Oh, hey! I see you made it back for part two of our mini-series on how to start a blog. Good stuff. Today we’re going to tackle the whys and hows of how to choose a domain name and get that domain registered.
Affiliate links are included in this series because these are products I use and have been really pleased with. Read our full disclosure policy here.
CHOOSING A DOMAIN NAME
I’m going on the assumption that you’re reading this because you already know what you want to blog about or what you want your website to be about. If you don’t, it’s time to log out, get a notebook, and start brainstorming. For the rest of you, that means choosing an awesome name for your site.
Here’s the bad news. Most of the names you’re probably thinking of are already taken. Which is why I wound up using 24 Cottonwood Lane. It was 2012, I was tired with two little babies born 12 months apart, I couldn’t brain, and I used a variation of my old addresses. True story. If I had it to do over again, I would have worked harder at making the title fit what I was planning to blog about.
Today we’re going to do two things….We’re signing up for a Bluehost plan and we’re going to get you a domain name which are two different but intertwined things. The domain is the name of your website and you own that. Sort of. Actually it’s more like you lease it because you will pay for the site name and to keep the name renewed. It’s probably the least expensive thing about blogging. Once you have a name, you’re going to want it to to appear on the internet, and for that you need a hosting provider. It’s best to do everything on one site to keep things clean and simple. (Which I totally didn’t do in the beginning because no one told me that. Ugh.)
Just a note about why I’m with Bluehost and actually became an affiliate even after I had some problems with them last year. Basically, they have the most amazing customer service and can pretty much fix anything. I’ve managed to delete my blog, accidentally reassign a domain that was already assigned, and do all sorts of crazy stuff to my poor site. Every time I do something dumb, I click on the help button and they put things back together for me. For free.
One time I was literally weeping and wringing my hands and I told the tech person how incredibly stupid I felt. She talked me off the ledge and told me not to feel stupid, and that people do things like erasing their websites all the time. I kind of doubt that but I appreciated the free therapy and self esteem lesson including in the help/support.
That’s why Bluehost and I are going to besties for life. And why I decided to become an affiliate. They can’t be beat for new bloggers and website owners. Plus, their pricing is the best I’ve found and I now own 7 domains and 4 active websites. (I know, right? I’m like some kind of domain junkie.) I couldn’t do it without their really affordable plan and built in support system.
Let’s head on over to Bluehost where we’re going to sign up for hosting and then play around and snag your new domain name. Which is free, by the way, when you sign up for hosting.
Go ahead and click the link and Bluehost will open in a different window. You can come back and forth to follow the instructions. Bluehost will open and you can click the “get started now” green button which will take you to the hosting page.
There will be three hosting plans to choose from. The $3.95 is the cheapest option. I went with the middle option which was a good plan since I eventually went on to build a few more websites and I wanted to have unlimited space. If you’re convinced you’re just building a blog, the smaller plan is fine.
Once you choose your plan, the fun really begins. You’ll be taken to a new page to choose your domain name.
A box will pop up and you can start entering names and ideas. Enter the full name you have in mind as it would appear as a website into the box (eg. bestblogever.com) and Bluehost will let you know if the domain is available. In this case, Best Blog Ever, is already taken. (Shocking, I know.)
If it’s available, jump on that and hit the NEXT button. If not, Bluehost will make some suggestions about domain names that are available. Keep going until you find one you like that’s available. Don’t just take the blog name you want with .co or .ca instead. You want something completely unique that won’t be confused with another blog or website with the same name.
Once the blog name you have in mind shows as available, open up another tab and do a quick google search just to make sure nothing similar pops up. You don’t want to have a blog with the name “Best Blog Ever” for example, only to find out “The Best Blog Ever” already exists. That’s too much crazy competition to deal with and you’ll never dig out from under.
Now that you’ve got your name settled, go ahead and make the purchase. Seriously, it’s like shopping at HomeGoods. If you hesitate and come back later, it will be gone. I learned that the hard way with a different site. I decided I wanted to buy my actual name and make it into a domain in case I decided to merge my two sites. The next day it was gone. Jeez. Now when I look up my name as a dot com it’s available for sale for $600. Yes, people can do that. Buying and selling domain names is a real thing and that’s what happened. Lesson learned.
Once you’ve decided on a domain name, hit the NEXT button and you’ll be taken over to the sign up page. The only thing I recommend adding on is the domain privacy protection which keeps your personal information private.
You can decide if want to purchase the .co, .net, .ca etc. I think it’s wise to do that because it prevents someone from starting a website with almost the same name but it does increase your cost. Make sure you check off the button for automatic renewal as well. That auto renew button is a guarantee that you’re site won’t go offline if you forget to renew in time. Like while you’re on vacation, which happened to a blogging friend. Her site was down for over three weeks and she had no idea until she got home. She had diligently written and scheduled all of her posts while she was away but hadn’t checked off the handy dandy auto-renewal button when she signed up for her domain and hosting. Super bad.
You’ll finish up by creating a log in name and password. Write it down somewhere because it’s going to need to have a capital letter, some numbers and a weird key stroke like # or something in it! Once that’s done, Bluehost will verify your website to make sure you’re a real person, usually by phone since that’s the easiest way. You’ll be able to check off your option during the sign up process.
Congratulations! You’re now a website owner and you’re ready to move on and start thinking about assigning your domain to a website platform.
Which is exactly what we’re going to be chatting about in Part 3. If you haven’t already signed up for email updates, be sure to do it today in our subscribe bar on the right hand side or at the top of our page. You’ll get an email when the rest of this series is posted so you don’t miss a thing.