Before you can build a new website for your business, there are two important things that you need: a domain name and a web host. These two steps may seem complicated at first (I remember thinking so myself a few years ago), but, as with anything else, they’re quite straightforward once you understand them.
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Choosing a Domain Name
A domain name is simply the URL for your website (www.domain.com). Actually registering a domain name is quite easy and inexpensive. The challenging part is coming up with the right domain name.
A few things to consider when choosing a domain name include:
- If possible, have your domain name be the name of your business
- Keep it relatively short (remember that your email address will be email@example.com)
- It’s helpful to have keywords in the domain name
Once you’ve selected your domain name, you’ll need to see if it’s available. Many .com domain names have already been registered, so you may need to look at variations of your primary choice. If the .com domain that you want is taken, consider looking for an alternative .com domain (instead of one that ends in .net). To check if your domain name is available, go to www.register.com, type in the domain name, and click the “Find it” button. This will let you know if your domain name is available or not. (You can also just type in the domain that you want into the address bar in your browser. If another site comes up, your domain has been taken!)
It’s also good to check if the name available is available on social networks. This will be especially important for branding your business. NameChk is a great resource that will instantly check to see if your domain name is available on dozens of social networks.
Registering Your Domain Name
Once you’ve found a domain name that’s available, you just have to purchase it. There are many domain name registration services to choose from: Register.com, Go Daddy, Namecheap, and Network Solutions, to name just a few. I’ve used Register.com, though they tend to be more expensive than some of the cheaper options available. The one I don’t recommend is Go Daddy, which has a knack for prompting boycotts – one by animal lovers appalled by the former CEO’s explicit video of killing an elephant, another by internet advocates displeased with Go Daddy’s support of internet censorship bills, and a third upset about its offensive stance towards women. Do yourself a favor, and just stay away from them. If you already have a web host, you may be able to purchase the domain through your host (if you don’t already have a web host, you can get a free domain with Bluehost – this is explained in the next section).
When you register your domain name, be sure to also get the .net version as well. Note that the domain name registration is good for one year, so you will need to renew your domain name every year. Also, be sure to get the site privacy option so that your name and address are kept private (especially important if you’re using your home address to register your domain name).
Signing up with a Web Host
Once you’ve selected your domain name, you can choose a web host. A web host is a company that will host your site on their servers. I use Bluehost, which works well with WordPress.
Bluehost hosting service ranges from $60-83/year, depending upon whether you pay their regular rate of $6.95/month or their currently discounted rate of $4.95/month. In addition, it’s good to sign up for their Site Backup Pro upgrade, which is only $12.95/year and will give you the added peace of mind of knowing that your site is fully backed up.
Bluehost also offers a free domain name registration for one year when you sign up with a new account. This means that you can get a domain name, a hosting service, and backup upgrade for only $72.35 (this is for one year, at Bluehost’s currently discounted rate).
That’s it! Once you have a domain name and a web host, you’re ready to set up your site and start reaping the many benefits of a website for your business.