The first step to starting your blog is figuring out what you’re going to call it and then registering the domain name.
Every serious blogger I know has their own domain name (except in the fashion world for some weird reason). There’s an obvious number of reasons why you don’t want to start a blog under someone else’s platform (blogger, typepad, etc). Get your own!
You have 3 main options:
- Register a brand new domain
- Buy a previously registered domain that someone else already owns.
- Catch an expired domain in an auction drop
1. Brand New Domain
If you come up with a name that has not been previously taken, congrats! That’s getting rarer and rarer these days. Usually I check if a domain name is taken at whois.domaintools.com – if a domain name is taken it often links to where it’s available to buy in the aftermarket (option #2 – see below).
.COM is the most obvious – there’s no other extension that comes close. If you can’t find a good .com available, you can always get creative. I almost always go with a .com even if I have to spend the money, however I’ve registered a few .me domains and a few domain hacks (example: visual.ly) and once in a while a .org (like this website).
Once I know a domain name is available, I like to register the domain at Namecheap.
Namecheap is good since they’re inexpensive, have a nice uncluttered control panel, and give you really cheap whois privacy (if you want that). They also don’t try to upsell you a bunch of useless garbage like Godaddy does.
Namecheap offers dynamic DNS – which is good if you want to move hosts quickly – within minutes even. They also offer free url forwarding, and even email services (I’d use Google apps for that instead).
Sidenote: Whatever you do, do NOT use 1and1, ever, for any reason. Ever. Ever ever.
2. Buy a Domain in the Aftermarket
Since most of the good domains are already registered, there are several options of getting one that someone already owns. The following places offer domains you can buy from their owners:
Most of the time I don’t search collections individually but instead use the Domain Tools Marketplace which aggregates them – or I contact the owner directly from the whois records (found via whois search) and email him/her directly asking if the domain name is for sale and if so, at what price. I’ve been able to pick up several quality domains that way – ranging in price from $70 to $7,250 depending on the quality of the domain name.
Bonus tip: if you find a domain via buy domains, call them and bargain with them – often they will take a price that’s 10-20% off if you’re a serious buyer, especially towards the end of the month when they’re under quote pressure.
3. Grab a Dropping Domain in an Auction
I’ve picked up a number of good domains by monitoring dropping domain auctions. When a person does not renew a domain they own, it typically drops 45-90 days after by that domain’s registrar. These days, most of these domains are auctioned off to the highest bidder before they actually drop.
A few great places to look for domains that are dropping are:
I recently picked up dmad.com from a godaddy auction (for about $560) and have seen some other great domain bargains there. I almost snagged smoothcriminal.com but didn’t want to shell out several hundred dollars.
Domain Registration Tips
If you register a domain, search for a coupon code to save a few bucks. You can usually get a $1 coupon code off if you spend a minute looking.
I typically do not add any services when I buy the domain, such as private registration or “registered” registration, or SSL certificates, or any of that crap. Just get the domain. If you need anything else later, you can always add it (you won’t need to).