Last week we shared with you that we have created a new series here on Marsna Design, entitled “How to Start Your Own Website for Cheap or Free.” We think that just because you aren’t ready to launch a full site doesn’t mean that you should ignore your online presence entirely, so we have compiled 5 of our favorite ways to “make do” until your business is able to afford a full website as a part of this series, and we will be sharing these tips and tricks with you! As small business owners ourselves, we love free resources for our businesses, and we think that you will too.
As we mentioned before, these tips and tricks will range in cost for you to implement – some are free, and some will cost you a few dollars. (We are saving the most expensive step for last – we’ll share the free and cheapest tips first!) This week, we’re sharing the first of our top-5 favorite “How to Start Your Own Website for Cheap or Free” tips.
Now – let’s get started on our first tip!
Step #1: Choose Your Domain Name.
COST: Under $20 per year
There are plenty of reasons why it is important for you to snag your own domain name (URL) right now.
- If you know the domain name you would like to use, you should purchase it before someone else does! Once someone else has purchased the domain name you had your eye on, there is no telling when it will be available again – if ever.
- For SEO purposes, the sooner you purchase your domain name, the better! The longer it exists, the more work it does for you. (We will discuss do-it-yourself SEO later in this series, so stay tuned for that!)
- You can use your domain name right now, even if you don’t have your dream website yet.
WHAT SHOULD I KEEP IN MIND WHEN CHOOSING MY DOMAIN NAME?
We think that you should keep a couple of things in mind when choosing your domain name.
- Keep it simple. Let’s say that your name is Ann, you’re a baker in Cartersville, and you want to purchase AnnsBakery.com – but that domain name is not available for purchase. Don’t be tempted to purchase AnnSmithsBestBakeryInTheWorld.com just because it’s available! We recommend that you choose something a bit simpler than that. Remember, you want your potential customers to be able to type your URL into their browser without too much trouble.
- Use potential SEO keywords for your business. Again, we will be discussing SEO in more detail later in this series – but for choosing your domain name, SEO is fairly simple. Just brainstorm keywords that are relevant to your business, and try to incorporate them into your domain name. For example, let’s say that you are a doctor who practices in Cartersville. Instead of choosing your name as your URL and purchasing DrJoeSmith.com, we suggest that you choose TheCartersvilleDoctor.com. This way, when potential patients search online for “Doctor in Cartersville,” your domain name can work in your favor!
- Be creative! Combining points #1 and #2 above will probably require you to be creative with combining your business name + a keyword or two. Don’t be afraid to ask trusted friends and family for their opinions on your domain name if you’re stumped – but if you do, be sure to hold true to the vision that you have for your business, too!
WHERE DO I PURCHASE MY DOMAIN NAME?
We recommend using GoDaddy or NameCheap to purchase your domain name. (In fact, even when we work with clients who ask us to custom-design a website for them, we still recommend that they use one of these two sites to purchase their domain name themselves. This way, the client owns their domain name forever and always has the keys to it).
HOW MUCH WILL MY DOMAIN NAME COST?
Your domain name should cost under $20 per year. We suggest that you consider choosing to auto-renew your domain name each year so that you don’t risk losing it if you accidentally forget to pay for it one year!
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY DOMAIN NAME AFTER I’VE PURCHASED IT?
Direct it somewhere! And chances are, your business probably does have some kind of online web presence already. If so, you have the perfect place to direct your domain!
Do you use Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for your business? If so, just direct your new domain name to your account on one of these sites – and if you don’t already use one of these social media sites, consider signing up for one under your business name.
Then – use that account to post updates as regularly as you can! This approach also incorporates the do-it-yourself SEO we’ve been mentioning in this post. Just remember, though – this step will not benefit you if you do not actively update your social media account. (If you are unsure how to use your social media account, stay tuned because we will be discussing the use of social media accounts in a future installment of this series).
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WITH MY DOMAIN NAME?
If you’re going to direct your domain name to a social media account, and you plan to keep that account updated regularly – why not go ahead and have some business cards with your business name and URL printed on them?
These business cards don’t have to be fancy (although they certainly can be – more on that later in this series!) and you can just keep a few in your wallet or bag to hand out to potential customers that you may meet. Then, when they visit your URL, they will be directed to your social media account, where they can see samples of your work and get in touch with you.
So, to recap our favorite tips and tricks for Step #1: Choose and Use Your Domain Name:
- Keep your domain name simple.
- When choosing your domain name, try to incorporate potential SEO keywords for your business.
- When choosing your domain name, be creative!
- Use GoDaddy or NameCheap to purchase your domain.
- Redirect your domain.
…and those are our favorite tips for making the most of your domain name in order to get a head start on your website!
Join us next time for Part 2 of this series as we discuss more of our favorite ways to “make do” until your business needs (or is able to afford) a full website. Here’s what is on the schedule in the coming weeks:
- Choose Your Domain Name
- Use WordPress
- Blog Regularly
- Try Do-It-Yourself SEO
- Hire a Graphic Designer