Want to start a website or blog with a web host or a website builder? You’re going to need to register a domain name for that. A domain name is simply the web address for your website. It’s made up of the actual name and the extension like .com, .net and .org.
This guide will show you how to register a domain name. You’ll learn how to get a domain name at a domain name registrar, how to get a domain name at a webhost or a website builder and how to get a domain name for free.
While I strongly suggest you use a domain name registrar, it’s not the only option. So let’s get started with how to get a domain name:
First way: Use a domain name registrar
The first way and best way (from a cost perspective) is to get your domain names through a domain name registrar. There are so many advantages to doing this:
- You get a much lower price than you would at a webhost.
- Free whois protection is provided by some registrars.
- It’s easier to sell your domain name.
- You can switch your domain name to different service with ease.
Let’s say you start a website with Wix (a website builder) and come to find out you would prefer to use Bluehost and WordPress. Now you’re stuck paying high domain name fees to Wix while using a shared webhost. Spending more money than you need to with no benefit.
While there are a lot of domain name registrars out there, GoDaddy being the most popular. I personally use and recommend the 2nd most popular domain name registrar, Namecheap (see GoDaddy vs Namecheap for a comprehensive breakdown).
How to get a domain name a Namecheap
To get started, simply visit Namecheap.com.
Step 1: Search for your domain name using the search box on the Namecheap homepage.
Step 2: Once you find a domain that is available, add it to your cart, click the big red button that says view cart and checkout. You’ll need to create an account in order to purchase.
Step 3: Once you’ve finished creating an account, it’s time to confirm your order. Here you can choose how many years you want to register the domain name for:
Step 4: When your ready simply confirm your order and pay with a credit card, debit card or PayPal.
With your domain name purchase you get WHOIS guard for free. Per ICANN regulations you must have public contact information associated with any domain. WHOIS protection specifically keeps your contact details private.
That all there is too it. Once you want to use your domain name for any service like a web host or a website builder all you need to do is update the DNS settings for your domain name with the correct nameservers.
Second Way: Register at a webhost or a website builder
The second way to register a domain name is to get a domain through a webhost or through a website builder. There are a few benefits to registering directly through the platform you’re using:
- Easy and convenient integration.
- Some platforms offer a free domain name.
There are not many benefits to this second route other than you not needing to update nameservers and getting a massive discount for the first year. Regardless, if these benefits appeal to you then by all means get your domain name through a webhost or website builder.
Get a domain name for free?
Whenever you see a promotion for “free domain name” with purchase of a 1 year plan please note that it’s free for the first year only. After that you’re going to be paying an inflated price compared to what you would be paying through a domain name registrar and you may also need to pay for WHOIS protection.
But, if you’re set on getting that free domain for the first year my favorite current offers available are:
- Bluehost – The #1 recommended web host by WordPress.
- Hostinger – One of the best budget web host in the world.
- Squarespace – An industry leading website builder
How to get a free domain name with Bluehost.
Bluehost is the #1 recommended web host by WordPress. They offer a free domain for the first year with your purchase of a hosting account. After the first year, a .com domain name will renew at $17.99 a year with Bluehost.
To get started, you first need to go to Bluehost.com and select a hosting account you want to purchase.
We like the Plus and Choice Plus plans. The Plus plan is good for growing a website to around 800-1000 visitors a day while the Choice Plus is good for up to 2000 visitors a day.
Once you select any shared hosting account simply fill out the form that says “create a new domain.” This will register a domain name through Bluehost. Upon purchase, your hosting account will be setup with your domain name.
Once you select any shared hosting account simply fill out the form that says “create a new domain.” After the first year, you’ll need to pay Bluehost to renew your domain name.
Get a free domain name with Hostinger
Hostinger is our top budget web host. They offer some of the lowest prices around for web hosting. You can get a 4 year, shared hosting account for just .99 cents a month. They also offer a free domain name with a purchase of select hosting accounts. On top of this, their domain name renewal rate is $10.99, not $17.99 like Bluehost.
To get started with Hostinger is quick, easy and quite affordable. Simply visit Hostinger.com and select either their Premium Shared Hosting or their Business Hosting.
We like their “premium” shared hosting plan for new websites. On the next page you can select a hosting contract for 1 month, 1 year, 2 years or 4 years. We suggest getting a 4 year hosting plan. You save 78% and with our coupon code “webpro” you save an additional 10%.
Free domain name for the first year that renews at $10.99 and a 4 year hosting package for under $120 USD. Hostinger is the best budget web host available today.
Get a free domain name with Squarespace
Squarespace allows you to test out their website builder for free. When you decide to upgrade your account and purchase a plan, each plan comes with a “free custom domain” that you can use.
After the introduction you will be required to pay 20$ a year. You also get free WHOIS protection as well. So overall much more expensive than Namecheap long term, but a good value if you’re looking to try Squarespace out.
Advice for registering a domain name
When registering a domain name you want to pick something that is ideally a .com. Most register alternative domain extensions like .net or a .co because the .com version of their website is already registered.
If you can’t get the domain name you want consider using abbreviations, alternate spelling or adding devices onto the end of the domain name. Last, don’t infringe anyone’s copyright. If the .com you want is in use, you can’t just register the same domain with a different extension.
Here is some good rule to follow when registering a domain name:
- Try to get a domain name with a .com extension. When people register a .net or .org it’s almost always because the .com was taken.
- Go for a branded domain. FinanceNinja.com for example would be good for a finance website.
- Make it something easy, memorable, and repeatable.
- Don’t stress and agonize over this too much. Just get something good, it does not not have to be great.
What Are Premium Domain Names?
You can also buy a “premium” domain name if you like. A premium domain name is a domain that is (or has been) already registered by someone and has a lot of demand. For example, candy.com is a premium name. It’s specific and tens of thousands of people want it and will pay top dollar for it.
You can buy premium domains at any registrar, but don’t spend any more than a few hundred dollars (and only if you have some money to spend and the domain you want is premium).
Who should buy a domain name? Business should buy a premium domain name. Say you’ve registered the .co version of a website and built it out but were then able to buy the .com version at a premium price. If the price is right, this sort of scenario makes sense for spending a few hundred dollars on a domain name.
Can I get a “free” domain name then move it to Namecheap?
While you can get a free domain name for the first year at a web host, you must pay to transfer it away to a domain name registrar. So you technically could get a free domain name at Bluehost, then move it to Namecheap before the year is up.
The process of moving a domain name is called a domain name transfer and is not free. Namecheap currently charges $8.58 for a domain name transfer plus ICANN costs and tax.
Please note that you are not allowed to move a domain name if it is within 45 days of its renewal date.
How to register a domain name conclusion
Registering a domain name is a quick and easy process. I strongly suggest you manage your portfolio of domain names with one registrar.
You’ll typically get the best prices when compared to registering through a webhost and it makes the process of switching web hosts in the future less complicated.
While the cost savings may seem immaterial per domain. Once you start to have 20+ domain names it ends up being worth hundreds of dollars in savings.
David UtkeDavid Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 20k+ YouTube subscribers!
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