How to register a domain name

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First, some explanations

The first step on the path to your own website or blog. Super simple, super fast, so let’s get to it.

A domain name is simply what you type into your browser’s address field to get to a website. It starts with ‘http://www. ” typically, though often you can just forget the ‘http://’ and just type in ‘www.whateverdomainnameyouarelookingfor.com’. Another name for a domain name is a website address.

Why do I have to register a domain name?

Think of it like registering a business name. There has to be a centralized way to do it because otherwise, there’d be 47 different Costcos or Nordstroms or Hondas, and it would be very difficult to know which one was the one you wanted. Or maybe a better analogy is your phone number. If there wasn’t a way to ensure only one person got each 10 digit phone number, then the whole system would break down as a way to communicate with others.

Same thing with a domain name (or website address). If there wasn’t a centralized registration system, then more than one person could claim/use a domain and it would be impossible…you’d never know what website you’d end up at by typing in a certain address. Make sense?

Who do I register a domain name with?

Why, a domain registrar, of course. :) So what’s that, you ask? Well, think of it like a phone company in our phone number analogy above…a domain registrar is like the phone company, they are linked into the centralized registration system and can authorize you to registrar a particular domain/website address. Once you register a domain name with one registrar, nobody else can register that name (so long as you keep it actively registered - more on that in a minute), no matter where they go to register it.

There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of domain registrars out there, but my preference is Godaddy (affiliate link), for a number of the reasons listed below.

How much does domain registration cost?

As I mentioned, there are tons of registrars out there, and there isn’t any set fee. However, most of the more reputable registrars have very similar pricing, so assuming you use one of them (again, such as Godaddy), you’re going to pay somewhere in the $8-$15 per year range. The longer you register it for, the lower your annual cost will be.

Some things to think about when registering your domain name

First off, if you register (or registered) your domain name without thinking about any of these things, it’s totally cool. Most domain registrars make it easy enough to make changes to your account, so worry not.

But if you haven’t yet registered your domain, there are a few things you might consider considering, particularly if you’re new to this…

  1. Choose a registrar that also offers hosting

    • When you have a website or blog, your site is ‘hosted’ on a public server…so it’s accessible by anyone on the internet who types in your domain name. There are lots of companies that offer this service, and I’ll talk more about it in an upcoming post.
    • I find it easier to have my domain name(s) and hosting account(s) in one spot. The fewer online accounts I have out there, the less I have to remember.
    • And if you purchase your domain name at the same time as you purchase your hosting, you usually get a discount on your domain registration…Godaddy, as an example, cuts your domain reg down to under $3 if you pay for hosting at the same time.
  2. How long do you want to register your domain name for?
    • You can typically do so on a yearly basis, or several years at a time.
    • The longer you register it, the less you’ll pay per year, and it will also be one less thing you have to think about. In other words, the longer you register it for, the longer it will be before you have to think about it again. And remember…if you let it lapse, someone else can scoop it up, and if you’ve built a site around that domain, that would really suck.
  3. Your domain name can end in a number of different things, such as .com, .net, .info, .org.
    • A general rule of thumb is, if .com is available, go with that one. Most people default to .com when they type in a website address. Depending on what you’re going to be using it for, or if .com isn’t available, you might choose something different.

Okay, enough about that, let’s get on to the task at hand…How to register a domain name.

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