You’re convinced you should own your own domain name. You’ve done your research and brainstorming, and you have chosen a domain name that rocks, along with several alternate ideas just in case. Now it’s time to get that name registered.
There are a couple of things you should know first, and then I’ll walk you through the process to register a domain name.
Register separate from hosting
This is a debated issue. Some will argue that you should always register a domain name with a different company than you use for your web hosting, while others will tell you not to worry about it.
There are some points in favor of using one company for both services.
First, it’s slightly cheaper since most hosting companies will give you one free domain name registration with an annual hosting package paid in advance. But we’re not talking big money here. It costs around $10 a year to register a domain name, so I wouldn’t be swayed on this point alone.
Second, it’s convenient. Getting both jobs done with one stop is less hassle and less time, especially for those who want to spend less time on tech geek stuff, and more time making music. It also means one less account to keep track of, which means one less password to keep track of. It also means one less bill to keep track of. If you do it all through one provider, and set it up to auto bill, you’re done.
I’m not dead set against this. In fact, for 14 years I have used the same hosting provider, and used them for all my domain registrations with no problems whatsoever. And I had one blog that outgrew the hosting account and I ended up moving it to another hosting company and had no trouble with the move, the transfer of the domain name, or anything. To this day, BlueHost is still the only web hosting company I recommend. But…
There are some compelling reasons to keep your domain registration and web hosting separate.
1. Some people have had bad experiences with hosting companies. They have held domain names hostage, going so far as to claim ownership. They have made it incredibly difficult to transfer the domain name if you ever decide to use a different hosting provider. They have charged to transfer a domain, and for other actions that a domain name owner has a right to. Like I said, I have had none of these issues with BlueHost and would be very comfortable with their service, without any of these concerns.
2. If you ever did want to move to a different hosting provider, having your domain separate would make things a tad easier, since you wouldn’t need to transfer the domain, but simply change the DNS (we’ll talk about this in a minute). In other words, it gives you an extra measure of freedom.
3. With all the cyber hacking going on these days, security is an issue to consider as well. If hackers manage to gain access to your hosting account, they could mess up your website. If your host also registered your domain name, the hackers could transfer it out to themselves. You might be able to get it back with some legal action, but you’ve still got the issue of a jacked up site and a missing domain. If you keep the two separate, hackers would only get one or the other, not both.
4. And this is the one that sells me, most hosting companies are not accredited domain registrars. They may handle domain registration for their clients, but the host is a third-party, who contracted through an accredited registrar. I like to go straight to the source and know that I am dealing with the registrar directly. For some reason this gives me peace of mind, and that has value.
Right about now you’re asking, “Who does the accrediting?” Fair question. An organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation that is responsible for the internet. Well, OK, not the content, just the addresses and the domain naming system, which is basically the part that makes it so we can all find the content. They accredit the name registrars. I feel better dealing with someone I know has gone through the process to get accredited, by the people in charge of maintaining the system, and that they are keeping an eye on things.
For that reason, along with the other three, I recommend you register your domain name with an accredited registrar and then get your hosting from a hosting provider. While some registrars, maybe most, provide hosting services, the other three reasons compel me to keep the two separate. Along with the fact that I want to use a host whose primary business is hosting. It’s their speciality and they are good at it.
How to register a domain name
With that out-of-the-way, let’s get started. You’ve got a name picked out and you’re itching to get online.
The first thing you have to do is check your preferred domain name’s availability. There are two ways to go about this.
1. You can do this research on the ICAAN website. I’ve written before about why I discourage researching domain names until you are ready to buy, but I think the ICANN WhoIs is the probably the safest place to do it. And you’re ready to buy now anyway, so you’ll be taking action immediately after the research anyway.
2. Which means you may as well just check the domain name’s availability right on the registrar’s site. If it’s available, you’re going to register it, so no worries.
My preferred registrar is NameCheap.com. Don’t let the name scare you, they are very legit. They are ICANN accredited, and highly recommended. Let me walk you through registering a domain name with them.
Just click this link, enter your desired domain name in the search field, and click the “Search” button. Hopefully you saw this.
If you didn’t. Then you saw a screen telling you the domain you chose was not available, and you’ll need to move to your second choice. Once you have found an available domain name from your list, then simply click the shopping cart button next to the price, and then click the giant red button that says “View Cart”. Now you’re looking at your shopping cart and we need to make a special modification.
By default they turn on a feature called “WhoIsGuard”. This is a service they give you for free for the first year of registration and will bill you $2.88 per year starting your second year. Not only do we want to avoid getting billed this extra amount next year, but we want to avoid another little oddity of domain name registration.
The reason they offer this service is that spammers watch the database of registered domains and the domain name owner is visible, along with their contact information. The spammers will send you both email and snail mail, attempting to lure you into a scam.
That is a valid reason for the service, but there is a down side. When you accept this service you become dependent on your contract with the registrar, and their integrity to abide by the contract, because they will put their name on the domain name as the owner. It protects your privacy and shields you from the spammers, but technically, they’ll own your domain name. You want your name in the ICANN WhoIs database, not theirs! (here’s why)
So yes, you will get some spam. Just ignore them all, delete them and throw them away. Once you pay NameCheap.com, you’re done. No other fees are due for this domain name until this time next year. Don’t let the spammers fool you.
So look at your screen and click on the link titled “WHOISGUARD ON”. It will change as shown below when you hover over it. If you’d like to turn autorenew on, you can do now as well. Once that’s done, click the big red “Confirm Order” button.
Fill in the proper information to create an account with them. (Be sure to read my article about How to create the ideal password.) By default they have the opt-in box checked for their newsletter. That is purely up to you. Uncheck it if you don’t want to receive their email newsletter, or leave it checked if you do. Create your account and continue.
Fill in your billing info. Scroll down to check your autorenew settings and make sure they are set the way you want them. Then click “Continue”.
Review the order, and scroll to the bottom. You’ll need to check the box to confirm that you will verify your contact details. This is necessary because your name is being listed as the owner of the domain, which is exactly what you want.
“Pay Now” and you’re the proud owner of a sparkly new domain name!
I hope this article helped you register a domain name you’re excited about.
In my next article I’ll walk you through getting a web hosting account set up and we’ll do something with this domain.Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. We receive compensation from these companies, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through these links. We test each product and service thoroughly and only recommend products we use and/or believe to be of value to our readers. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.