If you are a collegiate athlete looking to capitalize on your ability to earn money from your name, image, and likeness, you may find it advantageous to have your very own domain name.
What is a domain? It's your personal “dot com”, the web address that people plug into their computer browser or phone to visit your website to learn more you and your brand.
There are numerous benefits to having your own domain. Much of your effectiveness when it comes to name, image, and likeness is tied to your personal brand. A website is a hub beyond social media to showcase your accomplishments, skill set, and brand. It's basically a portfolio to show brands or prospective partners who you are and what you’re about. So much of NIL is tied to your personal brand, and this is a place beyond social media for you to tell your own story and showcase that brand. It's also a place you sell apparel, or let prospective businesses know how to contact you for name, image, and likeness inquiries.
It's important for your website to be easy to remember and well-branded. The world's top athletes all have their own “dot com” that serve as places to learn more about them, their brands, and their businesses.
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Lebron James can serve as an excellent example. His website – which has the domain LebronJames.com – has information on his companies, investments, endorsements, and companies he's partnered with currently. He's built many ventures and sides businesses based on his success as an athlete and has specific branding for each of those.
Tom Brady is another example. He's built an entire business off his “TB12” lifestyle branding. He has a couple businesses and one charitable organization based off that brand, and dedicated domain names for each: TB12Sports.com, TB12Meals.com, and TB12Foundation.com.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes also has a quality setup; his main namesake website PatrickMahomes.com is actually billed as primarily an apparel store, while his charity foundation is at 15andthemahomies.com. As you can see, Mahomes simply uses his name for one site and then uses a clever play on his name and jersey number for another.
You'll notice that many of the world's most recognizable athletes have multiple domain names, that they are recognizable, and that they serve numerous purposes.
Here are some helpful tips for choosing a domain name. We recommend reading over these tips and then jotting down several potential names for your domain(s).
A. This has to be said first: don't cheap out on purchasing an actual “dot com” domain name. You don't want yourname.wixsite.com or something of that nature. A “dot com” name is not only much more memorable, it's more professional and reinforces the legitimacy of your brand.
B. Choose more than one domain name. Start with trying your first and last name, like LeBron James did with his website. Yours may be taken already, particularly if you have a more common name.
C. If you’re going to set up a business, you could also create a name for your company and use that. Using the same LeBron example, if he owned a company called LeBron Basketball Camps, LLC, he could do something like lebronbasketballcamps.com. A good rule of thumb is to try and make it simple, short and easy to remember.
D. If you want to include your jersey number in one of your domain names, keep in mind that you're not guaranteed to keep that jersey number from high school to college, from college to pros. If you nab one just in case, that's fine! Your jersey number can definitely end up being part of your brand.
E. If you're a collegiate athlete, stay away from using the name of your institution or school mascot in your domain at this point. NIL laws restrict the usage of school logos, marks, and names of colleges when it comes to things like autograph signings and other monetary opportunities for student-athletes without prior approval. That's OK, though – you actually have more flexibility by keeping the brand focus on you.
F. There are bunches of options for the extension (i.e. something like .com, .net, org) that you choose, but whatever name you pick, try to stick with a .com domain name since that’s the most common and recognizable.
G. You may not be ready to actually launch your website yet, and that's OK. You still need to make sure you secure your domain name(s) for the future to ensure that you own your brand and keep your business options open. Here's the cool thing: even if you don't ultimately become a collegiate or professional athlete, you can always use your domain name in the future for other business or personal ventures!
It's important to register multiple domain names not just to give yourself flexibility for the future for different business and branding ventures, but also as a form of protecting your brand and intellectual property. Believe it or not, there are multiple celebrities that have had to go fight in court to acquire their domain names from people that had bought them up previously – and sometimes they didn't win!
Regardless of where or how you go about registering your domain name, we recommend getting privacy protection added on. Some domain registrars/services include this in their pricing, and others do not. When you register a domain, your personal information can be found online unless you purchase privacy protection.
Alright, so you have some guidance as far as how to choose your domain names. Now, you need to know how to actually register a domain, or multiple domain names.
AthletesForProfit wants to simplify things as much as possible for athletes, their families, and their advisors. There are so many places that offer domain purchases, and if we listed all of them, it could be overwhelming. To help, we're going to narrow things down.
Before the name, image, and likeness era, it made sense to buy up several domains and sit on them until a later date. If you want to do that, you can utilize a service like Domain.com, GoDaddy, or Namecheap. Keep in mind that if you register a domain (or domains) through these services, that you may need to transfer those to another service (unless you use their hosting) once you're ready to have your website built.
Now that college athletes can capitalize on their name, image, and likeness, it's advantageous to have a website right now.
Because of that, it's our recommendation to couple purchasing your domain name with a service that has quality web hosting or building capabilities. Here are several options that we have personally used to register domains and build websites.
BLUEHOST – Includes a free domain name for the first year. Has the most affordable long-term entry point – your price can be as low as three-bucks a month on average over a three year term.
If you're not ready to launch a website right away, you'll still have your domain and your web hosting secured and ready to go for when the time is right.
SHOPIFY – If you want your website – or one of your websites – to be an online store, Shopify is an extremely popular platform that many college athletes have already used to feature their apparel.
It is a more expensive option, but a good one to build an online store. Domain names are an extra cost even with a paid Shopify plan, so keep that in mind.
WIX – Includes a free domain for the first year. Has lots of templates and a smaller learning curve if you're building your own website, so it's good for beginners. You can start accumulating higher costs (you may need to upgrade your hosting plan, for example) if you do things like add an online store to your site.
SQUARESPACE – Packages also include a free domain for the first year. Similar to Wix in that it's a drag-and-drop, user friendly website editor. It's slightly more pricy than Wix, and there are some of the same limitations in terms of long-term customizations.
Registering a domain name, or multiple domain names, should be one of the very first thing you do as a student-athlete to get ready for the name, image, and likeness era.
Any questions about domain registration or websites? Drop us a line: email@example.com and we'll be glad to help!