I get it! When you are starting a new business or you are trying to build an online presence for your brick-and-mortar business, it isn’t easy! It’s also expensive and time-consuming so trying to find the best value-for-money products and services is key.
However, when it comes to domain names, can you really get a free domain name? And if so, is it a good idea?
In this article, I want to share the different options available to you if you are on a tight budget and you would prefer to register a free domain.
But before we get started, just bear in mind that generally domain names aren’t actually that expensive.
For example, the average cost of a .com domain name ranges from about $9 to $15 for an entire year. This works out to just $1.25 a month at most. So while free domains sound attractive, just keep this in mind before deciding on whether or not to sign up for a free domain.
Option 1 – Free Domain Registrars
Traditional top-level domains such as .com, .net, .org, etc. are managed and controlled through ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers). This means that one way or another, there will unfortunately always be fees involved if you want to register a top-level domain.
However, when you move to country-level domains, there are domains that you can get that are completely free. Most of these domain names have obscure domain extensions such as .ml for Mali or .tk for Tokelau.
So, if you don’t mind your domain name having a weird extension such as “www.myawesomewebsite.tk“, then you might think this is a good option for your business website domain name. However, always remember that, especially with domains and hosting, you usually get what you pay for!
Over the years, there have been many complaints involving these types of domain names. Some of these complaints include:
- Domain names being suspended or sold without warning or explanation.
- Registered domain names being used for online scams.
- Registered domains being redirected to spam websites or phishing sites.
- Little, if any, customer support and service.
- Obscure rules and regulations depending on the domain extension.
As an example, Dot TK’s Terms of Service state:
“By accepting this Agreement, you hereby acknowledge and agree that we, in our sole discretion, may modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, the service at any part thereof, at any time with or without prior notice, including, without limitation, modification or discontinuance of advertising, content and applications appearing as part of FREEDOMAIN.TK. You agree that we will not be liable to you or to any third party for any modification, suspension or discontinuance of FREEDOMAIN.TK or any part thereof.”
So the question is: Is it really worth risking your business and your brand for a free domain name? Especially when, for the price of a cup of coffee, you can buy a reputable, trusted and professional domain name to build and grow your business.
Free Domain Name Registrars – Pros & Cons
|Free domain name.||Obscure domain extensions.|
|You could lose your domain at any time.|
|I have never seen free domain name extensions at the top of any search engine results.|
|Little to no support.|
Option 2: Free Subdomains
Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of companies that offer website building services. These services allow you to quickly and easily get your website online without too many headaches. With drag-and-drop interfaces and easy-to-use tools, these types of services have become very popular.
A couple of these popular website building services include:
What’s great about these services is that, if you are really stuck for cash, you can get your website up and running completely for free! But, what’s the catch?
Unfortunately, there is a very good chance that you will have ads placed on your site. Here is an example of an ad that Wix placed on a free website that was built with their free website builder (The Farmacy)
On top of that, you won’t be able to get a traditional top-level domain such as .com or .net. Instead, you will get a subdomain within the website builder’s main domain.
For example, if you were to sign up for a free website with wordpress.com, your free domain would look like this: yourwebsitename.wordpress.com.
With Wix, your free domain name would be: yourusername.wix.com/yourwebsitename.
With Google sites, your free domain name would be: sites.google.com/site/yourwebsitename.
And finally, with Weebly, your free domain would be: yourwebsitename.weebly.com.
Free Website Builder Domains – Pros & Cons
|Free subdomain.||Ads on your site.|
|Free hosting.||Limited features, functionality, and support depending on the page builder.|
|Reputable companies & website builders.||You don’t own your website or your domain name.|
|Not great for SEO.|
|You can’t easily move or migrate your website if you need to.|
|No professional email address.|
|Potentially limited bandwidth and slow site speeds.|
Option 3 – Free Domain Name With Paid Hosting
Last but certainly not least, many hosting companies will give you a free domain when you sign up for any of their hosting packages.
This is great because, not only are these domains free, but you can also get awesome top-level domain name extensions such as .com, .net, .org, and many others.
With this option, you will fully own both your website and your domain name.
Because you own your domain, you will also be able to set up professional email accounts using your domain name such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plus, on top of that, you will also have the support and assistance of your hosting company if you ever run into any problems with your domain.
Free Domain With Hosting – Pros & Cons
|Free top-level domains.||You will need to buy a hosting package.|
|Free email addresses with your domain name.||Your domain is usually only free for the first year.|
|Free website builders and tools.||Potentially high renewal fees for your domain and hosting after the initial period.|
|Different hosting plans to suit your business.|
|You own your website and your domain.|
|Easily move to another host or domain registrar if you would like to.|
|Full control of your domain.|
|Good for SEO.|
There you have it!
To be honest, I really feel that if you are serious about building and growing your brand, there really isn’t any other option besides registering a domain name for your business.
This guarantees that any work you do on your website won’t be lost or randomly disappear. You will also be in full control of where your domain is registered and where your website is hosted giving you a lot more flexibility and peace of mind.
And don’t worry, I will show you everything you need to know to get your business website up and running without breaking the bank!