Successful freelance writers treat themselves as a brand. If you hope to build a lucrative career in this field, you have to get serious about clarifying and communicating your specific brand in the marketplace.
One of the best places to start is with a website. That’s a necessity, but it doesn’t have to be an extensive or complicated site with lots of bells and whistles. (To be honest, it probably shouldn’t contain such distractions.)
What you want is a professional and compelling platform that positions you as credible and desirable. But before you can focus on custom website design, graphics, and content, it’s important to begin with the right foundational building blocks. This includes selecting a domain name.
Why Your Domain Name Matters
Some freelancers overlook the domain name and quickly select something so they can move on to the more exciting phases of the process. However, this is a major mistake. The domain name is extremely important for a few distinct reasons:
- SEO. In terms of search engine optimization, having a good keyword in your domain name is helpful. It’s not necessary, but it’s helpful. It boosts your efforts and increases your chances for visibility.
- Brand awareness. Your domain name helps increase brand awareness for your work. Whether it’s your name or a company name, every little bit of exposure helps.
- Control. When you secure a domain name, you’re the only person in the world who owns it. In one sense, this is a way to control and protect your brand. For example, if you choose “FirstNameLastName.com,” this means no one else can create a website using your name.
5 Tips for Choosing the Right Domain Name
As you think about selecting a domain name, there are several different factors that you’ll want to take into account. Let’s explore each of them to give you a better idea of how to approach this process.
1. Decide on the Type of Domain You Want
Most freelance writers either use their name or devise a separate brand title. You’ll have to decide what your goals are.
If you plan to operate as a freelancer indefinitely, then a website of “FirstNameLastName.com” could work (or a close variation of this.) The benefit here is that people see your name and associate it with your professional work. The downside is that you are the brand. This makes it more difficult to scale your business up in the future. (Having said that, it’s always a good idea to at least reserve your name as a domain name. If nothing else, you can redirect to your branded freelancer website.)
If you plan to scale up and hire other writers, then you might prefer a separate branded domain. This should include some sort of SEO-friendly keyword or memorable brand name. You’ll have to play around with different options until you find something that fits.
2. Choose Your TLD
You’ve probably never given much thought to the different components of your URL. For example, there’s the TLD. And while often overlooked, this element is very important.
“A TLD, or Top Level Domain by its full name, is the bit that comes at the very end of a web address; for example, the TLD for Namecheap.com is the .com suffix,” NameCheap explains. “The most common TLDs are .com, .net, .org. but there are hundreds more available.”
Generally speaking, it’s best to go with a “.com” extension. If you are going to use another TLD, “.co” and “.net” are simple substitutes. Stay away from complex and obscure options that people may not know or be willing to trust.
3. Keep it Short and Simple
The length of your domain name matters more than you might think. According to Google, you want to stick with somewhere between three to four terms/words. Obviously, one or two words are ideal, but there aren’t many of these domains available anymore. And if they are, you’ll pay a premium for them.
Avoid using numbers, dashes, or misspellings of existing words. These can feel spammy and will limit your ability to build trust with your audience.
4. Think in Terms of Authority
Unlike an eCommerce website, where the entire goal is to convert traffic into direct sales, your site doesn’t have to be so overt. When you’re a freelance writer, the purpose of your website is to build authority so you can initiate a conversation.
Everything about your site should focus on establishing authority. This includes your domain name. Your goal is to position yourself as a trustworthy and experienced freelancer who can add value to the client. This is one of the reasons why you want to avoid purposely misspelling a word or using an obscure TLD. Keep it simple, clean, and classy.
5. Search for Availability
Just because you want a domain name doesn’t mean it’s available. Use a tool such as Instant Domain Search to see whether the specific domain you have in mind is available. (If not, the tool will suggest other options.)
If the website is available, you’re in luck! It’ll typically only cost you a few bucks to buy. You can even buy several and then have each of the alternative domain names redirect to the main site. This is a good way to protect your brand if you foresee other competitors trying to knock you off.
You may find that your domain name isn’t available, but it is for sale by the current owner. In these cases, you can either buy it outright or make an offer.
Execute … Then Iterate
It’s easy to become paralyzed by the various steps and requirements for building a website. But you have to get over the notion of perfection. It’s far more productive to take action than to expend time and resources to get it perfect.
You can begin the process by selecting a domain name. Go through the process of carefully considering each aspect, but don’t freeze up! Once you find something that works, roll with it and move on to the next step. Building a website is a process. Be patient yet proactive!