Custom URL Shortener

For those who use services like BitLy or TinyURL.

Do you think it’s worth the $29 to be able to use a custom domain name?

Is it better to try (attempt) setting up my own custom solution?

Unless you have a social presence that you want associated with a particular branding, I wouldn’t bother. URLs flash past users so fast, and mainly are ignored when clicked. A custom URL is a vanity plate for web users.

I actually did setup my own custom solution.

Getting it all setup was easy enough. It took me 8 hours of work to write it from scratch and deploy it to my server.

However it’s probably just as cost effective to, and much simpler to pay the money.

To do URL shortening you need a server to receive the request, and handle the redirecting, and some persistent storage, to store the mappings between the short urls and the full urls. Otherwise you could just have a server that calculates a hash for full urls then you don’t need the storage, but you have less control over the produced urls.

Unless you build your own as learning exercise/ fun project. I would recommend not building your own, maintaining a web server sucks, you have to keep it patched, you have to keep it up, you have to deal with ssl carts…

FYI I create my shortened URLs using Short Menu for Mac ($5.99) and iOS (free). It lets you choose from the main URL shorteners and use your accounts to get stats (I mainly use Bitly, but also have the menubar app configured to use my Droplr and CloudApp accounts if desired) as well as custom URLs if you like.

You can opt to use URLs for sites with their own native shorteners, (eg links for Amazon, for Washington Post links). And with a $1.99 IAP you can automatically append tokens and campaigns to Amazon URLs before shortening.

Personally I never felt the need to create custom-domain shortened URLs as long as I can get stats from sources that already to that job.

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If you have a Wordpress blog, one option is the Pretty Links plugin. Pricing is $49/year for one site.

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