Getting a domain name for your new website might seem like a daunting task. The good news is that you can do it on your own very easily. In the next paragraphs I will try to walk you through the simple process of getting a domain name with tips on how to save money while doing it.
Pick the right name
It’s important to spend some time thinking about the name that you want. If you have a brick and mortar store you should try to register your store name if it’s available. The name you pick should be easy to remember and relevant to what your site is going to be about.
It is best to pic a .com extension for your domain name. While other less popular extensions might be less expensive, a .com is worth the few additional dollars. The only exceptions to this rules are when you are going to have a country-specific site which will benefit from having a country specific extension or if you are creating a site for a non-profit organization, in which case a .org might be more appropriate.
Choose the right registrar
A registrar is the company you are going to register your domain name with. You should choose a company that is reputable and offers good prices. Most registrars offer discounts for the registration of new domain names and for the transfer of domain names from other registrar. Before you settle on a registrar, check to see if they have coupons available.
While the cost for the first year registration might be discounted, most registrars will charge you full price each subsequent year when you renew your domain name with them. This is important to keep in mind especially if you had chosen an extension with a deep discount for the first year. Pay close extension to the renewal price if you plan on keeping your website running long term.
Get your domain name for free when you buy hosting
If you are registering a domain name for the first time, it is very likely that you do not have hosting for your site yet. If you site is being created specifically for you by a designer, chances are she/he asked you to get hosting.
Most registrars also offer hosting. It is therefore convenient for you to shop for everything at once. You still want to check for coupons and discounts while keeping an eye on the cost of renewal. The discount on the first year of hosting can be significant but you might get a surprise next year when you are hit with the actual price. It is therefore even more important to make sure that the cost of hosting will still fit your budget one year later.
Some registrars offer a free domain name when you purchase a hosting package with them. This might be a good deal, provided that they are not already overcharging you for hosting.
Consider your privacy options
When you register a domain name, your name, business address and contact information are attached to that name and made publically available unless you buy some sort of privacy protection. Even if you don’t mind having this information published online you might still want to get privacy protection to prevent spammers from using your information to send you spam and phishing emails. Privacy protection is sometimes called private registration, there is actually not standard name for it but registrar typically offer it to you when you register a domain name with them.
Beware of all the additional offers that some registrars put in front of you as you try to get a domain name and hosting. Sometimes they will put many additional items on the screen in intermediate steps before you check out and it might seem that you need these items. But be careful because most of the time you don’t need them and they will significantly add to your cost. Keep in mind that if you were to need any of these things you can always come back and purchase them later.
Double check with your web designer
You should double check with your web designer to make sure that you don’t need anything out of the ordinary for your site to work. Depending on what type of site you are creating, there is a small chance that you might need some special features that your registrar may not provide in a basic hosting package.
Security features might also require that you buy additional items. This might be the case with an ecommerce site for example. You web designer/developer is certainly the best person to tell you exactly why you need for your site. Most registrar can also give you advice on this so don’t hesitate to contact their customer service. This also gives you the opportunity to test how good their customer service is before you become a customer.
Keep your options open
I don’t recommend getting a multi-year package if it’s your first time doing business with a registrar. The reason for this is because at this point you don’t know how good or bad they are. It’s safer to buy a single year hosting package. The domain names allows for more flexibility as you can transfer your domain name to another registrar for a small fee without loosing the years you’ve already paid for. You cannot however transfer your hosting from one registrar to another. This being said, you can get a refund on your hosting if you cancel within a certain period. If the host is really bad and you are able to find that out very early on, do not hesitate to cancel and ask for your money back and move your business elsewhere.
In the case of a cancellation you need to be aware that if you got your domain name for free, that domain name is still registered under your name with the registrar and if you want to move it to another host, it will come with a fee. Be sure to find out how much it will cost you to transfer a domain name out. It is likely that the original registrar will ask you to pay back to full price of the initial registration.
The two registers that I use
Namecheap offers free privacy protection with new domain names.