The Problems With Personal Branding

There is a definite draw for people to build up a personal brand around their names – either first or last name. Earning name recognition or associating a person’s recognition with a business, gaining personal merit/achievement, and the hope for having ones’ name associated with a successful enterprise are very attractive motivations for naming a business after oneself.

When deciding on how to brand your business or website, it is important to take some things into account before you jump into a personal branding strategy (similar to what I did with my blog and what several others have done as well).  If you wish to start a blog and decide to use a personally branded domain name, your readers will likely come to expect regular input from you. While there are definite upsides to building a personal relationship with readers, there are some catches.

For one, it leaves very little room for breaks. Since most people will have grown accustomed to your regular input, there is a chance that they may not stick around if you decide to take some time off. Some readers may only be going to your blog to read what you have to say, so even hiring a “guest blogger” to take over for a bit would still drive them away. If you aren’t writing your own posts, the content could reflect poorly upon you.

Another big consideration is if you decide to sell off your business to move on to bigger and better things. Imagine selling a blog with your name on it to someone who will produce content you can’t control. Furthermore, visitors may know that you aren’t running the site any longer, and they may not be interested in returning. This is something a buyer would consider when making an acquisition, and the offer may be less than if it were on a descriptive or branded domain name.

Investing in a less personal branding approach may work better in the long run for some people. By creating a slightly less intimate connection to a person or family, you are making your domain name more versatile for future growth and use, whether that is by you or by another entity who acquires it.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Great article.

    My name is my domain/website/business and that is my brand so I understand where you are coming from.

    I understand the restriction on potential expansion but since I have no plans to sell to anyone, the domain/brand serves its purpose.

    I strongly suggest that everyone own their own name or at least a version of it and I suggest that all parents register their kids names as domain names. I would imagine it would be pretty hard to buy someone else’s name .com so better to register it yourself.

    So, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the title of the article, The Problems with Personal Branding. Under the right circumstances I think a better title could be The Benefits of Personal Branding.

  2. @ Rob

    There are plenty of benefits to it, and I think those are more clear than the drawbacks.

    A primary concern is that it would be more difficult to sell as a domain blog than to sell the same website, but built on or

    IMO, I would get more money for the same website and content if it was on a descriptive domain name.

    Of course the other consideration is that people wouldn’t necessarily know who I am and there might not be a personal connection… There are good and bad things about this.

  3. Since “Elliot” is a famous, trusted name in domaining, it likely carries over to your buying and selling domains. You can’t buy that brand recognition!

  4. If it is your intent to sell your blog then you have to make an investment in it to make it more attractive to a purchaser. You need to spend some money to hire “teen domainers” so to speak to write articles that you assign to them and vet/edit developing the formula. Similar to what became, on a much larger scale, Techcrunch which started if I remember correctly with just Arrington writing all the articles. Along those lines you might want to move into additional areas other than just domains focus that you currently have. Other things that your existing readership might find interesting.

  5. Hey Elliot your recent millionth visitor shows you do have a certain following, numbers don’t lie – nice one 🙂
    I think Rob Sequin hit the nail on the head when he says he would have no plans to sell hisname .com . Im sure most people who own theirname .com would probably take the same view. I also second the point about buying your kids/friend’s kids .com – I do this regularly for friends who ‘get it’ and a few who dont.
    A name like is a bit greyer. IMO elliotsblog is eminently saleable as is(although obviously that would just be silly), there are no shortage of ‘Elliot’s in the world, its no different really than ‘Bob’s Bar & Grill’ – they still do a great steak even though everyone knows ‘Bob’ probably died of liver failure many years ago!
    Horses for courses – blogs and personal/local type business can take your name without saleability hit (imo) – bigger businesses could maybe do better with more generic descriptive names, not always though by any stretch.
    Does anyone think Wendys(tm) would have been better branded as ‘FastFood’ ? Each case is unique.

  6. You are kind of in the middle, elliotsblog without any last name so at least you can still own your own name. All in all a pretty good compromise as far as sites go.

    Just think john chow, he routinely says that had he known his blog would have been so popular, he would have definitely chosen a different domain name for the reasons you listed.

  7. I believe people in domaining world with personal blogs (domain with personal name) have become trusted & popular people over a period of time. So when they/you flip a domain name, you are likely to get customers quickly and get more value than a regular domainer with the same domain name. This might be an unseen advantage to your main business imho.

  8. I sidestepped this issue by using an acronym of my online nick, which i acquired in 1998, when it was still fashionable to have one.

    When I decided to start blogging most of my investment and activity was in the space and I managed to hand reg this domain, so was the obvious choice for a domain blog.

    I wish I could be as active in blogging as I used to be on the forums at one point in time, but real life seems to take up every waking moment and then some.

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