During the discussion on a Webcomic panel I was part of at Balticon this weekend I was reminded of an important tip that I always tell people who are starting out: Even if your website will be hosted at a community website or some other site that you don’t own, the best idea is to buy a URL and point it at where your site will be.
What this means is, if you are on Drunk Duck or Webcomics Nation, or even at a friend’s webserver–if you go out and buy a domain name called say “TheBestComicYouKnow.com” and then forward to the actual website location (which might be Comicgenesis.com/TheBestComicYouKnow), whenever anyone links to your comic have them use the URL you bought, not the actual location.
Why? Well, if you get very successful you’ll eventually want to move to your own server or location using your bought URL, and you DON’T want links that mentioned you going to that old location at Comicgenesis–essentially you would end up losing those links and Google pagerank and any press or writeups since you aren’t there anymore (and don’t expect the old places to forward to your new location) –so they would go to a dead end, and traffic numbers and things on the Internet need to find you to be important.
It costs practically nothing to buy a URL per year ($15 or less per year) and forwarding costs almost nothing. In the end you’ll be thankful you thought ahead.