Whether it’s your first or your tenth, I have advice to give you if you’re setting up a website. For the purpose of this series, I’m going to assume you already have a business: hired an accountant; paid your taxes; registered your LLC or INC or whatever with your state. None of that is relevant anyway. There’s plenty of information available on that topic already. It’s not why we’re here.
Setting up a web site may look daunting, but it really isn’t: you can have a website today, in the next hour, with whatever on it you want.
Understand: I don’t want to host your website. In fact, if you ask I’ll say “no.” I could, sure, that’s part of my day job, but frankly I’d rather let someone else handle that. I’m not affiliated with any web hosting companies, and therefore I can be scrupulously honest. I’m not trying to sell you anything except my services – but the hosting part? That’s on you.
My goal is to break it down bite sized, and set you free to confidently take care of your own stuff. If you were to hire me to set up your web site, this is what we’d do, and over the next several posts, I’ll break down the steps in detail:
- Buy the domain
- Select the host
- Set up your web site
- Set up your email
- SEO is a process, not a task
- Pay attention to your site
- Deal with scams
Step 1: buy the domain
The World Wide Web has been around more than twenty years, so you’re going to have a hard time finding a .com address that isn’t already taken, especially the shorter ones. Where you register doesn’t matter. I’ve used them all at least once, and my only deciding factor was price. Some web hosts offer free domain registration when you sign up, and in the background they’re using the same domain registrar that you might, so if they offer it, take it but all this advice still applies.
Important key: do your brainstorming on paper. Make a list, then order it from best to worst, then go prepared to buy. Here’s why: certain domain registrars have been accused in the past of sharing their domain search data with bad actors who then buy up all the searched domains that weren’t purchased and sit on them. When you go to get your domain, it’s already taken and for sale, usually at a higher price than you would have paid otherwise, a practice called cybersquatting. (This can also happen if you let a domain expire. Took me two years of waiting to get my domain back.)
If your domain name might be easily mistyped, consider purchasing the misspelling (you can just redirect to your correct domain). Also consider buying up some other top level domains: .org, .net, and so on. whitehouse.gov takes you to the official website of the office of the President of the United States. whitehouse.com is a gambling site (it was a porn site for a while, way back when.)
To sum up:
Brainstorm on paper.
The registrar doesn’t matter. Pick one and go.
Don’t search until you’re ready to buy. If you find your domain is available, buy it. Don’t wait.
Buy variations on the domain
Buy other top-level domains (e.g. .net, .org)
Next time: select your host.