- What is a domain name?
- Premium domains
- Domain renewals
- Domain privacy & protection
- The “.com” top-level domain
- The “.me” top-level domain
- Double top-level domains(e.g. “.co.me” as in “example.co.me”)
- Newer top-level domains (“.blog”, “.pro”, “.co”, “.fun” and may more)
- If you run out of ideas
- Where do I register a domain?
- How do I transfer a domain between registrars?
What is a domain name?
A domain name points to an internet server containing your blog. The “www.” before the domain name is optional for most websites and can be omitted. For example, https://www.blogstarterkit.com or http://blogstarterkit.dev:8888.
The Top-Level Domain (TLD) is what comes after the last dot in the domain name. For example, “.com”, which is short for commercial. All countries, other than the US, have a Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). For example, “.uk” for the United Kingdom, “.au” for Australia and “.me” for Montenegro.
There are very few restrictions on registering a domain in any country. As the US has the biggest market and most US buyers expect to see no country code, many bloggers and companies tend to register US domains (“.com”, rather than “.co.uk” or “.com.au”). If you have a local blog or company, outside of the US, registering a national domain may be preferred by your local buyers. Internet users tend to be universally comfortable with US domains.
Below are the recommended rules for selecting a domain name:
- Select a domain that ends with “.com” (“.net” or “.org” next best);
- Select something as short as possible;
- Select a domain that reflects your blog content now and into the planned future;
- Select something that is easy to pronounce and remember;
- Select a national Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) if your blog content is country specific. For example, a blog on French cuisine may be more respected if it’s French (“.fr”);
- Avoid using a hyphen in the domain name, like “cool-domain.com”;
- Avoid misspelt words (unless also catchy);
- Avoid company and product names that are not yours;
- Avoid names that may prove too restrictive, offensive or embarrassing in the future.
Premium domain names
Some domains are highly sought-after, like the word “marketing” with any extension (e.g. Marketing.com or marketing.pro). Be careful when purchasing, some can cost thousands of dollars to register. Once you own them, they renew each year at the same cost as anything else in that top-level domain.
When registering any domain, check both the regisitration cost and the cost of renewal each year. Some domains like “.com” may cost more, when compared to a special offer on another domain, but are cheaper to renew. For example, $12 to buy and renew, versus $1-5 to buy and $30-50 to renew.
There is no right or wrong with renewals, you need to do your sums. You are likely to purchase several domains over time (it’s easy to get carried away with ideas, once you see how easy it is). Having 5 domains renew at $12 is cheaper than having 5 domains renewing at $50.
You can opt to auto-renew your domains each year or receive notices to renew. As there is money at stake, your registrar should provide ample warning of expiring domains. If you know for a fact that you’ll be keeping the domain, as your blog has been successful, enable auto-renew, why take an unneeded risk.
Domain privacy & protection
When you register with a domain registrar you’ll provide your details including your home address and email address. You’ll have the option of domain privacy. Including domain privacy means that when someone queries who the domain owner is, it will return generic registrar details, not your personal home address and email.
Marketing people mine this information to target you for advertising. If you don’t have domain privacy, you may also get unprompted emails from people with similar domain names offering to sell them to you. I got caught out once purchasing a “.us” domain, which didn’t come with privacy and I didn’t notice until the website marketing emails started arriving!
The “.com” top-level domain
The reality of “.com” domains is that most single word domains are gone, so are most two-word domain names. You stand a fair chance with three words (e.g. BlogStarterKit).
You can increase your chances by using a numeral, like free2you.com or training4you.com or using a hyphen my-blog.com.
You are likely to stress over this and waste more time than you should. It can also be a lot of fun, brainstorming to come up with something clever.
Try not to stress too much. Think of the biggest websites, most aren’t English words and are now household names, like google.com, facebook.com, etsy.com, and uber.com. It won’t prevent traffic from visiting your site.
The “.me” top-level domain
If your blog will be about you or you wish to associate yourself with something, consider a “.me” domain. For example, JohnSmith.me, BeardedGuy.me, FootballFan.me or Training4.me.
Double top-level domains (e.g. “.co.me” as in “example.co.me”)
Newer top-level domains (“.blog”, “.pro”, “.co”, “.fun” and may more)
When visiting websites and blogs, we’re accustomed to seeing domains ending in “.com“, “.net” or “.org”. That familiarity means visitors currently trust them more. It will take some time for visitors to become accustomed to the newer top-level domains.
Some newer top-level domains will take longer than others to trust. For example, visiting a domain ending in “.blog” to read a blog seems legit. Visiting a site for professional advice with a domain ending in “.pro” seems legit. Visiting the same sites with a domain ending in “.fun”, “.one” or “.blue” would feel weird.
Many of these domains are cheap to register. Compare the future renewal costs for your options before purchasing. The difference in renewal cost could be $20-100 per year.
You will see that many obvious domain names here are also taken. Often with a status of “Make Offer”. Someone has registered them and either is no longer using them or registered them cheaply, with the intention to sell at a profit. I expect many will become available again after a year or two, faced with ongoing renewal costs. If you find one you like, you can always make an offer and see.
If you run out of ideas
If you get stuck, use a Thesaurus to find similar meaning words and optionally a second word, like the following:
- Gender: Man/Women/Guy/Girl
- WP (WordPress related)
Where do I register a domain?
Now that you’ve selected a domain name, have you bought hosting yet? If not, it’s standard to get a free domain when you sign up. The selection of top-level domain may be limited though (e.g. “.com”, “.net” or “.org”).
If you have used your free domain, you may be able to register more with your hosting company or use a separate a domain registrar. I chose a separate registrar as I assumed I’d change hosting companies from time to time as my requirements changed. I use and recommend NameCheap. They have an easy to use website, helpful support staff and are indeed cheap when compared to competitors.
How do I transfer a domain between registrars?
You can move domains between registrars if you are unhappy with their service or have found a cheaper registrar and would like to reduce costs.
Check that the registrar you’d like to move to offers your top-level domain (e.g. “.com”). Most support “.com”, it varies for the newer top-level domains. The registrar’s website will provide full details and often check if it will be possible.
I’ve had transfer processes take from 30 minutes to 3 days. Both were deliberate. The 3 days was for added security, in case someone was attempting to steal your domain.
You will need to turn domain privacy off during the transfer.
If you change contact details in your registrar account, such as changing the address from your home address to a post office box, you may be blocked from transferring your domain for a period of time (e.g. 60 days). This is for extra security, in case someone is attempting to steal your domain.
The basic transfer process is:
- Check the domain can be transferred to the new registrar on their website;
- Start the transfer with the receiving registrar;
- Turn domain privacy and domain protection off;
- Request the registration code created when you registered your domain with your current registrar (sent to the registered email address for your account);
- Work your way through the transfer form on the new registrar’s website. Entering the registration code you requested when prompted;
- Wait. The process could take from 30 minutes to days. Check registered email accounts for old and new registrar for updates and issues.
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Next: We will look at Choosing a blog hosting package.