The first step toward building a website, whether for your personal project or for your business, is registering your own domain name.
This doesn’t have to be a complex or daunting task, but for some reason it often ends up being that way.
There’s a little bit of “paralysis by analysis” that happens when it comes to actually choosing what domain name you want — I’ll circle back to that at the end.
But the first order of business is to determine which registrar you should buy your domain from. I strongly recommend NameSilo as the place to get your domain. Read on to see why, and get a discount code from yours truly.
Domain registrars are (almost) all the same
The first thing I need to say here might shock you a little bit.
Domain registrars are effectively all the same. Yeah, you heard right. There’s not a huge difference from one to the other. There’s really only one differentiator between them, and I’ll discuss that below.
There are no “fast registrars” or “slow registrars”. In fact, speed doesn’t come into the equation at all — that’s defined more by the hosting you choose.
And in that sense, one registrar is not generally better than the other. If you registered your domain name at GoDaddy, fine. No biggie. You probably overpaid a bit, but whatever.
They all cost about the same
Domain names don’t vary wildly in cost. Most of the time, a .com or a .net domain name is going to cost you about $12 per year. Some of the lesser-known TLDs (top-level domains) like .xyz or .info are going to cost you about 3 or 4 bucks per year.
You might find some lower intro prices for the first year, but that probably comes with higher renewal prices. And you know how I feel about that, grrrr.
Some registrars (ahem, GoDaddy) might charge you more for certain add-ons, most of which you don’t need. More on that later.
They all do the same thing
In addition to having roughly the same cost, all domain registrars function basically the same. They help you register a domain name from a central database of domain names.
And when someone types your domain into their browser, it tells them how to find the hosting server where your website lives. That’s it!
One registrar is not faster or slower than any of the others — that’s not how it works at all. One is not better or stronger or more effective. They all do the exact same frickin’ thing, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
GoDaddy is the most famous, because of Super Bowl ads and a big marketing budget. But they aren’t any better at their core service than any other registrar.
Skip the add-ons
As usual, most registrars are going to try to play on your fear to make you sign up for add-ons you don’t need.
These up-sells are going to have big, important, scary-sounding names like Domain Defender or Security Essentials, or some other bullshit like that.
The truth is that you don’t really need that stuff.
“B-b-b-b-but security is important!” a tiny voice in your head might say. And that’s not incorrect.
But I’m gonna give it to you straight — your domain is plenty safe already. You don’t need to be swayed by ignorance anymore, I’m here to save you from that. Skip the add-ons, you don’t need ’em.
If you fall prey to fear, then that $12/yr domain name is suddenly more like $30-40/yr. And that’s just stupid. Sorry but it is. Don’t do it.
The only add-on that matters
Okay, there is actually one add-on that matters. It’s called “WHOIS Privacy” and it protects you from spammers and other sketchy players. You want this one.
Here’s the deal: when you sign up for a domain name you legally have to provide your address (and that might be your home address unless you have a separate business one).
And you have to provide your phone number and your email address too. Yikes.
All of that information is now freely and publicly available to anyone who wants to look it up.
In the case of spammers, they can just automatically scrape the public WHOIS information for all the newly-registered domains, and then add you to their mailing lists and blast their crap at you forever. That’s why if you register a new domain name without WHOIS Privacy, you will almost immediately see a surge in spam emails.
Even worse, what if someone just plain dislikes your website for some reason? Maybe they’re a competitor, maybe they’re a disgruntled customer. Heck, maybe they’re just a straight up psychopath.
Without WHOIS Privacy, they can just look up your domain name and then they have your home address, personal phone number, and personal email address. Not cool.
So yeah, for your own safety and privacy’s sake, get the freaking WHOIS Privacy. You’ll be glad you did. Better not to take any chances here.
The domain registrar that I recommend
Okay, so we’ve established that:
- Registrars are (basically) all the same
- They all cost about the same
- None are faster, more effective, or better than the others
- You don’t really need any of the add-ons
- There’s only one add-on you do need: WHOIS Privacy
So with domain registrars not really being that different from each other, the only thing that DOES stand out is this: Which registrar offers WHOIS Privacy for free?
Most of them will try to charge you for it, but NameSilo offers it free with every domain purchase.
So that’s why NameSilo is my recommended registrar. Plain and simple.
Some people find their UI to be clunky or unpolished. But for me, that’s kinda the charm! The interface looks a bit old-school, but it gets the job done without any of the shiny object bullshit.
You can enter the promo code LAUNCHWITHBILLY and get $1 off your registration. Not much, but every little bit helps, right?
And then you can move on to other stuff. Because registering a domain name should not take that long.
Two final points
Hey, so there are two final things I want to mention before we wrap this thing up.
Point 1: Don’t agonize forever over what domain to buy
Don’t overthink this, people. I mean, put a bit of thought into it for fuck’s sake. But don’t put weeks into it. I’ve put some basic guidelines up in a video here, if that’s useful to you.
It doesn’t help you to overthink what domain name to buy, and it hurts you in the sense that you’re wasting time you could be using to actually move your business/project forward.
Pick a name and move on to bigger and better things, like which hosting is going to be fastest.
You can always change your domain name later. It’s kind of a pain in the butt, but contrary to what other people tell you, if it’s important enough then it can absolutely be done.
Just choose a name today, and move forward.
Point 2: Don’t buy your web hosting from your registrar
Kind of in the same way that you shouldn’t buy sushi from a gas station, you also shouldn’t buy hosting from a domain registrar. It might be convenient, but you’ll regret it.
Why? Because registrars are good at registering domain names. That’s their bread-and-butter.
They’d love to tack on additional services like web hosting of course, but they’re not good at that. The type of hosting you usually get from a registrar is crappy shared hosting, which sucks.
And you really don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. You want to hire the experts in each area, and keep the services separate. You don’t want one company to control your domain and your website.
One more time, for those in the back: for the love of God, do not buy your fucking web hosting from your registrar. It’s easy in the moment, sure, but you’ll be sorry eventually. You’ve been warned.
Now get out there and take the next step: signing up for hosting!