URL shorteners can make long URLs easy to deal with. But they can be used for so much more: bookmarks, audible ads, and links that change their destination.
3. Use your own URL for flexibility
There’s only one tiny problem. It seem some nefarious trickster has already created a TinyURL with the name bloomswithoutblood. So http://tinyurl.com/bloomswithoutblood already goes somewhere that isn’t Bernice’s book. This. Will. Not. Do.
The solution here is simple: use a URL shortener that doesn’t start with tinyurl.com. Some URL shortening services like https://tiny.cc allow you to connect your own custom domain to the shortening service. Then, instead of starting your short URLs with someone else’s domain, you can use your own short domain. Not only does that let you use any tag you want without fear of collision, but it also lets you choose a short URL that’s compatible with your brand.
For example, my own personal short URL is stever.me. If you go to http://stever.me/zombievideo you’ll be taken directly to the 5-minute promotional video for my Zombie musical. Bernice could put her shortened URLs at http://GreenGrowingThings.com/bloomswithoutblood.
4. Wordpress makes shorteners easy
If your web site is based on Wordpress, you don’t need an external service. There are a gazillion URL shortener plugins for Wordpress. Just go to Duck Duck Go (the search engine that doesn’t track you) and search for wordpress url shortener plugin. The one I use is Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin.
5. Write your own
Truthfully, creating a URL shortener is super-simple. It’s only a couple dozen lines of code, if that. I wrote one about 15 years ago. If you visit http://getitdoneguy.com/shorten, you can download a free copy of the code. It’s not pretty; I wrote it in Dreamweaver, which inserted a bunch of its own code that isn’t pretty. But a warning in advance: No, I won’t provide support. No, I won’t answer questions about it.
6. Use tiny URLs for bookmarks
You can use short URLs for more than just shortening affiliate links. You can create short URLs as bookmarks that work from any web browser. Let’s say you’re absolutely fascinated by how complex systems work and how to change them. And my you, I mean me. There’s an amazing article called Places to Intervene in a System by Donella Meadows. But of course the URL is unbelievably long and impossible to remember. But a short URL solves the problem! Just type in http://stever.me/systems and the PDF pops right up. If you care about policy and the levers policy can use to change the world, check it out. It’s the best article on the topic I’ve ever read.
You can also use short URLs that take you directly to a Google Doc or Google Drive folder. Or a shared Dropbox folder. Or a videoconference room you use often. Or the dashboard for any online groups that you manage. Any long, complicated URL you use on a regular basis can be bookmarked easily using a short URL.