Establishing Your Domain
You’ve read all the hype. You’ve heard all the rumors. You’ve seen the flashy blogs on the Web powered by WordPress. But where do you start? The first steps toward installing and setting up a WordPress blog are making a decision about a domain name and then purchasing the registration of that name through a domain registrar. A domain name is the unique Web address that you type in a Web browser’s address bar to visit a Web site. Some examples of domain names are WordPress.org and Google.com.
Do you own or rent?
When you “buy” a domain name, you don’t really own it. Rather, you’re purchasing the right to use that domain name for the time specified
in your order. You can register a domain name for one year or up to ten years. Be aware, however, if you don’t renew the domain name when your registration period ends, you lose it — and most often, you lose it right away to someone who preys on abandoned or expired domain names. Some people keep a close watch on expiring domain names, and as soon as the buying window opens, they snap the names up and start using them for their own Web sites, in the hope of taking full advantage of the popularity that the previous owners worked so hard to attain for those domains.
I emphasize unique because no two domain names can be the same. If someone else has registered the domain name you want, you can’t have it. With
that in mind, it sometimes takes a bit of time to find a domain that isn’t already in use.
Understanding domain name extensions
When registering a domain name, be aware of the extension that you want. The .com, .net, .org, .info, or .biz extension that you see tagged on to the end of any domain name is the top-level domain extension. When you register your domain name, you’re asked to choose the extension you want for your domain (as long as it’s available, that is). A word to the wise here: Just because you registered your domain as a .com doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t, or can’t, own the very same domain name with a .net. Therefore, if you register MyDogHasFleas.com, and the site becomes hugely popular among readers with dogs that have fleas, someone else can come along, register MyDogHasFleas.net, and run a similar site to yours in the hope of riding the coattails of your Web site’s popularity and readership.
If you want to avert this problem, you can register your domain name with all available extensions. My business Web site, for example, has the domain name EWebscapes.com; however, I also own EWebscapes.net, EWebscapes.biz, and EWebscapes.info.
Considering the cost of a domain name
Registering a domain costs you anywhere from $3 to $30 per year, depending on what service you use for a registrar and what options (such as privacy options and search engine submission services) you apply to your domain name during the registration process.
When you pay the domain registration fee today, you need to pay another registration fee when the renewal date comes up again in a year, or two, or five — however many years you chose to register your domain name for. (See the nearby “Domain names: Do you own or rent?” sidebar.) Most registrars give you the option of signing up for a service called Auto Renew to automatically renew your domain name and bill the charges to the credit card you set up on that account. The registrar sends you a reminder a few months in advance, telling you it’s time to renew. If you don’t have Auto Renew set up, you need to log in to your registrar account before it expires and manually renew your domain name. Registering your domain name Domain registrars are certified and approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Although hundreds of domain registrars exist, the ones in the following list are popular because of their longevity in the industry, competitive pricing, and the variety of services they offer in addition to domain name registration (such as Web hosting and Web site traffic builders):
✦ GoDaddy: http://godaddy.com
✦ Register.com: http://register.com
✦ Network Solutions: http://networksolutions.com
✦ NamesDirect: http://namesdirect.com
No matter where you choose to register your domain name, here are the steps you can take to accomplish this task:
1. Decide on a domain name.
Doing a little planning and forethought here is necessary. Many people think of a domain name as a brand — a way of identifying their Web sites or blogs. Think of potential names for your site and then proceed with your plan.
2. Verify the domain name’s availability.
In your Web browser, enter the URL of the domain registrar of your choice. Look for the section on the registrar’s Web site that lets you
enter the domain name (typically, a short text field) to see whether it’s available. If the domain name isn’t available as a .com, try .net or
3. Purchase the domain name.
Follow the domain registrar’s steps to purchase the name, using your credit card. After you complete the checkout process, you receive an
e-mail confirming your purchase, so be sure to use a valid e-mail address during the registration process.
The next step is obtaining a hosting account, which we cover in the next section. Some of the domain registrars have hosting services that you can sign up for, but you don’t have to use those services. Often, you can find hosting services or a lower cost than most domain registrars offer. It just takes a little research.