How to Buy a Domain Name: Step-by-Step Guide for Popular Registrars
Struggling with how to buy a domain name?
Your domain name is the permanent address of your website on the internet. Ours is
codeinwp.com. Apart from using the domain for your website, you can also set up custom email accounts on it (like
firstname.lastname@example.org), and more.
But before you can do all that, you need to purchase a domain name, which is what this post is about.
We’ll start by quickly introducing you to how domain ownership works so that you know what’s going on. Then, we’ll show you step-by-step how to buy a domain name from some of the most popular domain registrars:
Let’s get started!
How domain ownership works
To buy a domain name, you need to use a service called a domain registrar.
Why do you need to use a special service? Well, it has to do with making sure the internet keeps functioning.
Only one person can own a domain at a time. For example, you can’t go out and buy
facebook.com because Facebook already owns it. You can check if a domain name is available using a tool like Domain Wheel.
To keep track of everything and avoid conflicts (like two people trying to own the same domain name), there are centralized services that manage domain names (ICANN is a big one).
To purchase a domain name, you need to use a vendor that’s accredited by those centralized domain management services – that’s what a domain registrar is.
The domain registrar lets you purchase your domain name. Then, once you’ve purchased it, the registrar also lets you manage your domain name, such as pointing it to your web hosting or email account.
The basic process works like this:
- Go to the web registrar.
- Enter the domain that you want to use. Then, the registrar will tell you whether it’s available or not.
- If available, purchase the domain name.
When you buy a domain name, you pay for one year of ownership. After that first year ends, you can either:
- Renew the domain to maintain ownership. You always have the first right to renew – no one can take the domain from you as long as you renew it before it expires.
- Let the domain name expire, in which case it goes back into the pool of available domain names (after a waiting period) and someone else can purchase it in the future.
If you’re worried about forgetting to renew your domain name, there are two things you can do:
- Most domain registrars allow you to enable automatic renewal, so your domain registration will automatically renew every year even if you forget about it.
- You can pay for multiple years upfront. For example, you could pay for five years at a time so that you don’t need to think about it again until those five years are up.
What to consider when buying a domain name
Before I show you how to buy a domain name, it’s important to run over a few important considerations for making your purchase:
- Initial purchase prices – different domain registrars charge different initial purchase prices for different domain extensions. Typically, a “good” price for a
.comdomain name is $9-$12.
- Renewal prices – some services charge a higher cost when you renew (GoDaddy does this – so watch out). Namecheap and Google Domains are nice because they don’t charge higher renewal fees.
- Domain privacy – by default, your contact details are available in something called a Whois database. Anyone can use this to look up who owns a domain name. If you want to make your details private, some services offer Whois privacy, which completely anonymizes your contact details. Google Domains and Namecheap both offer free domain privacy, while some other services charge extra for it.
How to buy a domain name from popular domain registrars
Now that you know how domain ownership works, let’s get into the actual nuts and bolts of how to buy a domain name at some of the most popular domain registrars.
We’ll show you how it works at six different providers. If you already know the registrar that you want to use, you can click on the link in the list below to jump straight to that section:
On the other hand, if you want both hosting and a domain name, we think Bluehost can be a great option because they give you a free domain for your first year, which lets you save some money.