Technology

Author Websites 101: Domain Names and Hosting

Most authors I know don’t have a lot of experience with building a website. If you don’t have a website but are considering one, this article series is a good place to start. This article is devoted to explaining domain name selection and the web hosting process.

Every author needs a website for marketing purposes. Some authors choose to create a website for each book they write as well. If you choose your hosting company well, you can host unlimited domains and websites for just one monthly or yearly charge.

The first step is to choose your domain name. Fiction authors usually use their own name for their domain name, e.g., joeblow.com. However, if you have a very common name, such as John Smith, or were named after an already famous person, you may have some trouble. The place to start for choosing domain names is the WhoIs website. Here, you can enter a domain name to find out if it’s already taken or not, and receive suggestions on alternate possibilities if your desired domain name is taken. You also have the option to backorder or ask to purchase the domain name from the current owner. There are companies out there that exist solely to buy up attractive domain names and sell them at a much higher cost to the public.

If you are an article author, copywriter or any other form of writer, domain name choices may be more difficult. Here, we want to stop and talk about SEO for a moment. One of the keys to good search engine optimization is to basically have your keyword in several key places – one of which is your domain name. If you are a novel author, your name (and perhaps that you are an author) is the key consideration. If, however, you provide other types of writing or writing services, things may get difficult. You may opt for your business name – people could look for you that way. But what about people who don’t know you or your writing services exist?

One of the problems you may encounter is that you end up with domain names that are a mile long. While this doesn’t matter from a SEO perspective, people don’t like super long domain names to type into their search bar. Attractiveness of your domain name is a factor in domain selection as well. Some other key word considerations include your location, superlatives (e.g., the “best” articlewriter.com) and what kind of writing you do (e.g., businesswriter.com).

Once you have your domain name picked out, you press release software in 2022 are ready to purchase it and your hosting company. To make things easy on you, purchase your domain name through your hosting company. It may cost less on the surface, but many hosting companies give you one free domain name with a hosting package. However, it won’t hurt anything if you want to secure the domain name through WhoIs before you are ready to host and build your site.

There are really two ways to go when it comes to web host companies: large and inclusive or small and specialized. I know many authors who prefer the specialized attention they get from local providers. Small companies are also less tempting for hacking attempts. However, local companies often don’t have 24/7 service or the capacity of larger providers. What you need to look for in a hosting company includes:

 

  • Unlimited domain hosting
  • Unlimited bandwidth usage and storage space
  • Unlimited MySQL databases
  • 24/7 customer support

 

Those are the essentials; everything else is a perk or an option we will discuss in a separate article.

Costs are generally uniform throughout the industry. However, if you opt to have a professional design company create a custom website, beware of agreeing to host your site with them. I have run into a relatively large number of these companies that design the site, host the site for an exorbitant fee and/or monthly management charges, and then make transferring the site elsewhere extremely difficult. In fact, we have had to threaten some with legal action to get them to release the sites and/or provide the website files. These black hat companies tend to be less than helpful in giving you direction in how to make the transfer. They may also lock you into their hosting by using “proprietary” designs and management systems that aren’t transferrable outside their company and which will cost you hundreds or thousands to reproduce.

While most designers and design companies are reputable, service-oriented entities, it may be in your interest to use separate hosting in order to protect yourself.

The next article in this series will address all of the add-on services available to you when purchasing your hosting package. I will discuss what they are, what they do and which authors or writers might need them.

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