New Domain? Now What?

burrito

Years ago, when I registered my first domain, I was as excited, hopeful, anxious, and confused as you probably are now. Registering a new domain is a fairly low-cost property investment (especially compared to something like real estate), but the potential is enormous. Will your new site propel your hopeful brand to international acclaim? Will your words become a viral trend (do people use terms like that anymore?)? Even 20 years after the internet became a regular part of our lives, building a real website is still exciting.

Before you combust with creative energy though, let’s go over some basics.

What comes with your domain (and what doesn’t)

If you looked around a bit before registering your domain, you probably realized a few things: domain registration costs are different everywhere, some registrars make you pay for extra (mostly security) features, and some registrars have “white-label” tools you can use to do things like manage email addresses and build websites.

Here at iwantmyname, we do our best to keep things simple. With your domain comes all the add-on features we think are necessary – no upsells, ever. Most notably, WHOIS privacy – a privacy feature that keeps your personal information hidden from public view – is turned on automatically with each applicable domain (many registrars charge for it), and 2FA – a recommended security feature – can be added with just a click.

Simplicity does have limits though, and to keep our customers from half-baked tools, we leave the website-building and email hosting to the pros (I’ll go over that in the next section). This means that the tools you will end up using will likely be more robust and tailored to your needs than the typical stuff provided by domain registrars. But it also means that you don’t instantly have a website and fancy email address with your new domain.

Putting your domain name to work

Now that you’ve registered your first domain, it’s time to start actually using it. But before we dive in, let’s take a look at what kinds of things you can do:

  • Start a website - Probably the most common thing you can do with a domain is start a website. And these days, with amazing platforms like Squarespace, Big Cartel, and Tumblr, anyone can start a blog, e-commerce site, gallery page, online portfolio, forum, etc., etc. without knowing an ounce of code.
  • Get a custom email address - Ever see someone with an email address that doesn’t end in @gmail.com, @me.com, @hotmail.com, etc.? That was set up with a using a domain name like the one you just registered.
  • Shorten your links - When you post a link to Twitter (or some other social platforms), it’s automatically shortened to give you more characters to work with. If you want to brand that link shortening though (we’re using iwnt.me), you can get a short domain name and use it with a link shortening service like Bitly.
  • Host a podcast? Start a forum? - If you can think of it, there’s probably a platform or service out there to get you started.

No matter what you’re looking to accomplish, our recommendation is to start your search on our Plugins page.

Understanding plugins

Plugins

If you’ve ever messed with domain names in the past, you’ve probably come across a fairly acronym-heavy setup process with DNS record types like A, CNAME, MX, etc. What we’ve done is created a system that helps you avoid needing to deal with all that—allowing you to choose platforms like Squarespace and Tumblr, then add them to your domain in a click (all the work is done for you in the background).

The most important thing to remember here is that all the platforms in our Plugins page are hosted platforms, meaning you can use them without needing to worry about hosting space on the side. Just add the plugin, sign up for the service on their end, and you’re good to go.

Adding a platform from the Plugins page

Add Tumblr

Occasionally you’ll run into some additional information needed on plugin setups, but most platforms make it very straightforward. Here’s the process for Tumblr, as an example:

  1. Assuming you’re logged in, click Apps & Services under Setup in the top nav.
  2. Pick a platform you want to add, then click Add Tumblr on the next page.
  3. Hit the green Install Tumblr button (sometimes it takes up to 48 hours to start working, so be patient here)

Please note that you’d still have to sign up for Tumblr and add your new domain name in their custom domain name menu for everything to work correctly (most platforms will have their own guide to help you along).


Useful tip - if your domain was transferred to iwantmyname from a different registrar, you’ll probably have to change your nameservers to iwantmyname (our instant setups won’t work otherwise). To set that up, click Manage DNS in the dropdown under Setup in the top nav, then click Update Nameservers, then choose iwantmyname in the dropdown menu. And don’t forget to click the Update Nameservers button!

Using a platform that isn’t on the Plugins page

DNS Records

If the blog, e-commerce, portfolio, etc., etc. platform you’re looking to use isn’t on our Plugins page, you can add DNS records manually by clicking Manage DNS in the dropdown under Setup in the top nav, then click Edit DNS Records, then add your records one-by-one. Most platforms will have setup guides for a number of different registrars, so hopefully a custom iwantmyname setup guide will be on the list, but if not, just follow their general custom domain instructions and you should be fine (we’re always happy to help as well).

Using a platform that requires your own hosting

Update nameservers

If you want to use a platform like Wordpress.org that requires you to find your own server space for your site to live on (for the brave/more advanced users), you’ll have to first figure out who you want to be your host. There are hundreds of hosting companies out there, but we usually recommend Bluehost and Digital Ocean.

Once you’ve purchased some hosting space, all you have to do on our end is point your domain’s Nameservers to that service. For example, if you’re using Bluehost, click Manage DNS in the dropdown under Setup in the top nav, then click Update Nameservers, then choose Bluehost in the dropdown menu. After that, all the settings to install your platform will be through your host (and they’ll usually have their own setup guides).

Verification emails to expect

After you register a domain, you may receive an email from an @ispapi.net address asking you to verify your WHOIS account information. Internet rules state that people must use accurate contact information when registering a domain (WHOIS privacy blocks it from public viewing), and the rule makers are very serious about it. If you get one of these emails, please follow the instructions provided. Not to be scary, but if you ignore these emails, you run the risk of having your domain temporarily suspended.

When you will appear on Google

In my internet dreams, I create websites, find them instantly at the top of Google searches, and profit. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work. When you create a website, Google will start scanning what you have and will put it into its algorithm. Their exact algorithm is mostly a secret, but it’s designed to rank each Google search by what it feels is most relevant to the person searching. So if you search for ‘space kittens’, Google would deliver pages that A. tend to be popular B. have interesting content about space kittens C. are linked to by people in the space kitten community. Seems easy enough, right?

So here’s the deal. Because your site is brand new, it’s not popular, probably has no content, and isn’t being linked to by anyone. As far as Google is concerned, your website is just an empty plot of land in an undeveloped field – certainly not something to recommend to anyone… yet.

As you start to write content and gain traffic, your recommendation will likely change. Depending on the quality of your content and the usefulness to your desired audience, your place in Google searches might change quickly. But expecting to appear near the top of searches in the near future wouldn’t be advised, with one exception – very direct searches. For example, if you’re creating a website for a restaurant called ‘Benny’s Lasagna and Burritos’ in Vancouver, you’re likely going to be the only “Benny’s Lasagna and Burritos in Vancouver” on the internet. So in a month or so, once Google has thoroughly scanned your site, you’ll probably rank at or near the top for searches like “Benny’s Lasagna and Burritos Vancouver”, “lasagna and burrito restaurant in Vancouver”, and “where can I get lasagna and burritos at the same time in Vancouver”.

Ack, now I’m hungry. Let’s wrap this up.

Need help? We can fix that

We’d like to tell you that nothing will ever go wrong, but we can’t promise that. Things happen, and you may end up needing help. If you ever find yourself in a situation, here are the steps to take.

  1. First, check the help page. It has quick answers to dozens of our most common (and not-so-common) questions.
  2. If you can’t fix what’s ailing you with the help page, send us a support email. We have domain experts covering just about every time zone, and we can fix or answer just about anything.