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Engage with the sterkly team during several worldwide industry events
San Diego, CA , February 26, 2013 — sterkly has announced their presence at five of the biggest upcoming industry events held around the world in 2013 from Cologne, Germany to San Francisco, California. In 2012 the management team debuted at 20 conferences resulting in several new partnerships that propelled over 100% growth in the startup. sterkly looks to carry the inertia of 2012 into 2013 with a solid lineup of partnerships for another banner year.
“Trade Shows have proven to be our best lead source of all our marketing activities” stated Markus Levin, Chief Executive Officer of sterkly. “Great relationships are formed and it is the perfect setting to nurture existing partnerships”. It is clear that sterkly is dedicated to fostering long term relationships with partners and employees evidence by being named the 2012 Best Place to Work by the San Diego Business Journal.
The chronological list of conferences for 2013 that you can set an appointment to meet with sterkly management is as follows:
Las Vegas, Nevada
March 19 & 20
San Francisco, California
July 30 – August 1
Affiliate Summit East
August 18 – 20
September 11 & 12
September 18 & 19
The current roster of events covers lead generation, casual gaming, mobile and internet advertising as key areas of interest. In addition, sterkly continues to monitor the marketplace for other shows that provide partnership potential for the sterkly Revenue Suite (sRS) that allows companies to monetize free apps. Advertisers that are looking for increased distribution and publishers seeking to further monetize their products are encouraged to schedule a meeting during one of the aforementioned events.
sterkly provides turnkey distribution and monetization solutions to software developers seeking global expansion for browser add-ons, downloads, games, mobile apps and other software. The sterkly network connects advertisers, publishers and software developers to help software companies achieve rapid user & revenue growth. The San Diego Business Journal named sterkly the Best Place to Work in 2012. To learn more about the best company to work for in San Diego visit www.sterkly.com
15 Alternatives to Gmail
Gmail, for many, has become the go-to email solution due its advanced options, including an integrated chat function and access to other Google features that help you keep up with your Google Plus buddies. Because the service is so feature-packed, some say it is the best out there for both personal and professional use.
But Gmail is definitely not the end-all when it comes to email accounts. There are some others that can give it a run for its money. Don’t believe it? Here are 15 alternatives to Gmail you might want to consider.
Have you ever sent an email that you wished you could snatch back before your recipient read it? Bigstring, while maybe not as all-encompassing as Gmail, is an email service that lets you retrieve your emails before they get read, as well as destroy emails, recall and change them. It gives you full control, which is something most people prefer. Also, you can set a limit on the number of times your recipient reads an email. It’s actually a very nice alternative if you don’t need tons of other features.
FastMail is a free business and personal email service that is growing in popularity. Similar to Gmail, it offers tons of email storage. Also, it gives the option to make instant photo galleries and offers a backup service. Plus, you can open a family account that allows you to manage everyone’s information in one control panel.
The GMX email service is a bit different because it allows you to round up all of your email accounts and build one account in its server. Through GMX, you can access your mail from either your phone or your web browser. Also, you can store up to 5GB in your personal email account with an amazing 50MB per message.
Hotmail has been around for ages and is still a major player in the email world thanks to its ever-evolving interface, implemented calendar and backup options. The chatting function may not be as well integrated as the one found on Gmail, but it’s still quite a nice alternative.
If you want to keep your emails on the “hush,” or you basically want to keep your emails safe from prying eyes, Hushmail may be a good alternative to Gmail. This service adds PGP encryption to every email that goes out, helping to keep your messages secure. Also, the application works well with Blackberry and iPhone, also offering optional Outlook Integration.
6. iCloud Mail
iCloud Mail is a nice email service from the ever-so-popular Apple that offers ample storage, IMAP and POP access, and a fantastic web application. One thing to note about iCloud, however, is that its interface at iCloud.com doesn’t offer labels or other advanced tools that allow for mail organization like some other services out there.
Inbox.com is one of the better alternatives to Gmail because it offers a whopping 5GB of storage, along with a solid interface. What’s cool about this service is that you can access your Inbox.com account via the web or through POP in your email program. The downside? IMAP isn’t supported and some of the tools used for organizing mail could be a bit simpler.
Lavabit is a POP3 email provider that offers good email options like ample storage and a massive outgoing message size (64MB). One cool feature is that you get to encrypt your files before sending them across the Internet. Also, Lavabit offers antiviral protection, which is a major bonus.
Mail.com is a relatively advanced email service, offering the basics along with unlimited storage space and spam protection. Also, it has integrated Facebook and Twitter, and provides access to national news stories. One complaint some have is that it isn’t fantastic when it comes to mail organization.
If you have grown accustomed to leading a Twitter lifestyle then you might fall in love with this unique email option. Shortmail places emphasis on easy, fast and effective communication by limiting each email to 500 characters per message. Of course, the downside to this type of account is not being able to send longer messages when you’d like. However, longer emails can be forwarded.
If you’re big on email services linked to major search engines, you might like Thunderbird, Mozilla’s answer to Gmail. This easily to install service offers a ton of features, including automatic updates, protection against phishing and spam reduction. Also, the software is open source, which means new add-ons and plug-ins are being created regularly.
12. Windows Live Mail
Windows Live Mail is very much the equivalent of Hotmail. In fact, you can sign into your Hotmail or Windows Live accounts from the same login page. Like Hotmail, this email option gives you access to calendars and chatting options. Also, you can utilize the same SkyDrive online backup storage option.
13. Yahoo Mail
Yahoo Mail is a veteran email service that integrates Yahoo Messenger, a calendar, the latest Yahoo News, and even a function that allows you to send money through PayPal with your mail account. There’s no doubt that it’s a pretty good alternative to consider.
14. Yandex Mail
Yandex Mail isn’t as well-known as some others on the list, but it may be worth a try if you are looking for an alternative. It offers unlimited free storage and an attractive, easy-to-use interface. Also, this service allows you to connect to your other e-mail services like Gmail and Yahoo. Another cool feature is SMS notification to recipients, as well as one that allows you to insert cards and videos.
15. Zoho Mail
The free version of Zoho Mail offers personalized email and instant messaging options that come without advertisements. But what’s really nice about this service is its remote and offline functions, 2-way sync, and mobile sites that are perfectly optimized for both smartphones and tablets.
As Blackfriday Rolls around – Amazon has some great deals on Black Friday that we highly suggest you check out.
Could save yourself a ton of money and time but not going to the store.
Congratulations! Starting a small business is a great achievement. You’ve invested time, effort and money to make your dream come alive. You’ve turned your dream of owning a small business into a reality. Your product is ready to sell and you’re busy marketing and attracting paying customers. But, are you ignoring potential customers and leaving money on the table?
Merchants today accept credit cards as a part of their business. It’s just a fact of life. Your customers will be shocked if you can’t accept credit card payments as a part of their transaction. It’s not difficult. Credit card processing can be as simple as opening a merchant account and learning to use a credit card machine.
Why Should My Business Receive Credit Card Payments?
Accepting credit cards is just good business. Here are the ways accepting a credit card will benefit you.
- Greater Reliability for You: When you take credit cards you are guaranteed payment. You don’t have to deal with bounced checks or missing money from the deposit.
- Customer Loyalty: The credit card machine gives your customers one more way to make a purchase. For people who don’t like to carry cash or want to delay their payment having options builds loyalty.
- Speed: A credit card payment puts money in your bank account much faster than sending an invoice and waiting to receive a check. This increase in immediate cash flow improves your financial flexibility.
- Easier Recordkeeping: Your credit card merchant account generates a statement monthly just like other bank accounts. You have all the information you need for detailed recordkeeping and accurate accounting.
- Higher Spending: Statistics tell us that customers spend an average of 68% more when they are able to pay by credit card. If that doesn’t make you ask “how can I accept credit card payments” nothing will.
What Are Merchant Accounts?
A merchant account is a type of bank account that allows you to accept credit card payment. You can also accept payments with debit cards through your merchant account. Your bank has merchant account options for you and will even recommend things like mobile credit card processing or iPhone credit card processing if appropriate for your business. You will need a merchant account to accept card payments online or in your store.
Merchant accounts and credit card processing companies typically charge credit card processing fees as a part of each transaction. It’s important to review the fees and make sure you know what to expect each time you accept credit. Some small businesses choose to set a minimum charge amount to help make each transaction worthwhile.
Some businesses choose to use a 3rd party merchant account to take credit card payments. These accounts include well-known names like the American Express merchant account or Intuit credit card processing. PayPal is the leading web merchant account for taking credit card payments online but there are many others as well.
Is your industry high risk for purposes of business credit card processing? Surprisingly, high risk industries are relatively common. Not only do they include pawn shops and bail bondsmen, other businesses such as investment organizations, weight loss centers and insurance agencies are high risk as well. The category refers to a high risk of transaction cancellation, not the risk of bad debt as you might think. If your business is a part of a high risk industry you will need a high risk merchant account.
There are lots of merchant account providers. We will look at the three basic types and explain the benefits and limitations of each one. You can always visit a merchant account website or have a discussion with your local bank officer to determine which account is best for you individual business.
What about Accepting Credit Card Payments Online?
The internet changed business forever. Customers everywhere use the internet to check out your business and learn about your product. Some will take the time to come to your store, if you have one, and purchase from you directly. Most, however, expect to make their purchases online. Are you ready for them?
Accepting credit cards online from your website might seem intimidating, but it’s really a very simple and necessary function of any business website. You can increase your customer base and your sales volume by taking this step. Wondering why?
- Convenience: Customers want their product right away. When you accept credit card payments you get their order immediately and can ship it quickly. If you only accept payment by check or money order your customers have to prepare the payment and mail it. That inconvenience, along with the added wait for delivery could push them to your competition.
- Impulse Purchases: Customers are on your website reading the amazing marketing material you’ve posted. They are excited about your product. Online credit card processing capitalizes on their enthusiasm, letting them purchase while their desire is strong. More sales for you!
- Distance Customers: The internet lets you reach potential customers hundreds and even thousands of miles away from your business. If you don’t accept online credit card payments you present your business as an amateur rather than a real competitor.
- International Customers: Credit card payments have an additional benefit for your customers overseas. When international customers pay using a credit card the rate of currency exchange is calculated automatically. You don’t have to worry about exchange rates and neither do they. The entire process is streamlined and efficient.
Hopefully you’ve decided to accept payments online given all the value web credit card processing offers you and your customers. After all, once you learn how to accept credit cards it’s only one more step to add website credit card processing. Some online merchants even allow you to accept credit cards online free of charge. Let’s take a look at merchant accounts and what they offer.
A Merchant Account through Your Bank
Most banks offer merchant accounts as a part of their business account portfolio. Any bank with a processing relationship with a particular credit card like Visa or MasterCard can offer a merchant account directly to their business customers. Most banks require that a small business have a storefront or physical location and at least two years of business history before opening a merchant account.
Opening a merchant account with your bank is relatively easy once you meet the requirements. As a small business owner you already have a banking relationship and a portfolio of accounts. A merchant account is just an additional piece to that portfolio. You benefit from working with a bank that understands your business and your needs and can advise you.
The fees for opening a merchant account are typically higher with the local bank than they are with an online merchant account or third party account. The transaction fees, though, are often lower. In addition, you can often purchase credit card machines designed for small business directly from your bank.
Credit Card Gateways and Processors
In order to process credit cards you need a gateway and a processing application. Credit card merchant account organizations know this and work to provide both the payment gateway and the processor for accepting credit card payments.
A gateway is a method of collecting credit card information and authorizing the payment. A gateway can be a credit card machine, a shopping cart online or even an application for your mobile phone. Credit card machines for small business are available that interface with your gateway account, giving you both online and physical methods for accepting credit card payments.
The processor is the bank or organization that actually completes the credit card transaction. With a traditional merchant account from your bank, the bank is the processor and they contract with someone else to provide gateway services to you. Online merchant accounts and third party merchant accounts typically provide both the gateway and the processor all in one.
Online and Third Party Merchant Accounts
The many choices in merchant account can be confusing. To point out the differences in an easy way, let’s look at two specific accounts. We’ll look at the PayPal merchant account, a leading way to process credit cards online. We’ll also look at American Express, a third party merchant account with many options to offer.
PayPal Merchant Account
PayPal is the leading online merchant account. Your customers know and recognize the PayPal logo and feel comfortable clicking on it to make their online credit card payment. Let’s look at what PayPal offers you and the benefits of working with them.
- Security: PayPal is an external payment solution. This means your customers leave your website by following a link and enter their credit card information on PayPal’s secure encrypted site. This step keeps their payment information secure and also removes the security burden from you and your business.
- Low Cost: PayPal is a low cost option for businesses that want to accept credit cards on their website. The only fees are charged as a percentage of each transaction. There are no application fees, monthly fees, or minimums. You don’t pay them unless you make money from their service.
- Easy to Use: You will be surprised at how easy PayPal is to use. They provide you with the online tools you need including a shopping cart feature. With PayPal you can accept credit cards, debit cards, and even electronic bank transfers. International payments are simple and easy too.
PayPal sounds great, right? At this point you might be wondering why you should look any further. If you are only wondering how to accept credit card payments online, PayPal seems to have all the answers. Before you get too excited, let’s explore the limitations of PayPal.
- Only Online: Are you primarily on online business? If so, PayPal is a great option for you. If you have a storefront or plan to make sales outside the internet, PayPal won’t be enough. You can only take credit cards online with PayPal. It won’t help you offline.
- Shipping: After you sell a product you need to ship it, right? Some online and third party merchant accounts calculate an actual shipping fee for you and add it to your customer’s shopping cart at checkout. PayPal does not have this option. Instead of real time calculation, you determine a flat fee and PayPal can add it.
- Flexibility: PayPal is a self-contained system. This is great for security, but not so good for flexibility. You must use the tools and options provided by PayPal. Nothing else will work with this provider.
Online merchant accounts like PayPal are a good solution if your business is primarily online. They are inexpensive to set up and allow you to pay as your business grows. You don’t have to worry about a monthly minimum to meet or high start-up fees. The security is wonderful and the name recognition, especially of PayPal, helps your customers feel confident.
If your business has a store front or sells product offline in any way, an online merchant account like PayPal won’t allow you to process credit card payments for your offline customers. Flexibility with issues like shipping fees, discounts, coupons and promotional pricing is not available with these merchant accounts either. They are simply not designed for it.
Authorize.net – a Third Party Merchant Account / Payment Gateway
Authorize.net is a merchant gateway that partners with processing providers like Capital Merchant Solutions to provide a total solution. Authorize.net offers the flexibility that PayPal lacks, but has drawbacks as well. Let’s take a look.
- Online and Offline: You are not limited to online transactions with authorize.net. You can use them to accept credit cards from a machine, a wireless terminal, online, or even through use of a mobile app. You can take payments from your customers anytime, anywhere.
- Flexibility: Discounts and coupon codes are not a problem with authorize.net. You can adjust pricing and make changes to your pricing structure in real time and without hassles.
- Shipping: Again, you have much more flexibility with a system like authorize.net. You can calculate actual shipping costs via UPS or FedEx and simply add them to the customer’s shopping cart online or to their invoice offline. You are not locked into a flat rate.
Third party merchant accounts like authorize.net have a lot of advantages. Although they are often made up of a gateway and a separate processing provider, they function like one unit. They are designed as a partnership to provide a total solution and work closely to keep transactions smooth and easy for you. Third party merchants are extremely popular with retailers and small business. There are some drawbacks you should be aware of, though, before you make your decision.
- Cost: Third party merchant accounts are usually more expensive than online accounts like PayPal. Each company is different, so review the costs carefully. Many have monthly minimums or additional fees for things like statements. Third party accounts are still typically less expensive than opening a merchant account at your bank, however. Just make sure you understand what you’re paying for.
- Reliability: A merchant account is only valuable to you and your customers if it works. During peak times, some third party merchant account gateways experience delays and even go down. Of course, this can happen to anyone. However, since these accounts are so popular with retailers, the volume is high. Be prepared on heavy shopping days to wait for authorization.
- International Payments: Not all third party merchant accounts handle international payments. Some just don’t offer this option and others charge high fees to convert foreign currency and complete the transaction. Again, you need to understand your business and know the capabilities of a provider before you sign up.
Using a third party merchant like authorize.net or one of the many others available make sense if you sell products and services both online and offline. The flexibility in accepting credit cards in a number of ways is worth the relatively low risk of processing delays.
Which Merchant Account Option is Right for Your Business?
It all comes back to your business. If you are basically a storefront with only limited internet sales, you may prefer to use a merchant account through your bank. The higher start up fees might be a good investment to get the same relationship and reliability you enjoy with your local bank.
If your business is exclusively online or has a large online component, a provider like PayPal is just the low cost solution you need. The low costs and ease of use make online merchant accounts like this one a great choice.
If you have international customers and a lot of online sales along with a storefront, no one option gives you everything you need. Small and midsize businesses in this situation will often combine a merchant account with their local bank for offline customers and PayPal or a similar online merchant account to serve their online and international customers.
You’ve determined the type of merchant account that’s best for you. You understand your business and how to accept credit card payments online through a shopping card or pay now button on your website. You’ve also decided the type of terminal or wireless application you’re going to use to accept credit cards offline. What’s next?
Before you sign up for a merchant account, make sure you understand the fees. You will be surprised at all the different types of fees some accounts charge in return for credit card processing and acceptance.
- Interchange Fees: These are the fees charged by the credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) as a part of each transaction. The most popular fee structure is the 3-Tier system. This system charges three fees based on the way the card is swiped or the transaction is processed. Understand your contract so you can authorize transactions in the least expensive manner.
- Authorization Fees: This fee is charged every time you request authorization for a transaction. It is not the same as the interchange fees but is an additional fee charged by the bank authorizing the card.
- Nuisance Fees: These fees are charged when a card is declined and then swiped again. It’s typically a very expensive fee, resulting in up to $25 for each additional authorization attempt after the card is declined. You can avoid this fee totally by training your employees to handle declined cards properly.
- Statement Fee: This is a monthly fee charged by your merchant account. It’s an administrative fee to cover their costs in creating your statement. You’d think they would automatically waive this fee if you received your statement electronically, but they don’t.
- Monthly Minimum Fee: Some merchant accounts charge a monthly minimum fee. A monthly minimum fee of $25, for example, means that if you interchange and authorization fees don’t add up to $25 in a month you will be charged $25 anyway. Merchant accounts use this fee to make sure they can afford to maintain your account even if you don’t have many transactions.
- Chargeback Fees: This fee is similar to the fees banks charge for NSF checks. If you accept a charge that is disputed by the card holder, you can be charged $15-$30 as a chargeback fee. While this seems like a big risk, the credit card companies are often able to prove the charge and win the dispute. In cases of fraud or stolen cards, however, you can be liable for not only the amount of the fraudulent charge but also a chargeback fee.
- Annual Fee: Some merchant accounts charge an annual fee for the pleasure of working with your business. They use this fee to cover their costs in maintaining your account throughout a year.
These are just some of the most common fees charged by merchant accounts. Remember, though. Everything is negotiable. Keep fees in mind when you choose a merchant account and then carefully read the contract. The payment processing industry is known for hiding fees in fine print.
If you see a fee you don’t agree with or think is out of line, negotiate to reduce or eliminate it. Processing credit card payments is a profitable business for these companies. They compete strongly for your business. Use that competition to your advantage and get the best deal you can.
You’ve learned how to accept credit cards online, offline, and in person. Now it’s time to get started. Your merchant account has options for collecting payment information such as shopping carts and online buttons, terminals, and other collection devices. They also have information about how to use your merchant account effectively. Take advantage of their training. You’ll be successfully accepting credit card payments before you know it.
Are you considering a website as a part of your business? The internet changed business forever by creating an immediate way to market your products and services to millions of customers all around the world. An effective website is the only storefront millions of your internet customers will ever see. That is, if they can find it.
Just like your physical store, your online store has an address. That address is your domain name. Your customers use your “web address” to find your online store quickly and effectively. Even if you don’t sell products or services from your site, you created it to attract visitors. An effective website, one that comes to mind quickly when they think of your organization, is invaluable.
Why Should You Register a Domain Name?
While every website has a domain name, every business does not have to create and register a unique domain name. You can just use the general domain name of your web host and a unique tag for your URL. Think of it as renting a suite in a business complex. Everyone has the same address but you are the only business in Suite 24.
If you can use a general URL, why go to the trouble of registering a domain name if you don’t have to? Do the benefits really outweigh the costs? See for yourself.
- Credibility: Do you want to look like a small start-up business or do you want customers to think of you as established and respectable? A unique domain name gives your business credibility. You will draw higher caliber suppliers and more customers with an established domain name. Without your own domain name your customers may pass you by in favor of an established competitor.
- Portability: You may change web hosts in the future. You could outgrow your current web host or simply want to make a change. If you have your own domain name you can bring it with you to your new web provider. Why worry about changing your domain name in the future? Changing web addresses doesn’t seem like a problem until you consider all the customers and suppliers you will have to notify. It’s often a very disruptive situation for your business.
- Marketing: A unique domain name is a great marketing tool. If you get a domain name that uses your business name or product name customers will remember it easily. Now they don’t have to look at business cards or marketing material to find you online. They can just type in www.yourbusiness.com and immediately find themselves in your virtual store. Your domain name is just a part of a good branding campaign.
How to Get a Domain Name
Getting a domain name is not as easy as it might sound. Unlike a physical address that is predetermined by the location of your business, your domain name is up to your imagination and availability. You have to create it and recreate it until you find a name no one else is using.
Every domain name is unique, just like every address. This means that you can’t just make up a domain name and then use it. You have to create a name that no one else is using and register your domain name online as yours. Internet domain name registration assigns the domain name you register to you and your business and prevents anyone else from using your name.
You can buy a domain name from someone who owns it but isn’t using it, but this isn’t as easy as it seems. Individuals and businesses hold domain names closely, often registering domain names they are not planning to use just to keep the names available for future use. In fact, domain registering is a part of the competitive strategy of many businesses.
Selecting a Domain Name
If you want to register a web address, the first step is to select a domain name. It’s important to get your domain name right. Here are some simple things to consider…
- Make It Unique: You can’t register a domain name that isn’t unique. You would be surprised, however, at the number of people who add a hyphen or a number or slightly change the spelling and register domain names that are technically unique but not very memorable. Don’t take the chance that your customers will land on the wrong page because they forgot a hyphen.
- Use Keywords: Cute domain names are nice, but not always effective. The best domain names have either your business name or keywords about your business in them. The goal of your domain name is making you easy to find online, not showcase your creativity.
- Make It Easy To Say: You don’t want to register a web address that is a tongue twister. It’s your address, the link to your online storefront. You will verbally direct customers and friends to your site hundreds of times. Make sure you can speak comfortably and clearly, even over the phone before you register a domain name, even a clever one.
- Avoid Copyright Infringement: Brand related keywords are often subject to copyright. You might be an expert using Microsoft Word, but registering www.MicrosoftWordExpert.com is going to get you in trouble with the government. If you aren’t sure, check out copyright.gov and search for your domain name before you register it.
Choose the Right Extension for Website Name Registration
A web domain registry is a database of all domain names registered with a top-level domain. The registry is maintained by a DNS registrar and spaces are limited. Confused? Here’s an example to help you understand.
Think of the zip code or postal code for your physical address. Perhaps your business is on 123 Brown Street. While there could be a 123 Brown Street in every city around you, your address is unique because of the postal code. Each city has a unique code and this groups all the street addresses together. Web extensions are just like postal codes.
Your web address registration includes an extension that identifies your business with a certain group of organizations. When people see your domain name, they make assumptions about your business or organization because of the extension. Make sure you pick the best extensions as a part of your online image. Here are the most common extensions and their groups.
- .COM signifies business. Over 90 million businesses are registered as a .COM. Many domain names are taken at the .COM extension, but it’s worth your time to register domains with this extension. If your chosen name is already registered, try and find an equally powerful domain name that is still available.
- .NET & .BIZ also signify a business domain but are not as commonly used. Your customers will look for you at .COM first but will also eventually try these two. It’s a good idea to consider buying domain names with these extensions as well. The best scenario is to register your business domain name at all three. That way anyone looking for your business will not happen upon the domain names registration of your competition.
- .ORG signifies a non-profit organization. If you are running a non-profit business, consider this extension to identify yourself as non-profit with your customers.
- Other Countries: If your business is located outside of the United States, you have the option of registering a domain name with the appropriate country extension. (.ca for Canada and .uk for the United Kingdom, for example.)
- Restricted Extensions: Some extensions are restricted. For example, .GOV is reserved for governmental agencies and departments and .EDU is reserved for educational institutions. You won’t be able to use these extensions without meeting the qualifications for them.
Consider registering your domain name with multiple extensions to protect yourself and your brand. While registering can involve purchasing a domain name or the right to it from a registry, there are providers that offer free domain name registration. Free domain name registration only limits some of the additional benefits you might get with a paid registration. The web address registration itself is identical whether you buy the web address or obtain it for free.
How to Register a Domain Name
You’ve selected your domain name. You’ve decided which extension you would prefer. You’ve even decided to register your name with as many extensions as possible to protect your brand. Now you are asking yourself “How do I register a domain name anyway?”
Start with a few good domain names and an idea of the extensions you want to use. Unless you are willing to buy domain names previously registered by others you’ll need more than one possible web address. Start with a hand full of variations on one or two basic names. It’s frustrating to try and register domains that are taken. Preparation will avoid needless anxiety.
Have your credit card handy unless you have a PayPal account. While it’s possible to register a domain name for free, the majority of domain name registrars require payment. Having a form of payment ready allows you to register an internet name and immediately hold it.
Do you have a web site registration with a web host? Many people start out with a web host and register a URL within that host’s domain because they don’t know how to register a domain name for themselves. If you are one of these people who started out slowly, don’t worry. You just need a some simple information so you can point your newly purchase domain name to your website.
You need the names of your web host’s primary and secondary name servers. You can find this information on your web host’s website, usually in the FAQ’s page. If you can’t find it, call or email them. They are accustomed to these types of requests and will be happy to help you.
If you don’t have a web host, don’t worry. Maybe you haven’t discovered how to register a website yet either. No problem. You can register domain names and park them at a temporary website that is created just for this purpose.
“Yes, But How Do I Register a Domain Name?”
There’s a lot of information available on how to purchase a domain name, how to register a domain name for free, and how to register a website. Most of it is general. Talk about frustrating!
Here is the specific step by step instruction on how to register a domain name. Ready?
- Gather all the information from the above section.
- Select a domain name registrar or a web host that also provides web address registration.
- Follow their individual instructions.
That’s right. There is so much vague information about how to purchase a domain name because there is no one unified process. When you purchase a domain name from a registrar or even register a domain name for free you have to follow the process laid out by that particular web site registration organization.
Where to Buy a Domain Name
When you consider where to buy domain names you have many choices. Study each web site register carefully. They all feel they are the best place to register a domain name, but they each offer slightly different services and charge widely ranging fees. Let’s look at a few.
GoDaddy.com is the world’s largest registrar and extremely popular for more than its aggressive marketing campaign. Not only do they allow you to purchase a domain name, they also have a web interface to let you easily buy multiple domain names and manage them efficiently.
If you are wondering how to buy a domain name that is already taken, check out GoDaddy.com. They have a free “for sale” page where people list domain names they aren’t using but are offering for resale. They will also register your web site, offer a free starter web page for you, and redirect customers for you from one web page to another. GoDaddy.com charges for its services, with domain names starting at $9.99 per year.
Dotster.com is another popular registrar. They are a bit more expensive than GoDaddy.com, charging $15.75 per year to register a web address. They offer most of the common extensions and many country specific extensions as well. You can transfer an existing domain name from another web site register for only $6.99 per year.
Register.com has a long history of registering domain names. They were registering domain names before many of the other registers entered the scene. If you are wondering where to buy a domain name and consider experience and reputation to be important factors, Register.com might be for you. You will pay for their reputation though. Their regular price is $37 for a one year registration.
Commercial Web Hosts are another option for domain name registry. These sites are primarily involved in providing small business services but offer domain name registration and web hosting as a part of their service package.
The benefit of using a commercial web host, like Vistaprint and other sites, is ease of branding. These sites offer graphic templates free of charge. You can choose a graphic template that represents your business and create a website and supporting literature with the same cohesive theme. Your domain name is just part of the branding package.
If you are looking for a single vendor for business cards, letterhead, web hosting and domain name registration these web hosts are a good choice. The pricing varies by web host and can be discounted if domain name registration is included with your other purchases.
How to Register a Domain Name For Free
There’s really no such thing as free. Not totally free, anyway. There are ways, though, to get domain name registration for free when you purchase other items from a commercial web host.
Many commercial web hosts will register your domain name free of charge when you pay them for website hosting. Sites like BlueHost.com include domain name registration in their start package. You have to pay for web hosting anyway, so avoiding the additional domain name registration fees make sense.
Popular registrars like GoDaddy.com and Dotster.com sometimes run specials. These promotions allow you to register two or more domain names for the price of one. Sure, you’re still paying something for domain name registration, but you are receiving at least one registration for free.
There is one way to get a totally free domain name. If you register your domain at freedomain.co.nr you will not be charged. Of course, you will have the extension .co.nr instead of the more popular.com or .net extensions. Depending on your needs, this can be a good option.
Don’t Wait to Purchase Your Domain Name
Domain names disappear quickly. If you spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get a domain name for free or how to register a name in the best way, you might find your name is taken. If you’ve spent a lot of creative energy to find the best domain name for your business it will be very disappointing to lose it to another business owner.
What if you don’t have a web host? Don’t hesitate to register your domain name even if you are looking for a web host or are unsure of what to do about a website. You can allow the registrar to park your domain name at a temporary website until you are ready to use it. Registrars like those mentioned in this article normally offer domain name parking free of charge.
Parking your domain name allows you to take time to design your website and other features of it without having to rush. Most registrars will automatically park your name until you tell them where to direct it. Some even allow you to have a free email address on the parked site that uses your domain name. This way you can begin marketing your business even before your site is ready.
It’s Important to Own Your Domain Name Personally
When you purchase a domain name, make sure you own it personally. The best way to do this is to register it yourself through a domain registrar rather than allowing your web host to register it, even if it is included in your package. If you purchase an existing domain name from someone on a “for sale” site, make sure all administrative and technical rights to that name transfer to you.
Why is this important? It’s possible for a web host or an individual to allow you to use a domain name while they retain ownership. Suppose your business becomes highly public and profitable. At that point you have a customer base tied to your domain name. Now someone with questionable ethics has the ability to charge you an extravagant amount of money just to continue to use a domain name they still own.
Unless you are listed as the owner, administrative and technical contact for your domain name you may not be able to transfer it to another web host. You may not be able to use your domain name as you choose, but instead will have to work with the true owner. With a little care you won’t put your business in this position.
Domain Name Registration – Key Points
Select your domain name carefully. Your business will benefit or suffer depending on your choice.
Register your domain name with multiple extensions. Protect your brand by registering your unique domain name with as many extensions as possible or appropriate.
Register domain names you THINK you might use. Domain names go quickly. You can hold on to your perfect domain name, or at least those you believe are perfect, by registering them. If you aren’t ready to use it, just park it. At least it will be available for you when you’re ready.
Make sure you own it. Read the fine print if you register your domain name through your web host. Make sure you own it and you can transfer it whenever you choose. Consider registering your web address with a direct registrar instead of using your web host as a middle man. You have to own it to protect your future use.
Below is a recap of the April 27, 2012 episode of the ABC show Shark Tank. If you are unfamiliar with Shark Tank, the concept is simple – entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of investors and the investors have to provide at least the amount the entrepreneur is seeking for a deal to be completed.
Tonight Barbara Corcoran was replaced by QVC product creator Lori Greiner. Other sharks include: Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Damond John and Robert Herjavec.
Don’t forget to check out our previous Shark Tank recaps.
Pitch #1 – Duality Cosmetics
First up into the Shark Tank was Barbara Lampugnale seeking $50k for 20% equity in Duality Cosmetics. Basically her product is an all-in-one nail polish bottle. Instead of having a bottle of nail polish, bottle of nail polish remover and a nail file, Barbara’s product combines them all into one unit. She makes the bottles for $3/each and sells them for $15. Barbara has invested $300k of her own money into the company.
Lori made an offer of $50k for 51% of Duality Cosmetics. Kevin came back with $50k for 40%. Kevin and Lori went back and forth about why each offer is better than the other. Damond enters the conversation with, “a piggy bank with 2 coins in it makes a lot more noise than a full piggy bank”. Lori counters with the same offer as Kevin at $50k for 40% and Barbara accepts the offer.
Update – Talbott Teas
Last season Kevin signed a deal with the founders of gourmet tea company Talbott Teas. The update explains that the deal actually went through with Kevin, Damond and Barbara. The company was bought by Jamba Juice and the teas will be in Jamba Juice stores later this year.
Pitch #2 – Debbie Brooks Handbags
Up next into the tank were husband and wife Paul D’Auriac and Debbie Brooks pitching for $540k for 20% of Debbie Brooks Handbags. Basically the product line was a set of purses and handbags that allow for magnetic faceplates to allow a woman to easily change the look of the bag. The company had $1.2 million in sales last year. Unfortunately the couple left without a deal.
Pitch #3 – Try My Tank
This one was a quick in and out no deal. Lindsay Johnson and Nicole Bilsky entered the tank seeking $57k/30% of their business Try My Tank which creates customizable tank tops for women. So the idea is that the shirt part and the straps parts of the tank top are separate and you can mix and match which shirt goes with which straps. The shirts retail for $35. Unfortunately the two entrepreneurs left without a deal.
Pitch #4 – Lollacup
Last into the Shark Tank were husband and wife Mark and Hanna Lim with their new style of sippy cup. The couple was seeking $100k for 15% of Lollacup. Kevin O’Leary called it, “the new sippy cup”. I think it was one of the nicest looking products and packages to ever come into the Shark Tank.
Kevin made an offer of $100k for 50% but it was contingent on moving manufacturing to an offshore location to drive down the cost to produce the Lollacup. Damond comes in with the same offer as Kevin but with a contingency that they can remove their new sales rep. Mark Lim comes back at $100k for 40% and Mark Cuban seemed to accept. Damond dropped his offer to $100k for 30% but due to back-and-forth, Damond went out. Mark and Hanna accepted a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert for $100k for 40% of Lollacup.
While I don’t own many Apple products, I know the feeling that they give me when I use them. I like my Android tablet but for some reason the iPod Touch just seems to give me a better feeling when I use it. For years I’ve called it the, “white headphones effect”. There are lots of brands that provide the same feeling while you are using them. Another great example is Whole Foods. Here in Austin there is another healthy supermarket, Central Market. Both stores are excellent but, for me, there is just a better feeling walking around Whole Foods than there is when inside Central Market.
We’ve seen tons of blog posts and meetups around the importance of design. And more recently many have spoken about how critical design is when it comes to our startups and products.
As I’ve been working on switching my food intake to a fully raw foods plan, I’ve been looking at buying some kitchen appliances. The first item I want to purchase is a blender. As I look around on internet sites and in stores at the huge variety of blenders, two brands always seem to be at the top: Vitamix and Blendtec. Both blenders cost between $350-500. Every time I see a Vitamix blender on shelves or in food videos, I’ve wondered if product design and “feeling” is really that important? For purposes of this conversation, we will assume both blenders provide the same quality blending output.
Take a look at the image on the right – that’s a Vitamix blender. To me it is amazingly ugly — it looks like it from 1950, it’s huge, it’s not appealing looking, it has clunky buttons and even the blending container is ugly. Just compare the product design of this Vitamix blender to the iPod Touch.
Even with the ugly, clunky, non-appealing design of the entire Vitamix line, their blenders are amazingly popular. Look at any of their products on Amazon and the reviews are all nearly perfect. Check out the videos you YouTube where people would rather divorce their spouse than give up their Vitamix. My nutritionist packs the Vitamix in her luggage when she travels around the country!
Then there’s the Blendtec – also an amazingly popular machine. You probably know the Blendtec machines from their popular “will it blend” Youtube series. The reviews on Amazon for their blenders are also very close to perfect. To me the Blendtec machine looks way more appealing. The machine on the right has a digital keypad, a digital timer, a more refined design. The Blendtec also has a jar that fits under a counter and just looks more modern. I don’t think it is “apple-level design” but certainly is a nicer looking machine than the beast above.
It’s easy to say that a blender doesn’t need good design and a “feeling”. But the more I am getting into this new healthy lifestyle, the more it seems everyone uses their blenders more than just once a day.
I guess Vitamix doesn’t need to look at creating a modern design with “feeling” if their current units keep selling like hotcakes. But I wonder how many more blenders they would sell if they created a blender that has the power of their current models with a design that is more appealing. Or maybe instead of entering the TV market, Apple could create the iBlend?
I haven’t decided on a blender yet but I am leaning heavily towards the Blendtec because of the “feeling”. So maybe the answer to the title of the post is yes, for me product design always matters.