Everything You Need to Know About Registering a Domain Name For Your Blog

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Everything You Need to Know About Registering a Domain Name For Your Blog

Make money and change lives blogging about something you love.

In my last post, I walked you through absolutely everything you need to think about, know and do in order to find the perfect name for your blog.

In this post, we'll talk about everything that you need to do in order to make that name officially yours!

This post is part of my How To Start a Blog series which includes step-by-step photo and video tutorials on all aspects of setting up a brand new self-hosted WordPress blog.

Blog to Biz Strategies | Everything You Need To Know About Registering Your Domain Name

 

You’ve found the perfect name for your blog!  What comes next?

The next step is to make it yours by “registering” it.  This process is officially called registering a domain name.

You can think of it like renting. As long as you pay your monthly fee the domain name is yours to use. The minute you stop paying, you lose “ownership” of that domain.

In this post, I’m going to go over all the things that you need to think about when registering a domain name for your blog.

I’ll then walk you through how to register your domain name, step-by-step.

What Is A Domain Name?

A domain name is your blog’s official address on the web.

It’s a part of your URL. Now your URL is what someone would type into the browser bar of their web browser to find you (ie. Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari).

In simple terms, if you think of your blog as your online house, your domain would be your address.

The Difference Between a Domain And A URL

Just as an aside, your domain and URL are slightly different.

Your domain is yourblogname.com, and it’s a part of your URL.

So your URL would be http:// or https:// followed by yourblogname.com (with or without www.).

For example, your URL could be https://yourblogname.com, http://yourblogname.com, https://www.yourblogname.com or http://www.yourblogname.com.

In the picture below you can see that I am on Google Chrome and in the browser bar I have typed the URL for this blog.

Blog to Biz Strategies | Example of Using a URL

The Parts Of A Domain Name

Your domain name consists of two parts. Your blog name + your domain extension. And it looks something like this: yourblogname.com.

The “.com” is the domain extension. And there hundreds of them to choose from.

You’ll also hear the domain extension referred to as a top-level domain (TLD).

Every single domain is unique. So no two blogs or websites could have the exact same domain name or URL.

This is important to understand. While two blogs can have the exact same BLOG NAME, they can’t have the same domain name.

How is that possible? It all comes down to the domain extension.

Let’s say two bloggers fall in love with the blog name Sunny Side Up.  One blogger could register that blog name under the domain sunnysideup.com whereas another blogger could register that name under the domain sunnysideup.net.

Each of those addresses will take you to a different place on the web.

Which Domain Extension (TLD) should You Choose For Your Blog?

There are three different categories of top-level domains.

Generic Top-Level Domains

These are some of the most common domain extensions that you’ll find. They include .com, .net, .biz, .info, .org etc.

These are domain extensions designed for and usually limited to specific groups, such as colleges/universities (.edu), military (.mil) or government organizations (.gov).

Country Specific Top-Level Domains

Country-specific TLDs are domain extensions typically reserved for use within that blogger’s country. For example: .ca for Canada or .us for the United States. You usually have to prove residency by providing your mailing address in order to purchase a country-specific domain.

How To Decide on A Domain Extension?

When it comes to choosing a domain extension for your blog, do whatever you can to get the .com extension. Even if it means choosing your second choice name over your first choice one.

Why?

A .com Domain Extension Is the Most Popular & Widely Recognized

Close to 50% of websites (including blogs) are .com websites. It’s the go-to extension for nearly all major brands.

Below you can see a graph from the Statista website (link above) that demonstrates the popularity of .com domains as compared to a few other domain extensions.

Blog to Biz Strategies | Statista Bar Graph

Big brands see .com as being so important that they are willing to pay thousands if not millions of dollars to secure the .com domain that they want.

That just tells you how highly .com is valued over every other domain extension.

Most People Will Assume Your Domain Name Ends In .com

Because of the incredible popularity of .com domains, most people naturally assume that a blog or biz’s website is their name followed by .com.

Why does that matter? Because a domain other than .com could end up leading to lost traffic.

Imagine that your blog name is Sunny Side Up (from our previous example) but your domain extension is sunnysideup.net.

Now let’s say someone remembers hearing about your blog but doesn’t remember your URL. When they look you up, if their natural assumption is that you are a .com blog, they’ll look for you by typing sunnysideup.com.

Which will land them right to your potential competitor’s blog.

What If The Domain Extension I Want Is Taken?

If the .com domain for your preferred blog name is taken, do a little research before you completely write it off.

Whenever I am looking for a .com domain and it shows as being taken, the first thing I do is to go to that domain and see what I find.

You see, there are people and companies who buy domains either to “save it” for a future business idea or to resell it for a profit.

So if I see that a .com domain I am interested in is “parked” – in other words, there is no blog or website there, then the next thing I do is search the trademark registry (https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/search-trademark-database).

I just do a basic word mark search of the blog name I am interested in to see if there are any “live” trademarks (ie. in use).

If there is no trademark registered, then and ONLY then will I consider registering my blog under a different domain extension.

If on the other hand, I see an active blog and/or an active trademark under the .com name I want, then I will go back to the drawing board and look for another blog name.

Options For Registering Your Domain Name

There are two different ways you could go about registering your domain name.

The first way is to register your domain when you sign up for web hosting. Pretty much all web hosting providers will give you the option to register a domain name. Sometimes it’s free with hosting. Other times you pay for it. So if you opt to go this route, make sure you double check.

The second way to register your domain is through a domain registrar. A domain registrar is a company that manages the registration of domain names.

All domain name registrars are accreditated by an organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICANN is a non-profit organization responsible for managing domain names.

What’s the difference between a Domain Registrar and a Web Host?

We’ve already talked about what a domain is – the address people use to get to your blog.

But having a domain is only half the equation.

The other half is where your blog is going to live online.

That is your web host.

Your web host is the company that actually stores your blog’s files (everything that makes it a blog).

Basically, your blog lives on a web host’s servers. You then tell your domain to point to your blog (on those servers) when someone types your URL into the browser bar.

A domain registrar deals primarily with domains. Some domain registrars deal ONLY with domains. Other domain registrars will also offer additional services including web hosting (like GoDaddy).

A web hosting company’s top focus is offering web hosting, but they also allow you to register domain names. Usually though, they will not have as many domain extension options as a company that is a domain registrar first and foremost.

So how do you decide which way to go?

As a blogging & online biz coach, my personal recommendation is that you keep your domain and your web hosting separate.

In other words, go with a domain registrar for your domain. Use a web hosting company for your blog hosting.

Now I’m sure the first thought that popped into your head is why on earth would you want to do that. Why go through the hassle of buying from two different places?

I know it may seem like a pain, but in the long run, it’s better.  So let’s talk about why.

Why You Should Avoid Buying Your Domain & Hosting From The Same Place

There are two big reasons to keep your domain and your hosting separate.

It’s Easier To Manage

Let’s say you get mad at your web host (which happens more often than you think). And you decide that you want to move your blog to another web host.

Not only do you have to deal with the hassle of moving your blog – you also have to deal with the hassle of transferring your domain name.

Domain name transfers can be time-consuming and confusing. Not to mention that domain names are usually locked for the first 60 days after purchase. So if you want to change web hosts within the first 60 days, you’re out of luck. You’ll have to wait.

By keeping your domain separate from your web host, if you ever decide to switch, all you have to do is point your domain to your new web host.

For Added Security

Hacking is a very real and very present danger for bloggers.

Let’s say your blog gets hacked. Not only can the hackers destroy your blog, but if your blog and hosting are in the same place, they can even transfer your domain away from the web host and take it over.

If that happens it’s a real nightmare to try and get it back. That’s because it’s on you to prove that the domain is actually yours.

The other way that bloggers lose their domain is if their web hosting AND domain name expire on the same day (which they would if you did both with a web hosting company).

Maybe your payment bounces and you didn’t realize it. Perhaps your credit card expired and you’ve been busy and didn’t realize it.

Once your domain expires it’s on the market again and can be quickly snatched up by someone else.

Don’t Take Chances With Your Domain Name

The bottom line is, you’ve worked hard to find the perfect blog name. Don’t take any chances with it.

Use a domain registrar for your domain name and a web hosting provider for your hosting and you won’t have to sweat it.

When Should You Register Your Domain Name?

Tens of thousands of new domains are registered each and every day. That means that even as you read this post, new domain names are being registered.

So once you’ve found your perfect blog name – you’ve gotta act fast before you lose it. Even if you’re not ready to start your blog.

That is actually why so many bloggers and online entrepreneurs own multiple domain names.

I myself own close to 40 domain names. Why? I come up with an idea and I register the domain just in case I decide to pursue it. If after year that idea is still on the table, I renew the domain. If not, I let it expire.

Domain names are pretty cheap and you can register them just for a year.  If you decide to go forward with your idea you’re covered, if not, or you come up with a name you like better, you can let it expire.

Sometimes I’ll even buy multiple versions of a domain name. For example – I own blogtobizstrategies.com and I also own blogtobizstrategy.com.  Why? To protect myself.

Blog to Biz Strategy is close enough to Blog to Biz Strategies that I wouldn’t want a competitor setting themselves up under that name.

What I then do is something called domain forwarding so that if someone types in blogtobizstrategy.com it re-directs to my Blog To Biz Strategies blog.

How Much Does A Domain Name Cost?

The typical cost for a .com domain name is about $14.99 a year.  Many domain registrars will offer you a discounted rate for the first year if you register your domain for 2 or more years.

If you opt for a different domain extension, the cost will be different. And what it is will depend on the extension.

You’ve already read the reasons I strongly recommend that you look for a .com domain.

But, if you opt not to take that advice, then please pay attention to both the up-front price and the renewal price.

For example, I’ve seen .co domains sell for as cheap as $2.99 for the first year, but then they are $50+ a year on renewal.  In fact, most of the fun and unique domain extensions have a pretty hefty annual renewal cost.

How To Choose A Domain Name Registrar

There are several things to think about when choosing a domain name registrar.

Look At First-Time & Renewal Pricing

As I mentioned above, it’s important that you take a careful look at the price of your domain name BEFORE you buy it.

For example, in a lot of cases, you’ll see a special price for the first year of your domain registration but only if you register it for 2 or more years. So that’s the first thing to check.

The second thing is to check the renewal price. As  I said, often you pay a lower price for the first year, than the following years – so always check the renewal price.

Check Out Their Domain Transfer Policy

As with web hosts, you can move your domain from one domain registrar to another.

Now, this isn’t all that usual, but it can happen if for some reason you decide that you are not happy with your domain registrar. So you want to make sure that if that ever becomes the case, you can do it without having to jump through a bunch of hoops.

As I mentioned earlier, you will not be able to transfer a domain within the first 60 days of registering it. That’s ICANN policy.

After that, you should be able to.

Now, most domain registrars make it easy to transfer domain names without any extra fees. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes there’s an extra fee or a bunch of steps you have to go through.

So make sure you take the time to review the domain transfer policy of the domain registrat you are considering before you register your domain.

Expired Domains Policy

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the fact that technically you don’t actually own a domain. It’s not a one time fee and it’s forever yours.

It’s more like a domain rental. As long as you pay the annual fee, it’s yours. If you don’t, you lose it.

What often happens is that there are companies that wait on the sidelines to grab expired domain names.

Some domain registrars will give you a grace period after your domain expires. Others won’t. So always check to see what the expired domains policy is before you register a domain with a new domain registrar.

Recommended Domain Registrars

There are a lot of different places from which you can purchase your domain name.

Two of the most well-known and highly recommended are GoDaddy and NameCheap.

Although both are domain registrars, they also offer web hosting. Just remember, I don’t recommend you buy your domain and hosting from the same company.

There are pros and cons to both GoDaddy and NameCheap, but both are generally considered to be good places to purchase your domain.

My personal preference is GoDaddy. I bought my first domain from them over 10 years ago and have never looked back. I own close to 40 domains right now and have NEVER had an issue with them. In fact, I find their customer service to be phenomenal.

What I personally like is that GoDaddy allows me to purchase my domain in my country currency (Canada) whereas with Namecheap it only bills in USD.

In the next section, I’m going to walk you through how to register a domain name on GoDaddy.  If you opt to go with NameCheap, the process should be fairly similar.

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Register Your Domain

In this section, I’m going to show you exactly how to register your domain name with GoDaddy.

Step. 1. Go To GoDaddy.com

When you go to the GoDaddy home page for this first time it will be set to the United States.

Blog to Biz Strategies | Go Daddy US Home PageStep 2. Choose Your Country

Click on the dropdown arrow beside the little globe icon (top left beside GoDaddy logo). You’ll see a dropdown screen listing their various country options. To pay in your country currency, choose your country. If they don’t have yours then leave it at the US default (you’ll be billed in USD).

Blog to Biz Strategies | GoDaddy Country Selection

Step 3. Enter The Domain You Are Interested In Registering

On the home page of GoDaddy, input the domain you are interested in registering (see the arrow in the image below) and click on the search domain button.

Blog to Biz Strategies | Domain Search

Make sure you enter the domain name (with no spaces) followed by .com.

Blog to Biz Strategies | Domain Search Sample

Step 4. Check Your Domain Availability From the Search Results

Once you click the “search domain” button you’ll be redirected to a search screen that displays your results.

Blog to Biz Strategies | GoDaddy Sample Search Results

You can see from the picture above that my domain is available in .com. When the domain is taken, there is a message that actually says  “sorry the .com domain is taken.”

A bit further down the page you’ll notice that there are domain alternatives. So domains with different extensions. Sometimes they’ll even give you suggestions with slightly different wording.

The other thing I want you to note is the price. It’s $2.99 CAN for the first year but ONLY if I register for 2 years. And the second year is $24.99 (you see that number crossed out).

Step 5. Select Your Domain & Add To Cart

To select the domain, click on add to cart. Your domain will then be added to the cart, but you’ll still be on the domain selection page. If you are only buying one domain, you would then click “continue to cart.”

Blog to Biz Strategies | GoDaddy Domain Added To Cart Screenshot

Step 6. Select The Domain Options You Want

It’s super important to pay attention to this step. Particularly the two areas I have highlighted with red arrows.

By default, GoDaddy will add Privacy. Here in Canada, the cost of privacy is $9.99 CAD. What this does is keep your email and mailing address private. Otherwise, anyone can look up your domain and get your info.

It’s totally up to you whether you choose to pay the extra for privacy. If you decide that you are okay with your info being public, then uncheck that option.

Because I tend to buy a lot of domains (I have lots of ideas LOL) I don’t always choose privacy. Inevitably I always end up with spammy emails from people offering me every web service under the sun.

The other thing to make note of is that by default they check the option to start your website for free. That’s because they want to encourage you to host with them. I always uncheck that option.

Everything else on that page should be automatically set to no (but double check).

At the bottom of the page you then click “continue to cart.”

Blog to Biz Strategies | Go Daddy Cart Options

Step 7. Review Your Cart Details

If you don’t have a Go Daddy Account you are going to be prompted to create an account. You will be required to create a username, & password and enter your email address.

Before you do, just make sure you decided on how many years you want to register your domain for. As you can see the default is 2 years. If you only want to register for a year you can adjust that using the drop-down arrow.

Blog To Biz Strategies | GoDaddy Cart Check Out ScreenshotAfter you create your login information, you’ll need to fill in your billing address. From there you’ll be directed through completing your payment.

Blog to Biz Strategies | GoDaddy Billing Info

Once you’ve completed your payment and your order is completed, your domain is yours and ready to use!

Next Steps

Now that you’ve got your domain registered and your perfect blog name is yours, the next step is to choose a web hosting provider and get your web hosting account set up.  I’ll talk about that in my next post!

Blog to Biz Strategies | How To Register Your Domain Name

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