Your name is obviously your identity, but as an artist, your name is your career, your calling card and also a method of marketing. In the 21st century, the world runs on the internet, and you should be proactive about owning “your name” dot com.
Registering your domain isn’t very difficult to do if you can navigate an ecommerce site and follow instructions. Domains are administered by businesses called registrars, and they make working with the internet DNS process easy.
DNS stands for domain name service; it’s the giant phonebook for the internet. There are over 100 million listings in the DNS phonebook right now, and it’s growing by the thousands everyday.
Domains can cost as little as $2 a year, though I’d expect to pay around $7-$10 per year, because you get what you pay for in terms of ease of use and customer support. You might also want to pay an additional $10 or so a year for what’s called a private registration, as in the DNS system, your registration information – name, email, phone number, etc. – is publicly available, and a private registration hides your information from spammers.
One of the most popular domain registrars is Godaddy.com. They are a one-stop shop for domains, and if you want it in the future, email and website hosting.
The first thing to find out at GoDaddy is if someone has already grabbed your name. Type in your desired domain name and pick one or more of the different suffixes, such as .com, .net, .us, .name or .biz. Then GoDaddy instantly checks the DNS to see if your domain is available.
You’ll quickly find out the difference between DNS and the telephone book; the phone book can list 20 different people with the same name. On the internet, there can only be one joesmith.com.
If someone already grabbed the domain you want, try your middle initial or spell out your middle name, or try a dash or two. GoDaddy offers the option of putting a backorder on a registered domain if someone has already grabbed myartist.com, so it’s possible to get in line for it, and if it comes open, they will nab it for you.
Other businesses “cyber squat” on domains, registering them for a few weeks to a few months, hoping to make money selling them or from the clickable advertisements on the site, and sometimes you can wait them out and get the domain yourself.
Registering a domain at GoDaddy can take a half hour or so, and then it takes around 24 hours for the DNS process to be completed and for your domain to show up in the virtual world of the internet. After everything goes through, there will be a GoDaddy “placeholder” website at your domain that says your domain is “parked.”
Owning a domain doesn’t automatically make it work as an email address or a website. Your domain must be “hosted” by a business; GoDaddy offers both domain registration and web and email hosting, and that can be more convenient if you’re new to all this.
If in doubt, get your local teenager to help; chances are they’ve done all this before.