How I Acquired My First Domain Name

Ladies and gentlemen, connieqian.co is mine.

Don’t paste that into your browser’s address bar just yet because it literally happened 30 minutes ago and I have not uploaded any contents. Nonetheless, I’m pretty giddy about all of this because getting my own domain has been on my mind for the past few years, yet nothing ever materialized… until now.

I created my first website on the now defunct GeoCities to play with HTML. As an unhappy and bored high schooler, building a website enabled me to waste time yet feel somewhat productive.

I created my second website as a part of an AP Art class assignment. My portfolio website was hosted by NISD for a while before disappearing into the oblivion. You can still see my high school art here though.

In the space below, I will describe the steps I took before signing up for my own domain. Although I am completely new to all of this, I hope these steps will inspire or help some of you who are not sure about where to start. So here it goes.

  1. Ask yourself: Why do I want to create a website? 
    This step is important because you don’t want to commit to a 12 or 24 month web hosting plan or waste that $10 on acquiring a domain if you’re not serious about it. I had three compelling reasons to get my own domain name.

    First, I wanted to start establishing my personal brand. Not only is this crucial for my career development, it is also vital for my social media/online presence. Second, as lame as it sounds, I needed a way to motivate myself to learn JavaScript/Python/Ruby. For the past year, I have repeatedly told myself to learn those languages, but never invested more than 10 minutes before quitting. Because I operate well with monetary incentives, spending ~$9 per month, I think, will incentivize me to start coding. Third, I needed a creative outlet. My profession is very analytical in nature, and I have not found a way to channel my creative energy since I started working. It’s about time that I put all of those post-its ideas into something tangible.
  2. What kind of website do I want to build? 
    Do not skip this step. Without having a purpose or knowing your needs, you cannot make an intelligent decision about which web hosting service will benefit you the most and how much money you want to spend. For me, I knew I wanted to build an online portfolio. There would be no business involved (i.e. setting up an online shop or having a customer database). The website would be a simple showcase of my work.

    Tip: I spent countless hours on siteInspire to brainstorm for ideas.
  3. Which web hosting service should I use? 
    I have to admit, I was very confused when I started searching for a web hosting service. Excluding sites like SquareSpace, which is nonprogrammer-friendly, most of the web hosting service websites were not friendly toward first-time users and completely ridden with industry jargons. Besides feeling confounded by all the products each site offered, I was rendered hopeless by the marketing gimmicks each site used. What the fuck is Cloud or Dedicated? Premium DNS? SSL? Whaaa? OK, excuse my ignorance, but I thought the whole purpose of “cloud computing” was to be perpetually backed up? Why then are they offering separate backup services?

    In any case, after hours of research (i.e. typing into Google “what is the difference between X and Y?” or “best web hosting service”), I ruled out cloud hosting and opted for shared hosting. Cloud hosting is for those who expect to have a significant need of resources. For example, if you’re creating a recipe-sharing website and expect to have a big user base and high traffic, then cloud hosting provides you with the flexibility to scale your website as needed. If you’re interested, I get the impression that Amazon Web Service andRackspace provide the best cloud hosting service.
    Because I am not familiar with my hosting needs (yet) and don’t expect to obtain a high traffic (yet), I went with the more traditional and standard options, which meant that I had to navigate through the sea of regular web hosting services. Perhaps this was a bad approach, but I actually went to www.whoishostingthis.com to see what my favorite websites were using as their hosts. After all, you want to learn from the best, right? After some more research, I came down to three contenders: MediaTemple, DreamHost, and GoDaddy. I ruled out MediaTemple immediately because of their price tag (see below). Based on customer reviews and general internet consensus, DreamHost seemed more reliable and ethical than GoDaddy; so I ended up choosing DreamHost’s Shared Web Hosting service.

    Image

    (The little table I made on Google Docs)

  4. Choose a domain name. 
    Depending on your name, this steps may be the hardest. My first choice name, connieqian.com, was already taken; so I had to pick an alternative. Although connie-qian.com was available, I personally don’t like typing a dash and I was repulsed by the the look of having a dash in middle of my first and last name.
    I also ruled out .info and .net because those sounded too commercial and old-school. Although I really like the idea of .org, I didn’t feel important enough to attach the respectful .org to a non-idea or non-nonprofit website. The only choices remaining were country-based domains like .us or .jp.
    In the end, I settled for .co (used for Colombia-based domains) because how succinct and beautiful it was. Also, I guess it would be unfair to not mention the hipster points I get for having a .co domain. I mean, just look at vsco.co! There is even a whole website dedicated to recruiting and supporting .co users. As far as I’m concerned, .com is so yesterday and .co is the new black.
  5. REGISTER & CELEBRATE.

So there you have it — my overly verbose guide to getting your first domain! Happy domain-hunting!

Image

(mischievous grin, “fufufu”)

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