Welcome to the first post at joshrachlis.com! My brand new website! Well, sort of. It’s also kind of old, since I’ve imported all my posts from my old blogs. But it’s my first post to the domain name joshrachlis.com. I’m not exactly sure what this site will become. My dream is to be able to post about my adventures and somehow make money from that so I can quit my day job and travel the world and share the stories with you full-time. I’d also love to interview and post about celebrities like Perez Hilton does. And it would be neat to teach people what I’ve learned about the creative field that I’m in, like copywriting and voice acting. I have a lot of interests and I’ve been trying to figure out how to focus:
But first, I needed a domain name. And you know like when you’re a kid, you can spend forever trying to come up with a name for your band before ever writing a song? My quest has been kind of like that. Well, not exactly. I did register joshrachlis.com 15 years ago and I was ready to go. But… Now some guy in Indonesia has it. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Over the past 15 years I’ve had joshrachlis.com that a couple of friends built for me, then 3 Myspace pages, then a Blogspot blog. Along the way I let my domain joshrachlis.com expire because I wasn’t using it so I figured I’d save some money until I needed it. Also, a friend of my friend Tori renewed joshrachlis.com for me and directed it to my MPP campaign site or something, because I didn’t understand the process and he was getting the renewal emails. But I figured, there’s no other Josh Rachlis in the world, so who else would want it?
In 2012, I get a Google alert that someone has posted at joshrachlis.com. It seemed that someone had bought the domain and started a “home improvement” blog, with weird, spammy articles about toilets and cleaning up children’s rooms. I mention this to my girlfriend at the time, who thinks it must be the same psycho stalker girl who’d been posting “I hate Josh Rachlis” blogs for the past few months. (Which is a whole other story for another post. Or, heck, maybe it should be a whole serialized podcast like that murder investigation one called Serial that I started listening to this week.) But, I look into it, and it seemed that it was just some random guy named Eddo Marceliano in West Sumatra, Indonesia. So I wrote to him (his email address says Alya for some reason) and, well, here’s how that went. Start at the bottom and read upwards.
And then later:
This drove me insane. I didn’t want to pay this guy that much for something that wasn’t even making me any money. And he was being such a mean jerk about it too. So I did an half hour phone consultant with a lawyer who specializes in domains, and he suggested I just make it into one of my funny stories that I post. I also emailed consultant Bill Sweetman who goes by Name Ninja, and he didn’t have any answers either. So I talked to my friend who works at a patent law firm. And I read up everything I could on the subject. And here’s the thing: You can’t copyright a personal name. So there was no way for me to argue copyright infringement. And even if it was a name I could copyright, like, say, Coca-Cola, I still wouldn’t be able to force him to give me the domain back. All I could do would be maybe keep him from using it.
At some point during all this, I met girl who’s a web designer and she told me I should use WordPress, so I transferred the Blogspot to a WordPress.com blog. Then she told me I should have a self-hosted page, and we used joshrachlis.ca and I bought hosting. But then I wasn’t dating her anymore, and she disappeared.
So for a couple of years, I was both trying to figure out how to get a site built, and trying to figure out a domain name.
At one point, I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea for a domain name that I loved, and I even started a cartoon strip with the name. But eventually I realized that I wanted to brand myself as a personality, rather than promote the name of a blog. I’m holding onto that name in case I want to use it in the future, but, I think I just want to work on getting myself out there, like a Bill Maher, or an Amy Schumer. So I posted about my troubles on Facebook:
A girl who was a Facebook friend messaged me that she builds sites, we met for coffee and by the end of the coffee I had bought hosting with JustHost, because she didn’t like NameCheap, which I bought hosting with based on the earlier girl’s suggestion. And we emailed and met and talked about templates and organizing the site. But the template we chose didn’t work well, and I wasn’t sure she could give me what I wanted in terms of monetizing the site and making it looks clean and simple, so I stopped that process.
I really wanted to be able to monetize my site and make it my career, like Perez Hilton, but nobody seemed to know how to do that. Then, at a party for fellow fringe mayoral candidates, I met a woman, Lee Romanov, who was running for mayor and was a self-made Internet millionaire and has now started a company called Income Activator that builds you a website that will make you money. I met with her for coffee, and mentioned my domain woes, and talked about how a few years earlier I was hired at my work to make funny videos as a celebrity hunter, and I came up with the name Celebrity Josh. Lee liked the idea of using celebrityjosh.com, which I thought would be easier to spell, and could become kind of a celebrity gossip site about myself and other celebrities. So I hired them to build me a site. But I wasn’t as familiar with how to post with their system as I was with Blogger and WordPress. And it occurred to me that I would never know how many times I was mentioned on the Internet, because celebrity and Josh are words that are too common. So I put that site aside while I continued to figure out what would work best for me. I still want to have an Income Activator site, so I’m going to go back and start one on a specific topic once I get this WordPress blog rolling. And their site says you can also add their tools to any website. So maybe I’ll see if they can help with this blog. If you wind up using them, tell them I sent you and you’ll get a special discount. Lee’s workshops are very inspirational:
But anyway, in the meantime, I was back to wanting joshrachlis.com. I didn’t like .ca because I dream of being an International Celebrity, and also I read that using .com is best because people are more familiar with it and will be most likely to type that in.
Also, I still didn’t know how to build the site. I had looked at SquareSpace, Weebly, Blogspot, WordPress.com, Tumblr. A girl who runs a website business emailed out to the Toronto entrepreneur community and I got emails from dozens of web designers. But nobody seemed to know how to monetize a site. I thought Income Activator would be my salvation, but it wasn’t working for me yet.
I started taking Camp Tech classes, to increase my knowledge and hopefully help me figure out how to get the kind of site I wanted:
I took a Ladies Who Code class to see if I could build my own WordPress site:
But that didn’t work out great:
I keep going back to Camp Tech though. And not just because of the gender ratio:
The instructors are great:
And I hired GoDaddy three times to try to contact Eddo and negotiate me buying back the name. But according to GoDaddy, they were never able to get him to reply to an email or answer the phone. In the meantime, it occurred to me to fight fire with fire and buy the dot com of Eddo’s name, and post some crap at that domain just like he was posting crap at mine, so that maybe I’d have some more leverage. Meanwhile, the world of domains changed and suddenly there were many more options. So in the likely event that “buy Eddo’s name dot com” tactic didn’t work, I consulted with my Facebook friends about other possible domain names to use for myself:
As you can see in the comments, they had lots of ideas. I finally narrowed it down to joshrachlis.com. I liked the ring of that. It seemed like it would work well for both comedy and for my political campaigns, and even as a name for a podcast. And when I was on my last minute trip to Mexico with my friend Liz (whom I hadn’t met in person until arrived to her resort in Mexico, but that trip is a story for another post that I have been delaying writing because I wanted to write this introduction post first) Liz and I kept referring to joshrachlis.com and I was even supposed to register the domain while with her in Mexico and New York City. But I didn’t get around to it. Then one day, GoDaddy called to tell me that celebrityjosh.com was expiring. I went through the whole story about why I didn’t want it anymore. He asked if there was anything else he could do for me. I said: “Well, I hired you guys to buy back joshrachlis.com but you haven’t been able to.” He says: “Oh, I see in your records that you bought the guy’s name?” And, well, here’s how that conversation went:
That Facebook status about the conversation became one of my top 3 most Liked, Commented and Shared Facebook posts ever. Even Bill Sweetman the Name Ninja gave it a Like.
And then I had to put the site together. I can’t remember exactly at what point I decided I was going to build a self-hosted WordPress site by myself. But it was a decision based on little bits of knowledge that I’d been learning. Such as that fact that most sites are built with WordPress, and there is a default WordPress template, which looks fine, removes my need to go through thousands of templates to decide, and which I know will work properly. I’ve continued to learn helpful tips:
I’ve been reading about and watching videos on how to organized the blog, like how come up with categories and how categories are different from tags. In my recent Camp Tech class, I asked about mailing lists and affiliate links. It’s fun to learn new things and have the power to implement them myself.
Rather than start fresh, which I considered, I imported my old WordPress.com blog, which was itself started by importing my even older Blogspot blog. So all my old posts are in here. I just needed to start adding new content. But I wanted to write this post first, as the big introduction to the new domain name. And I’ve found it hard to find the time and mental focus to sit down to do this. It’s so much easier to bang out a quick Facebook status. Look how long this ridiculous post is already. But I’ll be on a roll now now that I’ve got this post done (although I might come back and edit and add to it after it’s posted). I still want to post about my Mexico trip, and my 10K that I ran last month. And I have to edit and post a comedy video I shot in an American Girl store in Chicago 2 years ago(!) that’s still sitting in my iMovie editing program.
But it’s a good life lesson that I started out devastated that joshrachlis.com was taken from me and I’ve wound up with a domain name that I like even more. Take challenges as an opportunity to get to an even better place! Maybe I should start a Life Coach section of this blog.
Maybe I should also start a Social Media Expert section, because I’m also happy to share what I’ve learned about building a site, choosing a domain name, the differences between WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress, and whatever else I’ve picked up. So ask questions in the comment section if you like.
And I’ll think of a pithy ending for this later. In the meantime, I want to get going on my second post.