Choosing a Domain Name for an Artist Website

10 Tips for Choosing a Domain Name for an Artist Website and using your Domain Name.

What’s a Domain Name?

You can’t have a website without a web address. A domain name is your website address and it is what people type into the address bar of a web browser that will take them to your site files; your website.

A domain is a name that you choose that appears between the

A typical URL (an acronym for Universal Resource Locator) includes your domain name plus the path to locate specific pages on the hosting server. will direct people to your landing or home page, while everything after the .com/ directs people to specific pages on your site.

The www is now optional. Visitors don’t have to type it in to the browser to reach your site.

How Do I Get a Domain Name?

Domain names can not be bought outright. You lease your domain name through a Domain Name Registrar for a period of time from 1 to 10 years. The process is called registering.

If you do not renew your domain name at the end of the term it can come back on the market and someone else can register it. There is a 30 day grace period so if you forget to renew your domain name you won’t lose it if you renew within that grace period.

There are many registrars out there, with different prices and features. They all have access to the same central database of domain names, so there’s no difference in selection or availability of names between registrars.

Rules for choosing a Domain Name

The international body that governs the registration and use of domain names has set a few rules. When choosing, keep in mind that domain names:

• Can use letters, numbers and hyphens
• Cannot begin or end with a hyphen
• Are limited to 63 characters in length
• Are NOT case-sensitive
aside: browse the 10 tips using the Listic Slider above and see how you can use WordPress’s media library with it.

Tip #1:

As an artist you need to ask yourself how you want to go down in art history.

Choosing the right domain name is part of this decision.

For instance choosing a descriptive or keyword domain name like may be what I, as an artist, have come to be known for, but it is not my brand. I am my brand because it is me, Kim Bruce, that makes the art.


Tip #2:

You can either focus on branding, or focus on keywords. is my brand, while focuses on my keywords. I have registered both and point them to the same site, but I use as my primary domain.

You can use both types of domain names and point one to the other. But I submit that if you use your keywords properly in the content of your website, your site will be indexed by the search engine for that term.

Try entering the search term encaustic sculpture in Google and you will see that comes up for that term.

Tip #3:

Bear in mind that using a keyword based domain name does not individualizing your work. A site with the name Encaustic Sculpture could be any ones work. Perhaps it is a site that collects images of work by all encaustic sculptors from all over the world. It is for this reason that I chose not to use it as my main domain name.

If you feel strongly about using keywords in your domain name consider a name that includes both your name and your keyword. For example I could register the domain name but I won’t because I think it is to long and hard to explain. See Tip #7

Tip #4:

Always buy a .com if you can, it is still the most prized domain name extension (suffix). If the .com has already been registered consider adding a descriptor to your name as described in Tip #3.

That is what I had to do to register a .com for my fine art site. is registered to a realtor in the USA, so I added fine art and registered

Other examples are:

When you create your site make sure you use “Your Name Pottery” or what ever your descriptor is in the title. Search engines will add value to your site  if your domain name is in your site tile.

Tip #5:

It is important to remember that your name can be registered by more than one person just by registering it with a different extension.

This means that:
Can all be registered by 3 different people, which in turn brings up 3 different websites.

Don’t limit yourself to a single must-be-perfect domain name. Buy more than one and use domain forwarding to point them all at the same website.

Tip #6:

It is hard to over invest in domain names, if you can afford to buy more than one it will help protect your brand. They are around $10 to $12 each.

The most I’ve ever paid for a .com domain for one year is $11.99.



Tip #7:

Find a “no explanation needed” domain name. Be aware of how you’re going to tell people about your website.

You can have up to 63 characters in a domain name.  That would be a long name and hard to remember.

5 to 30 characters is the norm.

Don’t be tempted to use dashes or numbers if your name .com is not available. Especially Roman numerals, is it an I or l or an 1. You will be relying on people to remember that. And if it just sounds awkward when speaking your domain name, chose a simpler name.

People are used to having the words run together and more than likely will not remember to add a dash.

Can you explain to a total stranger how to get to your website, without;

  1. spelling words out
  2. explaining what abbreviations mean
  3. explaining what the terms are; like “encaustic”

If not, think simpler, even if that means longer.

Tip #8:

Keep domains in print should be readable by human beings!

When you use your domain name in print, humans are going to have to read and understand it. Capitalization is your friend for printing media since your web address (your domain name) is not case-sensitive. If people type it in the address bar capitalized or not, it will site go to your website.

Use capitalization to distinguish one word from the next when printing business cards, brochures, catalogs.

While on the topic of printing, other creative ways to make a distinction between the words of your domain name could be:

Bold every other word

Use a different colour for every other word

Use a different font for every other word

This also includes your email address.  Be consistent in the way you write (type) your email address and your website address in print and in your email signature.

Tip #9:

Make sure you don’t end up saying something totally unintended.

Sometimes you get unexpected results when you run an otherwise-great phrase all together in one word. My favorite example is a company called Best of Art. When you put that together, you get Oops. Try a less gassy combination of words.

You can not count on people to use your selective first letter capitalization.

Tip #10:

Ask for objective opinion.

When you are considering a domain name, remember that you are going to run it all together with no spaces. As I mentioned in Tip #9, you can use selective capitalization to help out, and you can register domain names with hyphens in them.

Ask somebody to look at it. Get a fresh set of eyes to check it out before you purchase a domain name.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a domain name for an artist website is what you will be building your online reputation on. Once you register and build you site with your domain name of choice, search engines are going to index that way, make sure it is how you want to be known.

Now that you have a domain name and you type it into the address bar of a browser it may return a page similar to this:

That’s because you do not have a website or hosting yet. To use an analogy; just because you bought a parcel of land doesn’t mean it will automatically result in a house being built on it. You have to build it.

A word of advice:
I always recommend that you keep your domain name and hosting accounts separate.
Here’s why… 

Domain Name Resources

Affiliate link - Domain Registrations starting at $9.98*

Name Cheap offers a clear, no-nonsense website that lets you easily register your domain name.

Once you have your domain name and hosting accounts the domain name servers need to be change at your domain name registrar to point to your hosting account.

Here is a simple and concise video from Name Cheap on how to change the name servers (DNS)

Keep Domain Name and Hosting Accounts SEPARATE

WHY keep domain name and hosting accounts SEPARATE?

Your domain name and hosting are two very important accounts. And they should be two separate accounts.

I’m sure you are asking why not just get both in one account?


You can easily change host providers or change designers if you have control of your domain name. Have domain name will travel. In other words if you don’t have control of your domain name you have to ask for it and sometimes this it is not easily obtainable.

More information and to read a detailed article about domain names

Reasons why you might change host providers

  • The price increased a lot
  • Technical support is poor
  • Your site loads to slow
  • They aren’t keeping up with the programming language upgrades
  • You can’t update WordPress

Over Selling Warnings

Be careful and have a good look at your sign-up form. I have seen forms that have check box’s checked by default that add a number of options that will increase the amount of your final bill. These can be anything from domain privacy, a hosting package from the domain name registrar, a domain name from the hosting provider.

Un-reputable hosting companies may try to sell you a private SSL certificates which the average website doesn’t need.

Once you have purchased your domain name and hosting from 2 separate companies you will be sent an email from each. These are extremely important emails as they contain all your account information, login and passwords. Print them off and keep them somewhere safe.


Domain Names

Obtaining, maintaining and reclaiming ownership of an internet domain

YOUR Domain Name is the most important thing that you need to maintain OWNERSHIP of.  All too often websites are constructed without the owners rights to their domain name which can cause you grief later on if you want to make a change. Let’s follow this scenario:

Jane Doe created her first website with ABC web design and hired them to not only design the site and add the content but to register a domain name as well. The path of least resistance which made sense at the time.

As technologies have advanced and there are more opportunities making it easier for Jane to manage her own website  she decided that was the thing to do. But her domain name is owned by ABC web design, she doesn’t know where it was registered nor does she have a user name or password to gain access to the domain name control panel.

Domain Names and website hosting are two different things.  You can have a Domain Name (several in fact) without having website hosting but you can’t have website hosting without a domain name.

Basic Facts

All domains on the internet have been registered, from to

To find out who owns a particular domain, you need to do a WHOIS search. These searches are free, and offered by most registrars. If you are working with a domain outside the Canada, e.g. or or, then you need to find a registrar in that country and use their WHOIS search engine.

Here is a site where you can search your domain name to see who owns it:

The price of registering an internet domain varies between about CDN $5 and CDN $120 per year. Most places charge about $10 for .com or .ca domains, with a discount for multi-year registrations.

The most common mistakes that people make are

  • (a) letting a third-party register a domain that they want and
  • (b) losing track of the password that they were given for their domain registration if they were given one at all.
  • These mistakes can cost anywhere from $150 to $15,000 to rectify. In many cases, small businesses are forced to switch to a different address, requiring changes to stationery, all their contacts’ address books, and so on.

For all of these reasons, we encourage people to register their own domain rather than have a third-party do it for them. It only takes a few minutes and it is not really that complicated.

If you used a third-party to register your domain name and do not have access to the control panel, user name or password you can try to contact them and ask for access. If they are nice they will provide this to you, if they aren’t so nice or give you the run around or are just plain unresponsive it may be worth starting over with a new domain name that you OWN.

The most important thing to look for in a domain registrar is a control panel, which lets you login at any time to make adjustments to your name servers (DNS). If you cannot get control of your “name servers”, you might as well not use that registrar at all, at any price.

We recommend using to register your domain name if at all possible. You can unlock your domain and change the name servers (DNS) anytime without having to contact the registrar. With .ca domains you can set the permissions for the registrar to handle the approvals with the CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority) which will save you an extra step. AT the very least register your own domain name and we can do the rest for you.

Changing hosting providers

A hosting provider is a company which hosts a web site, email accounts, a database, etc., on your behalf. Hosting services can be bundled with domain name registration but that does not guarantee optimal service. While domain registration is very, very straightforward, web and email hosting is not.

For small businesses, for professionals working from home without an IT department, it is important to find someplace which can listen to your requirements and act accordingly.

There are many reasons that people need to change hosting providers over the years. One reason is, of course, price. But there are other reasons which generally boil down to lack of customized service.

In order to change hosting providers for web or email, you generally need to (re)gain control of your domain and the definition of the name servers which provide DNS. The name servers cause a name, such as, to resolve to an internet address which is a number. Each hosting provider has machines with unique numbers. If you want to move a web site from an old/bad host to a new/groovy host at a new address, you absolutely must be able to control the identity of the name servers. Usually there are at least two name servers used for each domain.

The WHOIS record for a domain always reports the identity of the name servers. You should check those and make sure that they are with a company that you trust, either a good registrar, a good hosting company or a good web design firm.

Transferring a Domain to a New Registrar

In some cases, it is worth transferring domains to save ongoing annual fees. This can be tricky because, these days, domains are locked, meaning that they cannot be transferred without the owner taking extra steps. (And this is because too many people stole domains away from their rightful owners, before locking was available.)

Before you transfer an existing domain, you should capture the current DNS records by going to network-tools, putting in your domain name, and retrieving the DNS information. Print that – and/or save the information to a file. You will need it.

To transfer a domain, you login to the old/bad/expensive registrar’s web site and UNLOCK the domain. You then go to the new/good/inexpensive registrar’s site and request a transfer of your domain to the new place. A series of emails will be sent by the registrars to confirm that the whole process is legal, and you will need to confirm the transfer. Usually you will also have to pay one year’s fee to the new registrar, and that will extend the life of your domain by a year (so you do not lose any money, you are only pre-paying early).

I hope this helps and please contact me if you need to ask questions

Domain Name Scam

It came to my attention this morning that there is an email or mail solicitation from Domain Registry of Canada. This is a domain name scam to get you to renew a domain name with them and not your regular domain registrar. At an outrageous price I might add – $40 to $70 per year when a domain name shouldn’t cost you more than $10 – 18.

I have seen a letter and an email and it looks very official but it is in no way affiliated with CIRA (the official .ca registrar in Canada). These guys have been shut down in the states but not yet in Canada.

No Explanation NeededIt is important that you know your registry details. If you are hosted with me or made arrangement thru me for hosting I can provide you with your site details. Please contact me for this information and be in charge of your site!

If you believe you have been misled, paid them anything or have received a letter or email from Domain Registry of Canada you should contact the Competition Bureau toll-free at 1-800-348-5358 or visit their website located at:

They have complaint forms online.

Competition Bureau of Canada
Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time
50 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0C9
Toll free: 1-800-348-5358
Phone: (819) 997-4282TDD (hearing impaired): 1-800-642-3844
Facsimile: (819) 997-0324