Choose a Great Home Business Domain Name (and Avoid the Newbie Pitfalls)
Choosing Your Name
You don't need to form a company to register a home business domain - any individual can do it. In fact for some businesses, registering your own personal name can be highly effective. When I was working as a freelance writer, for example, mine was donnalynnemacdonald.com. It worked great because it was so memorable; the only problem was the possible variations of the name spellings. I got around that by emphasizing the 'E' for LynnE and 'A' in MAcDonald in all my marketing materials.
The importance of your choice can't be overestimated.
1. Your home business domain name should be the same as your business name. Obvious, right? Well you'd be surprised how many website names don't match the business name. Why this is important? Because when someone thinks of your website, they'll think of it by name. If that name matches the URL (website address), it will be easy to find you. If it doesn't, you're putting an unnecessary roadblock in front on your site traffic.
How this happens? Usually the first choice for a site name is already registered by somebody else. This is more and more of a challenge because of the proliferation of websites, especially the .com's. Possible remedies: you may be able to buy the name you want from the party who owns it,
(look them up in the 'whois' information for the domain),
or you may need to get creative and come up with a variation.
2. Don't choose a generic name like 'pets.com' if you have a pet store. Think about it - if you're shopping online you've already established pretty much what you're looking for in your mind - you'll be searching for information about Spaniels or German Shepherds; you're not going to search 'pets'.
3. Don't pick an obscure home business domain name that tests human memory; for example, using www.hbhd.com for www.home-biz-help-desk.com.
4. All things being equal, shorter is better, (though finding a short and meaningful name is increasingly difficult). Even though you have up to 67 characters to work with, keeping the name short is usually better because it's easier to remember and less prone to typos.
5. Consider registering several forms of the name. For example, I've registered both www.TheHomeBizHelpDesk and www.home-biz-help-desk.com. Why? When people think of my site name, I don't want them to get lost because they forgot to add the hyphens; both names point to the same site. You might also want to consider registering your home business domain name in various formats, like the .net version, .biz, etc. - the idea is to thwart a competitor from grabbing traffic that should be going to your site. At about $10 per registration, it's a cheap investment in protecting your business.
6. Use your site keywords (the most common words people will search with to find you), in your name because the search engines will give your site preference.
7. If you use any name extension other than .com, make sure you use the full name in all your advertising and marketing. If people think of you as www.you, they'll type in www.you.com automatically. If your site is www.you.net, they're lost, so it's really important to stress the full name of your site in all your advertising and communications.
Registering Your Domain Name
1. First make a list on paper of names you'd like to use; the longer the list the better, because your first choice may be (probably is) taken. Don't shop around for fun; don't check names out in your browser window, and for heaven's sake don't fall into the newbie trap of posting a request for opinions on a forum. Your query may be noted by a domain name 'front runner' who could snap it up with an expectation that you might pay a premium to buy it back from them. Don't take the risk. Instead, go to your chosen registrar armed with your list of potential names and when you find a name that's available, buy it on the spot. Don't mull it over. Don't sleep on it - nail it down right then and there.
2. Now you're ready to determine the availability of your chosen name(s) and complete the registration process.
There are many domain registration companies available online:
The largest in the USA is GoDaddy.
If you prefer a Canadian registrar, I like
You'll need a credit card (or prepaid Visa or MasterCard) to pay for the domain so that you can claim ownership of the name as soon as the transaction completes. This is important because it's very competitive out there and you could lose a great name to somebody else within minutes.
3. Once you have your home business domain name secured you can leave it 'parked' with the registration company until you're ready to connect it up with your website content. (Most registration companies will automatically park your domain without you having to do anything special.)
4. Now it's time to choose a web hosting company, if you don't already have one. Your web hosting company will provide you with their primary and secondary nameserver (DNS) information. (Don't worry if you don't understand all this, just write down the information.) Then go back to your domain registration company and provide this nameserver information so that they can point your home business domain name to your website.
Congratulations - you're done!
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