How To Get Your Custom Domain Name
If you’ve read any blogging or web development advice on making your website look more professional, I’m betting “get a custom domain name” was quite high up the list, if not at the top.
It’s number 1 of my 5 Quick Steps to a More Professional-Looking Website.
You’re ready to start a blog, your business needs a website – why not just set up a wordpress.com or other free hosted website and get cracking with your content?
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A wordpress.com or other free hosted website can be a good place to start
Most free hosting platforms are set up to KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid. They’re there to make it as straightforward as possible for people with little or no coding knowledge to set up a website and do it quickly. This is not me calling people who use free hosted websites stupid, it’s a methodology used to streamline, simplify and speed things up. Which is exactly what free hosting platforms are for.
They’re usually based on some kind of drag & drop functionality, or a choice of free templates, or just out-the-box with limited customisation (aside from some basic colours, fonts and images). Fewer options to ponder over means you can get your site up and running quickly.
In other words:
- Easy to set up
- Quick to launch
- Fewer feature options
- Fewer distractions
- Cheap (or free!)
Why a custom domain is better
1. You’re promoting your brand
Most free hosting platforms will show their own branding in your website’s URL, which means you’re helping them promote their brand, rather than establishing your own brand.
It’s the difference between
2. You can take it with you
If you decide to move your blog to another hosting platform, your custom domain can come with you. This means you don’t have to update things like your email signature (not so bad) or your business cards (not great!).
If your website URL is myblog.wordpress.com and you want to switch providers, news flash: blogger, weebly and wix won’t let you have a wordpress.com URL on their hosting…and WordPress won’t let you take it with you anyway!
3. It looks more credible
If you have a custom domain, it means you’re paying attention to your branding, which is a huge part of running a business, providing professional advice, or providing tips and product recommendations.
It’s an indication that you’re in it for the long haul, and are considering brand recognition among your readers and clients.
Things to keep in mind:
- A custom domain costs money – ongoing money
- You’ll need to configure your hosting to get a custom domain up and running
- You must remember to renew your domain when it expires (or set up auto-renew)
How to get a custom domain name
1. Assign your domain to your free hosting
Some of the free hosting platforms allow you to assign a custom domain to their hosting for a small fee with a premium plan.
This isn’t the same as buying a hosting package, assigning a custom domain to it and installing WordPress. It means you’re still hosting on the same provider as your free site, using their content management system and website builder, you’re just paying them so you can use your own branding.
Which means your free hosting isn’t technically free anymore.
2. Buy a hosting package
Some hosting providers will include one free domain in your package when you sign up to hosting. Bluehost.com (where DIY WordPress Tips is hosted) is one of them.
I’ve also used 123-reg.co.uk to host websites before, and still buy my domains from there when I need one!
3. Buy a custom domain name
Buy a domain name from your provider of choice and then assign it to your hosting provider – not your free hosting provider, your premium hosting package.
This process can take a few days and requires a few adjustments to hosting settings, but it’s usually reasonably straightforward.
Now the juicy bit….:
How to Get a Custom Domain Name
Step 1: Choose a Domain Name Registrar
The first thing you need to do is register your domain name with a Domain Name Registrar. There are many! Some examples:
We’re going to use Bluehost.com as our example because:
- They’re recommended by WordPress
- You can sign up to domain registration and hosting with one provider
- They offer easy one-click WordPress Installation
- They’re currently offering a FREE domain with your web hosting
- They have a great support desk if we need any help
Step 2: Choose a hosting package
Press the big green “get started now” button on their homepage to view the available hosting packages and select the one that suits your needs:
Step 3: Choose your domain name
Type the domain you’d like to register into the “new domain” box on the signup page:
Step 4: Complete the required information
If your domain is available, once you select “next”, you’ll be taken through to the next screen to enter your account details. The first few sections are fairly self-explanatory:
Section 1: Confirm your hosting plan
Section 2: Account information including your personal or business details
Section 3: Billing information
Section 4: Additional services if you need them
The main service I’d recommend at this stage is Domain Privacy Protection to protect your personal details if you’re registering the domain under your personal name. This means that generic information will show in any public listings showing who owns your domain, rather than, for example, your home address.
Review your order, check you’re happy with all the Terms & Conditions, and if so, hit “Submit”.
There you have it, a shiny new domain! In the next post, I’ll be running through how to Install WordPress to your brand new domain.
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