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This blog post of instruction is going to be a little bit more involved than Lesson One because this subject is a little bit more complex. I'll explain it fully, so please don't worry.
In my book, 17 years ago I wrote that having your own domain name is one of the most important things you can do to make your business more credible. This is still very true today. It's really a must if you want brand recognition and a website address that is easy for your customers to remember and type into their browser (if they forgot to bookmark it)
Your store looks much more professional with its own domain name.
To find a great domain name for your store, try this website. Just type in a keyword and find lots of ideas:
A domain on Shopify (if you don't already have one of your own) will cost you only $14 (at the time of this blog post writing). That also includes keeping your information private when you register. Privacy's important now so that scammers don't grab your information from the WHOIS database (such as email) and sell it.
Step 1) After you sign up for your store in Chapter One (see below), it's important to next create your new domain name.
Let's say you wanted that domain we talked about in Lesson One:
toysfortechies.com (or whatever domain you've chosen)
Step 2) You'll be taken to your Home Page in your store's admin area.
Tip: Please don't be overwhelmed by all the menu items on the left side of the page. We'll get to all of them, one by one, in this series. (I promise)
You'll see your name and store name at the top right of your screen now.
You'll also see a bar at the bottom center of the screen that tells you how many days you have left on your free trial of Shopify.
Tip: Probably the WORST thing you can do right now is to set this website you've created aside and get busy or distracted with other things. That will just burn up your free trial period, making it very possible you'll never really know if Shopify is for you and your business. (believe me: I was guilty of this once and wish I had stuck with it back then. I let other things get in the way)
Step 3) Click on the link to the left that says "Online Store" , then click on "Domains."
You can then either click on the "Buy New Domain" button at the bottom center or the top right of the screen.
Tip: If you already have a domain you want to use, it's very very easy to click on the link that says "Connect Existing Domain" if you bought your domain with Godaddy.com. You just have to login with your Godaddy login when prompted. All of the connection is done for you.
If you bought your domain from another provider and aren't sure what to do next, visit:
and either search the knowledgebase articles or contact Shopify help. Their technical support is excellent. Polite, thoughtful, and thorough.
NOTE: Most of the rest of this lesson will be based on the idea that you want to buy a new domain. My advice is, if you don't have experience with domains and don't want to wait around to get your other domain connected, to just buy a new domain. Even if you are using another domain for your existing store or website that belongs to you, once you get your Shopify store set up, you can just forward that domain to your new one. Visitors won't even notice the difference because the redirect will be seamless. (they call this forwarding a domain with masking) Shopify help section or your domain host can help you with this, too when you're ready to shut down your old site.
There may be some really popular domains listed when you go looking for a new domain. These can run in the thousands of dollars to purchase. I'm going to assume you don't have money to burn right now to pay someone 4 grand for a domain (to me, that's a ridiculous price for a domain name, but it's anyone's personal choice). It's really probably best to start with a cheap domain name that has very little history. A $14 domain name registration will give you the opportunity to get your feet wet and learn about domains. You can always change your domain name later, if you choose.
Step 4) Type in some searches in the "Buy Domain" Screen's search box. You'll see a list of domain name suggestions to choose from, along with their prices. (see below)
Click on the "Buy" button next to the domain you want to buy.
Step 5) On the "Change Credit Card" Screen: (above) Enter your payment information here. Click on the "Buy Domain" button.
Step 6) Make some choices about your domain here. (above)
Tip: Don't buy a domain that contains the name of a company or a company's trademark. It's just asking for trouble.
Under "Order Summary," choose
- Auto renew the domain every year so that you don't accidentally forget to renew your domain next year.
The next paragraph explains that buying the domain includes something called "WHOIS Privacy."
Tip: WHOIS has existed from the very beginning of the Internet (about 1994) when domain names were first created. WHOIS was a great way to figure out who owned a website in case you had a problem with an online purchase or transaction. You could type in WHOIS "domain.com" (whatever the domain name was you were looking up) to get a listing of the domain's owners and website hosting service.
Unfortunately, in the late 90's, scammers started stealing WHOIS information so most domain owners use domain privacy to keep their information secure now.
You are told in the next paragraph that you agree to the ICANN policy and domain registration agreement.
Tip: ICANN is the organization at ICANN.org that has always overseen domain name registrations. In their history, they have helped to ensure domains are not stolen or misused and have helped provide helpful protections for domain name owners.
Step 7) Email Forwarding (above)
It's best to choose email forwarding at the bottom of this next screen you'll see after purchasing your domain. This allows you to create email addresses for your new domain right inside Shopify. It makes life much easier for you.
Example: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (or whatever your domain name turns out to be)
You'll then be taken to another page that says "Primary Domain" at the top.
The box near the bottom of this screen will indicate the status of your new domain. It will eventually say "OK" in each of the three highlighted circles. This sometimes happens almost right away, but it can take up to an hour. It sometimes requires a bit of patience for the Internet to know where your domain is hosted. (with Shopify)
The box at the top says "Set Your Primary Domain." Click on the dropdown box to choose the domain you just purchased. This makes it your main domain for the whole store.
Within a very short amount of time, anyone who types in your domain name will see the main page of your store.
BUT in order to fully view your store's home page, you will need to complete the next lesson in this series in order to fully open your store.
Begin your Shopify 14 day free trial here: https://goo.gl/yoVxdf
If you haven't seen the instructional video for this blog post, here it is: