Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

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Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby bcomet » 20 May 2010, 09:25

This came up recently on The Ask Nathan Thread:

Nathan Bransford wrote:
bcomet wrote:Hi Nathan. Thanks for the answer to my last question.
Here's something that came up recently:
I read (I think on Query Shark) that a writer should have a designated e-mail and if they didn't or had another name (like a pen name) that it was a BIG RED FLAG, that it would hurt a writer's chances. What exactly is a designated email? I use a symbols or words for my emails and not my name as part of my email address. I know another writer who uses her name and her pen name (one inside the other). Are these no-nos? If so, can you speak a little about how a writer's designated email should appear? Thanks!


Unless the e-mail address is wildly unprofessional this isn't a huge deal to me, though there are others in the industry who feel more strongly about it and advise people to have their own dedicated e-mail address.

Also, now is a good time for me to advise everyone to hurry hurry hurry and buy the domain for your name or pen name if at all possible. Then you can set up a very professional e-mail address along the lines of yourfirstname@yourfirstandlastname.com


I am dreadfully confused by things like this. Anyone out there know how to step-by-step instruct on how to buy a domain (not design a website yet) AND establish a professional e-mail account? Do you need to set up the website to do it? Is there a MOST SIMPLE way to do this? Can you set up an independent e-mail with your name on it for a blog (without a website)? MAC user.

Thanks!
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby Robin » 20 May 2010, 10:21

www.godaddy.com
use the lookup tool to see if your domain ( www. comet.com or whatever) is available.
It will usually give you a green check mark if it is.
You then follow the purchase directions
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby Mark » 20 May 2010, 11:01

Buying the domain name is very simple, and there's no harm in buying that right away and sitting on it.

Setting up an email address can be more difficult, depending on the domain registrar/hosting company you choose. Once you pick a specific company, you'll need to follow their instructions, or seek specific help.

For what it's worth, I've owned my domain for several years now and never bothered setting up an email account. I'll be using my gmail address for all my querying.
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby Em! » 20 May 2010, 11:08

No fear, it's really not that hard (or expensive).

1) Make sure the domain name you want is actually available. Do this by using one of the many whois sites. Or just go to Bust A Name and type the domain you want into the "Quick Domain Check" box. (Bust A Name's fun because it's got features to help you brainstorm a name if your first choice is taken, but be careful not to get carried away if the point is to have something professional.)

2) Research some domain registrars (these are the folks you buy the domain through) to find one with a good set of features/price/support for your needs. This can feel a little overwhelming because there are a LOT of registrars out there. I kind of hesitate to name names of specific registrars because I don't want to imply that they're what you need just by mentioning them... but if you can't figure out where to start looking let me know and I'll throw some names out there. Or maybe someone in the forum has had a great experience and wants to recommend a registrar.

Features to look for:
  • Since you're trying to get professional email set up, choose a domain registrar that gives you free email when you register a domain. Many of them offer this service. (If you want to go the more advanced route, you can alternatively pick a registrar that will let you change your domain records so you can run your domain's email through a service like Google Apps. But you really don't have to do that unless you feel like it.)
  • Because you never want to lose control over your own name, try to find out if the domain registrar is known for letting you easily transfer your domain in case you want to move it to use another company's services later.
  • Even if you don't want a full website right now, you might want something to exist if people type your domain name into the browser. If so, look for a registrar that will let you "point" your domain name at something like your blog or a simple page telling who you are and what you do. Or at least look for a registrar that will give you a decent looking free placeholder page.
  • If you're concerned about not having your personal info all over the internet, choose a registrar that has a free or inexpensive "domain privacy" feature. When you register a domain, your name and contact info will go into publicly accessible databases. People can look you up as the owner of the domain on those whois sites I mentioned earlier. If you use a registrar with a privacy option, they'll put their company's contact info into the databases instead of your personal info.

3) Once you've picked a domain name and a registrar, the rest is basically just pushing buttons. Decide how many years you want to register the domain for and use the registrar's website to purchase the domain and set up your email accounts.


If I've made this sound too complicated or you'd like more help with a particular point, let me know. I didn't want to throw every last detail in here and make it seem overwhelming, but I'm happy to elaborate on anything.
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby writermorris » 20 May 2010, 13:13

Any suggestions for what to do when your www.firstnamelastname.com is already purchased?
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby Mark » 20 May 2010, 13:32

firstnamelastname.net?
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby Em! » 20 May 2010, 13:44

writermorris wrote:Any suggestions for what to do when your http://www.firstnamelastname.com is already purchased?


Have you tried combining your first/middle initials in various ways with your last name? (Not recommended for people with unfortunate names such as Susan Lutz or Fred Uckermann.)
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby bcomet » 21 May 2010, 10:23

Hi All! Thanks for all the help and suggestions! I think that the more basic the information, the better.

I am hoping that any information that gets posted here also helps others writers with this concern.

Your recommendations and know-how are awesome!
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby Sommer Leigh » 21 May 2010, 17:09

This is so timely!!! Today on vlogbrothers over on Youtube (John Green of "looking for Alaska" and "Papertowns" fame and his brother Hank Green) Hank Green did a 4 minute vlog explaining not only a good place to buy your domain and how to find out what is available, but also how to set up a quick website using AN Hosting and Wordpress. Totally worth it if you've never done this stuff before. Also AN Hosting is pretty great. Go Daddy is good too, I had that for a long time, but I like AN hosting a little better.

The video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWExYC_XK9E&playnext_from=TL&videos=ICzxlQdb9ts&feature=sub

As far as how to pick the name of your domain, it is hard when someone already has your name in use. Keep in mind that if you use .net or some switching around of your name (lastnamefirstname, firstnamemiddleinitiallastname, etc) you'll still get people who are used to .com going to the wrong website, or never guessing that your website is lastnamefirstname or whatever. Think about how you approach looking for an author's website or any website for that matter. If it's going to confuse people, go with something else. So choose carefully and put plenty of thought into it before you jump. Think of it from a marketing stand point. There are plenty of great websites out there with good ideas on how to build the brand that is you, even if you can't have your name as your domain name.

Good luck!
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby RichardLevangie » 21 May 2010, 17:23

You can also use a hyphen: firstname-lastname.com

Or one of many variations, if they're available... firstnamelastname.us... firstnamelastname.org... firstnamelastname.info... firstnamelastname.ca (for Canadians)

Frankly, if you think you'll have a career as a writer, I think you should grab your preferred domain name ASAP. If you're long way from publication, then sit on it (and renew it every year). If you're starting to query, then you must get a professional to design a site for you. I think it's the least the industry expects now, and web design is far too complicated an issue to leave to a nephew who took a few classes at college.
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby FK7 » 21 May 2010, 20:35

You guys can get your domain at http://www.namecheap.com for 9$/year (.com, .net, .org, .xxx, .info, .whatever, ...), and I can provide with you free hosting. I don't mind hosting your website either, providing it's related to writing.

I already pay 2000$/year for a private dedicated server to host my client's websites and my own sites, since I'm a professional photographer and website designer by trade. I don't mind sharing it with fellow author-friends.

Send me a private message if you are interested. It's free, but this offer is reserved for the users of this forum and your friends, not the whole interweb! :)

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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby Mark » 30 May 2010, 22:17

Mark wrote:For what it's worth, I've owned my domain for several years now and never bothered setting up an email account. I'll be using my gmail address for all my querying.


I lied. I just set up my email with Google apps for my domain, and will now be using mark@mydomain.com for submissions. I'm transitioning to a new host and they prompted me to set it up, so I did. Easy and fast.
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby bcomet » 01 Jun 2010, 11:54

Mark,
Who is your hosting service? Fast and easy and with prompts sounds good.
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Re: Buying A Domain and Setting Up Professional E-mail

Postby Mark » 01 Jun 2010, 12:24

Since I'm currently unemployed, I realized that my $20 hosting fee was a little bit much to carry for the next while, so I took a risk and signed with Dreamhost for a 2 year contract because of a deal offered to Lifehacker.com readers that brings the per-month cost down to $2.69. (Get the promo code here: Best Personal Web Host: DreamHost)

Be warned that some people in the comments were very unimpressed with the Lifehacker verdict, and that Dreamhost has as many rants as it does raves. I've heard both very good and very bad things, and it's really only the incredibly low cost that's driven me to sign up with them. If I hate it after 6 months, I'll still have saved money over my old hosting company and can go back. Migrating sites can be a pain in the ass though, so if you're not that comfortable with web work, you might want to be sure that Dreamhost is going to be okay for you. Read a few reviews and make your own decisions.

Also, by fast and easy, I mean for those with a passing familiarity with DNS records and so on and suchforth. I think the prompts will set up the cname and mx records for you, but I did it backwards after the fact. I'm still in the 2 week trial period and wasn't sure if I was going to bother setting up the email addresses. It should be easy though. I just don't want to misrepresent anything.

If you (or anyone for that matter) decides to sign with Dreamhost and wants help trying to figure out how to setup your account, just send me a private message here and I'll help you configure it.

Also, you should note that this is web hosting (you can register your domain as part of the package) and you'll be able to set up a website as well. It's worth having the space, and setting up a basic website is easy. They have one click Wordpress blog software installs, and you can use that software to just create a static website if you don't want to blog.
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