Seth Godin: Nickel and diming. (As an aside, it drives me crazy that people like Seth Godin and John Moore are pouring countless hours into creating priceless content as sharecroppers on domains they don’t own. To clarify, I have no problem that they’re using Typepad, but for goodness sake put it on your own domain. When someone Google’s you the first hit shouldn’t be .typepad.com. Your name is the most valuable thing you have, and every day you put it off is more links to someplace you can never truly control.)
A few weeks ago I twittered I was heading to the bank to wire money for a life change. People got excited, and assumed I was buying a house, fancy car, plane, company, jewelry… it was really amusing to see where people’s imagination went. I’m afraid the truth is much less exciting, at least to other people. I was wiring money for the domain I’m on now, ma.tt. How did this come to be?
Around the beginning of the year I was going through a spreadsheet for international domains, listing all the different countries, and I spotted .tt. I noticed they did the top-level thing, not .co.tt or something lame like that, and I wandered over to the 90s-era NIC site for Trinidad and Tobago. I did a search for “ma.tt” and was utterly shocked that it was unregistered!
Now I’ve been at photomatt.net for 6+ years now, but quite honestly the .net threw people off. I can’t tell you how many times media coverage has misspelled my domain name, usually with .org or .com. The .org guy was a little wacky, but eventually he let the domain expire and I picked it up. But the .com guy was a little more damaging — he had a somewhat active and well-designed site, it just focused mostly on pictures of harajaku (sp?) girls. People assumed this was me and I had a weird Asian fetish. No matter how many times I contacted him, he never got back to me about a price for the domain, or a mutual link, anything. I had also thought about something like matt.com, but I think that’d be way too expensive. It became more obvious that photomatt.net probably wasn’t going to be a domain name for the ages.
Back to ma.tt, it was unregistered but to register a domain in Trinidad/Tobago you have to do an international wire to their bank, they don’t accept credit cards, and the cost is 500/yr for the first 2 years. (Which is probably why you don’t see too many.) The cost is much higher than an unregistered .com, but you can easily spend 1-10k on a good .com and this was way cooler, so the price seemed reasonable. It’s a 5-character domain, the same length as a single-letter .com. So about two weeks ago I went to the bank, wired the money to their foreign account and then… didn’t hear anything for a week. At first I wondered if I had been scammed 419-style, but then I got an email from their admin that everything was set up.
I originally wanted to launch the new domain with a new design, but knowing that yesterday’s post would get a ton of links it seemed like an opportune time to make the jump. Switching over took 2 seconds, I just updated my siteurl and home options in WordPress, and I shortened my permalink structure to remove the day, and it started magically redirecting all my old links to the new ones.
If you can, don’t forget to update your blogroll links, though old ones will continue to work forever. Not everyone would consider moving domains a “life change,” but it is to me. I’m looking forward to many, many years at ma.tt.