Over the past few years, I’ve learned a thing or two about domain names from setting up websites for friends and family.
Buying a domain name is easy. But here are a few things I tell my friends before they spend money to buy a website address.
(Skip this. Just tell me where you buy your domain names from.)
1. I would get a .com, .org, (or .ca) domain name
Domain names come in lots of different endings (.com, .org, .photography, .me) , but I would stick with the basics.
- Get a .com domain name if you can. I’ve watched hundreds of students (and teachers) try to go to one of my class websites that end with .ca or .org, and their first instinct is usually to type .com
- .COM, .ORG, .CA domain names tend to be cheaper than those specialty domain names. For example, GoDaddy charges $42.99 for a .TV domain name
- If you’re setting up a charity or organization website, you might want to get the .ORG domain name. It kind of feels more organization-y, but really, it’s exactly the same as a .COM domain name because anybody can buy it.
2. You have to pay for the domain name every year.
When you’re comparison shopping around on the internet, prices for domain name are listed per domain name, per year.
- You can register a domain name for multiple years at a time. Sometimes it might be a better rate (but usually not.)
- Be careful. Sometimes when you add a domain name to the checkout cart, it might try to get you to buy the domain name for 2 or more years. You don’t have to, and usually there is a way to register it for one year.
3. Domain Names can be pretty cheap but prices vary
If you want your own website address for your small business or class website, then you need to buy your own domain name.
- Prices generally vary from $10 to $35 per domain name per year.
- There are lots of places you can buy a domain name online. Shop around.
4. Beware of the fine print. Sometimes the sale price you pay the first year isn’t the regular price you pay the second year.
GoDaddy.com is famous for selling domain names.
- They are the world’s #1 domain registrar with 20 million domains registered and 31% of the market share.
- They’re so big, they even run ads during the superbowl. (Here’s the 2013 superbowl commercial, as well as the 2012 commercial.)
- They have great specials, but make sure you read the fine print.
I’ve bought a few domain names from them when I was first starting out, but I don’t use them any more. (The second reason is because they charge extra for WHOIS domain privacy. See next point.)
Let’s say you want to buy the domain name, ThisIsMyBusinessWebsite.com
GoDaddy has a great deal on right now:
$3.99 per year for a .COM domain name
But, when you get to the check out, you quickly figure out that the special $3.99 .COM rate is only…
- for the first year…
- if you buy two or more years…
- and the second year costs $17.99 per year
Generally speaking, if it seems too good to be true, then it’s probably for the first year only. A cheap domain name usually costs around $10 to $15 per year (and it should include free domain name privacy).
5. Your personal registration information may get published on the internet. (You want WHOIS Domain Registry Privacy and it should be free.)
Step 1. You buy a domain name from a registrar.
Step 2. Your registrar has to publish your personal information in a public WHOIS database.
What does this mean? Anybody can go to a WHOIS database tool like this one. They look up your website address and they can see your name, your address, your phone number, and your email address that you used to register your website address.
(You can also do a Reverse Whois search to look up website addresses registered by the owner’s name, phone number, email address, or physical address.)
How do you protect your privacy?
When you register your domain name, usually there is an option to add “WHOIS Domain Privacy”. Some places offer this for free, and other places (like GoDaddy) charge $8.83 per year for each domain name.
How does it work?
Instead of publishing your personal information in the WHOIS database, the domain registrar company uses a different (proxy) name. (You still have full control of your domain. You also still have full responsibility – don’t spam, break the law, etc.)
NOTE: If you buy a Canadian (.CA) domain name, your personal information is already hidden from the world. Your address, phone number and email address is not publicly displayed in the WHOIS database (for individual registrants.) Information for non-individual registrants like corporations is displayed by default. You can find out more information from the CIRA website.
6. It should be easy to manage your domain names online
This one is actually hard to know beforehand. When you buy a domain name, the domain registrar company will give you access to a website where you can manage your domain names (and web hosting or other products that you buy.)
I’ve bought domains from four different companies and some domain management systems are much easier than others. One domain registrar needed me to go to a completely different website just to cancel a domain
7. Domain Name Registration is final. You can’t get a refund.
Buying a domain name is like buying underware. You can’t return it. Domain names are non-refundable.
Also, while we’re at it, these are the tips for buying domain names that I tell my friends. Things change, so please do your research before buying a domain name.
Where do I buy my domain names from?
I’ve bought domain names from GoDaddy, 1and1, Netfirms, Bluehost to name a few.
Right now, I buy all of my domains from 10Dollar.ca In fact, I’ve moved all of my domain names from the other companies to 10Dollar.ca
Here’s what I like about 10Dollar.ca
- Cheap domains. I pay $10.45 per year for .CA domains and $13.06 per year for .COM domains. This is the same price whether I buy a new domain or renew domains.
- Free Whois Privacy registration. Instead of paying an extra $8.00 per domain name per year, I get it for free. This adds up when you buy several domains.
- Their control panel is easy to use. Very simple to add, renew, cancel and manage several domain names. In fact, it’s also very simple to forward your domain, or do other technical stuff with their Advanced DNS manager.