You've seen tiny URLs everywhere, and thought it might be cool to set-up your own, right?
I did this in a matter of hours, and it wasn't that difficult. Well, unless you're -not- a web professional.
What do you want to do with your Tiny URL?
It's a valid question. There are hundreds, if not thousands of reasons to have a short URL. In my case, I wanted to use the URL for social links & tracking, and while I'm at it— it would be cool to use it for links to stuff that I share on cloud storage.
Purchasing a short URL
The domain I found is CR8.CC. It's short, and it kind-of says what I do: I CREATE. It also just happens that since my company is Creative Component — the ".CC" fit nicely here.
I was undoubtably lucky to find such a short name. Mine was actually a doman listed in a GoDaddy auction. I quickly learned that in GoDaddy's domain auction world, if you buy a domain auction, you might not get access to it for up to two weeks! The "owner" (registrant) hadn't yet released it to GoDaddy, and there could be a chance that during this grey period, the registrant could again realize the value in the name and re-up the ownership. Mine was released in one week, which was a pain to wait— but I got my name!
Setup your subdomains
Wherever you purchase your main tiny domain, you'll want to set-up subdomains there for each service you want to use. In my case, I needed a subdomain to set-up my bit.ly account, and another subdomain for my CloudApp account. If you ONLY want to use the tiny URL for link shortening-only, then you could probably just -not- make a subdomain, but it's likely that in a week or two, you'll want to do something else with the domain— so rather than re-configure everything in the future, just consider adding subdomains now.
For bitly, I went with "GO.CR8.CC" and on CloudApp, "i.CR8.CC". Obviously, in a 140-character world, the shorter— the better.
If you want to use either of these services, here is the information you will need for the domain tweakage:
Custom Domains on CloudApp: http://go.cr8.cc/CloudAppDomain
Custom Domains on Bit.ly: http://go.cr8.cc/BitlyDomain
Onward with making links.
I already had a 'Pro' account over at bit.ly. Having an account allows you to track everything you ever need to shorten using bit.ly or any one of their other daughter URLs (bitly.com / j.mp). If you don't have an account, go apply for a free one now.
Once you set-up your account, you will want to add the custom subdomain to your settings page. Then when using the URL, you can add their custom plugins on every browser you use. Just search for "Adding bit.ly to Chrome / ...to Safari / ...to Firefox" and you'll be sure to find plugins, or use their simple drag/drop tools found here: https://bitly.com/pages/tools. This is important, because the links you're browsing are the ones that you want to share, and instead of copying the links in your clipboard and slogging-over to bit.ly to create a shortened link— you can just do the shortening with a click without leaving the page you're on.
You'll also be able to set-up many apps with your custom bit.ly domain. There's a great list here: https://bitly.com/pages/partners showing a range of Twitter apps.
Personally, I use a simple (Mac) app called Wren (http://wrenapp.com) — made for SENDING weets instead of reading them. It's a great way to share a thought or a link and keep on working! I also use TweetDeck for custom bit.ly domains. TweetDeck is the exact opposite of Wren, sucking you into a full-on city of Twitter activity.
For the iPhone, Tweetbot (http://tapbots.com/software/tweetbot) is incredible, and your short URL integrates nicely there.
Another great feature of running bit.ly on mobile— their site works on all devices, and your custom URL is tracked & copied quickly and easily.
tip: I've been working at my desk computer and thought to send a link to my iPhone (to use within an iPhone app). Now instead of emailing it, I can just make my own bitly link— which automatically appears on the bitly homepage on my iPhone— saving me so many headaches!
In the Cloud
If you followed the CloudApp link above, you may have noticed that in order to add a custom domain to CloudApp, you need to be a paying member. Unfortunately, this is true— but the extra storage, the unlimited number of things to upload/share and the custom domain are worth it to me.
If I've forgotten a step, or if you have any questions or ideas, just give a shout in the comments— or shout at me on Twitter. (See? the link at the left is my custom bitly URL. It allows me to track the clicks!)
There are certainly other cloud apps out there allowing you to use custom domains, so just map it out and be creative!
Oh snap! I almost forgot— with bit.ly, you can make free QR Codes. I made an earlier post to show you how to do that: MAKE FREE QR CODES IN 3 EASY STEPS
Alan Houser is the founder of Squareflair, a Web Design studio located in Indianapolis, Indiana who is 100% focused on building Squarespace sites. Alan is an experienced Web Designer with over 12 years of experience with User Experience Design and Front-End Development. Follow Alan on Google+, Twitter, Dribbble and LinkedIn.