How To Setup A Vanity URL

This week while I am on vacation I have asked some friends to guest post. Today's post is written by Kyle Johnson a member of my church where he is serves faithfully as a member of our worship band and also helps with special projects. Most recently he is helping us write and implement some social media guidelines to facilitate communication and public relations. Along those lines he has taken an active role in helping our pastor relaunch his blog site mark-marshall.com. Kyle works at the artist management company Michael Smith and Associates were he is hard at work on a special training series on how to be an Artist Manager. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Take a moment to read through this post on how easy it can be to set up a vanity shorten URL and how it can be a great tool. ________________

 

A few months ago, I read this great post by Michael Hyatt on how to setup a vanity URL. He recommended using the paid version of HootSuite that runs $50 a month. I got to thinking that there has to be a better (read: cheaper) way to do this.

Doing some digging around on BufferApp (more on this in a minute), I noticed that they allow custom Bitly domains. This sent me on a trail to make this vanity URL work for a minimum cost.

First, why do you want a vanity URL? Here’s two reasons why I think these are important.

1. Furthers your brand. More people will see your name on a url and know you provide great connect. I’ve setup one for Michael (mhsmith which is a tweak on his Twitter handle) and one for my boss (mgrmike which is his Twitter handle.) 2. More trust on links. Twitter automatically shortens links to t.co. To me this is a little confusing to the average user. I don’t want to click on any links unless I know the person providing them. By seeing a vanity URL from someone, I know I can trust them.

Let's get started setting up a vanity URL for you. Here’s the step by step process:

1. Select A Short URL. It’s important that this URL is short so that the URL can be included in Tweets and take the least amount of characters. For the purpose of this post, I’m setting up kylebj.us. I use GoDaddy.com for my domains, but you can use what works for you. Wherever you set up your domain name, be sure to keep that window open as we’ll be coming back to it in a couple of steps.

2. Create a Bit.ly account. According to their front page, “Bit.ly helps you share, track and analyze your links.” They are also one of the most popular link shortening services out there. Signing up is easy as you can use your Twitter or Facebook account to sign in.

3. Add Custom Short Domain. (This step has multiple steps, but you can do this because I’m walking you through this.)

A. Once you have set up your Bit.ly account, go to “settings”, located in a drop down menu next to your user name in the upper right hand corner. In settings you’ll see Custom Short Domain. Click on “Add a Custom Short Domain.”

B. This next step will ask you to enter the custom short domain you want to use with bit.ly. This is where you enter the domain you purchased in step one.

C. Once you press add, you will see a message that tells you the DNS needs to be configured for your custom short domain.

D. I always copy the DNS record that kylebj.us needs to point to. It will look similar to the highlight below.

E. Go back to your hosting account window. You’re looking for the DNS record of the domain you setup in step one. For GoDaddy.com, this is found under Domains and Domain Management.

F. Click on the domain setup in Step One.

G. Locate the DNS Manager and click Launch.

H. Right at the top, you’ll see A(Host) and it will be populated.

I. We want to erase the numbers that it currently points to. That’s easy, as all you have to do is click in the box and delete.

J. Now, since we pasted the numbers above from Bit.ly, all we have to is paste the DNS A record in the Points to box and hit save.

K. GoDaddy tells you these changes may take a while to populate. While that is typically true, I’ve found them to populate much faster than that.

At this point, we’re done with our domain hosting account. That window can be closed.

L. Back to Bit.ly. Since you’ve inputted the DNS A record, it’s now time to Verify.

M. If everything works, you’ll see the confirmation below.

Now don’t worry if this didn’t come out right. It could be as simple as the DNS Record is still populating. You might need to stop here and come back in 24 hours. If it’s still not working, please feel free to email me.

Onto step 4.

4. Setting Up BufferApp.com Account. Buffer is a wonderful app that allows you to schedule Tweets and Facebook posts. Also, if you manage any Facebook Pages, you can schedule posts to go to that page. This is nice if you want different content to go to your personal page versus the page you manage.

A. Logging onto Buffer is easy since you can use your Facebook or Twitter account to login. Once inside Buffer you will need to link your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. I’ve only setup my Twitter and Facebook.

B. When you log in you will land on your dashboard. Click on Settings and then click on Schedule & Shortening. One important note: the link shortening will need to be set up for all your accounts. That’s one feature I would like to see changed.

C. Below is my Facebook Schedule and Shortening. The next step is to click on Connect Bitly.

A message will pop up from Bitly asking you to authorize Buffer. Click allow.

Repeat the same last two steps for each additional account you have in Buffer.

You are now ready to start using your new vanity URL. Since you have Buffer set up, be sure to load the iPhone app and browser extensions. Those will help you with link shortening of anything you want to share on Twitter and Facebook. Since your vanity URL is tied to your Buffer account, any links will automatically be shortened to your vanity url. Happy clipping!

If you have any questions or need any help, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or contact me via email.