People sometimes ask how I scored such a great URL. Dumb luck and money would be the TL;DR.
When email was established as a normal way for businesses to communicate in the mid 1990s I was using my ISP’s domain: something like: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim Pie, a client and financial communications guru, wanted to refer me to his colleague and asked for my email address. Writing it on the back of my business card I realised:
- My email address was promoting my ISP, not me and
- It was too long and wrapped across two hand written lines
My website was even more complex that included a tilde which required me explaining where to find ~ on a keyboard.
At the time, and still to this day, most new leads come from referrals. Nevertheless I realised it was time to get my own domain. This was before Google, when Yahoo! and AltaVista were the search engine giants.
As well as word-of-mouth potential clients found me in the Yellow Pages telephone directory under Photographers. So I figured the domain photographer.com.au is what people would enter in their Netscape web browser. At the time common names and terms were not able to be registered for .com.au Australian domains so in 1999 I went for the next best: www.photographer.net.au.
First came www.photographer.net.au
In the early noughties my website was number one worldwide for the search term photographer in Yahoo!. Unbeknownst to me search engines at the time ranked websites highly based on their domain name. It brought my work to a much larger audience.
Then came www.photographer.com.au
In 2002 auDA, who administer Australia’s top level com.au domains, announced common names such as photographer could be registered by qualified businesses. An online auction was announced with the highest bidder getting to register the domain name.
When the bids went in to several thousands of dollars it came down to just myself and one other anonymous bidder. To protect the intellectual property and years invested in photographer.net.au I bid well above what I had budgeted for – and got photographer.com.au.
It would be over a decade before I found out who the other other high bidder was. Late one night, after an Australian Institute of Professional Photography awards event, a group of us celebrated at the bar. I had just shouted a round of beers when a fellow AIPP member said, in typically Aussie fashion, “So you’re the b#st*rd who got photographer dot com dot au.” Then they filled in the details.
So there you go. Dumb luck in thinking people use the web like the Yellow Pages, plus a bidding war led to me getting www.photographer.com.au.
Feel free to comment over on LinkedIn, I’d love to hear your early internet story.