A great website is critical for any business these days, including photography! In a world where information is as accessible as reaching into your pocket, making it easy for potential clients to find you is key. We’ve all experienced the frustration of searching for a brand or company’s website, investing valuable time scrolling, or trying to guess a URL. You can have the most aesthetically beautiful and functional website in the world, but if people can’t find it, then what’s the point? Don’t let that happen to your business! It all starts with where to buy a domain name.
Before You Buy A Domain Name, What Do You Need To Know?
Ease of website accessibility begins with a clear domain name, one that makes it easy to find your business in a sea of others. Whether you already have a website hosting platform picked out (if you need more help, check out our blog on that here!) or you’re starting off with your domain name, it can be confusing to figure out where to purchase one. Don’t worry – we’ve got your back!
First, let’s start by talking about some domain name basics. The purpose of a domain name is to make the internet easier to use; without domain names, you’d have to search for websites by typing in annoyingly long IP addresses made of numbers.
So, how do you get a specific domain name for your website? You purchase a domain name through a domain name registrar. These registrars are all managed by one parent nonprofit organization (ICANN) that is responsible for managing all of the internet’s domain names. Companies can apply to ICANN for accreditation and then begin selling unused domain names to individuals, businesses, and organizations.
The game of it all is that these companies are in competition with one another to sell domain names at varying prices and include a variety of protections and perks. That’s why it’s important to do a little research before just purchasing a domain name from the first registrar you find.
A Few Things To Consider Before Choosing Your Domain Name Registrar:
- Pricing: Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of a lower price. Some domain registrars may offer a great deal upfront for the first year that you own the domain name but then hike up renewal prices if you want to retain your domain past the initial period.
- Longevity: When you purchase a domain name, you’re registering it for a minimum of one year. Some registrars may require a commitment of longer than one year, committing you to a longer registration than you may have originally wanted. Just be sure to know exactly what you are committing to!
- Hidden fees and costs: Be sure to check if there will be any additional fees for renewing your domain name, transferring it to a different website host, or any other sneaky reasons down the line.
Something else to keep in mind is that you’ll want to make sure the “auto-renewal” option is selected when you purchase from your registrar. This ensures that whenever your registration ends, it automatically renews, and you get to keep your domain name. The alternative is letting your registration lapse and risking someone else coming along to purchase it for themselves before you’ve had the chance to secure it again.
Where to Buy a Domain Name
Now that you know a little more about buying a domain name, let’s talk about where you can purchase one! While there are tons of registrars out there, we’re going to highlight a few of the most popular (and some of our favorites) to get you started.
(There are affiliate links in this article that will give you discounts with these domain name registrars. But we assure you that any of them will be a great match for your company. We only recommend the best in the business.)
GoDaddy is one of the oldest domain name registrars and by far one of the most popular. To date, they manage over 84 million domain names!! They have a huge variety of popular domain extensions (.com, .net, .info, and so many others you may not have even known exist!), so you can find an option that is best for your business. We use GoDaddy for our domains for multiple reasons.
Features Of Buying a GoDaddy Domain Name
First of all, their customer support is exceptional – and award-winning! There’s always a friendly expert just a phone call or chat message away from helping you get your questions answered and problems sorted.
GoDaddy makes purchasing a domain nice and simple. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be the most tech-savvy person, their domain management interface is easy to use and makes changing your name servers, transferring your domain name, and customizing settings a breeze. Each of their domain names comes with free domain privacy forever, protecting your personal info and preventing spam by providing you a private email address for any domain inquiries that come your way.
To make things even easier, GoDaddy also offers tons of other services that make running and managing your business even simpler. You can host your website with them, use their website builder to create a brand-appropriate and eye-catching website and manage your email marketing, all in one place.
For the record, GoDaddy also tends to be one of the most affordable registrars out there. While you should still do your research on price, longevity, and those pesky hidden fees, don’t be surprised if you end up back at GoDaddy!
Bluehost is another big name in both domain names and website hosting. A lot of creatives and business owners love it for its ease of use with WordPress, but it’s also a great spot for finding a domain name. Their initial prices tend to be low but double-check their renewal costs, which are typically at a significantly higher price.
Features Of Buying a Bluehost Domain Name
Managing your domain is super easy with Bluehost and is another great option for less tech-savvy people. They also offer domain forwarding, meaning you can purchase multiple domain names that direct your visitors to one specific spot (if they type in yourdomain.info, it will direct them instantly to yourdomain.com.)
Bluehost’s customer support is available by phone or chat 24/7, so anything you need, they’ll be able to help you keep things simple.
Something to note comparatively with GoDaddy – while they do offer domain privacy, theirs does not come included with your domain name. Instead, you have to pay an extra $15 a year to make sure your personal info stays protected. It’s a small annual cost, but something to keep in mind when comparing registrars!
Namecheap delivers exactly what its name states loud and clear – pretty darn affordable prices. They are the leader in low prices when it comes to domain names, both with initial costs and renewal fees.
Features Of Buying a Namecheap Domain Name
While Namecheap may not have the brand recognition of GoDaddy (or the marketing budget for a Superbowl commercial), they are a reliable and pretty well-known company. They, too, offer website hosting and marketing tools for your business, and still at lower prices. However, there is an element of “you get what you pay for” when it comes to some of their flashier tools. What may be included in a GoDaddy package could cost a little extra with Namecheap.
When it comes to customer support, Namecheap only has an online chat (no phone number to call,) so if you’re a “talk me through it” kind of person, you may want to consider a different registrar. However, their chat function is highly user-friendly and well-staffed, so you typically won’t have to wait a long time to have your questions answered. They also offer plenty of guides and how-to videos for you to learn more on your own.
Namecheap also offers domain add-on services like privacy features that don’t come included. While their domain management area is totally functional, it’s not quite as user-friendly as GoDaddy’s, so you may have a slightly larger learning curve.
All in all, Namecheap is a fantastic option for anyone just starting out and looking for a cost-effective place to purchase a domain name. There’s a reason it has sold over 17 million domain names!
Where to Avoid Buying a Domain Name
Your Website Builder (Wix, Squarespace, etc)
While website builders are incredible tools for creating attractive and easily manageable websites, they aren’t necessarily the best place to purchase a domain. Often, these websites can make it complicated to transfer your domain, should you ever need to.
What’s transferring, you may ask, and why would I need to do it? Transferring your domain is when you move your domain name from one registrar to another. You’re only allowed to do so after 60 days of purchasing (or previously transferring) your domain name, and this is all monitored by ICANN. Maybe you feel dissatisfied with your current registrar’s price change, or perhaps your website is taking a little more time to load. Perhaps you are purchasing the domain name from another user. Whatever the case, you can transfer your domain name fairly easily.
Wix, in particular, has a pretty sketchy reputation when it comes to transferring their domain names. They’ve even been known to charge a pretty shocking fee for transfers. Let website builders do what they do best (build beautiful websites), and strongly consider purchasing your domain name from a different registrar.
Where To Buy A Domain Name
Whatever your business name, the right domain name can help drive traffic to your website and help your clients – current and potential – find you with ease. I hope you feel more confident about where to buy a domain name. But if you still have questions, feel free to reach out! We have absolutely been in your shoes before, and we have learned firsthand which of these registrars is best for photographers and business owners.