There is a service you may have heard of, TinyURL, that will assign a short little URL when you want to provide a short link instead of a 46-letter one. Now, that can be handy for forwarding links to pages that are deep down in the directory, especially on Twitter or other microblogging tools that only allow a limited number of characters. But some people actually use TinyURLs for their businesses. They also use the free hosting offered by their Internet Service Providers (ISP). Good idea?
Definitely not. From the first you get a URL that reads like random characters, and from your ISP you get one that lets you promote them first. You get few of the benefits of a real domain name. A lot of affiliate marketers use them, because their other choice is something like _allnaturalgoo.com/biz/home/8992_. None of these gives you a personalized business address that can work in your favor. If you're an affiliate marketer, or starting a new business, and want a fighting chance on the Internet, you need to get your own domain name.
A domain name sets up an address for people to "stop by" and do business, and they are inexpensive, too. There are a lot of reasons to get your own domain name, but here are the Top 10 reasons to get your own domain name, in no particular order.
1. A real web presence
Whether you are doing affiliate marketing, putting up pictures of the kids or starting your own business, your own domain name makes you an equal on the Internet. It is the first important step to building credibility. Of course, you have to have a decent site for people to land on, too.
2. Gives you a promotional focus
When you devise a good domain name, that puts you into business immediately. You can use that domain name as a motivator, something to "pull yourself" into doing business. If you haven't developed other promotional materials or compelling "value propositions" then start promoting your domain name itself until you do.
Be honest, now, which link are you more likely to click on:
The first one is just like thousands of others and gives no sign of being done by a professional business. The second one screams, "I'm an affiliate marketer!" The last one exhibits at least a bit of thinking and personality. For this example, hundreds of thousands of people have clicked on a Power Mall website. It is likely that people will click on the last one because it has clues to what you'll see there and isn't a "cybercipher." You need to present yourself as a real, live business.
4. Flexibility for the future
If you are serious about doing business on the Internet, your own domain name is a first logical step. You will also be able to spin off "subdomains," sort of like divisions of a company, by adding a directory like this: _repairs.sooperPCdeals.com_. You can maneuver a bit with your own domain name, and not at all with abbreviated URLs.
5. Dead simple (and inexpensive, too)
You can have your own domain name for under $10 per year, sometimes way under. Hosting can also cost you about that much. For $15-20 a year, doesn't it make economic (and every other kind of) sense to put these tools to work for you?
6. Your own, unique e-mail address
Once again, this goes to both credibility and personality. It is far more comforting to a potential customer to see [email protected]_ than some undecipherable abbreviation or an address that promotes AOL.
7. Freedom to expand
With your own domain and website, you can promote and sell whatever you like. Some ISPs' free hosting does not allow shopping carts, and then you will be redirecting people all over cyberspace trying to get a payment. Take people to your own website and forget about all the busy work and jumping through virtual hoops.
8. Capturing information
ISP hosting is limited in many cases, so using your very own auto-responder to collect contact information may not be possible. With your own domain, you have no such limitations.
With your own URL and website, you can change your content at any time, add and remove pages and functionality, add new links or and maintain a single presence through it all.
10. Memory and usability
Look back up at those website names in #3. Which is easiest to recall? Which will look best on a banner or business card? You know the answer.
The benefits of having your own domain name cannot be overstated. Your domain name is the cornerstone of your Internet enterprise and is your foundation for building a successful online enterprise. Be yourself, take charge-and think up a good one!
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Amy Armitage is the head of Business Development for Lunarpages. Lunarpages provides quality web hosting from their US-based hosting facility. They offer a wide-range of services from linux virtual private servers and managed solutions to shared and reseller hosting plans.
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