One of the first things many bloggers do when they have decided to start blogging is buy a domain name
A domain name is the website address that you type into the bar at the top of a webpage.
It tells your browser where to go to find all the wonderful stuff you have written
What does a domain do?
Although we talk about ‘buying’ domains, what you are actually doing is paying to register the right to use that address.
A bit like registering a company name.
The domain itself doesn’t do anything. You don’t have to use your domain, or build a website at that address if you don’t want to.
You can keep it, for the future.
Your website itself will be stored on a server – a special computer that is home to many websites – and serves up their content onto the browsers of people who are surfing the net.
Hosting companies keep rooms full of servers. They look after and maintain them, and rent out the space on them to people with registered domains
The key point to remember is that buying a domain name doesn’t get you a website, it is just the start.
You will have to register your domain name before you can build a website at that address
Different types of domain
Domain names consist of your chosen name in a long string with no spaces – fredsfantasticfurfriends for example – followed by a dot and a different ending depending on the domain type.
These endings are called top level domains. Or TLDs.
You will be familiar with the dot com, dot net, dot org and dot edu . Sometimes called gTLDs (g for generic) And the TLDs for different countries – dot co dot uk, dot ca etc.
In response to the demand for more alternatives, a great many more TLDs have been created recently. Some of them sound great for pet bloggers
Dot dog for example
These can be very tempting.
We’ll look at why you should be cautious about these new TLDs in a moment
Registering your domain
There are many internet companies that sell domain names. Most of them are also hosting companies.
Very often they will offer you a package deal if you purchase your hosting and domain from them together. But you don’t have to do this.
You can buy your domain from one company and rent hosting from another. I’ll look at hosting companies in another article.
We mostly use different companies for purchasing our domains and our hosting, and this is quite normal.
Some companies we use are
But there are many others. Most have a prominent box on their home page to enable you to search for the domain name of your choice.
They’ll then tell you whether or not it is available, and if it is taken they’ll offer you alternatives
How to pay for your domain
You’ll need a credit or debit card ready to purchase your domain online, or in some cases, a Paypal account.
You’ll also need to create an account with the hosting company, so be ready to record your username, the email address you use to sign in, and your password. And to keep them safe.
You can choose whether to renew your domain on an annual basis, or for several years at a time.
Buying several years is cheaper per year, but if you are not sure you’ll be in it for the long term, you are probably better off buying your first year to begin with.
Why buy a domain if you don’t want a blog yet?
If you have a business, or some kind of brand, it is a good idea to register your claim to the domain.
Most domain sales also come with at least one free email address. It looks much more professional to have olly@ollysfishship for example, than firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have dreams of writing a book or you are building a reputation for a skill or service in your own name, you should own that domain too
The number of meaningful domains that can be created from the letters of the alphabet is not infinite, and many of the best names have been taken.
If you don’t stake your claim now, it is only going to get harder
For that reason, more types of domain are now being introduced. Let’s have a look at those now
Should you buy a dot com?
It is a good idea to buy a dot com address if you can. But it can be a challenge to get the one you like
Fred may go online wanting to start a blog called fredsfantasticfurfriends.com but finds that domain has been bought by someone else.
This is increasingly common
Fred may be tempted to buy fredsfantasticfurfriends.pet or something similar with a new TLD ending
But I would advise caution here. For two reasons.
Firstly this is a new thing, and we don’t know how google will react to these TLDs, will it prioritise other old generic TLDs above them?
Many people think so
Secondly, people tend to click on things that they trust and recognise.
If a web address looks odd or unfamiliar, some people, perhaps most people, won’t visit there.
My recommendation is to stick to dot com, or for a local business, if the dot com is taken, use your country’s code (dot co dot uk for example).
You may have to be a little more creative with your name, but I think it is worth it. Check out this article to read more on the topic: To Get A Dot Com Or Not
Last but not least, it is possible to blog and to be a blogger without a domain.
Blogging without a domain
You don’t have to own/register a domain in order to have a blog.
There are subdomains that attach to a TLD that allow you to create your domain within theirs.
So for example, instead of fredsfantasticfurfriends.com Fred could create fredsfantasticfurfriends.wordpress.com
There are times when this is a better option for the blogger concerned.
The following is a simple little video that illustrates some of the issues discussed here.
The company providing the video is one of the better known providers of cheap hosting packages for beginner bloggers.
How about you?
Did you get your domain yet? Any problems? Let us know in the comments box, or join the facebook group to ask questions and get help