How to get a free domain name for your website
Creating a website takes a lot of work and consideration. It is not enough to simply create a website or find a hosting provider to make it work on the World Wide Web. You also need a domain name to attract visitors and customers. If you think of your website as a physical store, the domain name is the business address. Without an address, potential customers won’t find your store in the real world, and the same goes for domain names and websites.
Fortunately, buying a domain name is not complicated and there are several methods to buy one. In fact, we have a step-by-step domain registration guide you should check out for pointers. That said, you can choose a domain name without spending a dime if you’re prepared to face a few caveats. We’ll show you how.
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But first, some valuable information
There are a few things to consider when securing a domain name. Generally, domain names are not owned by you to be retained indefinitely. They are usually free for a year or two, after which the registrar will charge you for renewal. You can also lose the domain if you use it for what the provider considers illegal activity (spamming, for example). Additionally, almost all registrars reserve the right to make changes to the registration agreement at any time and without notice to you. Be sure to check out any potential registrar carefully before committing.
Domain names rarely come with privacy protection. This means that your information as the domain owner is publicly available to anyone snooping around the Whois database. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business and your information is already publicly available, privacy probably won’t be a major concern. However, if you are a blogger and do not want your home address to be available to everyone on the Internet, privacy is an important security step. Depending on the registrar you use, this can be as low as $2 per year or as high as $20 per year.
Now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s explore the three ways to get a free domain name.
1. Check out free domain registrars
Dot TK and Freenom are domain registrars that allow you to get a domain for free. They allow you to search for a domain and choose from one of five free extensions: tk, .ml, .ga, .cf, and .gq. These aren’t the suffixes you commonly see when browsing the web, so they can make your site, especially a business-focused site, look sketchy or even illegitimate. If you’re creating a personal blog or site, this might not be a major issue.
Please note that you do not own these domains; they are registered and owned by Dot TK or Freenom. You just have the right to use them, so you can’t sell or transfer the domain names to someone else.
2. Explore website building services
Website builders, services and tools that allow you to quickly create a website, also offer free domain names. However, free domain registration is only available for a limited time. Specifically, the domain name is included as part of a larger package and expires when said package is being renewed. This is usually a one-year window, after which you must pay to retain the domain according to the renewal fees dictated by the service provider. This could be ideal if you need temporary accommodation for a year or less, but beware: there are usually penalties associated with prematurely ending these plans. You may be charged a prorated fee for the time remaining on your annual domain, or you may even be charged the annual renewal fee.
Wix is a popular and versatile website builder that offers a free domain for one year with its annual plans. After that first year, however, you must renew the domain for $14.95 per year if you want to keep it. Wix’s free domain offer does not include private registration; you have to pay an extra $9.90 per year.
Weebly is another solid option. The website builder lets you get a free domain with its Pro plan (or other top-level subscriptions). After the one-year grace period, your domain name must be renewed for $19.99 per year with privacy protection billed separately at $10 per year.
Squarespace is another website builder option with a free 1-year domain name. Domains registered through Squarespace also include Whois privacy protection as part of the package, which is a steal if you go that route. Renewing domains with Squarespace costs $20.
3. Visit web hosting services
The third free domain registration method is using website hosting services. Much like website builders, web hosting services often bundle free domain name registration with their packages to entice you to commit to an annual plan. Much like website builders, web hosting services typically have penalty fees associated with early termination of the plan, so you may be liable for the full domain renewal fee if you decide not to subscribe. the subscription. With that in mind, this method is good if you need a free domain name for a year or less.
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Priced at $35.40 for an annual shared hosting plan ($2.95 per month for the first 12 months), Bluehost is one of the cheapest web hosting services that offers a free domain name . This plan does not include domain privacy, which is billed separately at $15 per domain per year. The price of domain renewal depends on the type of extension, but a .com renewal costs $17.99.
Hostgator includes free domain hosting with its annual or longer Hatchling plan ($3.95 per month for an annual plan). After the free period ends, domain renewal costs on average about $18.99 per year for a .com extension, with privacy protection billed at $14.95 per year.
Hostinger is another option to consider, with reasonable domain renewal rates. Its premium shared hosting plan costs $2.59 per month with an annual commitment, which includes a free domain during that time. Domain renewal with Hostinger costs $11 per year, and Whois protection costs an additional $5 per year.
Get a free domain name
Domain registration doesn’t have to be expensive. Registration services, such as Dot TK and Freenom, offer free domain names, and they’ll do the job as long as you don’t mind a funky URL extension. Web hosts, such as Hostgator and Squarespace, also allow you to grab a free domain name, but with time-centric limitations. Still, if your budget is tight, these free domain options come in handy.
For more web hosting tips, check out The 6 Best Free Web Hosting Services for Tight Budgets and Linux vs Windows: How to Choose the Best Server Operating System for Your Website.
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