The first step in getting online is getting a domain name.
A domain name is like your address on the web. Just like people need your home address to visit you, people need a domain name to get to your website. For instance, MarketingForTherapists.org is the domain name of this site, and when you type it into your web browser, your browser knows how to get you to this website.
A domain name is also part of your brand image. For instance, if I had named my website “BecomeATherapistMillionareInstantly.com”, it wouldn’t have seemed very credible. Or if I named my website “TherapyYeti.com,” it wouldn’t be clear what I was offering.
The same thing is true for your website. You want a domain name that is 1) relevant to what you offer, and that 2) has a professional feel (would you want to get counseling from someone who runs “BobTheTherapyDude.com?”)
Unfortunately, many of the good domain names are taken. Fortunately, I’m here to help. I’ll start by giving you some ideas for your domain name, then I’ll answer some common questions, then I’ll show you how to actually register your domain name.
How To Pick A Domain Name
Here are my recommendations for building your domain name. You don’t need to follow these recommendations if you don’t want to — if you have a great idea that’s not listed here, that’s fine. But if you’re stuck, this is what I recommend.
For A Solo Practice
- YourName (ie, JohnSmith.com)
- YourDegree+YourName (DrJohnSmith.com, JohnSmithLPC.com)
- YourDegree+YourLastName (DrSmith.com, DrSmithPhD.com, SmithMFT.com)
- YourName+YourRole(JohnSmithCounselor.com, JohnSmithTherapist.com)
- YourName+WhatYouOffer (JohnSmithCounseling.com JohnSmithTherapy.com)
For A Specific Focus
- Condition+Treatment (AnxietyCounseling.com, DepressionHope.com)
- Condition + Treatment + Location (PortlandAnxietyCounseling.com)
- Population+Treatment (CounselingForVeterans.com, LGBTCounseling.com)
- Location + Treatment (ChicagoTherapy.com, MinnesotaCounselor.com)
- Name Of Clinic (AcmeCounselingCenter.com)
Domain Name FAQs
Do I get a .com, .org. .net, or something else?
If you can get a .com with your preferred name, do that.
If the .com of your preferred name is taken, you can try a .net or a .org. Don’t do anything other than .com, .org or .net (anything else looks unprofessional and sketchy.) Bear in mind that registering a .net or .org website tends to be more expensive than registering a .com.
Should I get more than one domain name?
Maybe? I wouldn’t get more than one domain name for your clinic because that will just confuse people. However, it’s not a bad idea to have one domain name for yourself as an individual and another domain name for your clinic.
For instance, you might have DrJohnSmith.com and JohnSmithCounselingCenter.com. Then you would use the first domain to post your CV, etc, and the second domain to promote your counseling center.
Should I get the same domain name in both .com and .org?
No, there’s generally no reason to do that. If you’ve got a domain name with one ending, you don’t need the same domain name with another ending — what would you do with it?
I picked out the perfect name but someone already took it! What do I do?
Try to register the domain on .org or .net if it’s not available on .com — that’s what I did with marketingfortherapists.org.
If it’s taken on .org and .net as well, you should probably pick another name. You can either come up with a brand new name, or try to modify your chosen name slightly. For instance, if YourNameLPC.com is taken, perhaps you could try LPCYourName.com
In some cases it’s possible to buy a domain name from the current owner, but this will usually cost you thousands of dollars. If you have that kind of money to burn, go for it, but you are probably better off finding a new name.
How to Register Your Domain Name
It’s pretty easy.
First, head to NameCheap.com. I recommend NameCheap because they have good prices and good customer service. You can use another registrar if you want, though — they’re all pretty similar.
Next, type your desired domain into the big ol’ box on their homepage. If it’s available, add it to your cart. If it’s not, try another domain name until you find one that’s available.
After that, all you need to do is check out! You probably don’t need any add-ons, so don’t worry about SSL, etc. Your total cost should be about $10-$12 per year. You can pay for up to ten years at a time. I recommend that you go ahead and register your domain for 10 years — that way you don’t have to worry about it for a long time. However, if you’re not sure you’ll stick with your website, it’s okay to register your domain for just a year or two (but make sure you renew!)
How to use your domain name with your website
Once you have both your domain name and your website set up, you need to point your domain name at your website. That is something that you can do yourself by following these instructions.
If those instructions make sense to you, then great. If that help page looks like it’s written in a foreign language, then contact Namecheap support and ask them to do it for you — they’ll take care of it for free.
All you need to do is get the information from your website host about how to use your domain with their service. That information is probably on the host’s website somewhere, but again, you can just contact your website host’s support team, and they’ll give the information for you.