STEP 1: Purchase a domain name
What is a domain name? Think of your domain name as your address on the Internet. A domain is the string of letters you type into a web browser to get to a site. An example of a domain is google.com, or empressthemes.com. It’s pretty important (obviously!).
Where do I buy a domain name, and does it have to be the same place I purchase hosting from?
Domains are widely available through a variety of providers big and small. If you are purchasing hosting, often domains are available bundled with your hosting plan. However, it is not necessary that your domain and host be purchased from the same provider.
How much should a domain name cost?
Domains tend to be pretty affordable, ranging from around $5-$15 per year depending on where you purchase it from. We recommend springing for private registration of your domain, so that the personal information associated with your purchase is not available to random investigators on the Internet (by law, information you provide when you register the domain is publicly available via WHOIS searches, unless you opt for private registration). Private registration isn’t much — often another $10 per year, per domain.
FINDING DOMAINS THAT ARE FOR SALE
Often, domain squatters scoop up popular strings of keywords as domain names, hoping someone like you will want it enough to buy it from them someday. Or, sometimes a person has owned a domain for a site they abandoned years ago, and may be open to selling it to you.
If you wish to go this route, simply reach out to the domain owner (either via info listed on their site, or through a WHOIS search) and ask if they’re willing to sell the domain name.
If your desired site name is popular, be prepared for a high price tag on your preferred domain (we have heard of clients paying several thousand dollars for a domain name; however, this was done in extreme cases once a blog business had been firmly established and the client had the business resources to cover such an expense — and the brand value was worth it). We do NOT recommend paying thousands for a domain name if you are just starting out or still establishing your blog business.
Buying a domain name like this can feel a little sketchy; if you’re at all worried about the transaction, ask for a second opinion from a web developer, or don’t engage in the transaction. There are other ways to riff on your original, desired domain name and get what you want (see a few of those ideas here).
An easier way to get a domain name you want is to add hyphens to your string of keywords, or add the word “blog” at the end. For example, if myname.com is not available, my-name.com might be. You could also try mynameblog.com as an alternate.
WHERE TO PURCHASE DOMAIN NAMES
Many web hosts also offer domains as well. So if you are already purchasing your hosting from one company, check to see if you can purchase your domain through them as well.
We often recommend GoDaddy for domain-only purchases, as well as NameCheap.