take one name and make sites on subdomains, such as painting.johnsmith.com and golf.johnsmith.com.

    Here is something I just learned about, the site http://knowem.com can tell you if the name you want is available on hundreds of social networks (such as facebook.com/myname). Then you can link your site to them and get some backlinks.

    • Vicky: I don’t know enough about this, but in the past there was something to be cautious of with subdomains (related to search). Do you know anything about this?

      • Hi Alyson,

        As far as I can tell from reading (and I’m ony just learning about SEO myself), it seems there are pros and cons. The cons for SEO are that subdomains are seen as separate sites and thus will not get the ranking benefits from you main domain has (if the main domain has some already) and vice versa. And when you link your subdomains to your main site, these links are seen as internal links, which have value but less valuethan external links. Some recommend using subdirectories instead, which would help SEO for your main site. Others say that Google doesn’t distinguish much between subdirectories and subdomains but that only makes sense in some situations. It seems to be better SEO-wise with a blog to have it as a subdirectory, not a subdomain (this article also noted not to have your blog on a separate site as that is losing link juice from your blog posts that would go to your main site were they on your main site).

        The pros are that if you want several sites that are related but quite different, you can tailor the design for each site to deliver its specific content. The sites will still get the branding from your main site but each would be distinct, For instance, maybe you have a travel site for each state, or you sell vitamins as well as fitness equipment and are going after separate but overlapping audiences and different keywords for each product or type of product, then you are better off with subdomains than separate sites or having it all on one main site (for instance there is news.google.com, images.google.com etc.). If you use a 301 redirect so that people going to the subdomains actually end up at your main site, that would pass along some SEO benefits from the subdomain to your main site. Basically the content is the most important thing, if the content is good it doesn’t matter that much what it’s on.

        Another pro is that Google ranks commercial sites differently than informational sites, so you could have, say, store.johnsmith.com and johnsmith.com could be seen as an informational site, so you’d get more SEO benefits that way than by having them both on the same site or two different sites.

        As of a few months ago, Google will now only show 3-4 results from the same domain for a specific search, so you want to be sure your subdomains have distinct content. I think this means if you have 10 subdomains about dogs, only 3-4 would show up if someone types in “dogs,” but if you make each about a different breed of dog and the query is for that breed of dog then you’re OK. In the past, all the subdomains could show up.

  • Vicky, thank you for that site. Makes things much easier to look up.

  • Judy, add your middle initial. Also variations of MillerFineArt.com
    judymillerstdio.com, etc

  • Good one, Alyson! I was very sorry I didn’t renew Originalimpulseblog.com – then someone else bought it and posted a bunch of crap on it.

    Based on your advice, I recently bought a domain name for one of my popular classes and recently got
    and another one for a new class I will launch next year.

    I also just bought CynthiaMorrisart.com because CynthiaMorris.com is for sale for $1,000 and it’s not worth it!

    I had a question about this but forgot. I was multi-tasking, I confess! If it comes back I’ll return and ask it. Great article, Alyson, and I love Dora’s art – really clear to see how she has two different things going.

  • There are so many possible variations that I can’t begin to logically define them. At the moment I own only one domain name and I barely have time for that one. Perhaps in the future I will purchase others based on some of my names and art forms. (For example if I ever go beyond zazzle type licensing.) Especially if I deconvolve art bead weaving from art painting.

    • Patricia: Then don’t worry about it! If the situation doesn’t warrant it, there is no reason in the world to think about getting another domain name. That’s why I tried to be specific about when you might consider additional URLs.

  • Hi Alyson and everyone – thanks for the info-packed post and comments! I see the value in having multiple domain names. I currently use Ipage as my host and have my registered domains with them.

    Do you use a domain privacy service for your sites? For each domain name I have, I also get a domain privacy service – it runs $14.99 per year per site which starts to add up when I add more domains.

    A couple of questions: Can I purchase other domain names from another web host or do I need to stick with Ipage for that? I’ve been happy with Ipage over the years but can see the value of switching companies if I can save a few $$s and also have good service.

    thanks you guys! : ) FcF

    • I don’t have domain privacy. I don’t mind everyone knowing that I own the domains.

      BUT, I highly recommend having your domain registry separate from your hosting service. You’ll thank me for this later.

      • Alyson – thanks for your input. Would love to know *why* it’s important to separate the two (Domain and webhosting) – when you get a moment.

        Cheerio! f

        • Sorry I forgot to respond to this FCF. The reason I like mine separate is that when it comes time to change hosting (and there will be a time), it’s easier to change when they’re separate. You have to ask a host to “release” your URL if you move and they know something is up and it just becomes an awkward mess. Happened to me years ago and I’ve never made the same mistake.

  • I bought my domaine name a couple of years ago and finally recently reached my goal of setting up a website (thanks to Alyson’s last Blast Off class). My last name is hyphenated and I deliberated about whether to use the hyphen. I finally decided to go ahead with it, but I also purchased the same name without a hyphen, so that people who could not remember to use the hyphen would get to my site either way. I mainly use lynndavis-smith.com, but if someone types in lynndavissmith.com, they will get to the same place. I feel better knowing that no one else can have either version.

  • Thank you for this post because it prompted me to check if my name was available (it was taken by a realtor a few years ago). It was available and I just bought a few variations of it. I started researching domain redirect vs mirroring and it is kind of confusing though. Can I have multiple domains redirect to my homepage?

    • Carolyn: That’s great to hear! I’m looking into what Melissa said above about making sure the redirect is solid, but don’t know enough. I suggest doing a little research on this subject.

  • Do not just search for it…buy it when you see it. Otherwise it will alert someone-else to buy it in the hopes of selling it to you for much much more. Write down on paper all those combinations of names you would like to own. Now buy them. Mine cost me about £10 per domain per year to own. It made the transition from meltemiart.com to artofphilkendall.com so easy. I had searched for this [artofpk etc] domain many years ago and it was ‘owned by a third party’ for a while. I saw that it was once again available earlier this year so I quickly snapped it up…the rest is history.

    • Phil: How many do you own? And how will you use them?

      And where do we draw the line?

      I don’t want to encourage people to buy every version of a domain that they can think of. I’m not sure that’s helpful. But maybe you can convince me otherwise.

      • I now own four variants on art and my name reserving them for when, and if, I split my art types into separate domains. More than four domains for an artist is perhaps two too many, I guess.

        There were just too many Kendall’s in art back in 2007! I guess I’ve stayed the course.

        And I still retain my old meltemi art domain purely for sentimental reasons.

  • I had 4 domains that were different versions of my name and my maiden name.Foe example, tgrillolaird.com, tmgrillo.com,theresagrillolaird.com. I just gave up all but two because the expense was starting to add up.I kept 1 maiden and 1 married. Was it a mistake to give up the other two?

  • Hi Alyson, Great post! I have a couple domain names, because I couldn’t decide what I wanted my website to be, but now that I decided, I have a few questions. Do you think that for each name, I need a new website? Or is there a way that if someone types one in, that it would immediately bring the person to the main website? (So my main site is flowerpaintingsbyrain.com, but if they type in my name or my business name Fineartbylorraine.com or something, is there a way it would re-direct them to flowerpaintingsbyrain.com?) I did have an idea to create a couple different sites for my different bodies of work, but don’t want too many to confuse people if that makes sense! I would love your ideas on this!
    Thanks for the help, Lorraine

  • Lorraine: No. I think I answered that in the article above. You can point any domain name to any page or site. You do that through your domain name registry.

  • hi alyson. i also wonder if you could elaborate on keeping your domain registration and your hosting separate. can you tell, mine are not!

    cheers, dana

    • Sure, Dana. This comes from experience. And you can Google it and find others giving the same advice.

      IF you ever want to move your Web hosting, it’s much easier to do so when someone else hosts your domain. Because you have to ask for your domain to move first – so your hosting service becomes suspicious and it can get awkward. They try to talk you out of it, extend offers, etc. I’ve never heard of it getting ugly, but I guess it could.

      I just found it very awkward.

      Does this make sense?

      • Hi Alyson,

        I’m an artist and a web site developer specializing in artist websites.

        If the company you are working with is professional, there is no reason having your domain name and website hosting in the same place should create an uncomfortable situation.

        We provide both domain registration and hosting services for our customers. There are aspects involved in managing a domain that most people don’t have the technical knowledge for or desire to be bothered with. We take care of all these things for our customers.

        Some customers do want to manage their own domains and that’s ok with us too. The point is they shouldn’t feel like they have to.

        And, if someone wants to move their domain elsewhere, we release it – no questions asked.

  • Thank you Alyson. I will have to look at this. I just participated in a conversation about hosting, but is there a company that excels at domain registration? (I am altogether averse to godaddy for reasons of upselling.) hee hee. cheers, dana

  • Hey folks. I’m an artist as well as an SEO specialist.

    I would only recommend having a different domain if you are showing completely different content possibly to a different audience.

    Additionally, buying a domain with your keywords in it and forwarding it to you main domain with a blanket 301 will do you very little these days.

    We refer to keyword specific domains as EMDs (exact match domains). They used to be very powerful in search engines but the engines have compensated to give less priority to them.

    They may be harmful if if you are just using them for SEO purposes.

    To really succeed with SEO these days you must focus on building a brand and not just a website.

    From an SEO and marketing perspective having multiple domains will require you to build “authority” across multiple properties on the internet. You website, social media etc.

    How much time do we all have?

    Again. If you want to have multiple domains make sure you are building brand and authority for each as well as catering for a different audience.

    If you decide to change domains somewhere down the line make sure you implement 301 redirects pointing you old pages to the equivalent pages on your new domain.

    After you implement you 301 redirects MAKE SURE you create a change of address in Google Webmaster Tools. It tells Google that you have moved addresses, much like a postal service change of address.

    If you have a website you should have a Google Webmaster Tools account. It will inform you of all kinds of things including how Google crawls and indexes your site.

    After this week Google will no longer be providing anyone keyword data through Google Analytics for organic search visits. Meaning if someone searches in Google for “abstract art canvases” and comes to your page you won’t know. Those days are gone… at the flick of a switch.

    Webmaster tools will show you how many times you pages show for a certain query however. Essentially your “ranking”.

    The best case scenario is hooking Webmaster Tools into Analytics, which is easy. You can then view your data within Analytics.

    For artists this is good because you can see where you are showing up in Google. Search, images etc.

    It’s a long discussion but I thought I’d leave my two cents.

    • I agree with Matt. Pointing numerous exact match domains to one ‘central’ domain is a clear attempt at manipulating the search engines, and it WILL result in an eventual penalty. Moreover, it cheapens your name and makes you look desperate for traffic.

  • Matt and Michael: I appreciate your input, but I wasn’t trying to suggest any such thing.

    But perhaps I’m misunderstanding.

    Are you saying that pointing ArtBizMakeover.com to artbizcoach.com/golden2013 is bad??

    I don’t do this for traffic/SEO. I do it because the URL is much easier to share.

  • I do say “Search” and keywords, but I didn’t mean to imply that this is great SEO. I don’t know anything about that. Perhaps I overstepped and caused confusion. I’m glad you stepped in and will make a note for people to read comments here.

  • Hey Alyson,

    Pointing artbizmakeover.com to artbizcoach.com/… is acceptable.

    I was illustrating the strategy of purchasing numerous domains especially if they have a large number of links to them and redirecting them to your main domain.

    Additionally using keywords in your main domain like abstractpainter.com or abstractpaintingsforsale.com used to be very effective at ranking high for search terms like “abstract painter” just by having those words in your domain.

    Google has dampened the positive ranking affect of these domains. It still can work but not so reliably and shouldn’t be counted on for search engine ranking and traffic.

    If you want to use the domain name abstractpainter.com go ahead but with the plan to build a brand around that domain.

    These are very technical issues and most likely not a concern for most of your commenters.

    You just need to be careful sometimes about pointing additional domains to a primary domain using permanent redirect.

  • Jeanette Minnich

    I was reading the whole thread, but couldn’t find the answer to my question, which is “where do you go to buy a domain if you aren’t planning to set up a website right away?” Are there some specific clearing houses for domain names, or some that you recommend?

  • We’re selling art, not widgets competing on a global basis. Most of our sales, at my level anyway, don’t come from the web. They come from direct personal contact, even though that may result in a web sale. The point of multiple domains, even if they point to a page within your current site, is to get eyes on the right page from someone you meet. Do you tell them go to johndoesphotos.com/pictures/030913/crazycats02.html or crazycats.com? Which one would your customer be likely to remember and actually visit? Forget SEO in that instance, it’s all about your customers and their emotional connection and can they find the pieces when they decide to buy.

    Yes, there should also be other lead ins from the home page, but again, it’s about marketing that product face to face and not letting them get lost along the way if you can’t accomplish that sale right then. you want a memorable connection.

    SEO for our market is mostly buzz words and voodoo offers from unqualified startup web programmers. Working in the design world, I see too many companies led astray from actual marketing by unrealistic pie in the sky promises from lousy designers with money back traffic promises that actually don’t increase sales because they didn’t effectively market the product or attract the right customer. It has to all be done together.

    Domain names aren’t expensive, I probably have 20+, most just parked for future use, but I have them if I need them as a marketing tool.

  • [...] like to see you at least have separate URLs for those other art forms, which you can use to promote to the specific [...]

  • My name is very long, so it doesn’t work as a domain name. On one website I’m combining two businesses. One is fine art photography and the other is as a social media consultant for artists and creative business. I’m transitioning into the consultant position after 30+ years as a working artist. I want the domain name to work for both. Since I’m not using my name, how important is it for the domain name to specifically connect to both related businesses?