(Important Note: There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t believe in them. My recommendations are based on my honest opinions and not on potential affiliate commissions.)
If you want to make a full-time living online, you’re going to be setting up a lot of websites, and one of the basic steps in the setup of each of those websites is buying a domain name.
Buying a domain name is easy once you know the right way to go about it, but if you’re a beginner, or if the process is new to you, it can be a bit confusing.
That’s what this post is for. In it, I’ll be talking you through every element of buying a domain name:
- how to choose your domain name
- how to check your chosen domain name’s availability
- how to buy your domain name
- how to setup your domain’s name servers
How to Choose a Domain Name
The first step to buying a domain name is coming up with an idea for the domain name itself. To help you do that, I’ve compiled a short list of guidelines that will steer you in the right direction.
These guidelines aren’t written in stone, but you should do your best to stick to as many of them as possible.
- .com extensions only. Don’t play around with other extensions. Stick with .coms. How many huge sites that are making a lot of money do you know with a .net or .org extension? There may be a few, but .coms are the way to go if you’re taking your online income seriously
- Don’t use hyphens. When you’re hunting for a good domain name, you might be tempted to use hyphens when every idea you think of is unavailable. Resist that temptation. Hyphens make domain names hard to say, hard to remember, and hard to type in. Avoid them
- Don’t use numbers. Numbers cause confusion. People don’t know if they should type in the digit or spell out the words. The solution? Never use numbers
- No hard-to-spell words. When your website starts spreading via word-of-mouth, weird or tricky words will make it hard for people who are typing your domain name directly into their web browser. Keep the words in your domain name simple
- Be unique. You don’t want to get your website confused with existing sites, so don’t choose a name that sounds or looks like other websites. Also avoid using different spellings and plurals of existing sites
- Be memorable. If your name is memorable, it’ll be easier for people to visit more than once, and it’ll be easier for people to tell other people about your site. Use repeating sounds to make your name catchy, like Double Your Dating and Prevent Your Panic
- Be descriptive. Choose a domain name that makes it clear what your website is about. When someone arrives at your website they should know what to expect and not be surprised at what they find. Having a name that makes it clear what you do is essential
- Keep it short. The shorter a domain name the better. Short names are easier to type in, easier to remember, and easier to pass on to other people. Try to keep your domain name to 3 words of less, 4 at a maximum
Stick to these guidelines and you’ll always end up with a good domain name.
How to Find Out if Your Chosen Domain Name is Available
One of the most frustrating parts about searching for the perfect domain name is that almost everything you can think of will already be taken.
You’ll probably need to come up with dozens or even hundreds of ideas before you find one that’s available, so you’re going to be checking on the availability of a lot of domain names.
That means you need a fast way to see if a domain name is available.
The best way I’ve found is to use a website called Instant Domain Search. It’s a great site, and it’s really easy to use.
On this site, all you need to do is type in the domain name you’d like to buy, and instantly you’ll be able to see if it’s available.
I use this tool every single time I’m buying a new domain name, and it saves me so much time and hassle.
What I like to do is make a shortlist of names I like, maybe 15 or 20 of them, and then I go to Instant Domain Search and try them out one by one. In just a few seconds I know what’s available and what’s not.
Where to Go to Buy Your Domain Name
Once you’ve found a name you like, and you’ve confirmed that it’s available, you need to buy the domain name from a domain name registrar.
There are hundreds of registrars online, but there’s only 1 that I recommend:
As their name suggests, NameCheap’s domains are cheap. Their checkout process is also refreshingly simple, and they don’t bombard you with upsells and offers every time you want to buy a domain name.
Something else that I really like about NameCheap is that they throw in a year’s free privacy protection with all the domain name’s they sell.
Privacy protection means that no one can use your domain name to discover your personal contact information, and with identity fraud the way it is these days, that has to be a good thing.
With most registrars, privacy protection costs an extra $10 a year, so I like that NameCheap offers it for free for the first year.
How to Buy Your Domain Name
You’ve chosen your domain name, you’ve checked that it’s available, and you’ve headed over to NameCheap. Now let me walk you through the purchase of your domain name.
When you arrive at the NameCheap website, you’ll see this homepage.
Enter the name you’ve chosen into the big search box in the middle of the page. Make sure you select the right domain extention in the little menu to the right (this will almost always be .com, but if you want a different extension, here’s where you’ll select it).
Now click on the search button. You’ll need to wait a moment for NameCheap to see if your name is available, although if you used Instant Domain Search you’ll already know it is.
After a few seconds, you’ll see your domain name displayed with an “Add To Cart” button beneath it. Click on that button.
You’ll now be on your shopping cart page, and in your cart you’ll see your domain name and the free whois guard that gives you one year of free privacy protection. Underneath this you’ll see a checkout button – click on it.
You’ll be taken to a page where you can create an account. Choose a username and password, and enter your name and email address.
Next you’ll be taken to a series of pages where you need to enter your contact information and your payment details. Enter all this information as it’s requested.
Somewhere during this process you might be asked for nameservers. If you are, ignore that as we’ll be dealing with those in the next step.
Once you’ve entered all of your information your purchase will be processed and you’ll now own your domain name.
How to Setup Your Nameservers
When you buy a new domain name, the final step is always to change its nameservers.
Nameservers are the link between your domain name and your website. When someone types in your domain name, it’s the nameservers that take them to your website.
To find your nameservers, hunt down the welcome email you got from your hosting company. Somewhere in there you can usually find your nameservers.
If you don’t have the welcome email, go to the support section of your hosting company, send them your account info, and ask them to send your nameservers to you.
When you have your nameservers, you need to go and enter them into your domain name’s settings. There’s no need for me to talk you through this step, because NameCheap have put together a great little video that shows you exactly what to do.
Once you’ve changed your nameservers, you’re done. You’ve bought your domain name, you’ve set it up, and it’s ready to go.