Register your domain name for free

If you’ve been following along with this blog, you’ve already thought about whether you need to establish a presence on the Web, thought about some of the options for creating a personal Web page, and have decided on your online identity. Now, you’re ready to build your very own Web site with your own custom domain name.

Registering your own unique domain name allows you to secure your place on the Internet. Although there are a wide variety of domain name registration services out there, you can generally expect they will share two things in common:

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Create your online identity

If you’ve decided you want to make a name for yourself on the Web for any reason, you will quickly discover that an effective Web presence will require you to utilize a number of services, such as e-mail, registrations to allow you to post comments, Flickr/YouTube/Twango file-sharing accounts, and many others. Many (if not most) of these services will require you to create some sort of an online username by which you are known to the Web community.

Before you get started registering for all of these services, it is a good idea to stop and think about how you want to be known on the Internet. Most services that you will utilize will allow you to create an online username. This moniker, or alias, will be how people get to know you. Joe3437912 is probably not a good way to get people to recognize your “name” when they see it. In addition, JoeTheWanker may not be a good username if you are trying to build a respectable Web presence. It might be good if your Web presence is primarily devoted to humor or satire, however.

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I want to increase my online presence: Where do I start?

Whether you are starting an online business, selling products or services, or just want to have your own Web presence, you’ll probably want to start by creating your very own Web site. This Web site can serve as a “Home Base” for your entire Web presence or an online presence for your business, giving people a single place to visit to find out the latest about you, your family, your business, your products, etc. Technically, the term “Web site” refers to a specific domain name (www.MYSITE.com for example). For this post, however, I will use the term more loosely to describe any sort of personalized page on the Web…whether it’s a specific domain name, a page in a social networking site (like MySpace), or a personalized subsection of a Web site (Like geocities.com/MYPAGE).

If you don’t need your own domain name, there are quite a few options out there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Most of these services allow you to create your “own” Web site free of charge, but only one I know of also allows you to register your own Domain Name (www.MYSITE.com) and create e-mail accounts containing that domain (info@MYSITE.com, for example). Microsoft Office Live Basics offers subscribers a custom Domain Name and multiple e-mail accounts, all free of charge. I will discuss Microsoft Office Live Basics in much more detail over the next few months.
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Getting started: Do you need a “presence” on the Web?

Not everyone needs to have a “presence” on the Web, of course. Most people will be quite content to surf the Web to find what they are interested in, and then sign off and go do something more productive. But those of us who just can’t seem to pull ourselves away from the computer often want to do more than just surf the Web…we want to be part of it.

The popularity of social networking sites and photo/video sharing sites over the past few years testifies that there is an ever-increasing number of people who just can’t wait to put their lives on the Web. This is a wonderful way to stay informed and connected, and to keep your friends and family “up to speed” on what’s happening in your life. But how many people take the time to consider just how much of their personal lives they want on to be publicly available on the Web? Having a good plan for your overall Web presence will help you protect the information you want to keep private, and expand the reach of that information you want to share with others.

If you’re serious about creating an overall Web presence for yourself or your family, the first order of business will probably be to ask yourself what you want to do on the Web. Are you interested in making a name for yourself, sharing files or photos with friends and family, starting a small business, selling a product/service (for personal or business reasons), or creating a public Web site for the world to view (for personal or business reasons)?

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Looking for photo credits (and permission)

WOWcomputer.jpg
I found this image several years ago “somewhere on the Web,” and it’s just perfect for this blog.

Unfortunately, I have no idea where it came from, or who to give credit to. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s even in the public domain.

If anyone has any information about the source of the photo, please contact me so I can give credit where credit is due.

Thanks!