This is part 4 of the series: Your blog’s domain name
Is it okay to use a cost-free domain?
- Some companies, like WordPress.com or Blogger, offer “free” domain names and sites. They require that your domain is hosted on their site, and that their site be recognized in some way. For example, a free WordPress site has the domain name http://yourchosenname.wordpress.com . Or some companies may insist that you allow them to include advertising around your content, which they will profit from. They also often limit the kinds of activities you can do on the site. If you are willing to live with the company’s rules, free is probably fine.
- But if you have big future plans, you are advised to consider paying for your own unique name. WordPress, as an example, offers two options. You can stay with the simple WordPress.com format, and just pay $17 a year, for which “yourdomainname” becomes yours, and you no longer have to have “wordpress” as part of the name. Or you can graduate to “wordpress.org”, which is somewhat more complicated but does give you many options such as running a business from the site, and far more control over what content you choose, etc. You can also sell it later if you wish.
- If you are willing to stay with a “free” domain name, it is usually easy to change the “yourdomainname” part of your blog name, as long as no one else has taken it. This can work if you’ve just started out and don’t have many readers, but if you want to change your name later on, you’ll probably confuse a lot of people and lose readers, so it is best to be sure about what name you want to use, right from the start.
- It is not always easy to “upgrade” from a free to a paid domain name. You may discover when you are ready to upgrade, that “yourdomainname” is already owned, and you’d have to change your domain name. Even the technical aspects of upgrading can be challenging. So if you have long-term plans, you should consider owning your own domain name from the start.
- If you sign up for a “free” site, be sure to read the rules and regulations carefully, or you may find your site suddenly closed down – and if you don’t have a back-up, you could lose everything. As a real example, at one point, I put a link from a post on this site to a certain company that retails digital goods. I only put the link as an informational item, so my readers could go and see what happens there – but it was interpreted by WordPress’ automatic checker as if I were advertising for that site, and this site was automatically closed down. I had to email WordPress and explain my situation – and they then put my site up again, on the condition that I remove the link and reference to that site.
Should I buy up extra domain names relevant to my blog?
- If you’re new to blogging and just trying it out, you’re probably best to choose one domain name. But if you have big plans (create more blogs, become a pro-blogger, etc) it may be to your advantage to purchase extra names that have keywords related to your niche focus. That keeps other bloggers from setting up a site that is very similarly named to yours, where your readers might end up accidentally. You can also have the extra names you own “point” to your blog, so that if your blog is “coolblog.com” and someone types “coolblog.net” (which domain name you also own) they’ll still end up at your site.
- On the “buying” topic, should you buy a popular domain name if the owner has it up for sale? Maybe, if you think it will really draw traffic, if you believe you can recoup the investment through profits from your blog within a short time, if you plan to really work your blog, if you can afford it, and if you get some good legal advice about it. A lot of if’s! But in some cases it is worth it.
Excellent articles about domain names:
Here are some excellent posts on other blogs that will give you more detailed information on choosing the best domain name for your blog:
Tentblogger.com article: “Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right, Best Domain Name for Your Blog”
Wikipedia article: “Domain Name”
TheDailyBlogTips.com article: “The 7 characteristics of good domain names”
TheSiteWizard.com article: “Tips on choosing a good domain name.”
Question of the Day: What other questions do you have about choosing a good domain name for your blog? Ask your questions in the comments section below.
Tip of the Day: Check out the articles mentioned above. They are very helpful!
Put it into Action: Have you gone through all four articles in this series, “Your Blog’s Domain Name“? If you haven’t, be sure to do so right away. If you have read them all, it is time to choose a domain name for your blog – and then get started on your blog right away! Don’t forget – for excellent information about how to set up your new blog, check out our article “Resources on the Mechanics of Blogging.”