Having purchased dozens of domains over the years as a web designer, I know that the process can be a bit confusing for beginners.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the base URL that someone types into their browser to visit a website, such as Amazon.com.
It’s possible to set up a website without buying a domain name by using services like Wix.com that will host a site for you for free, but it’s far more professional to have your own domain name – and it’s not difficult or expensive.
Buying Your First Domain Name Using Namecheap
Domain names are purchased through a domain registrar, such as Namecheap.
Once you purchase a domain name, it will be registered as belonging to you for as long as you maintain the registration.
It’s very straightforward to purchase a domain, and it’s something that you may be doing for your clients, so it’s important to understand the steps.
If you’re starting your own web design business, the best place to start is with your own domain name, since you’ll need a website for yourself.
You may want to check to see what domain names are available when you’re deciding on a name for your business.
How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Domain Name?
Most domain names only cost $10 to $15 dollars a year, and many domain registrars offer even cheaper initial rates.
Of course, this price can vary if you are purchasing a domain that is being sold by a third party seller.
If the domain name is taken but being sold through a domain brokerage, you’ll be able to work with the seller to find the exact price that both parties will agree to.
The most expensive domain I ever purchased was around $2,000.
I waged an all-out war with another bidder on GoDaddy’s Domain Auction and the price went from around $900 to $2,000 within the last minute of the auction.
Thankfully, this was just the auction fee and the domain will renew yearly around the $10-15 price.
So, in closing, as long as you’re not crazy like I am, you can grab a domain for a much cheaper rate between $10-15 from most registrars.
Need Help Figuring Out What Domain to Buy?
If you’re struggling to figure out a name for your website, use a free tool like LeanDomainSearch which will generate different available domains based on the terms you type into it.
I used this tool to figure out the name of my blog TechProsperity.com (before I decided to change the name of it to ThomasFAdams.com – it’s still the name of my LLC, though!) by typing the word “tech” into the search bar.
Give this tool a try and you’ll see why I love it!
Step 1: Set Up Your Namecheap Account
Let’s take a look at the simple steps it takes to register a domain name through Namecheap – easily the best domain registrar out there (eat your heart out, GoDaddy!).
First, you’ll set up an account via the signup link at the top of the site.
Next, fill out your information on the Create An Account page like so:
Once you’re signed in, you’ll be taken to your dashboard where you’ll be able to do all the tasks associated with maintaining your domain names.
For now, go back to the homepage where we’ll start the process of buying your first domain.
Step 2: Search for Your Domain Name
Back on the Namecheap homepage, you’ll be able to search for the name that you want to use.
The results will tell you if the .com version of the name is available.
There are many other top-level domains that will be suggested (.biz, ,info, etc.), but I don’t recommend using them since .com domains have more of a brandable feel in my experience.
Once you find an available .com (make sure that everything is spelled correctly!) you’ll want to add it to your cart.
If you really need a certain name that’s only available as a .net or even a .org that’s OK, but .com is always preferable in my book.
Step 3: Proceed to Checkout
Once you go to your cart, you’ll have some additional options to select before you make the purchase.
First is the length of time that the domain will remain registered.
For optimal SEO benefit, more than one year is generally preferred, but even if you just purchase one year that’s fine. In any case, it’s a good idea to keep auto renew enabled.
Step 4: WhoisGuard
Next is WhoisGuard.
Domain registrars are required to provide information about who owns a domain name to the public, but you can purchase WhoisGuard to keep that information hidden.
It’s been said that Google gives a slight edge to sites with open and transparent information, so for a site that you’ll want to have the best search engine rankings possible it’s a good idea to disable WhoisGuard.
A site can still rank well with WhoisGuard enabled, however, so if you don’t want your personal information out there, especially if the only address you have to use is your personal address, I recommend grabbing it.
Your call, however!
Step 5: Ignore the Upsell
You can ignore all of the additional services that they’ll try to sell you.
Domain names aren’t expensive, but you can also easily find promo codes to get a little discount with a quick Google search.
Once you’re ready to check out, click the Confirm Order button and you’ll fill in your billing information.
The next page will show you the registration information that will appear in the who.is database that anyone can look up.
Generally, each contact section can be the same unless you have a specific reason for adding someone else’s information in the other contact sections.
Step 6: Finalize Your Purchase
Finally, you’ll provide your payment information and finalize your order.
If you go back to your dashboard you’ll be able to see your newly purchased domain name.
Congratulations, you’ve just purchased a domain through Namecheap! Remember that any domain name purchase is final and can’t be refunded.
That’s why it’s very important to make sure that you’re getting the exact name you want: again, double-check your spelling!
Now that you’ve gotten a domain purchased, you’ll likely need to buy hosting if you plan on building a WordPress website.
I recommend using Siteground, and you can read my step-by-step tutorial on how to buy web hosting with Siteground on my site as well.