Whether you are working to improve your business or have a fun and personal website about yourself, taking the initiative to host it so that you can control it is so much more critical than allowing some other person to run the format/layout of the site. Sites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter are great formats to put your content, but until you obtain your own domain, any plans to become financially successful are dramatically diminished due to the lack of specific features and benefits on these sites.
For starters, you do not get your own personalized email with these programs. Nothing works greater than to have your own “FirstLastName@YourDomain…..” It is possible if you are one of the few with a random name to get your name with an AOL, Gmail, yahoo etc. account, but these do not show the world any relevant qualities or hints about the person or what they are involved in. Often you end up with something that is a combination of letters and numbers when you use these free email accounts, which might not help in branding your business one bit! If you want to keep that special one you had many years ago when email really bloomed and you signed up for many accounts with it, there may be a benefit to keeping it. Taking the initiative to get your own site will allow you to brand yourself and get more people to read your emails as it also becomes more personal. This should allow you to get more email conversions than using info[at]_____ or support[at]______, though these accounts can be established as well when you begin to define your business better and may need them.
Next, when you get your own domain and hosting you have an option of many features and benefits that may include, but are not limited to cPanel, Fantastico (WordPress and Forums), autoresponders, opt-in forms, email forwarders, site templates, video hosting, conference rooms and more depending on the program or web hosting company you choose. Here is a little breakdown of the benefits of each feature:
1.cPanelï? This allows you total control over your website from editing to loading files through an FTP platform quickly, setting up WordPress, email accounts and more
2.Fantasticoï? Allows you to set up your WordPress blog and set up forums related to a topic of interest of the site. These can be places to put advertisements, videos, reviews of products and more.
3.Autorespondersï? when someone comes to your site, you want to keep them coming or at least be able to keep them updated to what is happening with the business of program. These programs allow you to send messages or posts to anyone who opted or signed in to your list.
4.Opt-in formsï? a fill in the blank application that brings a customer or viewer to your autoresponder and then to a site, video, program of choice. Double opt-ins are beneficial in that they guarantee you are not being spammed. When you send out a message, you may get many returned if the person did not go to their “real” email address and confirm that they were a “real” person accepting messages from you.
5.Email Forwardersï? These help to streamline your websites. You might have many sites and not want to log into every cPanel and email account each day. If you have them all forwarded to the same generic email you can save time when you do get a message from that account.
6.Site templatesï? Many people do not know how to or care to use html code. Having ready made templates can save time and easily get your web site up. You can edit as needed in the html editor of cPanel in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) method.
7.Video Hostingï? I know Youtube is popular, but a site like this forces people to see other videos that they may find offensive, which is one of the main reasons why as a Science teacher, I do not have access to this site in school. You could embed the code for the video into a premade template (see #6 above) but you still have the Youtube links there and logos. Certain plans allow for video uploading and producing.
8.Conference Roomsï? We do not have an endless flow of money to get us around the world at a moments notice to have a meeting with like minded individuals. Getting in front of a computer with a video capabilities allow you to easily meet someone from the other side of the world to host a meeting. These may range from a few seats to thousands of seats that are available for people to log into and be part of the experience. Think Webinars!
When it comes to branding, you want to get a domain name that is easy to remember or looks appealing if you send someone a link or it appears in an ad. As an example, MagneticSponsors and BasicLacrosse are easy to remember domain names compared to something with numbers and symbols like “FRD$&32PV.Program…” which might include affiliate links and are not very appealing. In addition to email forwarders, you can also forward a domain to your affiliate link. It looks more appealing to the viewer. It also prevents a viewer from modifying your link and typing in the main domain without your affiliate link which causes you to lose out on the referral like “Program…” in the above example.
There are many options out there for catchy domain names and you might want to grab it up before someone else does. Even if you do not put any effort into setting up the site, you can always do what is called Cash Parking, where the host may put ads onto your site (assuming people stumbled on it by accident and could see Pay Per Click, or PPC ads from a variety of sources.) For example, if you try to go to BadLacrosse, you might see everything from Lacrosse the sport, to Buick Lacrosse to LaCrosse Wisconsin! When people click the ad, instead of you getting charged, someone else does and you actually make a very small commission of their fee.
There are many programs and hosting companies out there and it can be very hard to choose which one is best for you and your business. I personally have gone with GoDaddy for most of my domain name purchases, though I have only set up 1 site with them. Most of my sites are hosted through GVO. I highly suggest checking out both of their offers.