Hello and welcome to this article about buying a domain name. If you have stumbled upon this post from Gawd knows where, you may be interested to know that this is from a series of articles from a Kindle eBook called, “How to Set Up a WordPress Website from Scratch.” If you would prefer to buy the book to make life easier, feel free to download it by clicking the image below.
Now, I’d like to say officially, “Hello and welcome”. In this post, we are going to look at everything you need to know about buying a domain name. The three main sections are:
– What domain names are
– What domain name registrars are
– Buying a domain name
I’m going to try and include everything that’s useful while leaving out anything that is too complicated or unnecessarily confusing. So, while this section is not the be-all-and-end-all of domain names, it does contain more than enough for you to understand exactly what you need to know.
1. What Is a Domain Name?
The first thing you need to know is what a domain name is. To put it basically, it’s the name of your website. So, Google’s is ‘google.com‘. Of course, I am sure you know that all websites start with either ‘http‘ or ‘https‘. We’re not going to worry about them at the moment, although later, we’ll talk about ‘https://’ and why you need to have it for your website.
In a perfect world, the domain name you choose will be whatever you want your blog to be called. For example, if your name is Zacharia Bottlewasher, you would want to call your blog ‘zachariabottlewasher.com‘. And because your name is very unusual, you’re pretty much guaranteed that ‘zachariabottlewasher.com‘ is available.
What to Do If Your Domain Name Is Taken
The problem arises when you have a name like John Smith. There is no way that johnsmith.com is available and even if it is available, there is even less way that you are going to want to fork out the money that the person who owns it wants. One way to get around this problem is to choose a different suffix, or TLD to be more precise.
Instead of johnsmith.com, you may be able to buy johnsmith.net, johnsmith.info, or johnsmith.co.uk or johnsmith.us if you live in the UK or USA respectively. Although in the case of ‘johnsmith’, even the suffixes might be taken. So, what to do? Well, you can always use your imagination to come up with something a little bit more creative like smithysblog.com or thesmithsterblog.com.
What Are You Planning to Do on Your Website?
Or, maybe you are planning a website or blog around a hobby. In that case, depending on what your hobby is, you could try johnsmithstravels.com, johnsmithsrecipes.com, or something else related to your hobby.
On the other hand, you may want to set up a blog because you have your own business. In this case, something like smithphotography.com (or jsphotography.com) would work if you’re a photographer or johnsmithplumbing.com (jsplumbing.com) if you’re a plumber.
Having said all that, maybe your business is only of interest to people who live locally. In this case, having a website that reflects where you live is a good idea as well. So, you could buy a domain name like plymouthphotography.com if you live in Plymouth. Or you may want to be more specific. If you’re a wedding photographer who lives in New York, you may want to go for something like nycweddingphotos.com.
The point is that there are so many choices that it is very unlikely that you will have to opt for a domain name you hate. It may not be your first choice of course, and it probably won’t be, but if you sit down and think about it for long enough, I’m sure you will think of something that you are reasonably happy with.
How to Choose an Awesome Domain Name
What you ultimately opt for really is up to you. If you just want to have a blog for fun or to talk about what you do in your free time, choose something that reflects your personality or your hobby. If you want a business website, choose a domain that reflects your business. And if your business is local, choose a name that has the city or town where you live.
If you would like more advice about how to choose the best domain name, I recommend you read this post entitled ‘How to Choose a Domain Name’. Here is the short version.
1. Choose a short, easily pronounceable domain name that clearly describes your brand or services without using complicated symbols, hyphens and numbers.
2. If your domain name is not available in .com, use a fitting alternative top-level domain such as ‘.club’, .’shop’, or try out a localized TLD such as ‘.us’.
3. Using keywords in your domain name is a Google ranking factor but tread lightly, Google recognizes keyword stuffing and penalizes sites with keyword heavy domain names.
4. Avoid simple mistakes by checking if your chosen name isn’t already in use by another company, or copyrighted, and make sure it can’t be misinterpreted as something vulgar.
Once you are sure you have got the domain name you want, come back here for the next step.
2. How to Find a Good Registrar
Throughout this book, I am going to talk about Namecheap. I honestly believe it is the best and easiest website to use. Not only is it great for registering domain names but it also brilliant for hosting your site. With the added bonus of being really inexpensive, I personally believe that Namecheap is what we call in the online world… a no-brainer.
So, a domain name registrar is very simply a website where you buy your domain name. There are many, many registrars and, quite honestly, there is little difference between them. In fact, if you want your online life to be as easy as possible, the only thing you really need to do is use the same website to register your domain name as you do for your hosting. Another reason I recommend Namecheap.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. You are more than welcome to do your own research but it will make following the rest of this book a little more difficult. I would also like to point out that I buy all my domain names and do all my hosting through Namecheap. So, if it’s good enough for me, I hope you’ll believe me when I say it’s good enough for you.
3. Buying Your First Domain Name
So, let’s move on and discover how to buy the domain name you have chosen. If you haven’t done your research yet, don’t worry! You can do this now as well.
Please note that you won’t be charged anything until the very last step so feel free to play around with different domain names. Obviously, if you know how to do this bit, you are much less of a technophobe than you thought and you should just move onto the next section.
Additionally, I have done a video for you! I think you can do the whole domain name thing without it but I do like to give value where I can. Click on this link to watch the video now.
Step 1: Make Sure You Have an Email Address
Before we start the process of buying a domain name, we need to make sure you have an email. This is important because it will be used to check your identity. You’ll also need one for installing WordPress later on in this book. So, if you do not have an email address, go to Google and sign up for one now.
Step 2: Register an Account on Namecheap
Now, go to Namecheap and register an account if you don’t have one. When you are adding your email address, use the one you have just created in Gmail or the one you normally use in your day-to-day life. And for goodness sake, make sure you can get into your email if you haven’t used it for a while. You must have access to it to complete your Namecheap registration and your domain name.
Step 3: Search for a Domain Name
Searching for a domain name is quite simple. All you have to do is hover your mouse over ‘Domains’ and then click on ‘Domain Name Search’. In the middle of the page, you will see a white box with a red ‘Search’ button on the right.
All you have to do now is to type in the domain name you want (with .com) and see if it’s available. Remember that there are no spaces in domain names. You can use numbers (1,2, 3, etc), hyphens (-) and underscores (_) if you want but I wouldn’t if I were you.
If you are lucky, you should get what you’re looking for. Your domain name with ‘.com’ and a big green tick saying it’s available. If it’s not available, look below and see if there are other options, such as ‘.net’, ‘.info’ or something else that will suit. If not, just play around until you find something you like.
Don’t forget to make a list of possible domain names if you are playing around. I have lost count of the number of times I found a domain name I liked the sound of, went on to try some other ideas, and then completely forgot what the domain name I really liked was
Step 4: Buy Your Domain Name
Buying a domain name is even easier than finding one. When you have found the domain name you like, you need to add it to your cart. You will then be offered a few choices underneath. Here is an image of the choices you’ll be offered if you are using Namecheap.
Now, I want you to ignore all of the choices you are being offered. Yes, you are going to buy Namecheap hosting but there will be a separate chapter about hosting later. This will be where I show you how to buy the cheapest possible hosting you can get. So, don’t opt for any of the offers below, just click on the view cart button.
Now, you are on a page where you have to confirm everything. If you added more than one domain name earlier to the cart, this is where you can get rid of them. Click on the crosses to remove the domain names you don’t want. As is often the case, you will be given a lot of options. Please ignore them and just click ‘Confirm Order’. This will take you to the payments page.
Step 5: Paying for Your Domain Name
Finally, you have the ‘Pay Now’ page you can see below. Once you click the button, you will have to fill out your credit or debit card details. If you are not used to paying for things online, do not get stressed here. Years ago, paying by card online was fraught with danger. Fortunately, this is definitely no longer the case.
Also, I have used Namecheap for years and I have never, ever had any problems with payments, except once. I had a problem once because of an internet connection issue, and I was charged for something that didn’t go through.
Less than an hour after contacting them informing them of the problem, I got a refund. But like I said, that has only happened once in at least five years of doing business with them. Remember to double-check everything before you click the ‘Pay Now’ button, just to make sure you haven’t made any mistakes.
Step 6: Checking You Have Done This Correctly
After you have paid, you will see a page saying ‘Thank You blah blah blah’. Don’t worry about any of what’s written there. Just hover over your name in the top left-hand corner and click dashboard.
Once you have clicked on ‘Dashboard’, you will end up on a page with the domain name you have just bought. Well done! You are now the proud owner of your very own domain name.
Wrapping It All Up
And there you have it. That is all there is to buying a domain name. Congratulations! You have taken the first step on your journey to setting up your very own website. Don’t stop now! You are on a roll. Head over to the next post in this series where will be talking about buying web hosting.