Skip to content

How to create your own URL shortener: Hosted or subscription, here’s what you need to know


If you follow TNW on social media sites like TwitterGoogle+ or Facebook, you’ll have noticed that rather than use the full, ugly ol’ URL found in the address bar, we use a nice friendly shortened one like If you don’t follow us in these places, what are you waiting for? Do it now! Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you to come back before continuing.

Right, all done?

Good, now it’s time to check out some of the best and easiest ways of setting up your own URL shortener so that your links can look as professional as the best of them. Now that all URLs posted to Twitter take up either 22 or 23 charactersregardless of their actual length, the main point of a URL shortener is to make the links in your tweets and other social media postings look neater and bestow an air of professionalism upon them.

Other benefits to having your own custom short URL are things like consistent branding and increased link trust – no one likes clicking on random links, so knowing it comes from a trusted source goes a long way towards increasing the likelihood that users might engage with it.

If you’re looking for help in finding the perfect domain name, look no further than here for some tips. Now, onto the tools to actually manage the automatic shortening of the URLs you share.

Host or subscribe?

If you’re searching for ways to shorten your own URLs to something more palatable for sharing across social media then you’ll likely have come across a lot of information about buying your own custom URL and then setting up your own service on that. However, while this is a good way to keep full control over your URL shortening needs,it is a little bit more complicated than some of the other alternatives available nowadays, it’s probably also overkill for a less-frequent user.

If you do want to go on the host your own route, then there’s some short instructions about that at the bottom.


Usually somewhere near the top of many article recommendations for creating custom shortened URLs is Bitly.

Bitly How to create your own URL shortener: Hosted or subscription, heres what you need to know

You’ll still need that custom URL like to shorten it to, but you won’t be burdened with the need to actually make sure the service is always up and running and take care of the hosting side of things. That said, you’ll need to make a few DNS changes to ensure the URL you’ve purchased works.

While that’s obviously a bit simpler if you’re looking for a straightforward setup, it also brings the benefit of a full suite of analytics to help you make sense of the best time to post, what your social viewers engage with most and a host of other data to help you hone your content.

Surprisingly perhaps, Bitly’s service is free for a single domain, although there is an enterprise edition for multiple domains and more advanced analytics.

➤ Bitly

awesm How to create your own URL shortener: Hosted or subscription, heres what you need to know

If you’re looking for something altogether more fully-featured than Bitly, but that can also provide you with that custom shortened URL domain, could be worth checking out.

Rather than simply providing metrics around your content, also allows for tracking of how social activity relates to a company’s KPIs. It also claims to be able to define multiple outcomes to track for each post, and attribute each conversion to the specific social post that caused it. Smart.

Priced at $99 per month, this is one for the pro social media users



ShortSwitch stats How to create your own URL shortener: Hosted or subscription, heres what you need to know

ShortSwitch is a slightly lower cost service than, but provides some of the same basic service – meaning link shortening with the custom short URL of your choice and an option to integrate with Google Analytics, as well as providing its own reporting on your most popular social updates.

Setting up the DNS redirect should be a little more straight forward than Bitly’s, simply enter the URL details in the box provided and wait for the redirect to take effect.

As each account is given its own namespace, all tags for links are freely available too. For example, you can have a URL that reads where ‘home’ is the custom token.

ShortSwitch also provides paying users with features like API support for integration into apps, customizable interstitial pages prior to the redirect, customizable toolbars for the destination page and support for multiple users of the same account.

Pricing for the basic service costs $10 per month and is limited to 1,000 links per month, 10 users, 100,000 redirects, a custom homepage redirect and toolbar/interstitial support.

Bump that up to the $50 per month premium package and you’ll get up to 100,000 links per month, 1,000,000 redirects and support for 50 users as well as the other tools.

➤ ShortSwitch


Droplr How to create your own URL shortener: Hosted or subscription, heres what you need to know

While Droplr is primarily a cloud sharing app for things like videos, pictures or any other type of file, it can also be used as a custom URL shortener too.

To get it set up will require a Droplr Pro account ($5.99 per month or $59.99 per year) and minimal messing around with technical settings. Simply (via your registrar’s domain control panel) instruct your domain to point at Droplr’s servers by changing the A-record to, then sit back and wait up to 72 hours for the changes to take effect. Once they have, just log into your Droplr control panel and change the Custom Domain setting to match your new domain.

Upgrading from the free to paid-for Droplr account also provides you with some feedback in the form of a dashboard and statistics, but it’s obviously not quite as fully-featured as the more expensive options here. CloudApp is another service that can be used in this way to achieve a similar result.

➤ Droplr  [HootSuite]

add vanity url Owly How to create your own URL shortener: Hosted or subscription, heres what you need to know

If you’re like our very own social media maestro Matt Navarra, you’ll like managing all (or as many as possible) of your social-related tasks from one place.

Handily then, if you’re a HootSuite user you can use to shorten your links to a custom domain name, simply by enabling the ‘Vanity URL’ option present in Pro (from $8.99 per month) and Enterprise (pricing on request) accounts and then creating an organization. After that you simply need to instruct your registrar to point the DNS A record to and choose a few settings in the Hootsuite dashboard associated with your vanity URL. When the changes have all processed correctly, you should receive an email.

You then can simply use HootSuite in conjunction with your custom URL et voila!



BUDurl Dashboard How to create your own URL shortener: Hosted or subscription, heres what you need to know

If you want more of an emphasis on the marketing side of things as well as simple link shortening, BudURL is another contender to consider.

As well as allowing you to create custom URLs for your site, it’ll also provide detailed information about the users engaging with your updates ranging from a general performance overview to a detailed link-by-link basis, should you so wish. There’s also a neat real-time interaction feature worth checking out.

However, BudURL goes beyond mere statistics and offers up tools for full campaign management ranging from QR code support to custom links for mobile landing pages.

BudURL has a range of plans from its Solo offering (which includes support for one custom URL among other features) at $24 per month up to its Agency plan priced at $249 per month.

➤ BudURL

A different way… Host your own

Those are just a few of the services available today, at a range of prices, to get you up and running with your own custom URL shortening service. However, if you’re more technically-minded and are happy to take on the challenge of hosting a service yourself, then you simply need to (as with all the examples above) secure your own domain name which is probably the hardest/most fun part of the process anyway.

It’s worth bearing in mind though that domains for different countries cost different amounts, for example, if you wanted to register a domain in Puerto Rico (.pr) like for your business then it would cost you $1,400.

Your next step (which you know already, being technically-minded) is to choose a hosting service  – dedicated or shared is up to you, but if you plan on letting other people use it too, you’ll probably want a dedicated server but again, worth keeping in mind that this is the more expensive option.

All you have to do after that is install your PHP URL shortening scripts via a service like YOURLS or PHURL – both of which are open-source and therefore free to set up.

YOURLS is probably one of the most widely used shortening scripts for users looking to get custom vanity short domains on their own terms. It also has the benefit of still providing some of the analytics and link-tracking goodness.

YOURLS example How to create your own URL shortener: Hosted or subscription, heres what you need to knowIf we’ve missed your favorite off this list, let us know in the comments below and we’ll take a look at it. If it’s any good, we’ll add it in.

Source: TheNextWeb


  1. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

  2. I do trust all the concepts you have presented in your post. They’re really convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very short for novices. May you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  3. Actually when someone doesn’t understand after that its up to other viewers that they will assist, so here it happens.

  4. You actually make it appear really easy together with your presentation but I to find this matter to be really one thing which I feel I would never understand. It kind of feels too complex and very extensive for me. I am having a look forward in your subsequent submit, I’ll attempt to get the cling of it!

  5. Fantastic beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a applicable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided vibrant clear idea

  6. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all folks you really understand what you’re talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also seek advice from my web site =). We can have a link exchange contract among us

  7. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your article seem to be running off the screen in Safari. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The design and style look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Many thanks

  8. I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else experiencing issues with your website. It appears like some of the text on your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too? This might be a issue with my browser because I’ve had this happen before. Thank you

  9. Thanks , I have recently been searching for information approximately this subject for a long time and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now. However, what about the bottom line? Are you sure concerning the supply?

  10. Thanks designed for sharing such a good opinion, paragraph is fastidious, thats why i have read it completely

  11. Hey there! I’ve been following your website for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great work!

  12. Wow, this piece of writing is pleasant, my sister is analyzing these kinds of things, so I am going to let know her.

  13. If you are going for most excellent contents like me, simply pay a quick visit this site everyday since it offers feature contents, thanks

  14. I think this is among the most important info for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things, The website style is ideal, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers

  15. I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I’ve got you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…

  16. Every weekend i used to visit this web page, as i wish for enjoyment, as this this website conations actually nice funny material too.

  17. Actually when someone doesn’t be aware of afterward its up to other visitors that they will help, so here it happens.

  18. I usually do not drop many remarks, but i did a few searching and wound up here How to create your own URL shortener: Hosted or subscription, here’s what you need to know . And I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be simply me or does it look as if like some of these remarks look like written by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing at additional sites, I’d like to follow everything fresh you have to post. Would you make a list of all of all your shared sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  19. I’m really impressed together with your writing skills as well as with the format in your weblog. Is this a paid subject or did you modify it yourself? Anyway stay up the nice quality writing, it is rare to peer a nice weblog like this one today..

  20. Thank you for the good writeup. It in truth used to be a entertainment account it. Glance complicated to far brought agreeable from you! However, how can we be in contact?

  21. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: