by Lizzie Sorensen of Lizzie Sorensen Brand Management
After my last column was published, a lot of readers wrote in with questions about how to secure your domain, URL, and those sorts of technical matters that one needs to deal with when launching their own business. It’s not the most fun part, but as we know there can only be one .com for every website name, and if you don’t snap up the one that fits your business and brand the best, somebody else will. If you do snap one up, make sure that it makes sense and that you have 100% control over it.
When you’re first coming up with your branding roadmap, think of a name. Make sure that your URL is as close to your product, company name, brand as possible. If it isn’t, then it just doesn’t make any sense to use. Then make sure that you are cleared to use that name by checking for previously registered trademarks, and by checking available domains.
In my opinion it’s still best to register a .com vs. a .net or .org in most cases. Everyone automatically thinks to look for blahblah.com so why make them search? The idea of securing a .com that fits your brand is to ensure that people can find you. It’s not enough to have a website as part of a larger family such as Etsy, Artfire, or a blog host. You need to have your own. If you choose to re-direct or link from there, that’s easy enough.
After coming up with your website URL and making sure that it’s available for use, you need to register it. Make sure that if you’re using a website designer that you’re still the one who registers this domain and purchases hosting. If someone else registers your domain and hosting for you just because you were too intimidated to do it yourself, they will be the owner, and that is very scary. They essentially hold the keys to your website ownership. You must be the master of your domain.
When you register (or have someone do it for you but put YOU as the registrant), use an email address and phone number that you can be reached at for the next year in case the registrar needs to get a hold of you. The last thing you need is for your domain to expire and a squatter (yes they exist) to snap it up, and then BAM – you and your brand are finished or at least compromised.
I like to use GoDaddy. In almost a decade, I’ve never had one bad experience with them. They have 24/7 phone support and have never treated me like I was an idiot. This is important. Familiarize yourself with the inner workings of the registrar that you choose. This way after you secure your domain, you’ll find it easy to secure hosting, email addresses and use the tools available such as stats and traffic tracking.
Remember, naming your business and coming up with your branding roadmap is half the battle. Providing a clear and concise way such as a dot com for people to find out more about you, your services and ultimately spend money with you is the most important step, and in this day and age, a website is your ticket.