We all have pet peeves. I have quite a few. One thing that really gets to me is someone that’s using the Internet for professional purposes, but not using a domain name for their business. By “professional purposes” I mean anything that is not for personal use. I see businesses in my area post advertisements and then list a free-mail email address as their contact information. By “free-mail” I’m referring to any service you use for your email, but you’re not paying for that service, such as HotMail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, etc. The e-mail issued to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) also is not a professional email address. Just the other day I saw an ad in the paper for a company with job openings. They were using an address like firstname.lastname@example.org (not the real address, but you get the idea). Does that look professional? No! As a business, service provider, or other professional you need a professional looking email address. To get a professional looking email address, you need a domain name. What’s a domain name? Well, I’m glad you asked.
In short, a domain name identifies you on the Internet. The domain name is usually your business name, like YourTechExplained, Google, Yahoo, and IBM. You also need to decide on a Top Level Domain (TLD). The TLD is the “.com” of “yourtechexplained.com”. There are other TLDs, such as .net, .info, .org, .edu, .mil, and .gov. Back in the day the TLDs I just mentioned were pretty much all you had to worry about, but now there are tons of TLDs, like .photography, .tech, .church, and .xyz just to name a few. There are over 1,000 different TLDs.
“.com” was originally designated for commercial usage, however, the availability of .com domains have dwindled and so businesses are resorting to other TLDs for their domain name. Depending which TLD you select, registration can be as much as $40 per year and in some cases, even over $100 per year. If you select a standard TLD such as .com, then you’re only looking at spending $12-$15. Some discount registrars charge less than $10. If you find a site charging $0.99, then be careful. I’m not saying it’s not true, but there could be some fine print involved.
To register a domain name, you will need to visit a registrar, such as GoDaddy or Google Domains and complete the registration process. Once you find a domain you like with a TLD, complete the registration process, and pay the fees, the domain name is yours to do with as you choose. You’ll continue to own that domain name just as long as you continue to pay the registration fee. Each registrar has different User Interfaces to manage their domain name, so I wouldn’t be able to cover how each registrar handles things. The registration process is easy and the webpage for the registrar will walk you through the process. In most cases, the registrar also handles Domain Name Server (DNS) entries for you. DNS is a topic for another article, but think of it as the phonebook of the Internet. When you type yourtechexplained.com into your web browser, your computer needs to know how to find yourtechexplained.com on the Information Super Highway, so it uses DNS.
After registering for a domain name and setting things up, you can setup your domain name to point to a webpage and also get email. If you don’t have a webpage you can set your domain name to send visitors to your Facebook page, but I would recommend that you get a webpage set up as soon as possible, because after all, your are a professional. You can then set up an email address (or email addresses).
If you would rather continue using your current email system you still can. Just use an Alias. An alias in email is basically the same as an alias in real life. It’s another name you use. If your real email address is email@example.com (not necessarily a real life example) and you want to use something a little more professional looking, you can set an alias of firstname.lastname@example.org and have the mail forwarded to your real address – email@example.com (again, just for illustrative purposes!)
There’s so much more you can do once you own a domain name for your business. E-mail is just the beginning.