So you have a brilliant business idea that you want to take to the Web? Or maybe you want to pour your heart out on the digital pages of a blog? Whatever the case may be, the time has come for you to get started on your web presence.
There is a plethora of free options available. Blogspot, WordPress.com (not to be confused with the content management system, which can be found at WordPress.org), and HelioHost are some examples of free services that let webmasters get their sites up and running. The major downside to these services, however, is that your site will be a subdomain (such as example.blogspot.com). This might be good enough for a small online journal, but it is not acceptable for a professional business.
Luckily, registering a domain does not have to be a scary, or technologically complex procedure. Just find the domain registrar that you want, pay the fees, and get started.
Choosing a Name
A site’s URL can make it or break it, so choose wisely. Try to come up with a list of at least a dozen domains that would fit your business since some domain names might already be taken, or some may be beyond your budget. Try to avoid using hyphens when it can be avoided since they can make things more complicated. Word of mouth is still important, even in the age of SEO, so a catchy domain name that is easy to remember can work wonders.
Domains that end in “.com” come off as more natural on the Web, and thus have more power. In order to protect your business and its reputation, however, it may be a good idea to register “.net”, “.biz”, and other extensions as well. Simply redirect web surfers that land on these pages to your primary “.com” site. This same tactic applies to mistyped website addresses as well, such as “Yaho.com” redirecting to Yahoo.com.
Once you have decided on a domain name, check to see if it is available. Most domain registrars provide tools for future webmasters to see if the domain name of their dreams is free or not. If it is available, you are one step away from having our own piece of virtual real estate. If it is not available, you will have to chose a different domain name, purchase the domain from the current owner, or wait until the current owner stops renewing their registration.
When a domain is registered, it is registered for a set period of time. When this registration period expires, the domain can no longer be used to display your website, and will be up for grabs to be purchased by other webmasters, potentially rivals of your business. In order to prevent this, it may behoove you to opt for an automatic renewal plan which will automatically extend the term of your domain registration. This can be done manually, of course, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Every registered website must have WHOIS information associated with it. By default, this information will include the webmaster’s name, physical mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number. It is reasonable to not want to have this information widely available to potential millions of denizens of the Internet. For this reason, domain registrars offer WHOIS protection to keep this information private, providing their own information in lieu of that of their clients.
WHOIS protection is not a necessary service, but it is advisable if you value your personal privacy. Some registrars offer this service for free, while others charge for it.
Connect Your Site to Your Domain
Once you have your domain name, you will have to connect your hosting plan to it in order to display your website. If you choose to purchase your domain and hosting from the same provider, this will likely be done for you automatically. Should you decide to use separate providers, however (which can save money in some cases), you will have to connect your domain to your site.
Some domain registrars have tools that make this process easy. Others will require you to input your namespaces (or DNS servers). This information should be given by your hosting provider. If you cannot find your DNS servers, then you can contact your hosting provider’s customer support department.
Once your domain name has been properly associated with your namespace, you are good to go. Congratulations; your site is now online!
Registering a domain name is a simple process and can be completed in a matter of minutes. It does not have to break the bank either. Research different domain registration companies in order to get the best deals, and be on the lookout for coupon codes. For further savings, remember that you are operating a business online, so any expense that goes towards setting up your business may be written off as an expense on your taxes (at least in the United States)!