Authors are increasingly launching their own websites to reach a larger audience and sell their works. One of the most important steps to take when launching your author website is the selection of a domain name.
A domain name is the web address or name of your website. Picking the right domain name has two main advantages:
- It uniquely identifies your author website
- The domain name can easily become brandable
So what are the most important things to consider when choosing a domain name for author websites? Here are 4 points to consider plus a bonus tip.
1. Author name vs book name
Professional authors don’t have the luxury of choosing fancy names for their websites. As a rule, the domain name you choose should at least give your reader an idea about what the website is about. This leaves you with two options; your name or the name of one of your popular works.
If you already have a popular book title or series, using it as a domain name might help promote it online. The reason for this is that people are likely to search for the book title online. This however might mean owning several domain names, each dedicated to a particular title.
This is why using your author name is recommended over using a book name. If you’re already published, your readers already know your name and are likely to search it when looking for your latest works. Using your author name also allows you to concentrate on promoting a single website that’s used to sell all your works.
Using your name or variations that include writing related phrases such as writer and author are good examples.
2. Using hyphens when your chosen name is already taken
In some cases, you might find that the domain name you want is already taken. Buying it from its owner might set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. A neat trick involves adding hyphens to separate the different names included in the domain name.
3. Choosing the right Top Level Domain (TLD)
Every domain name ends with a TLD. These include popular ones such as .com, .org and .net. TLDs can also indicate country codes. For example .co.uk TLD is the internet country code for the UK.
Many people often associate websites targeting an international audience with a .com TLD. This is what I’d recommend you go with. However, if you’re targeting an audience that’s primarily from your country, or even don’t want to hyphenate your domain name; you can use a TLD with your country’s internet country code or newer TLDs such as the .me.
Some of the TLD extensions to avoid include .xyz and .biz as they appear spammy.
4. Protecting your personal details
Once you’ve chosen and purchased your domain name, your personal details are available for anyone entering a WHOIS search unless you invest in domain privacy. Domain privacy is usually provided as an optional add-on by many domain registrars. I recommend you buy it during domain name registration.
Domain privacy essentially masks your personal details. It also provides alternative contact information with those of a forwarding service.
On average, domain privacy costs about $20 annually.
Bonus tip for authors wishing to migrate their domain names
In many instances, authors will purchase the website hosting and domain names from different companies. Pointing your domain name to your new or existing website.
This involves two main steps as follows:
- Identify your web hosts links to their web servers. These are where your website files reside. The links to the servers are usually provided when you purchase hosting. If you can’t find them, contact their support team and ask them to email you the links.
- Point domain name to web servers. This requires you log into your domain name registrars account and find the option that involves setting or updating your domain name servers. This is usually under domain name manager page with most registrars. Once there, all you’ll need is paste the links on the fields provided and click on save.
Additional steps might involve adding redirect pages to your site. This allows search engines to properly index your website after domain name change as well as allow visitors gain access to your website.
Of course, these technical steps are beyond the scope of this short guide and I’d advise working with a professional developer to get them set up.
Picking the right domain name for your author website is a critical step towards your success as a professional writer. The good thing is that you don’t have to own a website or have a hosting account to invest in a domain today. If you have any question regarding domain name registration, or need help feel free to contact us or post a comment below.