In this episode, we talk about the importance of moving to a self-hosted web environment (WordPress is our recommendation). We examine how to choose a domain, other things you can use a domain for besides websites, and ow many to buy. Then we conclude with hosting providers and which providers offer what services.
Domains & Email
Your domain is the driving force of your brand online. It’s imperative that you choose a domain that’s right for your brand, one that best reflects it and one that you can live with for the long haul. I find this to be the more challenging part of creating a brand because it’s not something to get wrong. I remember when I was searching for my domain, I knew that I would never find www.chrisjones.com, but for posterity’s sake, I had to see what was available since my name would be driving my brand. It wasn’t there (no surprise!) and I knew that for my writing site.
I then began to scribble on a piece of paper other variations of my name that would also keep my brand clear and recognizable. After a couple of days of playing around with ideas, I finally stumbled upon my current URL: chrisjonesink. com. I chose that domain since ink is a nod to writing and business (a play on the abbreviation for incorporated). It fit nicely within my objective of using my blog to help other writers grow creatively and professionally. I scrambled to godaddy.com to see if it was available and, sure enough, it was there. I purchased it immediately and locked in a few variations of it (.net, .info).
Add New LinkDomain Length. When it comes to length, think about the user who will have to type it into the address bar of their browser. Also consider how lengthy your email address will become and what that will look like dominating the front of your business card.
Where to Buy. I like to use Go Daddy as my domain registrar because the domains are inexpensive. On a good day you can catch domains for as little as 99 cents for a year. They also do a good job cost cutting bundled domains, if you want to buy all of the variations to go along with it. Some web hosting companies will offer you a free domain when you purchase hosting.
Other Considerations. If you’re writing a book, or a series, or a Facebook group, consider purchasing domain names for those as well. Then you can send people directly to your book’s landing page (if you choose to create a landing page just for your books, or tom your Facebook group.
Email. Branded email is worth the cost. Your professional credibility takes a hit when you use web-based services, like Hotmail and Yahoo! as your primary working account. Gmail is the exception, but only if you elect to use Google Apps. You then can use your own domain to create up to 10 free email accounts. This low-cost option starts at $5 per month. In that package, you’re also given the full battery of Google apps. It’s also easy to transfer existing calendar, drive and contacts into your new plan.
Think of your hosting plans as the plot of land that you’re going to build your virtual house on. Your house is your website. Don’t choose a provider solely on price because lower pricing points. I encourage you to look at the websites of any hosting provider you may be considering and write down questions you would like to have answered. I highly recommend WordPress because it is robust and you can get more mileage from a self-hosted WordPress site than you will from a WordPress.com site, which is very limited and not as customizable.
Go Daddy. I host my website on Go Daddy (godaddy.com). Go Daddy offers custom WordPress hosting packages starting at $3.99 per month. The package comes with one free domain, 10 GB of SSD storage, and 1-click WordPress installation. The platform also offers 24-hour domestic customer support. Email is sold separately at $3.99 per month.
Bluehost. Another widely recommended hosting company that I would comfortably refer to you is Bluehost (bluehost.com). Their plans begin at either $3.49 or $5.99 per month. Bluehost comes with a free domain, unlimited email, 24-hour domestic customer support, 99.9% uptime guarantee (meaning your site will never experience real downtime) and easy 1-click WordPress install. It’s also a hosting provider recommended by WordPress.
HostGator. Hostgator (hostgator.com) offers hosting packages starting at $6.36 per month. With its hosting package, you’ll get un- limited domains, 1-click WordPress installation, and 24-hour customer support. In addition, you’ll get the same uptime guarantee as Bluehost, unlimited email accounts and for an additional $10 per month, you can add Constant Contact for your email marketing needs down the road ($10 off the normal price of $20 per month). Hostgator allows you to try a demo of their control panel so that you can take a look under the hood and familiarize yourself with its website tools before you buy.
Who you choose is up to you. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these three options. It all comes down to need, features and budget.
What are your needs from a hosting provider? Do you need a domain packaged? Unlimited email? Unlimited hosting (if you’re going to create multiple websites)? An easy to use control panel? One-click WordPress installation? Domain bundling? Write down what you need from your ideal provider and see which of these providers can offer that to you.
This episode of The Art & Business of Writing is sponsored by Jamie Raintree. Be sure to check out this great writing tool that will help you stay on track with all of your writing project goals.