What the Heck is a Domain Name?
As an example, for my website, the domain name is MakeaLivinginKidlit.com.
In other words, it is the URL–or the name or address of your website. Many authors like to use their name as their domain name, or their name followed by an identifier, such as “author” or “writer” or “books.”
Another preference most people have when it comes to a website name is to have the extension .com at the end. The reason is simply because most websites end in .com. It’s not a requirement, and you will see websites ending in extensions like .net or even .website.
But if you want a website name that is easy to remember, it’s best to go with .com as the extension.
How Do I Get a Domain Name?
You will need to pay for a domain name. You could either go to a domain name registrar, or buy it from your web hosting company (if you don’t know what that is, don’t worry! We’ll get to that soon).
When you have an idea for a domain name, you first need to check if it’s available. You can go to any domain name registrar, such as GoDaddy.com or NameCheap.com. Type in your idea for a domain name, and it will show if the name is already taken or not.
If you have a common name, chances are, someone may have already taken it. For example, if your name is Beverly Cleary, you are out of luck. (Well, unless you are THE Beverly Clearly, children’s book author, in which case, it’s your website!).
What if the Name You Want Isn’t Available?
If we search for BeverlyCleary.com in GoDaddy, the result will show the name is already taken.
Here you have a couple of choices.
One thing you can do is add an identifier, such as author, to the end of your name. In fact, BeverlyClearlyauthor.com is available. If your name idea was something else entirely, such as SheLovesBooks.com, then you could try a different extension, such as SheLovesBooks.net.
Keep in mind, however, that because .com is the internet standard, it’s the best choice. In a case like this, it may be better to come up with a different name.
You could try BookLover.com or ABookaDay.com as two examples.
Usually, a domain name is pretty inexpensive, around $12 a year.
Sometimes the name you want is available, but for a hefty price. You can see in the example, GoDaddy offers a service to try to buy the name for you, for a price. It could range from $50 to as much as $10,000.
I’m going to assume you’re not willing to pay $10,000 for your first choice domain name.
This usually happens for names that could be used for a business, either off or online. People buy up domain names they believe someone will want to use, and hold onto them. If someone wants the name, they can then turn around and sell it to them.
Ruth Soukup, who owns a blogging business, described how she tried to get the domain name livingwellshop.com for her new online business. Someone had already purchased the domain, and offered to sell it to her for $7,000.
Instead, she chose to go with livingwellshop.co and save about $6,980.
Bottom line: try to find a simple, easy to type domain name that ends in .com.
Once you have purchased your domain name, you are ready for the next step: Deciding where to host your website.