Why the domain name of your artist site is vital
A website can’t exist without a domain name. A domain name is the website address; it’s how people find you on the internet. The domain name you choose makes up the unique part of the URL (Universal Resource Locator) for the main page on your site (normally your home page); it is the meat between the sandwich of the www. and the .com (although the www. is actually now an optional part of any web address).
By the end of this chapter, you’ll know exactly what makes a great domain name for an artist website, enabling you to choose your site title wisely. You’ll also have a couple of back-up options in case your first choice isn’t available.
Choosing your ideal domain name
A few things you need to know first
The governing body for the registration and use of domain names has set a few rules:
- Domain names are limited to 63 characters and are NOT case sensitive
- Domain names can only use letters, numbers and hyphens (no symbols)
- You can’t start or end a domain name with a hyphen
1. First choice: What is my brand?
When deciding on a name for your site, think about your brand. For many artists this is easy; your brand is often yourself!
You may be tempted to go for a more descriptive domain name so that you are found on Google for certain keywords. Daren Redman is known for creating beautiful textile wall hangings, so may think the domain name www.TextileWallHangings.com is a good fit. The downfall of this name is that wall hangings might be created by anyone, but there is only one Daren Redman. DarenRedman.com is much more specific and although it doesn’t tell us instantly that Daren is an artist, there are plenty of ways to let Google know what the site is about by writing good descriptive copy for its pages.
In short, as an artist I’d always advise going for the simplest option: your name.
There are of course exceptions to this rule. My mum, for example, is a textile artist and has chosen the domain name WomanWithAFish.com. This is still very unique to her and her work; much of her work references women holding fish! That is her brand.
2. What to do if your first choice isn’t available
If your first choice domain name isn’t available (we’ll get onto how to check this later on), it’s a good idea to have a few secondary ideas up your sleeve; here are some options to consider.
A different extension
Always register a .com domain name is it’s available. .com is still preferable to the other options, but it’s not a disaster if you need to use .net, .org, or .co.uk. TextileArtist.org is a prime example!!!
Add a descriptive word.
Brainstorm words that relate to what you do as an artist. If DarenRedman.com was not available we might consider DarenRedmanArtQuilts.com, DarenRedmanQuiltArtist.biz, DarenRedmanTextileArtist.org, or DarenRedmanQuilts.com.
Honestly though, the only one of these that I’d seriously consider is the last one. It just about gets away with being easy to remember and explain. The others are too convoluted and don’t create a strong brand identity.
Use a hyphen
If you really can’t get your first or second choice domain names, it might be time to add a hyphen (Daren-Redman.com). As a rule, this isn’t a particularly good idea as it diminishes your brand and demands explanation. When pointing people towards your website, you want them to be able to remember its name, ideally without caveats.
Tips for choosing a great domain name
1. Keep it simple – Avoid adding anything to the name that needs explanation. When you tell someone your website name they should be able to remember it and type it in without asking further questions. Numbers can cause confusion (Is it 3 or three?), as can Roman numerals (is it I or 1?). Can you tell a total stranger your website address without spelling anything or explaining what unusual words (like encaustic) mean?
2. Keep it short – Keep the site name between 6 and 30 characters. The limit is 63 but that would be impossibly long.
3. Keep it clear – Remember that your domain name will be run together with no spaces at all. Ask for objective opinions on whether it is clear what the words actually are. The one advantage of hyphens in domain names is that they separate words very clearly.
You should now have 2 or 3 great choices for domain names all figured out.
In the section Building Your Artist Website we’ll show you how to check if your chosen domain name is available and how to register it.