Purchasing a Domain Name

Ready, Set, Go! Purchasing your domain name is your first step in making a website.

Purchasing a domain name is one of the most important and lowest-cost tasks on your to do list in making a website. All you do is go to a website registrar, like Hover.com, and start to type in domain names to see what is available. If your first choice isn’t available, Hover.com and all of the domain registrars will give you some alternatives.

Let’s pretend that you plan to sell axolotls. You need a website domain.

What is an axolotl, you ask? Well its a small Mexican salamander with a natural smile. Who wouldn’t want one!

So, you go to hover.com to look for a website domain so you can sell axolotls. The obvious name for your website is axolotls.com. However, that name is not available! Virtually every one word domain name has been taken, including axolotls.com. So you are going to have to pick out the next best thing. Hover.com can help you with that. Here is a screen shot of your effort to purchase axolotl.com:

As you can see, Hover.com will give you many other suggested names. Most domain name registrars do this, but Hover.com does an exceptional job and has a lot of top level domains (TLDs), like .info, or .store.

Here are your options when your first choice isn’t available:

  • Add more words, like AxolotlForSale.com or BuyAxolotls.com
  • Try adding a dash between words
  • Choose another domain extension (TLD or top level domain), like .us or .net.

Domain Costs

As you can see, the prices of most domains are very reasonable, punctuated by some that are extraordinarily expensive. If you want something that is already purchased, then you must negotiate to buy it from whoever owns it. Expect to pay over $800 for it.

When you choose a TLD, note the first year cost and the cost the following years. Because you are likely to own the domain for many years, the first years’ cost is less important than the ongoing cost.

Once you purchase the domain, then you will need to modify the Domain Name Service (DNS) of the domain, so that it can find where your website is hosted. Your domain registrar will help you with that.

Purchase your Domain Name from a Domain Registrar

I recommend two domain registrars for purchasing domain names. Note that I do not recommend purchasing a website domain from the website hosting service. In most cases, domains purchased from a website host are overpriced and can be more difficult to manage.

  1. Hover.com: The easiest place to purchase a domain name is from Hover.com. Hover.com provides service on your purchase, and because they don’t sell website hosting, the purchase doesn’t get mingled and confused with other services.
  2. domains.google.com: The cheapest place to buy domains is from domains.google.com. The price is 12.00 for a .com, and they have free privacy services. However, there is no service with your purchase, and managing the domain can be a bit more complicated.

Set to Auto Renew

I have an aversion to auto renewing any online subscriptions. However, with a domain name, it is a good idea to auto renew the domain. If you do not renew your domain, then your domain registrar will hold it for you for a few weeks, and after that will make it available to someone else. At that point, your website will no longer be live.

Buy Your Name If Its Available

If you are interested in making websites, then you may want to purchase your own name or your children’s names, if they are available. That way if you ever want the domain name in the future, it will be yours. I have purchased all of my grandchildren, nephews and nieces domain names, to make sure they can have them. Each domain name costs less than movie night.

In addition, when you are considering a new venture and you aren’t sure of the name for it, buy more than one name. Once you make a final decision on the domain name, set the other names to not auto renew.

Next Steps After Purchasing Your Domain Name

After you purchase the domain name, then you need to find website hosting and set the nameservers to point to that hosting. Here are some of our advice on hosting:

Costs of Websites

Recommended Hosting Plans

Types of Hosting

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I buy a domain name?

I recommend purchasing domain names from Hover.com. Hover has a good price and great user experience. My second choice for purchasing domain names is Domains.Google.com. Their price is even lower than Hover.com, but the user experience isn’t as good. They push Blue Host hosting services, which at the present time isn’t a strong choice for hosting provider.

Who should purchase the domain name?

The primary owner of the product should own the domain name. The owner of the domain name has the final control of it. It is ok to use the hosting of your web developer, but you absolutely want to purchase it as a standalone item. Avoid getting a “free” domain with a hosting purchase. You need complete control of it.

Should I purchase the domain name and hosting package together?

Do not purchase a domain name as part of a hosting package. Make the domain name a separate purchase. This is important so you can change website hosts. Over the decade that I have been hosting websites, the best website hosts have changed dramatically. What happens is that a good website host gets purchased by other entities, and then their service can deteriorate. So it is necessary to move your website hosting from time to time.

Where should I purchase my domain name?

Purchase your domain name from a place that provides FREE privacy services. GoDaddy offers sales on domain names, but they charge an additional $20 per year per domain for privacy. I recommend Hover.com and Domains.Google.com, because they have good prices and free privacy services. While Hover is a little more expensive than Google, I strongly prefer Hover.com over domains.google.com for several reasons. First, you can get service with Hover. There is no service with Google. Second, I have had students be tricked into purchasing additional services from Google, and I’ve never had that problem with Hover.

How much should I pay for a domain?

The domain name price should be under $15 or you are paying too much. Avoid a first-year low-price deal, because that often means you will be paying more than you should after the first year.

Why are the best domain names taken?

Because domain names are so inexpensive, domain name resellers buy as a lot of them in the hope of reselling some of them for a profit, usually $800 or more. Most two word combinations seem to be taken. If you try three words, you are more likely to find it available.

When they sell them to a buyer, they charge a one-time fee to transfer permanent ownership of the domain. The fee is usually $500 to $3000, but can be even more. 

When I buy a domain name, should I also buy all of the other TLDs for that domain name?

In the early days of the Internet, there was a mad dash to purchase domain names, and, in some cases, the owner of a brand did not purchase the .com of their brand before someone else did. When there were only a few TLDs, it made sense to also purchase the .net, .us, and .org of your brand. However, now there are just too many TLDs. I recommend only purchasing the .com. There is some interesting history to the legal dispute of a domain name in this article at nolo.com. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/cybersquatting-what-what-can-be-29778.html

What if I purchase a domain but don’t renew it?

When you purchase a domain, you can set it to auto-renew or not auto-renew. If you want to make sure you keep the domain, set it to auto-renew and keep a credit card on file. If you fail to renew the domain, the domain goes back on to the market. You may not be able to get it back.

Use a solid email address when purchasing a domain. Don’t use a school email address. The domain name reseller will notify you when it is up for renewal, and if you miss the renewal, you will lose the domain.

What should I do if the domain name I want is very expensive?

The prices listed are negotiable. You may be able to get a better price. Even so, I strongly recommend to clients that they choose a different domain name instead of trying to pay for a premium domain.

Would you like our help in purchasing a domain name? We would love to help you in this exciting decision. What we would do is set up a Zoom or Skype meeting, go online with you at Hover.com, and assist you in making your purchase.