Wasn’t it Shakespeare who once said, “A blog by any other domain would read just as sweetly”? While it’s true that, as long as you are writing good content consistently, you will find your niche and audience, your site address is an important part of your online presence. A memorable site address is a direct link to your and your readers. Without it, they can’t find you.
When you sign up for a site on WordPress.com, you automatically receive a free WordPress.com subdomain, like dailypost.wordpress.com. Your site is always available through your WordPress.com address and you can use it for free for as long as you’d like. As your blog grows, you may find that you’d like to further customize your site address and replace your *.wordpress.com subdomain with your own .com.
To help familiarize you with the world of domains, we’ve crafted up a series of posts for you on domain basics, domain ownership, and the nitty gritty of how domains work.
It’s a habitual act for many of us: you sit down at your desk or pull your laptop onto your lap while lounging on the couch. You press the power button, the screen glows, and your cursor moves, almost automatically, to your browser of choice. In the address bar, you begin to type a web address, press enter, and voilà!
When you type a URL into your address bar, you send a signal through your computer to request the files that make up that website and display them in a neat little package on your browser. But guess what? Anyone can register their own, unique domain, including you.
To use your own custom domain, you first need to register it. Registering a domain means that you own this particular web address, just like we own the domain WordPress.com. No one else can use your domain while it’s registered to you, since the same URL can’t bring you to more than one site.
Before registering your domain, there are a few options you’ll want to note. The ending of a domain, such as .com or .net, is known as a TLD, or top-level domain. The TLD you choose doesn’t affect how visitors access your site or how your site is presented to the web. Instead, TLDs are primarily a style preference. A domain’s TLD can act as a regional marker, such as domains ending in .ca, which is the country code for Canada, or an opportunity for a clever play on words, such as allabout.me. Through WordPress.com, you can register .com, .net, .org, or .me TLDs.
During the registration process, you’ll also run into the option to register privately. By default, the contact information for the registrant, or owner, of a domain is publicly available through Whois (pronounced “Who is?”) which is a tool that allows you to see who owns a domain name. If you’d like to keep your information private, a domain registrar will offer a private registration. For private domain registrations, it is still important to keep your contact information accurate, but your information will be protected from Whois searches.
A few common questions
Q: Once I buy a domain, is it mine forever?
A: Domains need to be renewed yearly to maintain your ownership, and it is very important to make sure your domain never expires as long as you’d like to keep using that address.
If you register your domain through WordPress.com, it’s possible to set up an automatic renewal so that it’s renewed automatically each year. Automatic renewal for domains goes through 30 days before the domain expires. This way, if there’s a problem with your payment, we can alert you before the domain expires.
Q: No one can buy a domain with my name in it.
A: It’s a great idea to buy the domain that matches your name, but it’s not guaranteed to be yours. If there’s more than one person with the same name as you, it’s quite possible that one of your namesakes may have already bought the domain. With domains, it’s first-come, first-served.
Once a domain is registered, it’s not available for anyone else to buy. Some registrants will offer to sell a domain they own, but the price can vary considerably.
If the domain you want is already taken, consider a different TLD. For example, janedoe.com may be taken, but janedoe.me may be available instead.
Still have more questions? Don’t worry, we’ve got your covered. Stay tuned for the next part of our series on domains when we cover hosting, name servers, and DNS, oh my!