Want to start a website or blog with a web host or a website builder? You’re going to need a domain name for that. A domain name is simply the web address for your website. It’s made up of the actual name and the extension like .com, .net and .org.
This guide will show you how to register a domain name and your various options on how you can you get a domain name for free.
The first way and best way is to get a domain name at a domain name registrar. Domain name registrars are ICANN certified business that have permission to register domain names. You have to go through an ICAAN certified registrar if you want a domain name, web hosts typically do it on your behalf.
The second way and easier way is to register through a web hosting company. All web hosts allow you to register a domain name with them because your hosting account needs a “primary” domain name associated with the account. In addition, they tack on a small fee as to make a profit off the domain registration process.
How to register a domain name at a domain name registrar
The first way and best way is to get your domain names through a domain name registrar. There are so many advantages to doing this:
- You get a much lower price than you would at a web host.
- Free whois protection is provided at most registrars
- It’s easier to sell your domain name.
- You can switch your domain name to different service with ease.
What if you start with Squarespace but then want to use Bluehost and WordPress? It’s clunky and annoying to have your domain stuck at a website builder or web host so instead use a registrar. For more, see our guide on the best domain name registrars.
Here at Website Creative Pro we use and recommend Namecheap so let’s get started.
How to get a domain name a Namecheap
To get started, simply visit Namecheap.com.
Step 1: Search for your domain name using the search box on the Namecheap homepage.
Step 2: Once you find a domain that is available, add it to your cart, click the big red button that says view cart and checkout. You’ll need to create an account in order to purchase.
Step 3: Once you’ve finished creating an account, it’s time to confirm your order. Here you can choose how many years you want to register the domain name for:
Step 4: When your ready simply confirm your order and pay with a credit card, debit card or PayPal.
With your domain name purchase you get WHOIS guard for free. Per ICANN regulations you must have public contact information associated with any domain. WHOIS protection specifically keeps your contact details private.
The lowest prices on domain name registration, free WHOIS protection.
That all there is too it. Once you want to use your domain name for any service like a web host or a website builder all you need to do is update the DNS settings.
Since you did not get a domain name through your hosting account or your website builder (you’ll have to update the DNS settings of your domain name to “point” to your hosting account be it a web host or a website builder.
Find your nameservers
All web hosts and website builders send a “welcome” email. In this email will be your nameservers. If you can’t find this email simply ask support for what the nameservers are for your account.
For Bluehost the welcome email looks like this:
The nameservers are ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com.
Log into Namecheap (or your preferred registrar)
As we recommend Namecheap, we will demonstrate the process with them, but it’s the same regardless of your registrar. In Namecheap, go to your domain name list click on “manage” for the domain name you want to edit.
Find where it says Nameservers and change it to “custom DNS.” Input your web hosts name servers and click the green check mark to save.
Done! Name servers are setup, now it’s time to install WordPress.
Get a “free” domain name with a web host
The second way to register a domain name is to get a domain through the web host. A lot of web hosts offer a free domain name with the purchase of a hosting account. What’s the catch?
The domain name is only free for the first year, after that you’re going to be paying an inflated price compared to what you would be paying through a domain name registrar.
This is why we suggest Namecheap and other domain name registrars because they provide the best price and you get a lot more flexibility. But if you’re set on getting a free domain name, here are your two best options:
- Bluehost – The #1 recommended web host by WordPress.
- Hostinger – The best budget web host in the world.
How to get a free domain name with Bluehost.
Bluehost is the #1 recommended web host by WordPress. They offer a free domain for the first year with your purchase of a hosting account. After the first year, a .com domain name will renew at $17.99 a year with Bluehost.
To get started, you first need to go to Bluehost.com and select a hosting account you want to purchase.
We like the Plus and Choice Plus plans. The Plus plan is good for growing a website to around 800-1000 visitors a day while the Choice Plus is good for up to 2000 visitors a day.
Once you select any shared hosting account simply fill out the form that says “create a new domain.” This will register a domain name through Bluehost.
Upon purchase, your hosting account will be setup with your domain name. After the first year, you’ll need to pay Bluehost to renew your domain name.
Get a free domain name with Hostinger
Hostinger is our top budget web host. They offer some of the lowest prices around for web hosting. You can get a 4 year, shared hosting account for just .99 cents a month. They also offer a free domain name with a purchase of select hosting accounts. On top of this, their domain name renewal rate is $10.99, not $17.99 like Bluehost.
To get started with Hostinger is quick, easy and quite affordable. Simply visit Hostinger.com and select either their Premium Shared Hosting or their Business Hosting.
We like their “premium” shared hosting plan for new websites. On the next page you can select a hosting contract for 1 month, 1 year, 2 years or 4 years. We suggest getting a 4 year hosting plan. You save 78% and with our coupon code “webpro” you save an additional 10%.
Free domain name for the first year that renews at $10.99 and a 4 year hosting package for under $120 USD. Hostinger is the best budget web host available today.
Advice for registering a domain name
When registering a domain name you want to pick something that is ideally a .com. Most register alternative domain extensions like .net or a .co because the .com version of their website is already registered.
If you can’t get the domain name you want consider using abbreviations, alternate spelling or adding devices onto the end of the domain name. Last, don’t infringe anyone’s copyright. If the .com you want is in use, you can’t just register the same domain with a different extension.
Here is some good rule to follow when registering a domain name:
- Try to get a domain name with a .com extension. When people register a .net or .org it’s almost always because the .com was taken.
- Go for a branded domain. FinanceNinja.com for example would be good for a finance website.
- Make it something easy, memorable, and repeatable.
- Don’t stress and agonize over this too much. Just get something good, it does not not have to be great.
What Are Premium Domain Names?
You can also buy a “premium” domain name if you like. A premium domain name is a domain that is (or has been) already registered by someone and has a lot of demand. For example, candy.com is a premium name. It’s specific and tens of thousands of people want it and will pay top dollar for it.
You can buy premium domains at any registrar, but don’t spend any more than a few hundred dollars (and only if you have some money to spend and the domain you want is premium).
Who should buy a domain name? Business should buy a premium domain name. Say you’ve registered the .co version of a website and built it out but were then able to buy the .com version at a premium price. If the price is right, this sort of scenario makes sense for spending a few hundred dollars on a domain name.
Can I get a “free” domain name then move it to Namecheap?
While you can get a free domain name for the first year at a web host, you must pay to transfer it away to a domain name registrar. So you technically could get a free domain name at Bluehost, then move it to Namecheap before the year is up.
The process of moving a domain name is called a domain name transfer and is not free. Namecheap currently charges $8.58 for a domain name transfer plus ICANN costs and tax.
Please note that you are not allowed to move a domain name if it is within 45 days of its renewal date.
How to register a domain name conclusion
Registering a domain name is a quick and easy process. We strongly suggest you manage your portfolio of domain names with one registrar. You’ll typically get the best prices when compared to registering through a web host and it makes the process of switching web hosts in the future less complicated.
Low registration and renewal prices, free WHOIS protection.