By Erica Bray
When it comes to popularity on the Internet during the Christmas season, James Cooper is right up there with Santa Claus.
The 36-year-old keeps very busy during November and December,responding to media requests from around the world via his website: www.TheChristmas.expert. In fact, type “Christmas” and “expert” into the Google search browser, and it’s the No. 1 website result.
“It's really exciting and fun that I made something that went number one on Google,” Cooper says of the site, which he launched in October of 2014, shortly after the ‘dot-expert’ (.expert) domain option became publicly available. 'Dot-expert' is one of hundreds of new domain choices available to help create a more memorable and meaningful website name -- and in Cooper's case, a website that's also highly searchable.
It's positioned him as a popular media resource during the holidays, netting Cooper interviews with the BBC, The Huffington Post and numerous radio programs, where he's provided quotes and sound bites that answer everything from "Why do we have Christmas trees?" to "Why do we send each other Christmas cards?"
“Most of my friends call me Mr. Christmas,” he says.
It's a title well deserved. Based in southwestern England, Cooper is the real deal when it comes to comes to dispensing Christmas knowledge. The soft-spoken website developer created The Christmas.expert to elevate his already-burgeoning personal brand as a resource for all things Ho-Ho-Ho.
The "Mr. Christmas" namesake comes, in large part, to his work on another website called WhyChristmas?com, which he created in 2000 for local elementary school teachers who were frustrated by the lack of online Christmas resources they could use in class that weren't overtly commercial.
“They came to me complaining that they couldn’t find a Christmas site that was child-friendly and wasn’t trying to sell the kids toys or something,” he says. “So I made them one.”
For the past 15 years, Cooper has maintained that site, which features Christmas stories and traditions from around the world,by updating it annually with new information.As his knowledge of Christmas has grown, so has traffic to his website. Last December alone it received more than 12 million page loads. The site, however, is a pure passion play; Cooper makes no money from it. “It's never had ads on it, and it never will,” he says. “That's the policy because it started with that ethos.”
Cooper's gift to UK school children has since attracted a global audience,turning him into an online Christmas celebrity somewhat by accident. But it’s a celebrity that Cooper embraces -- otherwise he wouldn’t have gone through the effort of creating a separate website to put the digital stamp on his personal brand.
“When ‘dot-expert’ [.expert] domains came out last year, I thought it would be fun to grab TheChristmas.expert to help people in the media easily find someone of whom they could ask Christmas questions,” he says.
It’s certainly worked.
He’s since created a few other Christmas-specific sites, including IsItChristmas.today, which resides on another of the newest “not-com” domain options, ‘dot-today’ (.today). That playful website responds with a “Yes!” just three days each year: Dec. 25, Jan. 6 (when celebrated by the Armenian Apostolic Church) and Jan. 7 (when celebrated by many Orthodox Churches).
Cooper, however, likely wishes he could serve up "Yes!" for the other 362 days.
“I’m just a big kid who’s always loved Christmas,” he says with a chuckle.