Domain Name – How Important is it?
Before you can build a Website to make money online, you have to have a domain name for it. What’s a domain name? It’s a simple way of referring to your Website. The computers that keep track of all of the sites on the Web actually use Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to keep track of them, but it’s asking a lot of Internet users to remember IP addresses when they want to visit a Website. If you want to buy something from Amazon, wouldn’t you rather type in Amazon.com than 188.8.131.52? The domain name system was created so that people could easily navigate to Websites, and choosing a domain name for your business is a vital first step towards your goal to work online from home.
Buying a domain name isn’t difficult; you have to first visit a site known as a registrar. These are sites that are tasked with selling domain names and reporting them to ICANN, the legal entity in charge of keeping track of all of them. Most registrars, such as GoDaddy.com, have search tools that will allow you to see if the name you want is available. What domain name should you choose? You want to choose something that is related to your marketing niche, easy to remember and ideally one that uses one of the three main Top Level Domains (TLD) – .com, .net, or .org. There are literally hundreds of other TLDs that are available, such as .info, .biz, .us, .click, and so on, but most visitors trust the three main TLDs more than they do the others. That may change in time, but for now, you should try to find a domain name that’s either a .com, a .net, or a .org, and you should look for them in that order.
Most registrars will also have a suggestion tool, so if you type in a name and it’s not available, they may be able to suggest something similar for you that is available for purchase. You want your domain name to be relatively simple to type and not too long. All of the good single-word domain names are long gone, so you’re going to have to come up with a name that’s two, three or even four words long, such as bestwidgetsforsale or yogaformoms or something like that. You can put hyphens in the domain name if you must, but I’d recommend staying away from that if you can possibly do it. When ramming a bunch of words together into a name, you want to make sure they don’t spell something that comes back to embarrass you. A company called IHA Vegas once registered the domain name ihavegas.com, and you’ll see that the name reads as “I have gas.”
Ideally, you should try to find a domain name that describes what your site is about, so that visitors will know when they see the name what you’re going to do for them. Even better would be a domain name that consists of words or phrases that people are actually searching for. If you’re creating a site that sells yoga pants, then the phrase buy yoga pants might make a good domain name, as that’s a phrase that people who want to buy yoga pants might type into a search engine. This isn’t something you should spend a lot of time on; you’ll probably think of a good domain name with just a few minutes of thinking about it and if the name you want isn’t available, the registrars will suggest some similar ones that are. If you spend too much time picking your domain name, you’ll just find yourself getting confused. Just pick a name and go with it.
Buying the domain name is a fairly simple process at any registrar. You may need to create an account at the site, and then you will need to enter your personal information, such as your name, email address, phone number and mailing address. Then you simply use a credit card or PayPal to pay for your domain name. The cost is usually about $10-$12 per year for a .com, .net or .org domain. You can choose the amount of time you’d like to purchase at checkout and you can buy as little as one year at a time. You may also have the option of paying a few dollars extra and receiving private registration, and this is something that you may wish to consider. Domain name ownership is a matter of public record, and there are tools online known as WHOIS tools that can show you the name, address and phone number of the owners of any domain name. I actually received phone calls from people who have used a WHOIS lookup to find our personal phone number, so if you don’t want phone calls from strange people at odd hours, you may wish to buy the private registration. If you do that, the WHOIS lookup will show a name such as domainsbyproxy.org as the owner, and any attempt to contact you will have to go through that agency.
Once you have acquired your domain name, you’re a step closer to having your online business. It’s a lot easier to do than it used to be and a lot less expensive, too. About 15 years ago, domain names cost $35 per year with a two year minimum. They’re more affordable now and that makes it a lot easier for anyone to get started making money online. Of course, the domain name is the first step. Next, you’ll have to create a Website, and that, too, has gotten a lot easier over the years. At one time, you’d have to learn HTML coding and type it by hand using Notepad or some other word processor. That got a bit simpler with the development of WYSIWYG tools such as Microsoft’s Frontpage or NetObjects Fusion, but today, most people just use a free piece of software called WordPress. It’s easy to install, it’s very easy to configure, it’s quite versatile and there’s lots of help regarding how to work with it on the Web. There are also professional site building tools that are worthwhile, too, if you’re interested in something that requires less work and a more polished user interface. In a future post, we’ll discuss how to find a hosting company for your Website and how to install WordPress.
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For now, get started thinking about that domain name.