Owning your own domain is important in building your brand and Platform. As sharing has increased in importance over the last few years through services like Facebook and Twitter having a custom URL to share you information has also become helpful. The limited number of characters allowed by Twitter make services like bit.ly, goo.gl popular to save precious characters.
CAUTION: This is complicated stuff for some people so I take zero responsibility if you mess something up on your domain. Use a domain that you use for nothing else.
UPDATE: One user had their URL updated and functioning in 20 minutes today. Mine took over 24 hours. So be patient and let me know if you get it to work!
You can now create your own custom short URL to extend your branding throughout your own site and social media reach. One ALTERNATIVE to this process is to use a subdomain to your domain if it’s short enough. My friend Cliff Ravenscraft uses l.gspn.tv for his vanity URL which works well because his gspn.tv URL is so short. I created atraub.us to use as my vanity URL. Here’s an example of what a Twitter message could look like with three different URLs and how many characters each one totals.
No custom URL – How to fix your nag of a wife – http://www.takepermission.com/babh-podcast/how-to-fix-your-nagging-wife-babh-016/ – (114)
Bit.ly custom URL – How to fix your nag of a wife – http://bit.ly/xLgHsx – (52)
Self-hosted custom URL – How to fix your nag of a wife – http://atraub.us/yoKmZX – (55)
The last link starting with http://www.atraub.us was created with the following tools.
– Domain purchased from GoDaddy (you can use any domain service)
– Hosting of the domain at Bluehost (affiliate). You can use any host but I use Bluehost for several of my sites.
– Bitly.com Custom Short Domain.
Once you have set up your custom short domain you can connect it with several different services Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Buffer , that post to your social media accounts. You can also use the shortener on your mobile apps. I suggest TweetBot for iOS users.
The most difficult/confusing part of the process is changing something called a DNS A record so that bit.ly has the appropriate permission to access your URL. So here are the steps that I used along with screen shots.
Step #1 Buy a domain and connect to your hosting service
I use GoDaddy, you can use any service you want. Where you buy your domain isn’t as important as where you host your domain. You are going to make a change with your host so you’ll need access to them. I use Bluehost as my host which you can actually point to while you’re purchasing your domain. Just look for the “set name servers” option when you’re purchasing your domain. Once your have purchased your domain and connected it to your host the next step is to find the DNS settings.
Step #2 Find the DNS settings panel. In Bluehost’s Control Panel the Domains tab has a DNS Zone Editor button.
Step #3 – Choose your custom URL and edit the “@” host record in the DNS Zone Editor.
Step #4 – Sign up for an bit.ly https://bitly.com account. NOTE: If you use Twitter to sign up for your account your username will be random set of number/letters/characters and can be found in the “Settings” in your account panel. Go to “Settings” in your profile once you’ve signed up for bit.ly.
Step #5 – Go to the Custom Short Domain area and click on “Add a Custom Short Domain” This will open up a new window.
Step #6 – Enter your URL and click “ADD”
Step #7 – Copy the DNS A record number they give you Example – 68.38.284.59. Mine is greyed out in the image below.
Step #8 – Go back to your Bluehost DNS zone editor and enter in that number. Return to bitly.com the next day to check and see if your custom URL is connected to your bit.ly account. You need to RETURN to bitly.com to the same “Custom Short Domain” area to tell bitly use the custom URL instead of the bit.ly domain. This is done in the “settings” area of your bitly account.
Now whenever you use that bit.ly account in another service (Hootsuite, TweetDeck,Buffer) it will automatically change your URLs to your custom URL. Bitly.com does this for you so if Bitly.com ever goes out of business then you will have a lot of broken links out there.
Step #9 Setting up your custom vanity URL on BufferApp.com
Settings – Schedule & Shortening – Link Shortening – Connect Bitly. NOTE: If you signed up for Bitly using Twitter you’ll need to go find your unique customer ID to sign in to Bitly within Buffer. You need to repeat this for EVERY social media account you have in your Buffer account to use the shortener. This means you can use more than one shortener in the same Buffer account as long as you’re using them with separate social media accounts. So you could manage different custom URLs for different businesses using the same Buffer account. Pretty cool!
Mobile setup for your custom vanity URL using TweetBot and Buffer App
In TweetBot simply find your way to the settings of any of your Twitter accounts and click on the “URL Shortening” option button. Choose bit.ly Pro and sign in. Viola…custom URLs in Tweetbot!
If you happen to use the Buffer App on your iOS device you can see the custom URL’s in your cue, waiting to be sent out and clicked on. If you use the Buffer bookmarklet in Safari on your device your URLs will also be shortened using your custom URL.
I didn’t cover every single step of these process but I hopefully covered the ones that were difficult for you so the process can be easy. It was a bit overwhelming to set it all up without a tutorial so now you have one.
Remember that the DNS record change can take up to 48 hours so be patient on that change. If you get stuck on that step contact your hosting company.
Are you going to creat a vanity URL and what will it be? Share in the comments below and let me know if you get it to work!