Rory Bowman of MacRory.com
With the price for domain registration consistently going down, I am encouraging most of my small business clients who don’t currently have an Internet domain to get one. For those unfamiliar with the lingo, Internet domains are the part of an email address which goes to the right of the “@” sign in an email: yahoo.com, aol.com, earthlink.net and so on.
For any business owner who needs to change their email address, buying a domain is a no-brainer. Rather than tell everyone a new address with every change simply set up a domain, and stake out a more permanent place in cyberspace. Like a toll-free phone number, you point this wherever you like, saving the hassle of changing your email address again. Since domains rarely change, your own domain can also cut down on reprinting costs and help you look “more professional.”
If you want to set up a domain there are at least two kinds of people you need to deal with: the registrar (who has the authority to reserve the domain) and your host (who will handle the physical machinery of your web and/or email server). Domain registration fees used to be as high as $35/year and are almost always paid annually, while hosting fees used to start at around $30/month. Both are now possible for a combined total of less than that per year.
Although there are ultra-cheap registrars and hosts out there, I encourage most of my clients to start out with something relatively inexpensive and flexible, such as domains.yahoo.com. With a free Yahoo account (and free Geocities web page) one can add a domain for about $10/year, then forward the email to whatever email account you like. Although Yahoo doesn’t make any money at this level, they do offer a variety of additional services which you can use or discontinue as your needs (and those of your business) change.
Although there are other similar options (such as ValueWeb and BigStep.Com) out there, Yahoo offers a lovely mix of services. (And no, I have no financial or other interest in Yahoo, other than that it has worked for some of my clients.)
Ranged from least expensive to most expensive those include:
- $10 Domain registration with email (and web) forwarding
- $20 Upgrade to Yahoo “mail plus” to lose the “@yahoo.com” bumpersticker and gain POP3 access
- $35 “Business email” account including both domain and one custom email address
- Small business web hosting, including tertiary domains from $13/month
Since the basic Yahoo tools are the same as those for GeoCities web sites, the person who wants to play a little with a web presence can get their feet wet with hardly any technical expertise, and since Yahoo’s more advanced services such as PHP, SQL, versioning control and e-commerce, offer most small businesses room to grow. Start with a simple “brochure page” and then move up (or on to more serious and specialized hosts) as needed.
When selecting a domain name, something that indicates your business name is usually best. Although megacorps may benefit from short and cryptic names (such as USX), for small businesses something that identifies you instantly is usually better: “OregonSchoolOfMassage.com” or “TheSmileBus.com” rather than “OSM” or “TSB.” You want something that identifies you when it stands alone, something immediately recognizable when scribbled on scrap paper. If possible I would encourage you to avoid cute abbreviations such as “flowers2you” or “gifts4kids.” If you are an artist or professional known primarily by your name, use that: “DrKrump.com” or “CaleyCPA” are almost as good as “ToriAmos.Com” (and much more likely to be available). Capital letters don’t matter when selecting a domain, but help the person trying to read it in print or from a business card.
Whether you are a student, artist, jobseeker or a “real” business, perhaps this is the year to consider becoming the ruler of your own (Internet) domain.