When you’re starting a small business, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is what domain name to choose. Almost every legitimate business and brand registers its domain name. Domain registration is super affordable and provides a ton of benefits.
In this post, you’ll start by learning about what a domain name is. Next, we’ll go through five massive benefits to registering your own domain name (even if you aren’t building a separate website). Finally, we’ll answer some common questions about domain names.
What is a Domain Name?
Domain names are what people use to find and identify your business online. They serve as the home for your website and your company’s email address. For example, you can use “www.namebounce.com” to access our website or info [AT] namebounce [DOT] com to email us.
You use domain names every day when you use the internet. You probably found our website through Google (at Google.com). When you go shopping, you probably use Amazon (at Amazon.com). And when you need random knowledge, you go to Wikipedia (at Wikipedia.org)
Almost every legitimate business owns a custom domain name. A domain name registration is incredibly affordable and provides many benefits relative to the cost.
Anyone can buy a domain name. To buy one, you go to companies that sell domain names, known as domain registrars.
Some of the most popular domain registrars include Domain.com, GoDaddy, and Namecheap. Once you’re there, you’ll purchase the domain name for a small annual fee (typically around $10-15 per year). After you purchase, you own the domain, as long as you renew your registration each year.
Not every domain name is available to register. For example, you wouldn’t be able to register In-N-Out.com because it’s the existing domain name for In-N-Out Burger. When you search for your desired domain name, the registrar will tell you if the domain you want is available.
Five Reasons Why You Should Register Your Domain Name
Domain names are super affordable, but you might be thinking, “why should I buy a domain name?” In this section, you’ll learn five reasons why taking this step is crucial for whatever you’re looking to create.
Hopefully, if you’re on the fence, this convinces you to go out and register your own unique name. It’s by far the most cost-effective tool for branding your business. And it doesn’t cost much more than a meal at McDonald’s!
Reason #1: Domain Names are Super Valuable
Ever wondered why so many domain names are taken? And furthermore, why many of them have a “for sale” page attached?
Most domain names are held by domain investors. They purchase these names, then hope to sell them later to a brand that wants the domain. Believe it or not, investing in domains isn’t some tiny niche – it’s a full-blown industry. Many people have made millions of dollars simply buying and selling domains.
It’s easy to see why. According to GoDaddy, a premium domain in their marketplace sells for over $2,000 on average. Try entering your domain into their appraisal tool to see how valuable it might be. (It might be worth $1,000 or more!)
If you don’t register your domain now, there’s a very good chance someone else will take it. If a business takes it, it likely won’t be for sale. But if a domain investor takes it, they’ll likely sell it for a fortune. So don’t wait – register your domain name today!
Reason #2: It Protects Your Name
One of the biggest benefits of your domain purchase is that it will deter other people from using your name.
Let’s say you’re starting a dedicated YouTube channel. You chose your channel name, branded your channel, and started uploading videos.
But after a few months, you noticed that someone else had purchased your perfect domain. And to top it all off, they already had a website up for a separate business. Now what?
Here are a few options:
- The best option is simply to register a modified domain name. For example, you could add “TV” to the end of your channel name, and register the domain that way. But given how cheap domains are, why wouldn’t you want the best possible domain name if it was available?
- You could rebrand. Many of your subscribers will unsubscribe when they see an unfamiliar channel name in their YouTube feed. You’ll also have to design a new logo, edit your cover art, remove references to your old name in your videos, and more. Long story short: rebranding can be worth it, but it’s usually a gigantic headache.
- You could spend time and money trying to fight for the domain name. After all, you found the name first! But it’s way better to pay $10-15 for a domain now than thousands for a lawyer later if your channel grows (with no guarantee of success).
- You could purchase the domain from them. Secondary market domain purchases typically cost $2,000 or more versus $10-15/year for unregistered domains.
Sure, you could keep going with your existing name. But there’s a good chance this will come back to bite you in the future. And considering how cheap domain names are, there’s almost no reason to risk this.
Reason #3: It’s Easier to Explain
If you start a business, I guarantee you’ll tell people about it in the future.
Let’s say you’re starting an Etsy shop called Capsule Gifts. Isn’t it so much easier to tell people to go to CapsuleGifts.com instead of www.etsy.com/shop/capsulegifts?
You don’t even need to build a website. You can purchase CapsuleGifts.com and point it to your Etsy store in seconds. It’s super easy, and you can still tell people to visit CapsuleGifts.com as your primary domain.
Not only is that easier for you, but it’s easier for people who want to tell other people about your business. Over time, this will result in more referrals, leading to more sales, subscribers, or visitors. Not bad for a $10-15/year investment, right?
Reason #4: It Adds Credibility to Your Business
When you found NameBounce, odds are you found us through Google Search.
You probably looked at us alongside several other naming tools or similar blog posts. Do you think you would have been more likely to click if our domain name was namebounce.wordpress.com?
Maybe you still would have clicked. But the other entries in the search results would all have real domain names. Even if you weren’t, other people would be turned off by our lack of a credible website.
Getting your own domain name lends legitimacy to your business. It tells people that you’re serious about whatever you’re doing. Instead of looking like a fly-by-night operation that will be gone in a few months, people will take your work seriously.
A Custom Domain Also Improves Your Email Marketing
A domain name adds credibility to more than just your website. It also allows you to get a professional, branded email address.
When people make a purchase, you might want to email them in the future. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: if it were you, which email would you be more likely to open?
- Option 1: [email protected]
- Option 2: [email protected]
Option #2 is 100x better. Your customer might not even see the first email. Using a Gmail address for commercial emails means you’re more likely to fall into the spam filter trap.
Once you get a domain name, you can set up a business email in minutes. You can purchase business email with your domain registrar, or even get it for free using Zoho Mail or a similar service.
Reason #5: You Get Total Control Over Your Business
The final reason to buy a domain name is to get total control over your business and online identity.
As the owner of CapsuleGifts.com, you can do whatever you want with it (provided it’s not illegal). You won’t be restricted to solely running your business on someone else’s platform.
Sure, your YouTube channel or Facebook page might always be your primary communication channel. But these platforms aren’t perfect.
Firstly, they are constantly changing their rules and terms of service. They have complete control over what people say on their platforms.
It’s chilling to think that these platforms could shut down your page at any time. Our view may sound Orwellian, but it has happened to many people for overt, accidental, and perceived violations.
And like any business, these platforms could permanently shut down one day (even if the prospect is remote). TikTok was nearly shut down in the US. Who’s to say that couldn’t happen to Facebook or YouTube?
Both of these scenarios are unlikely. But even so, registering your domain name is an important safety step at a small price. It will allow you to keep running your business if the worst happens. (Think of it as life insurance for your business operations.)
Don’t Overthink It: Register Your Domain Today
Domain names are ridiculously affordable and come with a ton of benefits. There’s almost no downside (other than $10-15/year), and the upside is enormous. Don’t make this a long, drawn-out decision: just get your domain name before someone else jumps on it. You can always drop it if you change your mind later.
If you’re interested in a discount on your domain name, we partnered with Domain.com to give a 25% discount to NameBounce users. You can access it by clicking here. Or, if you need help finding a good domain name, try using our domain name generator or reading this blog post.
Buying a domain name was one of the best investments I ever made in my business. I’m confident that it will be for you too!
Domain Name FAQs
Do I Need to Build a Website to Purchase a Domain?
Nope, not at all. If you want a website, you typically need to purchase a separate service called website hosting.
Many beginners don’t know that website hosting and domain registration are separate services. You can think of them as real estate. The domain name is like the land, while website hosting is like the house that goes on the land. (Thankfully, domain names and websites are much cheaper than actual real estate!)
We’ll get into what website hosting is later. But to start, you don’t necessarily need a website hosting account.
Not every business has a website. For example, you might be starting a YouTube channel, and your primary web presence will be on YouTube. Or you might be creating an Etsy shop, selling your products directly on Etsy. Even if that’s true, you should still get a domain name.
When you purchase a domain name, you can point it to your primary web presence in seconds. For example, let’s say you’re starting a travel YouTube channel called “Run to the Waves.” In that case, you could purchase RuntotheWaves.com and point it right to your YouTube channel.
Doing this would separate your brand from the various fly-by-night, hobbyist channels on YouTube. It adds an air of credibility; for example, you could put your domain at the end of every video. And if your subscriber base grows, you’ll have everything you need to build a website off of YouTube. Having a website will make it easier to develop partnerships and find influencer marketing opportunities.
What is the Difference Between a Domain Name and Website Hosting?
You’ll typically see the registrar offering web hosting as an add-on when purchasing your domain name.
Typically, they offer two options: a dedicated website builder and WordPress hosting. Here are the advantages to each:
- Website Builder: These are typically easy to use, with almost no learning curve. You can simply use easy drag-and-drop features to build your web pages. Using a website builder is ideal if you want to get a new site up quickly.
- WordPress Hosting: WordPress is a complete website building platform that powers 35% of the websites on the internet. WordPress has a bigger learning curve but allows for way more customizability.
My recommendation is to use WordPress because it’s way more flexible. And there are enough tutorials to make it super easy to use.
I recommend building it with an affordable freelancer on a platform like Upwork or Fiverr. Or, if you’d rather do it yourself, we created a step-by-step beginner’s tutorial to help you build a WordPress website. You can access it by clicking here!
What Domain Extension Should I Use?
The #1 domain extension is .COM. It’s the most popular domain name extension for a reason – it’s been around forever and is directly associated with the tech industry. That’s the extension you should use if possible.
However, the exact .COM domain isn’t always available. So if that’s the case, I recommend trying a trusted alternative domain extension, such as:
- .NET: This extension is a trusted secondary alternative to .COM.
- .ORG: This extension is great for non-profits
- .CO or .IO: These extensions are great for startups
- Country Code Domain Extensions (like .co.uk): these are great if you’re doing business in a specific country
Some of the new domain extensions, like .BLOG, can work well if you have a short, authoritative name. I wouldn’t use NameBounce.app for NameBounce, but naming.app could be a great domain name.
Another alternative is adding a modifier to a business name to secure a domain name. So if NameBounce.com wasn’t available, I could have chosen something like NameBounceApp.com.