What should you consider when picking a domain name for your website?
First of all, picking your domain name is all part of building your brand identity as an artist. So you want to pick a name that supports your brand. A domain name that identifies with you, the artist.
What would someone guessing your web address think of or try first? Most often it is who the artist is. Therefore your name represents your brand, even though your style may change, your subjects may change or your media may change. As an artist developing a career you want people to be able to search for you on the web based on your brand. And using your name as your domain name is part of building that brand.
Unless you have spent the last 5 years creating those cute pink porcelain pigs and plan to spend the next 15 years creating those cute pink porcelain pigs and your absolutely famous for your cute pink porcelain pigs, you should resist picking a domain name like
www.pinkporcelainpigs.com. Mind you, if you are that artist, then you do want the domain name www.pinkporcelainpigs.com. Otherwise the domain name that you pick can restrict your brand.
You can have more than one domain name, and use them for different applications. For example, let's say you are a landscape painter, and you do ceramics pigs too. Reserve both names, and point them to the appropriate locations on your site. Having two or more names allows you to advertise and build on more than one brand.
How do you know what names are available? You can go to any domain name registrar and they will have a mechanism where you can put in the name you would like to register. It will tell you if the name you want is already taken. In most cases, it will also provide you with a list of alternatives. Or just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the world wide web there can only be one BillSmith.com. So what do you do if BillSmith.com is already taken and you happen to be another Bill Smith? Some obvious choices are to look for variations on the name.
What if my name is hard to spell
? What do I do if my name happens to be Peter Tchaikovsky and people have a hard time spelling by name? Should I use my name as my domain name? The answer is still yes
. Because it is part of your brand, and you want people to learn about and remember you.
Another opportunity that is recommended, is to register the names of close misspellings. What would someone most often mistype? From our example above, you may want pinkporcelainpig.com as well as pinkporcelainpigs.com.
What domain name ending should you use? Should it be ".com" or ".ca" , ".net" or ".org"? The ending ".com" is most popular, from the beginning of websites, and it means representing "commercial" sites. When attempting to find you, a visitor to your site would most likely select ".com" first. The ending ".ca" represents "Canada" and in Canada that is a likely next choice. For example, you could choose BillSmith.ca, especially if BillSmith.com is not available. Choosing both is also a way of blocking out the hordes of next door neighbours to your site. Having billsmith.ca and billsmith.com protects you from someone else doing this.
Should you invest in a lot of names? The number of names should reflect the significance of your web presence. Typically doing the above strategies is a good idea, but as it does require annual or multi year commitment to pay for the names, it can become a significant cost. Look at your overall plans, and usually go with one or two names. Don't get too excited and register a ton of names just on speculation.
The rules for creating your domain name are simple. Domain names must be between two (2) and fifty (50) characters long and made up of
- The letters a through z (no accents). There is no distinction between upper and lower case letters ;
- The numbers 0, through 9; and
- The hyphen character (although it cannot be used to start or end a Domain Name)
You will notice that the space or blank character is not a legal character.
A good place to see names available is www.internic.org/whois.html - it can also be fun to try to see what is available!
In our next blog, we will discuss how you use your domain name to build your brand.