The internet is truly a marvelous thing – for the most part. And it’s made our life easier – for the most part. The one thing that makes the web work is links, those URLs we’ve come to love – for the most part. However, many of them are either impossible to remember or a wasted branding opportunity. Let me show you how I fix this.
I have problems with traditional links
Imagine I want to share a video with a client of mine. Unfortunately, oftentimes I have to remember a web address that looks something like this
and I don’t know about you, but that’s kinda hard to share when you’re talking with someone. And there’s no way I’m remembering that URL when I want to post it into an email or a message.
In addition to that, it doesn’t do anything for your brand. I am, however, helping Vimeo. Don’t get me wrong, I love their service, but I am not getting paid to advertise for them. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to tell someone that they can see this video at pbd.li/the-briefcase? Now that I can remember.
One thing I do a lot when I’m producing a photography shoot or video project is pulling liability insurance certificates. I have a job coming up next week, where I’m going to have to get over 30 certificates. Even though my insurance company has made it easier to remember this for its clients with an actual human readable web address, I still can’t remember
Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to type pbd.li/liability? Now that I can remember as well.
[Psst! PPA photographers - this link will work for you too. It takes you to the request-a-certificate page for Lockton, the company that underwrites PPA's liability insurance policy.]
So what’s the best link shortener
How do I do this? It’s easy. You can do the same thing. Yeah, you say, I know about bit.ly. and goo.gl and all the others. You’re not telling me anything new. I know, but here’s what happened to me a few years back.
I gave a TEDx talk called “The Art of changing minds” after producing my first documentary in Afghanistan. And when the video of the talk came out I wanted to share it. So I created bit.ly/PascalTEDx, so I can tell people about it and easily share it. And it worked great until it didn’t. The people from TED talks redesigned their website, and now the link to the talk used to be on tedxbocaraton.com/portfolio/pascal-depuhl/ became:
And just like that none of my links I had created in bit.ly worked anymore.
OK, you say, no problem, I’ll just go and change the underlying link at bit.ly. Not so fast, that’s one of the things you can not do, unless you become a subscriber for $35 a month. That’s over $400.- to edit a link. Sorry. No.
(Today the Tedx talk link lives at pbd.li/OWOH, and will stay at the web address, even if the good people from TED change their minds again since I can edit the destination URL with a simple click).
My journey to create the perfect branded link
So I started looking for a link shortener that lets me edit the destination URL and that’s when I found Rebrandly. Not only do they let me change the underlying link, but this service also allows me to link my very own shortening domain, in my case that’s pbd.li (photography by depuhl), remember what I said about branding for your business and not someone else’s?
[Quick Disclaimer: I am a Brand Ambassador for Rebrandly, but like every service and product I pitch to you on my blog, I sought them out, because I believe and use their service.]
One more disclaimer, although you can use Rebrandly for free and still edit your links, if you want a custom domain, you’ll have to pay for that. I believe that custom link costs me $20.- a year.
By the way, links aren’t the only thing you should be branding. The filenames of your images should be branded too. Remember when I got hired by Mars – the candy company – to create images for them in Costa Rica for 4 days, because I brand the names of my images? You can read about it in Marketing Hack #20. But I digress – back to branded links.
Some more idea on creatively shortening your links
How can you use a custom shortened link? Well, the possibilities are really endless: I have recurring payments that have URLs that look like this
that I can never remember. I made a custom URL for this. Easy peasy.
How about that weekly Zoom call which has a URL that’s called
Can you remember that? True, you could bookmark it in your browser, but what if you’re not using your computer? Create a custom link like pbd.li/zoomcall and voila. No more digging for the link. ProTip: make the custom portion of the link the password. That way you can just copy and paste it into the Zoom meeting – and btw pbd.li/zoomcall is not a real URL :)
I also wrote for ASMP’s strictly business blog as a regular contributor for many years. A while back, they changed their website too. Now all the links to my articles, many of which I had embedded in my blog, social media posts, etc. don’t work anymore. Had I used my Rebrandly links, I could have gone back and changed the broken URLs to the new ones (I only need to change the Rebrandly link, rather than going through 100s of blog posts and looking for every reference that links to a now broken link.) If you read some of my older blog posts and click on one of those bad links, you’ll get a 404 – page not found – error and that makes my brand look bad.
Check out Rebrandly. They’re good people, with a great product that can help you do a lot to keep your links short and sweet (and brandable, cause it’s pronouncable).
So why aren’t you branding your links?