This is our first in a series of posts about simple things Indie shop owners can do to improve their businesses for cheap or no cost.
You’ve probably heard about domain names and figured: Well, I can always purchase one later. I’m making the case that this is something you need to purchase upfront if you are planning to setup a successful online shop on Etsy or Big Cartel or any similar sites. Not only is it professional, it will save both you and your visitors time in the long run.
The reasoning is simple: just like your full name indexes you in real life providing people a way to look you up, your domain name does the same for your business. Let’s say you want to start Beck’s Kitty Treat Factory, you brainstorm or work with a designer on coming up with an awesome name: Tunastic Treats. Let’s go over some scenarios.
You set up shop on Etsy, and things are going really well, so well that after a few months you want to move off Etsy and build your own site so that you don’t have to pay listing fees. Without a domain name, you now have to illegally post your new address on Etsy (check out their Terms of Service) or just say that your shop has moved and hope that people google and find your new site.
Another Scenario, stuff at Beck’s Kitty Treat Factory hasn’t gone as planned. It seems like Tunastic Treats just aren’t selling right now. You decide to close up shop but still keep a blog running in the hopes that once the couture kitty cat market recovers you can make a comeback. Well, if you have your domain name you can easily switch it from being used by Etsy to your blog so that people can still follow you. Without a domain, it’s like you’ve closed down forever and good luck trying to get people to find you.
Now, if you had a domain name setup – people would have bookmarked www.tunastictreats.com. Your visitors don’t have to change a thing. The work is on your side instead, linking the domain to your new site or blog. Don’t worry. This is not as difficult as it sounds and no matter what format or host you are using there are tons of solutions available. Most times it’s just a case of sending an email to your server’s help desk or doing a quick google search like “How can I use my domain on Etsy”.
Reasons you should purchase your domain name upfront:
– It lets you affirm whether or not your name might be confused with another company. If the dot com is already taken this should be a red flag that maybe your name might be confused with something else. You should always google your intended shop name before setting up to make sure there aren’t negative problems surrounding it or legal problems you may face (remember that most states will require a fictitious name registration in addition to other legal paperwork you may need to file)
– You build and keep your audience. The above scenarios go over this in detail – building and keeping an audience online takes time and you don’t want to lose them because you move your site.
– It gives you credibility. It makes your business seem legitimate.
– It’s not expensive. This is actually one of the cheapest things you can do to promote your business and market it. The current fees are around $20 per year (that’s five cents a day) and you can sometimes get a better deal by purchasing 3 years up front. You can afford this.
– It fits better on a business card.
– It’s easier to remember.
So who do you purchase a domain name from? Any where! We’ve used Brinkster, GoDaddy, Google, and are currently using Blue Host for our own hosting and domain needs. The cost is minimal and you can either have it auto-renew or turn that off. Most sites do require a credit card on file regardless of your auto-renewal status.
Best of luck!