One of the first—and most important—things to do when creating your author website is to choose a domain name (also called a URL). Your domain name will serve as your main online address, so it should be memorable and easily relatable to you and your writing.
At Web Design Relief, we talk our writers through the difficult task of choosing a great, effective domain name. If you’re choosing and registering your own domain name, you’ll appreciate this handy FAQ.
What makes a good domain name?
A few tips: keep it short, easy to type, and easy to memorize (when possible). Use words that people will be typing into search engines to find you (the keywords). Avoid hyphens and other special characters.
What’s the best kind of domain name a writer can choose?
Ideally, you’ll want a domain that is either your name or the title of your book. Learn more about how to decide whether to focus your website on yourself or on a given book.
What if my domain name is already taken?
Even if your name or book title seem incredibly unique, someone else may already be using it. And some unscrupulous Web developers buy URLs so they can charge you a premium for the privilege of owning it. The sooner you claim your domain name, the better.
If your domain name is already taken, you can choose an alternative. Say WritersName.com is already registered elsewhere. You could try:
If you’re writing a series called The Cherub Conspiracy and for some reason TheCherubConspiracy.com is already in use, you could try:
What about domain names that don’t end with “.com”?
While it’s likely that alternative domains will become increasingly popular going forward, the standard right now for writers is to choose “.com” when possible. That said, it can be a good practice to buy any domains that match your current URL extension ahead of time. So if your website is “WritersNameBooks.com,” you might also want to own “WritersNameBooks.me” even if you don’t have any immediate plans to use it.
The following description from the registrar GoDaddy.com, illustrates the various extensions and their affiliations:
- .co : an abbreviation for company, commerce, and community
- .info : information sites
- .net : technical, Internet infrastructure sites
- .org : non-commercial organizations and nonprofits
- .biz : business or commercial use, like e-commerce sites
- .me : blogs, résumés, or personal sites
You’re not required to register every possible extension for your author website. However, some writers feel better knowing that no one else will ever own “WritersName.me,” which could appear in search engine results when people are looking for “WritersName.com.”
Can my Web designer register my domain for me?
Often a Web developer (like Web Design Relief) will register your domain for you. But be sure that the designer is not going to own the domain: It must belong to you. Learn more about the important questions to ask a Web designer before paying them.
Where do I register on my own, and how much will it cost?
There are many registration services available on the Web, and the average cost for a year is between $5 and $15. But if someone else already owns your domain, you might need to pay more if you want to own it for yourself.
Once you decide to create an author website, you’ll need to point (connect) your domain to your website. This can be a little bit tricky for a novice but not impossible. If you need help, ask your Web designer.
Any safety issues to know about when choosing a domain?
By default your name, home/business address, and email address will be listed publicly in the WhoIs information for your domain. That means anyone—including spammers—could get your personal contact information and send you unwanted solicitations. If you’re concerned about privacy, if you’re hiding your real name because you write under a pen name, or if you just hate spam, many registrars offer private registration (the option of hiding this info).
Remember To Have Fun!
We think it’s important to go into any project with good energy, so even if your domain name is already taken, don’t be discouraged. Who knows? You might come up with an even catchier, more clever domain name than the one you originally wanted!
QUESTION: How would you choose a domain name if yours was taken?