QUESTIONS: What is a URL (or Domain Name)? Why would a person have more than one? What is an extension? How much does a URL cost? Where would I purchase one?
NOTES AND QUOTES
In order to be online, you first establish a “webhosting” account with an Internet Service provider. I started with Yahoo in 2007 when I began to put elements of my 2008 Fuller Doctor of Ministry project online at disciplewalk.com.
A website has a computer friendly address, known as a DNS number; consider this the “street address” of your website. An often-used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the phone book for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses. For example, the domain name www.example.com translates to the addresses 18.104.22.168 (IPv4) and 2606:2800:220:6d:26bf:1447:1097:aa7 (IPv6). Unlike a phone book, DNS can be quickly updated, allowing a service’s location on the network to change without affecting the end users, who continue to use the same host name. Users take advantage of this when they use meaningful Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), and e-mail addresses without having to know how the computer actually locates the services. 
A URL or Uniform Resource Locator is the people friendly location of your website – easy to remember, easy to type into a web browser. It is also known as a Domain Name. Consider this as the name of your store – www.Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Disciplewalk.com. These names can be quickly searched to find the DNS number for the specific computer working with that website – the server at the company where you purchase your webhosting.
Yahoo is now Yahoo Aabaco Webhosting and can be reviewed at https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/webhosting. I am a Premier plan user, which costs $12/month for virtually unlimited resources. By the spring of 2017, content uploaded to Disciplewalk.com exceeded 26 gigabytes – recorded audio sermon files take up a lot of space.
When Yahoo/Aabaco Webhosting began to have difficulty with that large a blog, and did not provide free support to solve those problems, I moved all my blogging to Siteground. This was a less expensive solution which also provided free technical support 24/7. (See https://realitydisciplines.com/2017/08/17/wordpress-resources-at-siteground/ for more information.)
A single webhosting account can handle multiple pages, just as a department store like Walmart can have multiple departments that are located at a single street address. Each webpage begins with the URL for the webhosting account, followed by the name of the page: http://www.disciplewalk.com/One_Minute_Minister.html or http://www.disciplewalk.com/parable_light_bulb_2.html or http://www.disciplewalk.com/Barna_Revolution.html are three examples.
A single webhosting account can handle multiple URLs, just like a mall can have multiple stores that are located at a single street address. One of my URLs is disciplemaking101.com, which is for the Lay Servant Class I’m developing to train lay leaders to be disciple makers using the ideas from my 2008 Fuller dissertation.
The actual URL for the page www.disciplemaking101.com at Yahoo is http://www.disciplewalk.com/DM101_Home_Page.html. If you paste either URL in your browser, it will take you to the same page … but if you use www.disciplemaking101.com the actual URL including disciplewalk.com is hidden. This is called “masked forwarding.” It means that someone can type the name of your product, or one of many brands, and be forwarded to a page on your website without knowing the details. So one web hosting account … typically more expensive … can handle multiple URLs or Domain Names. You do not need to have a separate web hosting provider for each URL.
Why is this important?
If you are promoting yourself as an author on the internet, you may wish to have one giant website which draws all attention to you as the author. You, personally, are the link that connects everything you write, promote or sell.
If you write different types of books, you are an author with multiple brands. You may want to keep the brands separate rather than to confuse your audience. For example, perhaps a pastor would like to write about theology and New Testament exegesis, but would also like to write romance novels that present an emotionally healthy approach to new relationships. The two audiences might not be compatible.
Sometimes, for the sake of understanding as well as marketing, it may be useful to use different URLs to share information about different “brands” of writing. For example, Nora Roberts has an excellent website at http://www.noraroberts.com/. If you click on About Nora, you can view her bio and her blog. Her blog, which is named “Fall Into The Story,” has its own URL – see http://fallintothestory.com/about-us/
In the About Nora drop-down menu, you will see JD Robb; it’s also at the bottom of the web page. This is a link to a separate web page, jdrobb.com, for information about her “In Death” police procedural series set in the future, New York of 2060, and written under the pen name of J. D. Robb.
Separate URLs allow an author to control how the brand is displayed to the public.
I have the following separate URLs for the information I share: disciplewalk.com for church information, ascendinggrace.org for fiction, zdras.com for writing and songwriting as a hobby, ambidextrouschurch.com for the blog and disciplemaking1o1.com for downloading materials for the Lay Servant Class.
I owned greenhousestl.org for the purposes of bringing a Neil Cole Organic Church Planting Greenhouse to the St Louis area but surrendered that URL when that hope did not bear fruit. Now another organization is using it!
I have owned CaseyvilleChurch.com and now own KinmundyChurch.org. When unchurched people search for a church in a town, this one comes up first. This is why it is wise to carefully consider the name you use for your URL … it is your brand. It should be easy to remember and easy to type.
What is an extension?
Domain names come with various extensions. .com is the most common and refers to a commercial enterprise. .org is an organization and .edu is a school. For the sake of marketing, internet service providers are creating dozens of new extensions to the point of diminishing returns – most people will remember the stem (disciplewalk) and assume that it is a .com … and not be able to find your website.
RealityDisciplines.com was first GenericCommonSense.com (too long) and then Wiser101.com … but I didn’t like the confusion presented by multiple other websites that began with the word “Wiser.” Given the interest in the practice of Spiritual Disciplines, Reality Disciplines is a website for Disciplines that are for the Real world.
To see the various extensions … and chuckle … go here and type a possible domain name, perhaps your first and last name as a single word: https://www.godaddy.com/domains/domain-name-search
What does a URL or Domain Name cost?
The cost is typically $12 a year after all “first year bargain rates” are concluded. A significant discount is often available by purchasing for 3 or 5 years; most are never used. In order to limit spam and phishing, users typically spend another $12 annually for “Private Domain Name Registration” which hides their contact information under a corporate name. (These prices vary widely depending on your provider.)
Where would I purchase a URL/Domain Name?
There are major providers such as GoDaddy who sell large numbers of domain names. But remember – you need a web hosting provider in order to have a presence on the web. You might as well purchase your domain name from them. Often the first URL is free for new customers for the first year.
“Technical Issues” is a category of posts prepared for “The Writing Pastor” workshop attempting to provide answers to questions that might come up related to the technical issues of blogging. I am not an expert … but willing to share my opinion and experience. Someone who knows what they are doing will probably find my generalizations hilarious. My hope is that someone who knows less than I do might find them helpful.
 Domain Name System From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_Name_System
The photo, domain names, is by JanBaby and is from Pixabay.