In this part of the Cost of a Website series I’m going to take a deeper look at your domain name. The truth is technically you don’t have to have a domain name, but after reading this you’ll hopefully understand why you need one.
First lets talk about your hosting just a bit. In basic terms, your host is a server that is connected to the internet at all times. Your website is just a collection of files on that server. Like your home, that server has an address. Now, let’s talk about your home for a moment. There are a couple basic ways to identify where your home is at: GPS coordinates, and your mailing address. You may not have a clue what the numbers are that make up your home location, much less remember other peoples GPS location. You can easily remember your mailing address though and possibly others. The terms like street name, city, and state are much easier to remember and use than 37.0902° N, 95.7129° W.
Here is another example. Your phone number if you are in the US, including the 1 and area code are 11 digits. Many companies, instead of relying on you remembering a full number, will associate their number to a word like 1-800-Flowers, or 1-800-Contacts. They do this because it’s easier to remember a word. When you look up someones number in your contact list you may find them by their last name or a nickname you’ve associated with their number.
Your host server like your home, and your phone has a number associated to it. This is called your hosts I.P. address. Now, imagine every time you wanted to browse facebook, YouTube, amazon, or whatever your favorite sites are, you had to remember something that looked like 22.214.171.124. amazon.com is much easier.
Register a Domain
Now that we have a basic understanding of a key benefit of a domain name, the next step is registering one. There are multiple services that allow you to register a domain: GoDaddy, namecheap, 1&1, etc. When you purchase your hosting you may even be able to register a new domain there. Though that is an option it’s not one that I typically like to use. If you ever find yourself needing to move hosts, it’s much easier to do if your domain is registered elsewhere.
Is it Available
Once you’ve decided on a registrar you first have to check and see if the domain you want to use is available. Registrars usually have a tool to check the availably of a domain name on their home page. Simply type in the domain you would like to use and review the results.
.com, .org, .io, .co??????
The “.com” portion of a domain name is called the domain extension. Up until a few years ago the extensions we could use were very limited, with the new extensions though you can customize your domain even further to tell what your site is about. For example if you wanted to create a job board site it could be mycity.careers. If you open a pizza restaurant you might want to consider something like mycompany.pizza. While .com’s are a little more recognizable over time you will be seeing more and more of the unique extensions. Because so many .com names have already been taken one of the newer extensions may allow you to still use your business name in your domain name. Also many times the newer extensions can come with a cheaper price tag.
So what’s the price?
The price of your domain is going to depend on your domain. Typically you’re going to spend around $10-$20 a year on your domain but you could initially spend thousands obtaining a domain if it contains popular terms, that’s typically not the case though. It is important to keep in mind, maintaining ownership of your domain does come with an annual cost. Check with your registrar though for the exact cost of your domain.
Any hidden cost?
Aside from the domain itself, one extra cost you should consider is purchasing with your domain is domain privacy. Domain privacy keeps your information private which can protect your identity and also keep you from getting scam calls and emails about your domain. Well worth the extra cost. Typically when you purchase a domain, this will be an add on option you can check in the check out process. If you already have a domain but don’t have domain privacy, you can usually add it on at any time.
Can I get a free domain?
Absolutely! Like with anything free though there is usually a catch. Typically with a free domain your name is going be what is called a subdomain. For example if you set up a website on a service like wordpress.com and use their free option, your domain will look something like mysite.wordpress.com. It will have the companies domain in with yours. You get a free domain, they get business exposure.
Wrap it up
If you need help getting a domain set up for your site or have any additional questions leave a comment below or reach out through the contact page!