Since a few weeks I’m using my own domain name to create short URLs. When choosing the right solution, I had some particular requirements:
- Being able to use any domain of my choice
- Have total control over the syntax of the generated links when I want to
- View statistics on how many people click my links
- Decent integration into my regular Twitter apps
Because shortening links is the purpose here, go for the shortest domain possible while maintaining your personal brand. I went for thvo.me (because it somewhat resembles my name) and registered it with my DNS provider DNSimple. While at it, I also registered some variants - but that’s just me, I can’t resist it.
Before going with a particular service, it’s crucial to have a look at the Twitter clients that you use. Some clients have built-in support for URL shortening services or some just use the native Twitter one. These are the Twitter clients I use on a daily basis:
Only the MetroTwit for desktop application supports custom URL shortening sadly, but when I post links to Twitter it’s usually from this client so I was ok with that. MetroTwit for desktop has support for a lot of services:
When I look at what other services I use to post links to Twitter, immediately TwitterFeed) came to my mind. Now I don’t really like TwitterFeed that much because it always has performance problems as far as I’m concerned. But it does what I want it to do: posting links for new blog articles to Twitter and LinkedIn. What is nice about TwitterFeed is that it is owned by bit.ly and supports its custom URL shortening mechanism so I went for that!
Next thing you have to do is register an account with bit.ly, head over to the Settings page and click the Advanced tab. Now I already have a custom domain configured so I can’t register another one. But basically it boils down to this:
- Tell bit.ly what domain you want to use
- Change your DNS configuration to point to bit.ly
- Let bit.ly verify the DNS configuration
- Configure bit.ly to use your domain name by default
A good step by step overview can be found on the bit.ly support site.
When you’re done, it looks like this - you can even redirect the root of your custom domain to your normal website if you want:
Once you’ve set it up it’s time to use it in your favorite Twitter client. First of all you need to get your API Key from bit.ly:
When you get your key, use it in your Twitter client like this:
That’s it - you’re done! Whenever you post a link to Twitter via this application, your URLs will be shortened with your own short domain name.
As a benefit, you now also see how many people clicked your links. Like this one, when Scott Hanselman decided to retweet one of my links: