Since you are reading this post, I assume you either have a website and use a free sub-domain or you don't have a website at all and plan on getting one. This article (which is the first of a series) will provide information on the first step - how to get a domain name.
What is a domain name?
First things first, What exactly is a domain name?, is a question you might ask. Simply put, it's a name (of your choosing, of course) which you register and link to your website files for people to easily find such website files eg. imageazy.com.
Analogy: A baby is born... The baby is given a name... People call the child's name in order to get its attention.
A domain name is also known as a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) which pretty much means it helps people locate your website resources (website files).
Importance of a Domain Name
If you already have a website or blog that allows you a free sub-domain like example.wordpress.com or such, you're probably thinking, "Why do I need to BUY a domain name?" Well, truth is if you are just dabbling with a casual hobby, then you probably don't need a domain name. BUT if you are looking to grow a brand (either business or pleasure... uhm! I mean personal), then you have got to have a domain name of your own for the following reasons.
- It makes your brand more easy to find online, especially if you choose a suitable domain name. I mean if I told you my brand name is Imageazy, wouldn't it be easier for you to look up imageazy.com than imageazy.wordpress.com?
- It gives your brand more credibility because people and companies have less respect for a brand that uses a FREE sub-domain.
- If you ever move your website from one web host to another, you won't have to change domain name. This means that clients can still reach you with the same domain name wherever your site might be (hence the name URL).
- If you're looking to get advertisers for your brand then a domain name is great for sponsorship. Face it. No one is willing to give money to somebody who won't even spend a little on a domain name.
- If you plan on getting a website but don't feel it's necessary just yet, you can (and should) still get the domain name now. You can always pay for hosting and web design when you're ready. Better sooner than later.
- Getting a domain name is also the first step to getting custom email(s) for you brand, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. In fact, Google's listing service Google My Business and online office suite G-Suite recommend having your own domain name.
Now here's the part where you pay close attention because I will say this only once.
Getting a domain name is actually very very easy. It really isn't as hard as a lot of people think.
All you have to do is pick a name and have it registered with a registrar. The hard part is actually choosing an appropriate and unique domain name for your brand. Once you've figured that part out and find it available, the rest is as easy as shopping online. Unfortunately, I can't give detailed step-by-step instructions because there are more than a few registrars out there (and I will list a few afterwards) and their prices vary from about $10 to $35 depending on the extension you might choose (.com, .ng, etc) and add-on services selected. Here's a list of basic things you will need to do.
- First think up a good domain name if you haven't already. Write down a few extra variations just in case your first choice is taken.
- Next, you need to sign up with a registrar. Signing up is always straight forward and provides the registrar with the information they need to register your domain in your name. It also provides them with contact information with which they can notify you of due invoices - so be sure to provide an email you check regularly.
- After signing up, you can go ahead and check for the availability of your domain name.
- If available, you can go ahead and purchase it like buying any other item online. Some options will be provided like buying different extensions (eg. .com, .ng, .biz, .edu, .org, etc). Or extra add-on services like feature to protect your contact info from spammers.
- Once you've selected all you need and your bill has been summed up, proceed to check out and make your payment.
- Payment is usually made electronically. Some companies (like Whogohost) provide bank details that you can make deposits to. That was info for paranoid users who still refuse to make online transactions.
- While purchasing a domain name, you could also go ahead and purchase hosting package if your budget allows it. Or if you already have web hosting somewhere else, you can request for their name servers which can be used to point your new domain name to your website.
- If you don't already have a free website, you can still just let the registrar company park your domain for you (some even prepare a "website under construction" or "coming soon" page for you).
Some Domain Name Registrars
There are numerous domain name registrars. Listed below are just a few, along with some comments. Note that the domain name industry is highly competitive. Prices arebwildly fluctuating throughout the year, every year, so it's impossible to really mention accurate prices below. Please check their sites for the latest rates. All prices below are in US dollars.
This extremely popular registrar (probably the biggest today) offers .com domain names for about $10 per year. They have a web interface to manage your domains, free web redirection, free starter web page, free parked page or free "for sale" page. You also get an optional private domain registration where your domain is registered in the name of a proxy company. Besides .com, they also sell .us, .biz, .info, .net, .org, .ws, .name, .tv, .co.uk, .me.uk and .org.uk, etc. Note that (as with all registrars) the exact price varies depending on which domain name or extension you are registering. Both credit card and PayPal payments are accepted.
This is primarily a large web host that is also a domain name registrar. Like all registrars, there are different charges for different domain suffixes. The fee includes private domain registration. You also get a free email account and unlimited email forwarding, DNS management, a free SSL certificate for your domain, etc. This registrar accepts both PayPal and Credit card payments.
This company provides .com domains for about $11 per year. Along with your domain, you get free email forwarding, free web redirection, free domain name parking, etc. They have a wide variety of domain name extensions available, including .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us, .co.uk, .co, .de, etc. You can use either a credit card or PayPal for your purchases.
This registrar provides fairly cheap domain prices ($15.75 plus 20 cents per domain), a convenient web interface to manage your domains, an optional privacy facility where your domain name is registered in the name of a proxy company, etc. They offer .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us, .ca, .tv, .name, .cc, .de, .sr, .md, .co.uk, .us.com domains, etc. If you're transferring a domain here from other registrars, the price is even cheaper ($6.99 plus 20 cents). Both credit card and PayPal payments are accepted here.
This last registrar isn't as big as the others. It is based in Nigeria and I'm mentioning it for the sake of Nigerians that might be reading this post. If you do decide to purchase hosting along with your domain name and your budget is really tight, you can try Whogohost. They have packages that are suitable for a small and growing Nigerian business. In addition to the popular domain extensions, they also register .ng extensions with a number of other services that would help a business grow online.
In addition, as mentioned earlier, a number of commercial web hosts will give you a free domain name if you are hosting with them. Many of the registrars above will also do this.
Once you get started getting your own domain name, you will very likely wonder why you hadn't done it since. I have experienced situations where a domain name was available one week and taken the next week. If that dream domain name of yours is that unique and specific for you, it's better to pay that tiny annual fee (about $10) than to have to buy it for at least 10 - 20 times that from someone who went and bought it before you.
Once you have it and wonder what you can do next with it, you can read my post 5 Things You Need Before You Start Your Web Design Project to get some more info on what to do next. Until then, thank you for reading and if you have any questions, be sure to drop a comment. If your question is more personal, click here to send a message.
And don't forget to share with your friends.