How Do I Register a Domain Name in 2021
You’ve done your research and come up with an idea for an online business.
You’ve brainstormed some options for domains and extensions that you think would be a good match.
So the next obvious question you’ll ask yourself, is “How do I register a domain name?”
You can register a domain name either directly through a domain registrar such as Namecheap or GoDaddy for as little as $9 per year. Alternatively, you can purchase your domain name through your web host for $12 – $25 per year.
But there’s nuance to each approach, which we explain further along in this tutorial.
Don’t skip ahead because that could quite literally cost you money.
Also, we’d encourage you to relax – registering a domain isn’t as complicated as it might sound. It’s easy.
In fact, we’re going to walk you through each step of the process, so you can’t make any mistakes.
By the time you’ve finished this article you’ll be able to register a domain name like a pro.
So, let’s get to it.
How To Register a Domain
You have two options when you want to register a domain name.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
1. Through a domain registrar
A domain registrar is a company that acts as an intermediary between you and ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
Basically, they provide you with a way to register a domain name without having to deal with a lot of red tape.
But there are so many domain registrars out there – over 900 at last count- how can you know which one to choose?
For the purpose of this tutorial we’re going to focus on just two domain registrars:
The reasoning behind this is that they’ve both been in business for two decades so they offer stability and longevity.
Plus, we’ve used both of these companies to register multiple domains in the past.
So we know they’re reliable.
Our test domain name
We use the fictitious term “babblewabble” when guiding you through the domain registration processes below.
This domain is not currently registered at the time of writing, nor does it have any particular commercial value.
It’s used here to illustrate how the domain registration process works, and nothing else.
How to register a domain with Namecheap
Namecheap offers you two ways to search for available domain names:
Basic search – you input one domain at a time to check for availability
Bulk search – you input several domain ideas at once to check for availability
So, if you only have one or two domains you want to check then use their basic search functionality. This is available on the Namecheap homepage:
You can run a bulk search by either clicking on ‘Beast mode’:
Or from the main menu on the Namecheap homepage:
Your first step is to simply enter your domain name + extension into the search bar and click on ‘Search’.
You’ll then be told whether or not your preferred domain name is available, and also for multiple extensions.
In the example below you can see that the .com version of this domain is available, but so also are the .net and .org variations. So this represents an ideal outcome for you because you can choose to register all the variations too if you’re creating an online brand or want to prevent brand jacking:
Now simply click on ‘Add to Cart’:
You’ll then be presented with a list of add-ons that you can attach to your order before completing it:
- Domain Registration – This is obviously required, but it is a good idea to enable the ‘Auto-Renew’ function before you check out. Your domain registration fee will be automatically charged to your payment method 12 months from now, ensuring that you retain ownership of the domain.
- Domain Privacy – Enabling this function prevents people from running a Whois check to find out who owns a given domain name. You should always use whatever domain privacy function your registrar offers and also set it to ‘Auto-Renew’.
- Premium DNS – You don’t need this particular feature right now or possibly ever. So you can skip past this add-on.
Just beneath the above options, you’ll find a section called ‘Improve your site’ with the following products or services listed:
Web hosting – Namecheap’s own web hosting service and while there’s nothing wrong with it we’d advice against having your web hosting and domain registration with just one company.
SSL – This stands for Secure Socket Layer, and in plain English, your site will be available via a secure HTTPS URL instead of an unsecured HTTP URL. We recommend that every new blog uses SSL from the very outset, so it is advisable to purchase an SSL add-on.
Note: Free SSL and paid SSL is not the same thing – a paid solution such as ‘Positive SSL’ is far superior in every way to free certificates.
VPN – You can sign up for Namecheap’s VPN here. This is not required for running a blog, so you can ignore this option.
EasyWP WordPress – This offers a simplified interface for WordPress and your cPanel account. You don’t need this unless you plan on using Namecheap as your web host.
Professional Email – You’re better off using either your hosted email addresses via your hosting account or Google Workspace if you prefer using a Gmail-style interface.
Now simply click on ‘Confirm Order’.
You will need to create an account with Namecheap to complete your order, but this only takes a few moments.
Once you’ve created your account, simply select your preferred payment method and complete your order.
As of right now, Namecheap accepts the following forms of payment:
- Credit/debit card
- Bitcoin/Bitcoin cash
And that’s it – you’ve successfully registered your first domain name.
See, we told you it wasn’t nearly as difficult as you thought it might be.
But Namecheap – to their credit – does make the process very easy even for a total beginner.
How to register a domain with GoDaddy
GoDaddy is our second choice of domain registrar for this tutorial.
Again, you can begin the domain name registration process from GoDaddy’s homepage:
Enter your preferred domain name, plus extension, and click on ‘Search Domain’.
In this example, we find that our domain is available for just $1, and if we scroll down a little bit we can see that both the .net and .org variations are also available for registration:
Some of you might be wondering how GoDaddy can stay in business charging just $1 for a .com domain registration?
The explanation is in the fine print – it’s an introductory offer and it’s priced “per month” and not per year.
When you renew the domain in 12 month’s time it will cost $18.99 per year.
But in their defense, you do get basic privacy protection included in the price.
These types of hidden costs are worth checking with all domain registrars – always do your due diligence before entering into any contract.
If you want to continue with your domain name registration then click ‘Continue to cart’:
You should use ‘Continue to Cart’ because it allows you to customize your order i.e. trim off any unnecessary stuff you don’t need or want.
On the next page you’re offered various ‘Privacy Protection’ packages:
You can leave this set to ‘No Thanks’ if you want to keep your costs to the bare minimum.
The next optional add-on is GoDaddy’s web hosting:
This costs $9.99 per month, so you can leave this unchecked if you’re going to host your domain elsewhere.
The next optional extra is GoDaddy email packages:
Again, you don’t need this so you can leave this set to ‘No Thanks’ and then click ‘Continue to Cart’.
And you’ll see that the final price for our test domain name is $11.99.
GoDaddy also requires you to create an account before you complete the checkout process.
You can pay for your domain registration with:
- Credit/debit card
- GoDaddy gift card
Domain registrar summary
So let’s do a quick side-by-side comparison of the above domain registrars.
As you can see Namecheap is the cheaper of the two options as well as offering a more straightforward checkout process.
With that said, some website owners simply prefer doing business with GoDaddy, so personal preference does come into play.
Plus, you can always transfer your domain names to another registrar if you get fed up with the costs or behavior of the one you’re with right now.
Just bear in mind that most companies won’t allow you to transfer a domain name out to another registrar for at least 30 days after the date of registration.
Connecting it to your web hosting
If you’re wondering, “Can I register a domain and host it somewhere else?” then the simple answer to that question is “Yes”.
In fact, it’s our preferred method for doing things when we set up a new blog or website – we keep our registrars and web hosts separate from each other.
You will typically only need to change the DNS (Domain Name System) settings for your domain when setting it up with your web host.
Doing that, however, goes beyond the scope of this article, but we’ve added links to the relevant help files:
Your web hosting provider might also be able to provide guidance on the subject.
2. Through a web host
Now that we’ve covered how to purchase your domain through a domain registrar, it’s time to look at how you purchase a domain through a web host.
Note: This is not our preferred method for registering a domain name.
Bluehost is our web hosting company of choice here because we actually use them. But you’ll find the process is almost identical regardless of which web host you use.
There are two ways to use Bluehost as a domain registrar:
- Buying a standalone domain
- As part of a hosting package
To just purchase a domain without web hosting click on ‘Domains’ from the top menu of Bluehost’s homepage:
Now enter the domain name you want to register, but you choose your domain extension either from a dropdown menu or by typing it in manually and then click on ‘Search’:
We can see that our domain is available:
But it’s $12.99 per year, or $24.87 per year with ‘Privacy+ Protection”.
This makes Bluehost a more expensive option than either Namecheap or GoDaddy for registering a domain.
With a hosting package
Let’s take a step back and look at how much a domain costs when purchased as part of a shared hosting package.
Click on ‘Hosting’ and then ‘Shared Hosting’ from the menu on the homepage:
We’ll choose their ‘Basic’ package from the next page:
Now choose ‘Create a new domain’ and click ‘Next’ as illustrated below:
The good news is that you get a free domain name with a Bluehost ‘Basic’ plan:
The bad news is that the hosting package costs $59.40, which isn’t free.
Plus, you’ve also now attached your domain name to your web host within a 12-month contract, which could lead to frustration/complications months from now.
Registering your domain names through a web hosting provider is a viable option for you.
But it’s the most expensive option – Bluehost is the rare exception because they don’t charge upfront for a domain name when you purchase a hosting plan from them.
Most other web hosts charge anywhere up to $25 for registering a domain with one of their web hosting plans.
Wrapping things up
And that brings us to the end of our tutorial on how to register a domain name.
Hopefully, you can now see that you need to look before you leap, and that is especially true when it comes to any kind of “special offers”.
Our only goal with this article was to show you the exact process and costs involved with registering a domain via different registrars vs. via a web hosting provider and not to influence your decision-making in any way.
But as you can see, there’s very little point in paying 5x – 8x more than you need to for a domain.
Especially if you’re trying to bootstrap your blogging business.
How did you choose to register your domain? Let us know in the comments below!
About Matt Collins
With a rapidly growing team of readers, my mission is to teach hungry professionals how to maximize their net worth with scalable side hustles and responsible financial management practices.
My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, 100% true, unbiased recommendations for systems and software I know and trust.