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Q & A : Why do I need my own Web site domain?

Why do I need my own Web site domain?

And other considerations for Webpreneurs

By Chris Dunmire

Q: I read your article about making a Web site to promote my artwork online. I found some free space on a popular Web directory and my address is structured similar to this:

http://art.webdirectory.com/~sam/

I'll get my own domain later on after I see how this works. I don't care for the host's distracting ads and limited daily bandwidth policy, but don't mind saving a few bucks. Am I headed in the right direction? So I have a Web site. Now what? — Sam

A: Sam, Sam, the art-making man. You must have read my How to Use a Web Site for Self-Promotion article from January. Great stuff there, and you're certainly headed in the right direction by bringing your art online and promoting yourself through the Web.

But there's something I've got to tell you about your situation that you're going to have to take with a grain of salt. In fact, this advice is spot-on for a few other people I know, so I've written a follow-up article about it. Before you invest a lot of time and effort on your "free" Web space (and subsequent promotion of it), please consider my article, Five Must-Haves for Promoting Your Products or Services Online written especially with your situation in mind.

Also, I'd like to preface the article with a few thoughts about social networking Web sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, which I consider "add-on" positive plus promotional tools to use in addition to having your own domain Web site, and not to be confused with the "http://art.webdirectory.com/~sam/" site you set up to "save a few bucks."

The Advantages of Social Networking Sites

Social networking Web sites have become extremely popular promotional tools in recent years. Ushered in for Web 2.0 and built around the blogging breakthrough, they usually combine "free" (advertisement-supported) Web space for sharing photos, videos, music, Twitter-like "what are you doing?" updates, blogs, and various plug-in apps for all sorts of creative things that easily cross over into mobile devices like iPhones, Blackberries, and the like. Authors, artists, musicians, performers and other creatives have benefited from the exposure social networking sites give them to connect with fans and update them on news and happenings.

If you plan on using a social networking Web site to help promote your own Web site or blog (i.e. your business, products, services, and events), keep in mind that each network has a targeted demographic, so you'll do well to choose one (or more) that matches your audience. For example:

  • MySpace is aimed at a younger demographic with its focus on videos, games, music, and celebrity news.
  • Facebook is similar to MySpace, although less busy and with fewer advertisements and is self-described as a "social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them."
  • Professional networks such as LinkedIn focus on colleague networks and career building, with room for resume sharing, connecting with classmates from educational institutions, and attracting potential employers.
  • While the professional Behance Network focuses on sharing creative portfolios, projects, and collaborations with others, in addition to marketing your skills to businesses.

The advantages of using social networking sites are many, including the chance to find work or connect and collaborate with others in real time chats, discussions, and group projects. These sites also use plug-and-play dynamic apps which are supported and maintained by developers and third-party entities. Traditional static html-based informational Web sites that you author may not have these perks, which is fine if you're not interested in re-inventing the wheel.

Depending on your purposes, social networking Web sites may or may not appeal or be helpful to you. Some people find the tools useful for personal pleasure or business promotion, but dislike spending too much time and energy maintaining relationships and connections to strangers that have no meaning to them other than to pad a "friends with" count. With more contacts, more information and invitations will inevitably come your way. Deciding the pros and cons to such social networking is a personal choice for you to make. I am a member of both LinkedIn and CoachCreativeSpace two social networking Web sites I find valuable — one for business connections and the other for supportive creative community.

Now, on to my article about establishing a basic Web site on your own domain...

Next: Five Must-Haves for Promoting Your Products or Services Online

© 2005, 2009 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.


About Chris Dunmire

Chris is a deeply engaged creative spirit, lover of wit, words, and wisdom, and the driving force behind the award-winning Creativity Portal® Web site. [...]


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Updated 11/25/09