A ‘domain name’ is the name of your website. It’s also known as the ‘URL’ or ‘web address’. An example for authors could be sarahauthor.com.
There are both the human and technical factors to consider. There’s plenty of advice out there for picking a domain name, but this guide concerns the factors that affect writers and illustrators.
Firstly, if you’re not familiar with the benefits, here are 5 reasons why authors should buy a domain name.
1. Should my domain be my name or book
The distinction here should be determined by your long term goals. Do you want to promote yourself as your author name, or promote your books?
Guidelines for name vs book:
- Consider how much time, energy, and money you can invest in promotion. Promotion is really a full time gig.
- If resources are limited, consolidate promotion to fewer, or a single domain.
- How competitive are the keywords in your book title? Will you be able to rank for these keywords in Google? A bigger issue for non-fiction authors.
- Do you own the rights to the book?
- If your book or series does well, publishers often create their own micro-sites for the title.
- It’s also popular to base a domain on an author’s blog name (mywritingjourney.com). But unless it’s short, memorable and catchy, I discourage the blog name. You want to be found for your name.
- Whether you go for your name, book, or series, keep it short as possible.
Domain ideas for promoting your name
Some tips for a fictional writer named Sarah Smith, in order of preference. Apologies to the real Sarah Smith for bringing you into this!
- Go for your name or a variation of your name. I believe in building your name, not books, series, or blog’s name.
If your name is already taken, you may think to hyphenate your name, ‘sarah-smith.com’ for example. The benefits here are that you’ll be able to register a name similar to your name, and it’s not bad for readability.
- Avoid hyphens if possible as they’re associated with spam websites. If you go for a hyphenated name, stick to using just one hyphen.
3. Top-Level Domains (TLDs) and Country codes
A top-level domain, represents the last segment of a domain. This is the .com, the .com.au, or .net. This last segment of the domain usually represents the Internet country code. ‘sarahauthor.co.uk’ for the United Kingdom for example.
After you’ve decided on the words in your domain, the next choice it to decide the TLD type.
Guidelines for country codes:
- .com - this originally meant website properties based in the US. Now it generally denotes an international presence.
- .com.au - this signified that the website is Australian. It’s slightly more expensive, and an ABN is required to register one, but availability is greatly increased.
- .co - strictly speaking this country code is assigned to Colombia, but many websites (including mine) use this to denote company, or in the case of availability.
- If you want to appear as an international profile, go for .com
- If you want to appear as Australian, go for .com.au
- If your desired keywords or name is more important than geographical presence, go for an alternate country code, such as .co or .me
- Avoid codes such as .biz, .info, and .xyz, they appear spammy
You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned the ‘www’ at the start of the domain name. Technically, this part of the domain is called the ‘sub-domain’, and not required. And depending on your audience, I prefer to leave it off. It makes for a shorter domain.
4. Domain Privacy
When you register your domain name, you are required to disclose your personal or business contact details – including your phone number and address.
Domain privacy replaces your personal contact info in the WHOIS with the info of a forwarding service. Essentially masking your private details.
‘WHOIS’, pronounced ‘who is’, is a lookup service that provides ownership information for domain names. Don’t have your personal details in this public record.
- Make sure to also purchase domain privacy when registering your domain. This is a service offered by domain name registrars, usually when you get to the shopping cart, or checkout stage of purchase.
- Domain privacy is roughly $20 per year.
5. Moving Domains or changing your name
This isn’t strictly a tip for picking a new name, but if you’re thinking of pointing your domain to a new or updated website, or if you’re changing your domain name, you need to take specific steps so you don’t lose everything you’ve built.
It’s sounds tricky (because it is), but you need to execute the correct redirects (called a 301 redirect), if changing your name. If you don’t, you’ll lose your domain’s reputation in Google.
Links will be broken in Google, and your pages will be removed from Google search. All links to your website on other websites which you’ve worked hard to get, will be lost. Not to mention the negative experience a website visitor will have, when they land on a 404 page. “Sorry the page you were looking for could not be found”.
- Best to get a professional to help with the critical aspects of the changing a name or moving a website.
How urgent is it to pick and register your domain name?
If you want to build your name as an author, it’s incredibly urgent that you register your domain ASAP! There were 113,360 new domains registered yesterday alone! Just the 7th of March!
You don’t need to setup a website. Just reserve your name.
Got a question about registering your domain, post it in the comments section below. Can I help you choose and register a name that’s best for you? Certainly, just get in touch.
Are you using a free domain name for your website or blog?
Here are 5 compelling reasons why you should invest in your own personalised domain name.