Photography Business: Domain Names

In my post titled Build a Photography Business in 24 Hours, I mentioned that I would expand on each piece of the puzzle for creating your own business. I’m using my recent experience with setting up Auer Photoworks as the basis for this guide. Here are all the pieces of the business-puzzle I talked about (with the * items being optional):

  1. Photographs
  2. Gallery Software
  3. Hosting Company
  4. Domain Name
  5. Trade Name
  6. Bank
  7. $500
  8. * Merchant Account
  9. * Accounting
  10. * Marketing

This post will focus on step 4 of the critical items: Domain Name. Your domain name will be your address on the World Wide Web. This is the name that people will use to find you, link to you, and ultimately purchase from you. You want a name that works well with your site and is easy to remember.

You'll want your domain name to compliment your trade name, so you need to do a little availability checking on both before you commit to something. Some people use their first and last name for a domain, which is fine unless you have a common name and it's already taken. The upside to this is that you probably won't need to register a trade name for the business because you'll be operating under your own name (laws may vary from state to state). This works well for professional photographers whose name is already well known, but if you're just starting you might consider something else.

A good piece of advice is to include one or more keywords in your domain name so that it has more meaning to search engines and customers alike. If your work is centered around a theme, try to include some part of that theme in the domain name. You don't want to include too many keywords in the domain because it will start to get too big and hard to remember (over 20 characters is usually too many). You might try listing out all your keywords and making various combinations of them to help get you started. You're going to need about 10 to 20 ideas to start with because it's very likely that most of your names will be taken already.

When it comes time to registering a domain, there are tons of registrars out there and they all offer basically the same service — domain sales and management. I use GoDaddy for purchasing domains because they have a “Smart Search” tool that will give you alternative domain ideas when the one you're looking for is taken. It comes in handy if you start running out of ideas. You're best off trying to get a .com name because they are intended for commercial sites, plus they're the most well known and frequently used. Registering the name is fairly simple, you just buy it for one or more years and you're done.

After your domain is purchased, you will have the ability to manage that domain through the registrar. You'll need to fill in your name servers provided by your hosting company. Once you update the name servers, your domain will usually propagate within 24 hours — sometimes much faster. If all works out, you will be taken to your site when you type in your domain name through a web browser. After that, all you have to worry about is renewing that name when the time comes.

I purchased for the main site name, but I also purchased and pointed it at the same site. I did this so that I could have alternate methods of getting people to the same site — plus, who doesn't want to own their own name on the Internet?

So that's the basics of domain names. There is a lot more to it when you really start digging in, but this should at least get you going. The next post will focus on trade names — your actual business name.

Photo of the Day…

Industrial Sunset

Photo by Brian Auer
11/05/06 New York, NY
Industrial Sunset
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta AF DT 18-200
300mm equiv * f/11 * 1/250s * ISO100