Artist tip: First impressions matter. Buy a domain and email from there.

Something I see from a lot of artists (and even some studios) soliciting their services for artwork is people with MSN, Hotmail and Gmail addresses. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. To be honest, my primary email address is still with Gmail, but only because I’ve been using it for seven and a half years and I use it everywhere. That being said, I’m gradually moving my professional correspondence to my company email address because it does make a difference.

As a first impression, it feels markedly more professional when your email comes from your own domain or website. If you’re a professional service provider, having this form of web-based “real estate” offers an air of legitimacy and seriousness. This is your career, you are organized, you have a website, and you have an email address coming from the website which represents you professionally. Really, only GOOD can come of this.

This goes triply for an art studio. If you’re a group of artists and expect to be taken seriously, having a Gmail or Hotmail email address is going to make you seem young, moderately unprofessional and “indie” in the bad way. I want to work with companies organized enough to have a solid web presence and a “storefront” of sorts. If you don’t have that, it makes me feel like you’re less serious professionally. It sounds a bit unfair, but it makes me less confident in your ability to provide a service for me and deliver on time. You really could be awesome, but first impressions do matter. Why risk it?

As far as good domain names to buy, here are some guidelines:

  1. Try your best to get a dot com. Second best is dot net. Avoid strange TLDs (top level domains) if you can, and also avoid subdomains. Bad example: “ieatpaper.iamaprofessionalartist.co.xxx.nz.abc.123.omg”
  2. If you don’t use your real name, pick something simple. If you say the name aloud, can people find it on the first try? Bad example: “Superdeliciousartistboythatmakesart.com/portfolio/lookatmeIamcreative!!11/”
  3. Avoid internet slang. Bad example: “lolwutbesrs.net”
  4. Avoid non-standard spelling. Bad example: “imaektehthreedeemodelz.net”
  5. No hyphens. Bad example: “c-o-n-c-e-p-t-artist.com”
  6. Avoid complicated words. Bad example: “www.archaeologicalartisan.com”
  7. If it takes longer than three seconds to speak aloud or explain, it’s too long. Bad example: “It’s incompatenceingameduhvelopment.com, but ‘incompetence’ is spelled ‘i-n-c-o-m-p-a to be funny and ‘development’ is spelled ‘D U H velopment’ because — hey, where are you going?”
  8. Don’t pick something offensive. If it has to do with drugs, sex, poop, or communicable diseases, reconsider your life. This is the first impression you’re making to a prospective client or employer. Do you want to be the guy with the gross or stupid name? Bad example: “snotinmyhair.com”
  9. Short and simple is best. Examples of short, simple, REALLY good domain names: “chrisholden.net,” “autodestruct.com,” and “twotongraphics.com”

The verbal aspect of a good name is enormous, and I don’t think many people consider it. You want a name simple enough to stick in someone’s head in the shortest possible amount of time, with the least chance of misspelling.

Remember: YOU need to go out of your way to be memorable to people so they’ll come to you. It’s not up to other people to find you immediately special and earth-shatteringly compelling. Don’t assume they’ll want to remember or will try REALLY hard to track you down online, especially if you have a bad domain name or email address.

What do you guys and gals think? Anything you’d disagree with, or anything I’m missing? Feedback is welcome as always!

6 thoughts on “Artist tip: First impressions matter. Buy a domain and email from there.

  1. Good advice all around. I would, however, disagree to an extent about the hyphens. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. For example, penny-arcade.com or my old portfolio site shades-of-silver.com, especially as I already had already changed my Twitter handle to @shadesofsilver and shadesofsilver.com was already taken. I think hyphens are more of a slant rule. Avoid it if you can, but if you have good reason to, it’s not the end of the world, just keep them limited.

    One other piece of advice I’d offer is along the same lines. Before you buy the domain name, make sure that Twitter and Facebook Page handles exist of it as well (like I mentioned earlier, hyphens happen, but leave them out of your Twitter handle for the sake of the character limit). Even if you’re not going to use it, you don’t want somebody else snagging it first (hi Quikster!).

  2. Hi Dan! Good point on the hyphens. Sometimes it is unavoidable, I just tend to urge people away from it if they can help it. It’s a flexible guideline, to be sure.

    HOLY CRAP YES. Oh god, you’re too right on the Twitter\FB duplicate naming. Qwikster was an amazing example of effing that up in an epic way.

  3. I agree with Matt on the gmail thing – I was running with an email address from my own domain, but I actually switched back to Gmail.

    HOWEVER, I could not agree more about using your own name or something sensible and easy to remember.

  4. “twotongraphics.com” is pretty good, but I would assure that I also own “2tongraphics.com” and have it redirect to the main website. This ambiguity could (but probably wouldn’t) cause confusion.

  5. Joe, totally agree. I was referring someone for a job recently and their email address had something along the lines of “I’m a complete dick” for his address. Just.. wow, no. I asked him for a different email address before I’d make the introduction. :)

    Cole, YES! Dude, totally great point. I wish I’d mentioned that.

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