How to Start a Blog
Lesson 2 – How to Register a Domain Name
In This Lesson, You Will Learn:
- Owning your own domain – the key to success
- How to choose an awesome domain name
- The best place to buy your domain name from
- How to register your domain name (step by step)
- How to get a free domain name
Before you start your blogging lesson #2
In Lesson 1 you learnt why you wanted to start a blog and decided on what your going to blog about. If you haven’t done this yet, then I strongly recommend you go back and complete Lesson 1 – Find Your Niche before to commencing this lesson.
Why Having Your Own Domain Will Help You Succeed
It’s so quick and easy these days to rush out and grab a free WordPress blog, but you end up with a blog URL that looks something like “my-free-blog.wordpress.org”. That may be fine if you just want a quick and dirty blog to put up a few personal posts, but if you’re planning on getting serious with your blog and making a living from it, then I strongly urge you to start by purchasing your own domain name and getting your blog professionally hosted.
Successful bloggers always register their own domain name(s) for these 7 reasons:
Your blog is going to be read by thousands (and hopefully millions) of people all over the internet. Remembering a name like “myblog.com” is going be so much easier to remember than something like “myblog.wordpress.org”
- It’s Your Brand
Your domain represents your brand and is the fist thing people see when they find you online (and will be used when people link to your blog)
- Rank Higher in Search Engines
It’s no secret that having keywords in your domain help you rank higher in the search engines
- It Builds Trust
Your readers (and potential customers) are more likely to take you seriously when you have a professional, established online presence
- Professional Email
Once you own your own domain name, your email will appear as “firstname.lastname@example.org” (and you can create as many email accounts as you want) – this also goes a long way to establishing your brand as a truly professional entity
- Domains are CHEAP
Costing around $10 per year, why wouldn’t you register your own domain?
- You own it
It’s yours to keep for as long as you want it
How to Choose the Right Domain Name
The best advice I can give you here is DON’T RUSH – take as long as you need. You really don’t want to change your domain name once your blog is up and running – you’d basically be starting all over again.
Use the following guidelines to help you pick a killer domain name that represents you and your new blog!
- Keep it Simple
Simple is best. Try to keep your domain name short, simple and relevant to your blog topic (if possible); this will help your audience remember you and easily recognize your brand.
- Use Your Name
If you’re setting up a personal blog then why not use your name? John Chow is the number 1 internet blogger and has made an absolute fortune using his name for his blog, johnchow.com. You also won’t have to worry about any copyright issues!
- Keep it Short
Short domain names are easy to remember and quick to type. Unfortunately they are also the hardest to get, so you may have to spend a bit of time trying a few different variations until you land one that best suits you.
- Use keywords
While Google doesn’t weigh keywords in the domain name as heavily as it used to, it still pays to use keywords in your domain – but only if it’s a natural fit. A good example of this would for a product review site. Let’s say you’ve decided to review spy cameras from Amazon. A good domain name would be spycamerareviews.net.
- Avoid Hyphens and Numbers
When your domain name is spread by word of mouth or you decide to advertise on local radio – it’s hard to know if your domain name should be 10holidayideas.com or tenholidayideas.com. The same applies with hyphens – could you imagine reading out 10-holiday-ideas.com (ten dash holiday dash ideas dot com).
- Use the right domain extension (.com, .net, .info, .me, .WTF? etc)
Extensions are suffixes that appear at the end of your web address such as .com or .net. While you can choose anyone you like and it won’ t impact how your site ranks, there are many important reasons why you should choose carefully.
- .com domain names are by far the most popular and easiest to remember – I always recommend getting the .com if it’s available (even if you are going to use another extension such as .me or .org)
- Check the competition – if you’ve decided to buy (for example) the .net extension because the .com was taken – make sure you check out the .com version of the site to see if they are going to be in direct competition with you and how well they rank. I never like buying a domain which has strong competitors using another extension.
- There are a load of new domain extensions available these days such as .photography, .reviews (great for product reviews), .recipes, .beer (a personal favorite 🙂 ) – there are hundreds to choose from – But unless your site is very specific to one of these, I’d stick to using the .com extension.
Tip: You don’t need to build a website for every domain. Just forward any additional domains to your primary website.
- Protect Your Brand
I’ve already touched on this a bit, but it’s really important. If you find the domain your looking for, such as myblogcoach.com – go and check for the .net, .org, .info versions as well. If they are available, buy them too! You don’t have to setup a separate blog for each one. You can either do nothing with them or you can redirect them to your main blog site (the .com version). This will stop any competitors going out and buying them and trying to steal some of your valuable brand credibility.
- Don’t Wait!
Domains sell REALLY FAST! If your domain name is available BUY IT NOW. I have lost so many great domain names because I waited (I’ve seen some disappear within hours!). If you’ve done your research and you know the name you’re after and it’s available – just get it.
Selecting a Domain Registrar
A domain registrar is a specially accredited organization that are allowed to sell and manage domain names. There are well over 1,000 registered and accredited domain registrars, so it may seem like a daunting task when it comes to picking a trustworthy and competitive registrar.
I’ve dealt with lots of domain registrars over the years and even used to be a re-seller for one of the big ones many years ago. The biggest name when it comes to domain registration services is GoDaddy – you’ve probably hear of them. I’ve used them for many years and they are OK, in fact they are quite good – but they are always pushing up-sells on you. (Avoid their hosting like the plague – but I’ll cover that in the next lesson).
These days I use a company called NameCheap – funny name, but they offer great prices and good old fashioned customer service (do you remember what that’s like?).
They even offer free domain privacy (which GoDaddy charge $9.95 per year for) – I’ll explain what this means in the next section.
Domain Name Registration
Contact details (private vs public registration)
When you register your domain name, you’ll need to enter your personal and business (if have one) details. These details are publicly available by default. I always choose to keep these details private – mainly because I work from home and don’t want my home address available to the general public. (I used to pay for this service with GoDaddy – which double the cost of my domain registration).
I made the mistake this week of forgetting to add the privacy option to a domain I registered and the very next day, I started getting phone calls from web designers offering to build me a website for the newly registered domain!
Blog Coach Says:
If your setting up your blogging business from a home office, always select to keep your domain registration details private. This is a free service offered by NameCheap.com (most other registrars will charge for this service)
Common domains such as a .com or .net allow you to register for a minimum period of one year. Certain local domains like a .com.au must be registered for a minimum of two years. There is much debate as to whether or not Google actually looks at your domain registration length as a ranking factor. The theory behind this is that a longer registration tells Google that you’re planning on being around for a while – as opposed to spam sites which come and go quickly.
Personally, I register my domains for 3-5 years at a time. It’s really up to you, you can register for a year and renew at any point for during that year if you’re on a budget.
The only last thing you’ll need after you have registered your domain is to enter your name servers which are provided by your blog hosting company. Think of your Name Servers simply as an address that is stored as part of your domain registration that tells anyone searching for your blog (or trying to email you) – where your blog lives. It’s just a pointer to your blog or website. (I’ll cover how to set these up in the next lesson).
Blog Coach Says:
When buying your domain name, don’t get sucked into to also buying your hosting as well. In the next lesson, I’m going to show you where to get the absolute best hosting going (and at the best price too!)
How to Get a Free Domain Name
When you sign up to SiteGround.com for your hosting in the next lesson, you can also get a free domain name as part of the deal. However – it does not include domain privacy, which you’ll have to pay extra for (every year!) and it’s only a one year registration period.
If you want your personal details to remain private and/or you’re looking to purchase your domain name for more than one year, then I recommend you use NameCheap.com to register your domain name(s) as shown in the steps below.
Domain Name Registration Steps
- Head over to NameCheap.com to start the registration process.
- Type in the name of the domain you want to register in the search field and press SEARCH. The following results screen (shown below) will be displayed. If your domain name is available for purchase, you will see the price and an “add to cart” icon next to it. If the domain you have chosen is not available, you will see a link saying “Make an Offer”. This basically means the domain name is not available, but you have the option of contacting the owner via NameCheap to see if they want to sell it to you.
- If your domain name is available, click on the “add to cart” icon for each domain name you want to register.
- Once you have added the domain name(s) you want to buy to your shopping cart, click “View Cart” to display the shopping cart screen.
- On the shopping cart page, choose the length of time you want to register your domain for (as mentioned earlier in this lesson, I recommend 3-5 years).
- Make sure the “WhoisGuard” option is enabled (this option is free and ensures your registration details remain private).
- Click the “Confirm Order” button to create your account. The following screen will be displayed (“My Account”).
- Complete all the details on the above screen and click “Create Account and Continue”.
- The next screen you will see will ask you for your address and phone number details before proceeding to the payment options.
- Once you have completed your contact information, you can choose whether or not you would like two-factor authentication. This basically means that to login to your hosting account, you’ll need to enter your username and password, followed by a code which is sent to your mobile phone. This is a great way to keep your account secure, but you will have to have your mobile phone handy in order to login to your account.
Select continue to proceed to the payment screen.
- OK, now the painful part! Select your preferred payment method. You have the usual options of Visa, Master Card, Amex or Paypal. Select your preferred payment method and click continue. Note: By default, your domain name is set to automatically renew when the registration period is up. Personally I always leave this ticked to make sure my domain doesn’t expire if I miss the notification email. (If your domain name expires, anyone can buy it, and you risk losing it forever!).
- Review your order. This is the final step before your payment is processed and you are the proud owner of your new domain name. Check over the details to make sure they are all correct and then proceed with the payment.
- That’s it! You’re all done. Once your payment has been processed, you’ll see the following screen where you can manage your domain name. That’s it, there is nothing more to do. We’ll come back here in Lesson 3 – Host Your Domain to change a couple of settings, but for now, you’re all done.
- CONGRATULATIONS! You’re now the proud owner of your very own domain name.
Lesson 2 Complete!
Before proceeding to the next lesson:
- Research your domain name
- Choose your domain name
- Register your domain name with NameCheap.com