How to Buy a Domain Name and Choose a Host

Now that you’ve chosen your blog name and you have an idea of what you want to write about, you need to know how to buy a domain name and find a hosting provider. These are two of the more daunting tasks for new bloggers who are just getting started, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. See my guide below, which will walk you through the steps to buy a domain name and choose a host.

Buy a Domain Name

If you haven’t already, check to see if your chosen name domain (URL) is free. You can buy a domain for less than $10 per year. Some website owners prefer to keep their domain and host company separate. In my first year and a half, I bought my domain from Bluehost, who were also my host. When I moved to Siteground for hosting I did not move my domain, so they were separate.

There are two ways to purchase a domain:

  1. You can purchase a domain through a dedicated service, like Namecheap, or you can purchase the domain directly from the hosting provider you choose. Laura and I both prefer to use Namecheap to find and purchase domain names. Each year, you will have to renew your domain name registration, and Namecheap won’t hike up the prices on your for the 2nd year. Services like GoDaddy.com usually give a hugely reduced first year price and then revert to a higher price for subsequent years.
  2. You can register and purchase your domain name direclty from the hosting provider you choose, such as one of the three recommendations listed below. This option is obviously the fastest and easiest at first, but if/when you change hosting providers, you’ll have to transfer the domain registration, or leave it separate from your hosting, as I did.
Domain name registration through Namecheap
Domain name registration through Namecheap (screen capture from Namecheap)

Once you’ve found a free domain name that you like, go ahead and purchase it.

Choose a Host

Choosing a host for your first year is not that tricky. At this stage you are probably unsure about the longevity of your blog so here a few things to consider when host shopping:

1. Is there 24/7 chat for customer service for when there are meltdowns (there will be)?
2. Is it affordable? You shouldn’t be paying more than $10 per month for a shared host (good starting point)

Siteground

Site Ground hosting plans
Site Ground hosting plans

My second host, who I’ve just left after nearly hitting the 3 year mark of hosting, was Siteground. One of the most attractive features of Siteground is their excellent 24/7 chat customer service.  The lowest package for under £3/$3.72 per month is their shared hosting ‘start up’. I didn’t actually join at the starter level but their next up ‘Grow Big’ package which is suitable for sites with up to 25 monthly visits. Siteground moved my site from http to https (a more secure network which Google wants you to do), with ease and it was free.

Pros of Siteground

  • Excellent customer services (got me out of so many binds)
  • Free move to secure site for 1 year (you’ll need to do this soon, Bluehost charges £30)
  • Free email accounts
  • Free daily back ups (copies of your site in case something goes wrong)
  • Great for starting out
  • 10GB of website space (Grow Big package is 20GB for £1-ish more per month)

Cons of Siteground

  • Next package after ‘grow big’ (my second host package after 1.5 years) was expensive
  • It’s popular

»»» Check out their prices and packages here

Bluehost

Bluehost hosting plan
Bluehost hosting plan (Screen grab from bluehost)

I did not have a clue which host to choose when I first started Two Scots Abroad. I asked some tech friends and they suggested Bluehost. At $3.95/£2.92 a month I thought this was a good investment considering I had no idea where TSA was going to go. Other bloggers also recommend Bluehost, other bloggers slag them and tell you that they’ve only been recommended because of their affiliates scheme (when you click on a recommended product or service the website owner receives a small amount of commission).

Here’s the deal: Siteground also has an affiliate scheme, as does A2 hosting and Go Daddy, and on and on. You have to read between the lines – is the blogger sharing their honest experience of their time with the host or are they suggesting with no conviction?

I was happy with the 1.5 years that I was hosted with Bluehost. It wasn’t until my site went down one day that it was time to move on, I had outgrown the package as my audience grew. We lasted longer than the average relationship (6-8 months)!  I’ve still had positive interaction with Bluehost regarding my domain. Guys, they are cheap and the support is good. I recommend them for the starting out stage.

Pros of Bluehost

  • Cheap
  • Excellent customer service
  • Free email accounts
  • Free back ups
  • 50GB of website space

Cons of Bluehost

  • If your audience grows you may find issues with load speed
  • Charges £30 to move you to https

»»» Check out their prices and packages here

A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting plans
A2 Hosting plans (screen capture from A2)

A2 is another hosting provider you might want to consider. Laura uses A2 for her main travel blog site, Savored Journeys. They have a lot of different hosting options, so it won’t matter if you have a brand new blog and looking for hosting for the first time, or if you’ve been around for a long time and need to step up your plan to expand your business. Laura reports that they are very helpful and the customer support is good (as long as you call instead of chatting – the agents who run the online chat aren’t very experienced, in her opinion).

Pros of A2 Hosting

  • Many different options, from basic shared hosting to professional-level dedicated hosting
  • Affordable
  • Great customer service
  • Turbo servers that claim to be 20x faster
  • Includes free SSL certificate
  • Free solid state drive

Cons of A2 Hosting

  • Not significantly faster than other shared servers
  • Online chat support is not great

»»» Check out their prices and packages here

As you can see, there are many choices when it comes to hosting, but picking one doesn’t have to be difficult when you’re just getting started. All three of the options above will get you started quickly and easily. If your situation changes and you have to move hosts after the first year or two, it’s not a big deal. Bloggers move hosts all the time.

Now that you know how to buy a domain name and choose a hosting provider, you’ll want to launch right into setting up your blog and getting some traffic. Check out our guide on How to Start a Blog for more information.

Go on, make traffic happen!

Let us show you how to find keywords, where to put them, how to tell Google they are there and make your old posts bring more traffic.

Now that you know how to find keywords using the paid tool Keysearch. It is not often I need to recommend paid tools but in all honesty, Keysearch is worth every penny. It is super user friendly (even for a tech-no like me) and I’ve only touched upon its capacity in this guide. Want more?

»»» Check out our ebook SEO The Easy Way – Complete SEO Strategy.

Oh and here’s a word from a reader: It’s not free but if you don’t understand SEO, it is the clearest instructions I have ever read {Dean Williamson, La Vida Global}.

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