How to Buy a Free or Premium Domain
It is easy to buy a domain name for your website. If you haven't done this before, don't worry, there are only four steps. Throughout my career, I have purchased many domain names from various service providers. Some of these experiences are much better than others. This guide will walk you through my four favorite ways to buy a domain. One of these methods will also get you a free domain name for the first year. I will also show you how to buy premium and non-resale domain names.
Regardless of the domain name you want, at the end of this article, you will know how to get it. Read more or skip if you know what you want.
- How to Buy a Domain Name With inMotion Hosting (best for launching a new website)
- How to Buy a Domain Name with Namecheap (best if you just need only a domain name)
- How to Buy a Premium Domain (great if you are ready to spend some cash on a domain name)
- How to Buy a Domain Name That’s Not For Sale (great if the name you want is already taken)
How to Buy a Domain Name With inMotion Hosting
inMotion Hosting is a web hosting provider. In fact, they are one of the most popular and reliable web hosts in the market today. More than 1 million sites around the world are powered by inMotion Hosting.
But inMotion Hosting also offers domain registration services. If you use inMotion Hosting for web hosting, you get a free domain name for one year.
Since you need a hosting plan, you can use InMotion Hosting as a one-stop shop to bundle hosting and domain registration into one package. It is a great option for beginners starting a new website from scratch.
Step #1 – Navigate to InMotion Hosting
The first step is easy. Just make your way over to the InMotion Hosting website.
From here, scan the menu and select “Web Hosting” at the top of the screen.
Click web hosting.
Step #2 – Choose a Hosting Plan
The hosting menu will expand and present you with a Shared Hosting Plan option, however, inMotion hosting also provides other hosting for a specific niche that includes:
- WordPress Hosting
- Dedicated Hosting
- VPS Hosting
Shared hosting will be the best option for 99% of people starting a new website. So go ahead and select that from the expanded drop-down menu.
You’ll still be able to merge your hosting plan and domain registration (and get a free domain) if you choose dedicated or VPS, but most of you would not need to worry about that right now. Just stick with shared hosting.
inMotion Hosting offers four different shared web hosting plans to choose from—Core, Launch, Power, and Pro:
If you’re starting a small personal site, the Basic entry-level plan starting at $2.29 per month should be fine for you. For those of you launching a site for your business, I’d go with the Power plan, at a minimum.
The additional features that come with this plan are worth the few extra bucks per month.
To continue, just click the “Select” button under the plan that fits your needs.
Step #3 – Register Your Domain
Once you choose a web hosting plan, inMotion Hosting will prompt you to set up your domain. You’ll be presented with three different options here:
- I would like to purchase a new domain
- I already own the domain I want to use
- I will decide later
You’ll want to use the “I would like to purchase a new domain” option to search for available domains.
Simply click on the first option and enter your domain you want to buy into the search bar and choose your domain extension (.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us, etc.).
In the vast majority of cases, you’re going to buy a .com extension. The only reason why I’d consider an alternative domain extension is if the .com domain is taken.
For example, if you try to create a domain using google.com or apple.com, those will obviously be unavailable to buy. But a different extension might be available for you to purchase.
So if you’re set on a name, you could get an alternative extension. In the meantime, while you figure out how to buy the .com extension, I will explain how to buy domains that have already been purchased or registered in greater detail later in this guide (although you probably won’t be able to buy Google or Apple).
Another reason to consider an alternative domain extension is the budget. Lots of these extensions will be cheaper than a .com domain.
For a starting blog, side project, or personal website, that’s fine if you want to save a few dollars. But businesses should always register a .com domain.
Step #4 – Finalize Your Contract
Once you’ve chosen an available domain name, simply create your inMotion Hosting account and select your plan terms.
Definitely make sure you get “Domain Privacy Protection” given in the “Package Extras” section. Otherwise, your name, email, phone number, and address will all become available on a public database. It’s well worth the extra $0.99 per month.
Once you provide your payment details, your hosting plan and domain purchase contract will be finalized. Now the domain name is yours for the first year of your contract.
How to Buy a Domain Name With Namecheap
The internet market is flooded with domain registrars. But Namecheap is definitely my first choice always. It’s super easy for everyone to buy a domain using this registrar, even if you are just starting.
This method is a bit more straightforward than using inMotion Hosting, only because you’re not bundling any other services—Namecheap is specifically for buying a domain.
The entire process can be completed in just three quick steps.
Step #1 – Go to Namecheap.com
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is make your way over to the Namecheap website.
From here, you can search for your required domain directly from the homepage.
Enter your domain name into the search bar, which can be found in the center of the screen.
Make sure that “Register” is toggled. The “Transfer” option is made for those who have an existing domain and want to switch registrars—that is not for you.
Click the search icon to continue.
Step #2 – Choose Your Extension
As a domain registrar, Namecheap provides an extensive list of domain extensions.
You will have the option to choose from things like .fun, .vip, .ai, .health, .xyz, .io, .design, and hundreds of other extensions. But in most cases, choosing a .com extension will be your best choice.
Now click the “Add to cart” button next to the extensions you want and then checkout.
Step #3 – Confirm Your Order
When you’re purchasing a domain directly from a domain registrar, you can skip all the additional features. You won’t need an SSL certificate, professional email, or any other feature. You’ll be able to get these additional features from your web hosting provider.
But make sure you have Domain Privacy enabled. This protects your personal information from being visible to the public. Some domain registrars make you pay extra for this, but Namecheap offers it free forever. Sounds great!
Turn on the “auto-renew” option for your domain registration as well. Otherwise, you’ll have to renew it manually every year, which puts you at risk of the registration lapse.
It’s very easy!
Once you confirm the order, you’ll be asked to create a Namecheap account. After you enter your payment particulars and finalize the purchase, the domain is yours.
Methods to Buy a Domain Name
There are two main ways to buy a domain name. Both of which have been covered in detail above—domain registrars and hosting providers.
There are pros and cons to each method, and the process for each one is different.
I’ll explain the differences between these options so you can decide which one is the best option for your website.
Buying a Domain From a Standalone Domain Registrar
In most cases, going directly to a domain registrar like Namecheap will be your best choice. As the name implies, this platform specializes in domain registration.
Buying domains directly from a standalone domain registrar will be quicker than alternative methods. That’s because you’re not bundling other services, so the process is more direct.
Domain registrars also make it easier to purchase domains in bulk. So if you’re in the market for more than a single domain, definitely go with a standalone registrar.
If you want alternative extensions, domain registrars offer significantly more options. However, I typically don’t recommend anything other than a .com domain, some of you might want to browse through many alternative extensions.
Transferring domain names with a registrar is easier than using a service that doesn’t specialize in domain registration. So if you need to transfer your domain or think you might want to transfer it in the future, use a standalone domain registrar.
It’s usually cheaper to buy domains directly from a registrar like Namecheap. For starters, the domain will likely be less expensive. But the best registrars, like Namecheap, include Privacy Protection for free with the purchase of a domain. You probably won’t get that from a hosting company.
The downside of getting your domain from a standalone registrar is that there’s an extra step in the process. You’ll still have to get web hosting elsewhere.
Getting a Domain From a Web Hosting Company
For the most part, domain registration and web hosting should be kept separately. inMotion Hosting is the exception to this rule. So if you want to merge your domain name with a hosting plan, inMotion Hosting is really the only option to consider.
There are a couple of main reasons why you’d go for this option.
For beginners, who are new to the world of domain registration and web hosting, getting all under one roof is just easier. It’s fewer steps, and you can manage your hosting plan and domain name from a single platform.
Furthermore, inMotion Hosting gives you a free domain name for one year. You’ll never get a deal like that from a domain registrar.
But getting a domain from a hosting provider isn’t ideal if you want to buy domains in bulk. It’s fine for a single domain, but beyond that, it gets messy. You also would not have as many options for alternative extensions (if you want something really unique).
Most web hosting providers also charge you extra for domain Privacy Protection, whereas you can get this for free from a standalone domain registrar such as Namecheap.
How to Purchase a Premium Domain
Premium domain is a great way to stand out online. This is great for branding and marketing purposes as well.
What is a premium domain?
A premium domain is short, memorable, and easy to spell. High-quality domain names have a high search volume and are closely associated with an industry, service, or topic. They also have TLDs (top-level domains) like .com, .org, or .net.
Premium domains have been and are in high demand. So they’ll cost a little more to register. The process of buying a premium domain can be different as well since it’s not always clear if the domain is actually being sold. Here’s what I mean.
For example, you want to register a premium domain from a domain registrar or hosting company. Just because it says “unavailable or Taken,” that does not necessarily mean that it can’t be bought. These are the steps for buying a premium domain:
Step #1 – Check if the Domain Seems Aquireable
If a domain is unavailable from a registrar, directly go to that website and see what you find. If there’s an active website or business using that domain, it might be difficult to acquire.
But if you don’t see an active site, there’s a good chance that the domain may be for sale.
Here’s an example for myblogs.com:
Clearly, nothing is happening on this site. So if you want to buy this premium domain, there is a good chance here that it’s for sale.
In most cases, you’ll see text like “buy this domain” or information that says “this domain is for sale.” All of these are good signs that the domain is attainable.
Step #2 – Find out who owns the domain
There are two ways to complete this step:
- Find it yourself.
- Call a domain reseller or broker to do it for you
Doing it yourself can be time taking. You can do a quick WHOIS lookup, but most people would not list their personal information. Using Google as an advantage can help. Some sections may be linked to other websites or social media profiles. You can find the owner like this.
Personally, I would recommend using a broker. NameSilo is one of my favorite marketing and sales sites.
Marketers can always tell who owns a domain because they have such a large network. They will decide if the domain is really for sale and how much the seller is asking. Your broker can handle these transactions on your behalf.
The advantage of using a broker is that you have to pay the brokerage fees. But in most cases, you only pay if the sale goes through.
Other good places to find premium domains online include:
If this section is on sale, you can get the ball on Namecheap or one of the other options given above.
Step #3 - negotiate and buy
Oftentimes, the price for listing a premium domain is negotiable. If you think it's a fair price and well within your budget, you can speed up the buying process by submitting an asking price. If a domain is in demand, it increases the chances of securing it before someone else makes a better offer.
But in some cases, domains can be very expensive. You have to ask yourself if it is really worth it. Sometimes, it may be better to search for another domain. Unless certain areas are critical to the success of your business, it can be difficult to justify a five- or six-figure list price.
Don't be afraid to walk out during the negotiation process. If it doesn't, you can continue or try again later. This is another reason why it is worth getting a broker.
Step #4 - Submit a domain
Once the domain is purchased, the final step is to transfer it to your domain registrar. Again, I recommend Namecheap.com for this because it's easy. Be sure to turn on auto-renewal after the transfer. Otherwise, you'll have to worry about manually renewing your domain every year. If you forget that the domain has expired, your premium domain may be up for grabs in the open market.
This process is perfect when you find domains in your domain registration account. Now, you can rest easy knowing that your premium domain is protected.
How to buy a domain name that is not for sale
Not all premium domains will be available on brokerage sites or domain marketplaces. But if you really want to pursue a particular field, you still have a chance.
Similar to the process we followed in the last section, you will need to determine who owns the domain. If the domain is not for sale, this step should be a little easier and you can probably do it yourself.
Most domains that are not for sale will be linked to an active website. This site should contain some contact information. You can directly contact the business owner or decision-maker related to the department. Start with a general question indicating that you are interested in buying a domain; don't rush (or you might pay a lot).
See what kind of response you get if the site owner is willing to sell. Unlike the premium units that are listed in the sale section, you can dig a little deeper into your pocket to buy a section that is not currently on sale.
If it's critical that you save the domain, consider making the owner an offer they can't refuse. Just know that it won't always work.
It's like trying to buy a house that doesn't sell. You can knock on the door and offer money, but the owner can decide to stay.
If they are ready to sell, hire a broker to make sure the purchase goes well. Then, submit the domain directly to your registrar after obtaining permission.
Buying a domain name doesn't have to be complicated. Even beginners and first-time buyers can complete this process in a few minutes by following the step-by-step instructions outlined in this guide.
Purchasing a premium domain may take a little longer. But again, you can still get there by following the step 1 outlined above. Good luck and happy shopping!