Before I jump in, I want to credit the idea for this to the brilliant Taryn Williford! The idea to get the custom short URL was definitely not something I came up with myself. I loved the idea when I saw it on Taryn’s blog and couldn’t pass up the chance on sharing 3 simple ways you can go about adopting a custom short URL for your blog since it’s been working out quite well for me!
Over the past couple of months, I’ve been playing around with things. Tweaking what I already use for the blog / business and testing new things. One of the things I’ve adopted over the summer is a custom short URL, which you might have seen if you hang out with me over on Twitter or Instagram.
If you’re not sure what a custom short URL is, if you’re using Bit.ly or Buffer to share your posts on social media, you’re probably familiar with the URL shorteners. Obviously, they shorten the super long links that we see around the web, but they’re super useful for tracking link analytics. It’s important to track your link analytics because you can get a better idea of what you should be sharing on social media and when!
Since so many people’s tweets feature the Bit.ly or Buffer URL shorteners, you can really make your social media even more branded by getting a custom short URL, like what all my tweets with links feature. Like this:
I love the idea of having a branded short URL because it not only is an additional way to carry your branding into your social media profiles, but it also helps my brand stand out since most people use the common URLS that most shorteners use. While there are obviously major companies who have this feature as part of their brand, obviously you don’t have to have a ton of money or a lot of technical knowledge to set one up for your blog. In fact, all you need is a couple of bucks to purchase your new domain!
There are a few ways you can set up your custom domain, but I’ll start with the method I used –
1. Sign up for Bitly
If you’re not already a user, you’ll need to set up an account! It’s short + quick; in fact, I just used my Twitter profile to create my account.
2. Find your custom domain + purchase
This step might be the toughest for you because we all know how limited domain names are nowadays. When you’re deciding on a short URL for your brand, you want to consider a few things. First, you want it to relate to your brand and your regular URL. Second, you want it to be short, obviously. The best short URLs are within around 15 characters. The most popular thing to do is to grab something .co, .me, or .it instead of .com, but you can (and should) get creative if you can and use other domain extensions like .li. If you’re struggling to come up with your domain, I love using Domai.nr to see what’s available with what extensions.
Once I decided on the short URL I wanted, I popped over to Namecheap and bought it. I have no preference on where I’ve obtained URLs. I got koryw.co for $8.88 through Namecheap, but I will say their DNS is a little more confusing than GoDaddy.
3. Setup your DNS + connect within Bitly
Next up, you have to set up your DNS settings. Bitly gives you the settings you need to setup. If you’re not comfortable with this tech-y stuff, I’d recommend just starting a chat with the support for whoever you bought your domain through and asking for help getting that setup. DNS settings can take a little while to go into effect, so once you get that done if you’re getting an error from Bitly, give it some time.
4. Setup the root redirect on your shortened URL
The last step: don’t forget to setup the root redirect to your site! If you don’t do this, anyone who goes to just your shortened URL will be directed to Bitly, and obviously we don’t want that!
Okay, so maybe you don’t want to do all of that work but you still want your custom short URL. Here’s what you can do:
If you’re not comfortable with tech stuff and don’t want to have to worry with it, you can use iwantmyname, and you don’t have to worry about any of the DNS settings. You still have to go to Bitly and finish the setup, but it’s a lot easier this way!
Use Pretty Link Lite
Okay, so if you want even less work, the Pretty Link Plugin is for you! This doesn’t create the full short URL like koryw.co, but it’ll help you get a shorter URL for your blog posts. All you have to do is install the plugin and then add your URLs for your posts. You’ll have to set up the end of the URL yourself, but this is the easiest method if you’re not in the position to purchase a whole separate URL!
So here’s my question for you: now that you know how, will you be setting up your own custom short URL?