You've probably heard this before, but if you're marketing online, you need to purchase a domain name of your own. Using a free shared name provided by a web hosting provider just doesn't cut it.
Not having your own domain name will create the following perception in the minds of most people:
- Probably new
- Definitely small
- Maybe part time
- Probably not a real company
- A strong possibility of being a "shady operator"
Of course, purchasing your own domain name does not lead people to automatically trust you. However, taking this small step will greatly improve the odds in your favour by altering their perception of you to:
- Probably established
- Could be large or small
- Full time
- Probably a real company
- Being a "shady operator" not impossible
Can you what a huge difference that is?
Another important point of course is branding. You want your domain name to become known and familiar. Something that people can remember easily. Something they will associate with what you do. That's a tall order if you don't have your own domain name to begin with.
With your own domain name, plus the right words and correct image, your task of creating trust is that much easier.
You LOOK the part!
Purchase your domain name as soon as you decide to create a web site. Don't put it off until you're more established. If you name your website something and wait for it to become reasonably popular before deciding to register the domain name, you will probably find you're too late. Someone else will have already taken your name.
Then what will you do?
If you need further convincing, just imagine what will happen if you have to change your web host (and there's a good chance you will at some point). All the work of promoting of your website's URL goes into the trash.
Every single link to your site from anywhere in the Internet universe will be broken! All your search engine and directory listings would be useless to you, as would be any links from other sites, plus the links in your signature file in any forum posts, or on any of your articles archived in other publications or websites.
No doubt you might be able to set up a redirect page for a couple of months, but ultimately you'd have to do all your previous promotion again – what a waste!
Even worse, what if the ISP suddenly shutdown your account or close down?
You will lose all of your visitors that aren't already on your email list where you can inform them of your new site address. Frightening, isn't it?
Because a domain name is simply a pointer to a numerical IP address (e.g., 123.456.78.9), purchasing your own domain name will enable you to change web hosts at any time with minimal impact and no negative effects. The name remains the same, only the IP address of the server it points to changes when you update to the IP at your new host in your domain registration control panel.
No loss of visitors. No wasted promotion.
You can check for available domain names here. Keep in mind that names ending in ".com" carry most weight for business sites and will probably continue to do so for a long time to come.
Tip: The cost to register new domain names has fallen dramatically since the Network solutions monopoly was opened up to competition. It used to cost $70 to register your name for 2 years. Now you'll find many companies offering names for less than $25 per year.
Shop around for a good price, but be careful. Read the terms and conditions properly before dealing with a company. Particularly look out for restrictions on the transfer of your name at a later date.
In fact, because having a domain name is so critical to your success, I'll give you your own ".com" or ".net" domain name for only $9.99, plus ".org" from $3.99 or ".info" from a staggering $1.99! (prices at time of writing). Search for a domain name now.
If you feel you really must have a certain name and the ".com" version has already gone ".net" or ".org" are the next best choices. Don't bother with the new extensions for a major website until they become more established, most of them are more expensive anyway, although the cheaper ones are fine for smaller, shorter-term projects.
To be honest, these days I'd purchase a domain name even for a quick one page website. Having a domain name adds so much to your credibility (and perhaps more importantly, not having one takes so much away), that on that score alone it's well worth the small investment.