I’ve previously written about How to Choose Your Author Domain Name, but the question comes up with my author website design clients again and again so I thought I’d write an updated post to make sure all bases are covered!
If you’re not sure what a domain name is, and how it’s only one part of what you need to create an author website, you should check out this post about getting your domain name and web hosting organized first.
Your author domain is critical to the success of your site as it does a few important things:
- It’s an address people can remember (and tell their friends about) to find you online.
- It’s highly searchable for the words that make it up.
- It’s part of your author branding.
Let’s break those down… For your domain name to be easy to remember and share it needs to be relatively short. If your name or book title is long and complicated there’s little you can do about that, but you certainly don’t need to add additional words to make it even more long and complicated. Ideally, you’ve given some thought to the marketing of yourself as an author, and to your book(s), when selecting a name to ensure it’s keyword rich — this will come in handy when it comes to URLs.
When choosing between whether your domain name should be your name or the book name (one of my most often asked questions), I recommend that authors think forward to their future plans and get their platform started off on the right foot. If you’re an author looking to write multiple books then it’s a good idea to make your domain name your author name. If your name isn’t available as firstlast.com, then look for firstlastauthor.com or authorfirstlast.com — that also gives you the added searchability for your name tied to the word “author.” If you’re only going to write a single book, or a single series, then think about using the name of the book or series. If the name isn’t available as yourbookname.com, then look for yourbooknamebook.com. Regardless, I always suggest, because domain names are cheap these days, that my clients own not only their own name, but the name of their book(s)/series. You can permanently forward any domain name to any website, or even a single page on a website, so this gives you lots of flexibility. Even if you’re not well known now — meaning not many people will be searching for your author name — you want to stack the deck in your favor for the future. You might also read this post on What to Include on Author & Book Websites for some additional information on how I think about the differences between author and book websites.
You want the content on your author website to be as searchable as possible, of course, but you also want your domain name to be highly searchable too. And my advice is always to be as direct as possible. There are lots of cute ways you can go with your domain name, but if those words aren’t tied to your author name, or the titles of your book(s), it’s going to be more difficult to find you. Sometimes self-published authors create a self-publishing business name so that it’s less obvious that their book(s) are self-published, and they create their website using their publisher name. This would be a good idea if you wanted to market your publishing business — but you don’t, you want to market yourself and your book(s). Dot com domain names are always the best (over .net or .org or .biz, etc..) unless your target audience is in a specific country (that’s not the USA) in which case you can use the country-specific extension. Lastly, hyphens are difficult to remember and get forgotten more often than not, and they’re also often associated with spam sites.
Your domain name will follow you all over the internet — and you want it to! — so it’s as much a part of your author branding as your headshot. So make sure it’s nothing you dislike intensely, or that people would have trouble spelling, or that won’t have staying power for you. If you need to change your domain name down the road it’s certainly possible, but you’ll need to think about how to make sure existing links to your site won’t break and how anywhere it’s been printed will now be out-of-date. Not to mention that you’ll need to update your URL on every platform where you have a profile. Again, roads you can certainly cross, but you may not have to if you give this decision plenty of thought first!
If you’re looking for a place to purchase a domain name I suggest SiteGround* as they’re my recommended hosting platform and a domain name comes with your hosting plan, so you’ll be all set up to build your site there when the time comes.