Build Your Own Author Website – Step 3: Domain Name

Build Your Own Author Website: Step ThreeWhen you hear the word “domain,” you likely think of something you own or master like an estate or territory.

In most cases, your domain amounts to your home, to which you attach a name and address so that people can locate you.

When it comes to your website, you, too, need to claim ownership and mastery by giving your “domain” a name and unique address.

In other words, you need to purchase and register the DNS (domain name) portion of a URL (uniform resource locator) that people can type into their browser to get to your website. The URL is the full address to your webpage, which usually starts with http:// followed by www. and your domain name.

The preferred domain name for an author looks like this: “yourname.com,” which in my case translates to margaretduarte.com.

In a later post, I’ll share more about how purchasing and registering your domain name allows easy identification of your very own websiteThat is, if you choose to take the plunge and sign up for a “self-hosted” rather than a “hosted” site. For now, what’s important is that you purchase your domain name ASAP. Yes, even if you don’t plan on using it for a while.

I was lucky. No one had yet purchased the URL with my name and the “.com” extension. So I snatched it.

I also purchased a URL with the name of my book series, “Enter the Between,” just in case I needed it later.

Domain Registrars

Allow me direct you to where you can purchase and register your domain name.

Blue host domain registrarMy number one choice of domain registrar is Bluehost.

There are other popular registrars available such as HostGator and GoDaddy. In fact, either HostGator or GoDaddy are the way to go if you’ve decided to forgo self-hosting your website for a while and just want to buy your domain name (around $12.99/year).

Bluehost only provides domain name registration with the purchase of website hosting (the easiest and least expensive way to go), but you can always transfer a domain name purchased from HostGator or GoDaddy to Bluehost later as I did—an extra step, but doable if you’re not quite ready to take the self-hosting plunge.

No matter which registrar you choose, I suggest registering your domain name for at least five years (or three years if it’s included in a 36 month web-hosting service), with a reminder from your registrar when it comes time for renewal.

If you forget to renew, you’re domain name goes back into the pool where it can be purchased by someone else.

Since I’m more familiar with Bluehost, that’s the domain registrar I’ll be using for the “Build Your Own Author Website” series.

Bluehost is also one of the most popular and most recommended web hosts around, which will come in handy if you’ve decided to self-host your site. It has a slew of step-by-step training videos and an awesome support team, available twenty-four seven in case you need it. Plus it provides super easy installation of WordPress to your domain. My self-hosted website is registered with Bluehost, and I couldn’t be happier.

Domain Registration and Webhosting Purchase through Bluehost

To register your domain name and purchase webhosting:

  • Go to Bluehost.
  • Once there, click on the “Get Started Now” box when the slider features “The Best Web Hosting.”
  • Select your plan: If you’ll only be building one website, select the starter plan for $3.49/month (for 36 months), which will probably serve you well. If your goal is to build two or more websites, select the “plus” plan (currently 5.95/month).
  • Next you’ll be asked to select your domain name. Enter your first choice into the box provided.
  • You’ll be offered other extensions besides .com as the suffix to your domain name, such as .org.net.info, but, as an author, your name is your brand, so your number one choice should be yourname.com.
  • After you’ve entered your choice, hit “next.” Bluehost will search to see if anyone already owns that name. As a test, I entered the domain name margaretduarte.com, which I already own, and received the following message: “The domain margaretduarte.com is the primary domain of another account and cannot be re-signed up while the account is active.” If this happens to you, try adding your middle initial or enter some other variation of your name. If that fails, try a different suffix, such as .org.
  • If the domain name you requested is available you’ll be asked for your account and billing information.
  • AT this point, you’ll be given the opportunity to add domain privacy protection, site backup, and domain security for a fee. Don’t feel pressured to add these right away, especially during the time it will take you to get your website going and feel comfortable using it. If you feel the need for them, you can always add them later.
  • After completion of the domain registrar’s steps, you’ll receive an e-mail confirming your purchase. Save and print out this email so you have a record of your hosting details, including account sign-in and password.

So that’s it for now.

Pat yourself on the shoulder for a job well done. When you feel up to it, join me for Build Your Own Author Website: Step Four–Installing WordPress.

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About Margaret Duarte

Although warned by agents and publishers that labeling her work Visionary Fiction was the “kiss of death,” Margaret Duarte refused to concede. “In a world riddled with fear, misunderstanding, and lost hope,” she says, “I believe there are people prepared to transcend the boundaries of their five senses and open to new thoughts and ideas. The audience is ready for fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.” Margaret joined forces with other visionary fiction writers to create the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a website dedicated to bringing visionary fiction into the mainstream and providing visionary fiction writers with a place to call home. In December 2015, Margaret launched BETWEEN WILL AND SURRENDER, book one of her "Enter the Between" visionary fiction series. Through her novels, which synthesize heart and mind, science and spirituality, Margaret encourages readers to activate their gifts, retire their excuses, and stand in their own authority. Margaret is a former middle school teacher and lives on a California dairy farm with her family and a herd of "happy cows," a constant reminder that the greenest pastures are closest to home.
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17 Responses to Build Your Own Author Website – Step 3: Domain Name

  1. I’m loving this practical series. It helps my not so techno-savvy mindset to have it broken down in simple steps. Thank you yet again, Margaret.

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    • You’re welcome, Jodine. I try to keep the instructions simple, because, from my experience, building one’s own website is much easier if one approaches it in small increments. We need time to absorb and understand each lesson before moving on to the next or the project seems more overwhelming then it actually is. Plus, taking it slow prevents us from making mistakes, which are not only frustrating, but time-consuming to fix. Building my own website scared me almost to the point of paralysis. But, in time, taking it step-by-step, one short session at a time, I grew more confident and learned things I thought were beyond my capability. Knowledge builds on knowledge, which I’ve since been able to apply to other computer issues. And anyone who owns a computer knows that new issues pop up all the time.

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  2. Margaret––thank you so much for writing this series, which proves that a normal human being can create his/her own website. (And yours is really good looking, too!) Our family’s first website was for our horse ranch. It was created back in the ’90s, when a surprising number of sites existed. You had to write them in html or something. We hired a very nice young man, probably a genius, to do the site, http://ranchovilasa-spurs.com. Now there’s a snappy URL! He used http://dreamhost.com to host it and we bought the URL, from somewhere, now lost in memory, except for when they charge me for a renewal.

    Well, the nice young man moved, I think to Oregon. I have no idea how to contact him and can barely open my account with dreamhost.com, which was originally set up for web developers. I find it utterly confounding, though the company does EVERYTHING you can do with a website. For maybe a year, I knew how to put up pages on ranch website, but my old computer crashed. I think I’ve got all the files on my new computer (and I’m 2 down the line now), but I don’t know where they’re stored. The ranch site is cast in pixels now. You see the problems you can run into.

    There’s also the multiplying URL problem. When your learn how to buy a URL, you can think of many interesting options beside your name. (Buy the URL with your name, you don’t want someone else hosting a site with your name. Actually, buy all variations of your name, and redirect them to it.) Here’s mine: http://sandynathan.com. Don’t actually populate the variations, like this http://sandynathan.net Don’t do this, even if you get a good deal on a cool template. I have been told by marketing experts that this is marketing suicide and confusing to your public.

    In addition to that gaffe, I have purchased about 52 URLs for all sorts of things, like tapelladogs.com That’s for my son and the hunting dog accessory business he may start. Some day. Also my grandchildren’s names, in case… I’ve also started blogs on some of those URLs; WordPress themes are free, many of them. You can have blog for each of your books! And I do! Who has time to write on them? Redirect those to your main blog, too.

    Having made almost all the marketing mistakes indie authors can and been to all sorts of seminars, I can quote a lot of people that I consulted with. Like John Kremer, who’s a big marketing name and wrote multiple editions of 1001 WAYS TO MARKET YOUR BOOK. http://www.amazon.com/1001-Ways-Market-Your-Books/dp/091241149X In some on-line seminar of his, John said something like, “Why do you guys use your names for your URL?” Because someone else told me to, John. He uses bookmarket.com for his main site, but has special purpose URLS: askjohnkremer.com

    This is so confusing. Do what you want. If you’ve got one URL, I’d use your name and hope that people remember it.

    Then someone invented SEO. That’s what drives website popularity now. You’re supposed to load up your site text with words, keywords, long-tail keywords and other things that search engines like. (How can a search engine like anything?) But its supposed to sound and look natural. Not like, “Welcome to my SEO optimized website! I’m Sandy Nathan and I write paranormal science fiction and fantasy which is visionary and also mystical and spiritual and is about good and evil and devils and demons and witches and other things. Billionaires and Native Americans figure large in some of my stories and…” Those are all pretty good SEO terms, I think.

    It’s a mystery to me, all of it. On the advice of some author/marketing guru, I had another brilliant young man redo my site to entice people to join my email list, which is apparently the new, new source of marketing power. I also switched from one mailing service to another, which resulted in me losing about 20 people. I’ve gained one with the new site. 😉

    You have to take all this in the spirit of, well, the Spirit, however defined. You’ll have wonderful stories to tell. But I think you should do what Margaret says, because her site looks lovely and she lived to tell the tale!

    Thanks again, Margaret!

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    • Wow, Sandy, what a wealth of information you shared in your comment. 52 URL’s! How do you keep track of them all? Your expertise always amazes me. Thanks so very much for sharing what you know.

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      • OK. A new level of learning. I’m responding to your using my new Dragon Dictate program and my microphone to dictate this. After Joanna Penn wrote in her blog that she’d just finished her first BOOK, totally dictated, I figured I could step up to the plate. I’m feeling more like a beginner than ever. In my initial usage of Dragon Dictate I learned that you have to really proofread or you might end up saying something… embarrassing?

        So we’ll see what happens. What I didn’t say in my earlier post, Margaret, is that I purchased from dreamhost.com a special offer they ran years ago. It was called CodeMonster and it allowed purchasers, for a paltry $14 a month, to host an INFINITE number of URLs––domains. This posed a real problem for bargain shopper. So, I got it, of course.

        And that’s how I got the 52 URLs, because they’re really not very expensive actually. So there is the true story of my URL empire. Which still costs a mere $14 per month to host.

        Dreamhost is kind enough to keep track of them for me on a particular page of my account, which I sometimes can’t find, but sometimes can. That’s why I’m wedded at the hip with my “web guy”. He can always find that page.

        Whew. Now to go back over this and take out anything strange that might’ve been put in by Dragon Dictate. Or me, mumbling. It writes exactly what it hears you say.

        So, here we go marching ever forward, independent authors and presses. Learning new skills that we wish we didn’t have to, but do. Hugs to everybody. Now to proofread.

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        • Dragon Dictate! Scares the heck out of me. Wow and double wow, Sandy. Maybe someday you can write a post for the VFA about “The Way of the Dragon” or “How I Slayed the Dragon.” And I’m glad you cleared up the part about the 52 URLs. I thought maybe you were a closet billionaire and just wrote in your spare time when not living the life of luxury.

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          • Sorry, no closet billionaires here. That Code Monster sale allowed me to become an internet impresario, and URLs used to be really cheap. A couple of dollars maybe. Just like ISBN’s used to be free. If you’re old enough you can remember those days, although I never did get free ISBN’s.

            Haven’t exactly slain the Dragon yet. I’m I’m more like standing in the door to its cave yelling, “You who…I’m here. Would you like to play?”

            I didn’t think about voice-recognition software until my hands started hurting so much that I could hardly type. I’m easing my way into the process. Also had some help from a young family friend, one of those guys born knowing how to do all this stuff.

            That article by Joanna Penn about how she dictated her latest book was really helpful and inspiring. Anyone who’s interested in voice dictation should go to her blog, which is The Creative Penn, and find the article. The young man that I noted above helped me get set up with the Dragon. He read her article and found even a better, cheaper microphone than the one Joanna uses for me.

            Using voice recognition software is really cool. You just talk and it writes, quite accurately. Write on anything; you can write emails, you can write on Microsoft Word, you can write on blogs, and when you’re finished, you command:

            “Go to sleep!” And the Dragon goes to sleep! I love the sense of power.

            I will write something for the gang when I when I have a sense of mastery. Which I hopefully will attain.

            Even if all you can do is speak your emails, it really helps the old hands.

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    • Cracked me up, Sandy. You put it in the vernacular!

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      • Glad to be entertaining, Vic. It’s much more entertaining on this end, dictating away. Eventually, we’ll all help each other to new and higher level of consciousness, and computer skills. Ciao!

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  3. Katherine Langton says:

    Hi, on the strength of this article I did sign up for Bluehost. Two things to be aware of dear readers: you absolutely need to add the $11.00 charge for privacy or as soon as you subscribe you’ll get spammers in your inbox trying to sell you a website–very smarmy, phishing people. Second, Bluehost takes the full amount for the three years, not the $3.49 per month (unlike GoDaddy). So, I’m a little dismayed, but I’ve talked directly to Bluehost and they seem to be quite knowledgeable and pleasant, so I’ll stick with them. Sorry to be a Debby Downer on this, but I think it’s important to know these two things.

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    • Thanks, Katherine. I, and I’m sure all the visitors to the VFA, appreciate any piece of additional information that readers of our posts are generous enough to share. I learn as I go and share what I know, but there’s always more to any subject than I am aware of, especially on the subject of building one’s own website. No sooner do I write a post with how-to instructions, and the rules change. Yes, Bluehost takes the full amount for the three years, which is good and bad. One gets a discount this way and doesn’t have to worry about forgetting to renew. The bad, it costs money. I can’t figure out why we have to pay extra for privacy. It’ like being asked to buy a warranty on a product. If the product is good, why do we have to pay extra to protect it? But, here our hands are tied. Having your very own self-hosted website costs money, but, in the long run, being in charge and knowing the ins and outs of your website (see Sandy’s comment above) are well worth it. Also, as you learned, the people at Bluehost are knowledgeable and pleasant. Plus they don’t charge for their expertise. Which counts for something.

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  4. Thanks, Margaret. We all love inhabiting the zone where we write our VF. Doing promotion, not so much. Having simple instructions for computer challenges encountered facing the necessity to promote effectively in today’s market is priceless.

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    • I agree, Vic, I’m hoping to reach the point at the VFA where we receive input from our members on the subjects they would like us to cover–and find guest bloggers to cover–in our posts in order to make promotion more understandable and easier to implement.

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  5. Admin - Eleni says:

    Thanks for this post. I wish I knew about Bluehost. I use FatCow, and I’ve had a major issue with them. My sight got hacked, so it is also important to deal with the privacy issue that Katherine mentioned in a previous comment.

    Regarding Dragon Dictate, my boss uses it all the time. It’s great software. I fear forgetting how to type if I use it! However, I think software such as this will soon outdate the almighty keyboard!

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    • Hi Eleni. At least visitors reading these comments will be forewarned about FatCow. Bluehost, though not perfect, is one of the most recommended web-hosting services I’ve come across. Dragon Dictate scares me, but so did the microwave and computers when they first came out. Change is scary, but I’m usually rewarded when I venture into the unknown. As when I started writing visionary fiction!

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