How To Get Free Domain Names
Free domain names are the identities of websites on the internet. For the most part, these are rented, but there are ways to get them for free.
There are three ways to get domain names for free. You can get one from free domain registrars, which costs nothing or get free professional domains from hosting providers like Bluehost and site builders like Weebly after subscribing to their cheapest premium plans.
Consider this is a guide for learning the best ways to get free domains, whether that means taking advantage of offers from web hosts and site builders or going for less popular domain name extensions.
These are tried and tested methods used by many businesses, and while some methods are fairly common knowledge, others have taken some additional research. In the end, you’re getting nothing but the best and most recently updated information on how to get a free domain name today.
Understanding The Domain Name
For a business to exist on the internet, it needs a domain name. A domain name is more or less the virtual address of a business. For example, thisismybusiness.com is a domain name that belongs to a specific organization/company online. It appears in the URL of every webpage owned by the company.
In a sense, having a domain name is one of the essential steps to doing business online. Without a professional-looking domain, web users are more likely to click on the next option. That’s why there is great emphasis on having domain names that end in .com, . net, and .org. We will talk about the importance of domain extensions later.
As you may have guessed by now, a professional domain name, one that reflects ownership and has a reputable extension, costs money. And while that’s usually between $12 - $15 a year at most, it’s still a recurrent cost that adds up as your business builds more websites.
If it’s not a cost you’re willing to shoulder at the moment, then you shouldn’t have to because there are ways to get free domain names for your business.
That’s right, even though buying a domain name is the most straightforward way to get a piece of virtual real estate (that belongs to you indefinitely, FYI), it’s not always the cheapest option.
So, here are three ways to get a domain name for (almost) nothing:
- Find one on a free domain name registrar
- Get a free domain name from a web host
- Get a free domain name from a site builder
Free Domain Registrar
This is the only option that gives you a domain name absolutely free of charge. It is also the least recommended option on our list. That may sound contradictory, but there’s a very good reason why we don’t recommend this option as anything but a last resort.
Domain registrars will save you that $12/year domain fee that you pay for a proper domain name. The only problem is that they offer some of the most unprofessional extensions in the business.
We’re talking domain names with .tk extensions unprofessional. Sure, your domain name will be exactly what your business needs it to be, but with a .tk extension, you might as well not have a website at all.
From our experience as web users, we tend to be picky clickers whenever we have to choose something from the results page. We’ve even developed subconscious criteria for picking the right websites for our information.
If it appears high on the results page, that’s a merit. If the address (domain name) matches the business, I’m looking for, that’s another merit. If it ends with a .com or at least .org extension, then that’s yet another merit.
However, if the domain name seems sketchy or contains incomprehensible numbers or symbols, that’s a demerit. If it is a subdomain (for example, the .wordpress.com domains), then that’s another demerit. But if it contains an unrecognizable extension (such as .tk), then that’s a huge demerit. Cybercrime has made users wary of websites with strange domain names, and a substandard domain extension won’t do you any favors.
However, using a free domain registrar is technically the only way to get a domain name for free. And if you’re willing to look past the drawbacks of having unpopular extensions on your domain name, then some options you can explore are:
Drawbacks aside, these domain registrars are legitimate and will help your business get off the ground with its first domain name.
Businesses running on a tight budget can initially take advantage of these registrars, then later upgrade to a recognizable subdomain (.wix, WordPress, etc.) once their websites gain traction.
That brings us to option two.
Get A Free Domain Name From A Web Host
Everyone who’s ever thought of starting a website has encountered WordPress at one point in their journey. The platform, one of the leading content management systems (CMS) on the planet, is ubiquitous to starting, growing, and managing online real estate, which is what websites are.
One of the less risky ways to get a domain name (less risky because it is globally renowned and therefore more trustworthy than a .tk extension) is by buying WordPress hosting.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. We’re supposed to be getting domain names for free, not spending money on hosting. What gives?
Buying hosting is a good way to get free domain names because:
- It allows you to get professional .com, .org, and .net extensions at no extra cost
- You also get to secure reliable hosting for your website, which is far more important than just having a domain name.
- It costs a couple of dollars a month, and therefore may not be a significant expense.
- You have a lot of hosts to choose from
Even if you’ll be paying for the hosting services, you still get a professional-looking domain name for free, which is what we’re all about here.
It’s Quite Advantageous To Use This Method For Some Reasons
The biggest advantage is that it subscribes you to a plan you will eventually need once your business grows enough to need shared/managed hosting. You may not understand the need for hosting at this moment if you’re just starting out, but trust us, it’s essential.
And WordPress is one of the best in the world right now, so you’re not exactly paying for subpar services.
Another advantage of this method is that it lets you own the domain indefinitely. It becomes your property, your slice of virtual real estate. Should you wish to switch hosts down the line, it’s as easy as providing your new host with your domain name.
One more benefit is professionalism. Since you’ll have your pick of .com domains, your website will look professional and trustworthy. On the results pages, that translates to a higher clickthrough rate, so it’s nothing to sneeze at.
If you already own a WordPress site, then this is the right way to get a free domain name because you can easily link it to your existing site.
Although it’s far better than using free domain registrars, this method can be a little too costly. You have to purchase a yearly plan to get access to free domain names, for starters. And if you were already paying for hosting from a different provider, it might incur an unnecessary expense since you have to purchase a hosting plan before getting a free domain.
Luckily, they’re not that expensive:
- Bluehost, one of the best hosting providers for small businesses, offers a free domain, free business website, and free business email for $2.95 a month.
- GoDaddy gives you a free domain, business email, and website for an astounding $1.18 a month.
- Dream Host offers a free website, a free domain, unlimited traffic, and WordPress installation for $2.59 a month.
It’s not 100 % free, but this method of getting free domain names is far more trustworthy. The reassurance of a global hosting organization standing behind your domain name acquisition is a much bigger guarantee than you’ll ever get from any of the aforementioned free domain registrars, so if you’re looking for the cheapest, legitimate way to get a hold of a domain name, then this is a highly recommended method.
It’s just as good a method as the next one, which also involves freebies from trusted companies.
Get A Free Domain Name From A Site Builder
Site builders have revolutionized digital marketing by making it possible for entrepreneurs to create high-end websites without innate technical knowledge. Today, the easiest and most affordable way to get a website is by using a site builder.
Coincidentally, these tools also serve our purpose—getting a free domain name—quite well. Site builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly not only build websites within minutes, but they also offer bags of goodies that contain, among other things, free domain names.
All these platforms offer a free trial period for you to check out their features and typically cost $10 - $15 a month if you wish to use all their features, which include the site builder, web hosting, free domain name, and search engine optimization (SEO) tools.
The reason why we encourage this option, particularly if you haven’t built your site yet, is because it streamlines the entire process. Site building platforms handle everything from building the actual website to getting a proper domain name to optimizing your site for search engines.
Most importantly, you get a professional-looking domain name for free, even with their most basic plans.
Using site builders to get domain names usually ends up being more advantageous to the business because the membership unlocks far more useful tools than you expected. You don’t need technical skills to build highly advanced websites, plus your domain name belongs to you.
Some of the best site builders today offer free domain names with their cheapest plans. They include:
- Wix – The premium plans start at $4.50 a month and include a free domain, hosting, site building, and optimization tools.
- Weebly – Although it’s more inclined to businesses that need online stores, Weebly is used for blogs and regular websites, too, with its cheapest plan costing $6 a month.
- Squarespace – Although Squarespace costs $12/month, this basic plan gives you more than just a free domain name. You get hosting, optimization tools, plus unrivaled support whether you’re starting a blog or online shop.
Commonly Asked Questions On Domain Name Registration
Which Are The Most Reliable Domain Name Registrars?
Anyone looking to buy a domain name for the first time will likely be choosing between three options.
There are Google Domains, GoDaddy, and Hover, which are unanimously three of the best domain name registrars available. Why is that so?
For starters, these are the most user-friendly domain name registrars available. They’re easy to use even for first-timers, so they’re suitable for entrepreneurs that possess or lack technical skills.
Secondly, they offer competitively priced domain names, so you can rest assured that you’ll get the best prices when using these sources for your domain names. Remember, domain fees are recurrent, so you don’t want to be stuck with $20+ domain fees that you have to pay each year.
Finally, these registrars come with unique features that entrepreneurs find useful. For instance, some allow you to get email and web hosting too. Others offer you features like free domain name privacy.
Although there are a bunch of decent domain name registrars out there, stick to any one of these three if it’s your first time buying a domain name.
How Do I Choose A Domain Name?
No matter what line of business you’re in, you should be prepared to put in some work when choosing a domain name for the first time. The chances are good that your preferred domain name is already taken, which means you might have to get creative to find a domain name that matches your business.
There are three things that might help. First, try using the keywords associated with your business. You might get an even better domain name if you search for different keywords.
Second, try pairing keywords with your business location. Sure, there may be thousands of domains using the phrase “concrete supplier,” but adding a location can allow you to have a completely unique domain name that not only represents your line of work but also tells people where your company is from.
Third, choose the correct extension. If your preferred domain name is already taken, you might be tempted to use the .net or .org variations that are available. Trust us, that’s not usually the best course of action.
You’re much better off tailoring a new domain name that utilizes a .com extension instead, which is far more professional looking to your audience.
To avoid messing up your domain name, which cannot be changed later on:
- Keep it short. Don’t use overly long words in the domain name.
- Keep it simple. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid using complex words in your domain name.
- Keep it alphabetical. There’s nothing wrong with using numbers on your domain name, but you might want to make it a phrase that’s easy to read, and therefore more memorable.
- Check for hidden words. For example, pamsexcellentplates.com has a hidden word that may be misleading or offensive to audiences.
How Do I Get A Domain Name Email?
A domain name email is just as important to your professionalism as your domain name. Therefore, you can’t have one without the other, in a sense.
The best way to get a free domain name email, which looks something like firstname.lastname@example.org, is by using the hosting method. Many hosts offer free domain names and email domains as a package deal. Maintaining a professional reputation requires that your email matches your domain name—that will dramatically improve how your audience receives your emails.
The best offer for domain names and email domains comes from Bluehost. Its lowest-cost plan, which goes for $2.95/month, gives you up to five free business emails on your domain.
Keep in mind that this fee also covers the free domain's price, extras like SSL certification, and professional web hosting.
Consider using the web hosting method that we discussed earlier if you also want a matching domain email. You can also get one using the site builder method, but you won’t get it as cheaply as you would using Bluehost.
How Do I Get A Free Website?
While a domain name is a virtual address to your online premises, a website is your business's virtual residence. Think of it as your virtual office space. Clients visit you here, your products are showcased here, and most of your customer service happens here.
Therefore, you need a website to run a business online. The good news is that you can get it absolutely free.
We’ve inadvertently circled back to WordPress, which is the most professional, free-to-use website building tool for businesses today. WordPress is the number one choice for many because it’s very accommodating to online businesses' needs. It supports third-party hosting should you decide to switch to another provider, plus you can connect a WordPress site to an existing domain.
We couldn’t compress all the goodness of WordPress as a source of free websites in this small section, but it is the best of the best when it comes to open-source website building software.
You can also use Weebly to get a free website but remember, “free” is rarely the best option for websites.
In most cases, it means having your website on a subdomain, so the extension is .weebly.com or .wordpress.com. Not the best domain name for a business, but still miles better than a .tk extension.
Which Is The Best Method To Get A Free Domain Name?
We have to consider three things when deciding which of the three methods we’ve discussed is the best: cost, professionalism, and domain ownership.
Domain registrars are the cheapest legitimate option, but they have far too significant drawbacks. For one, you don’t own the domain, which is a recipe for trouble down the line. They also lack professional extensions like .com and .org. Obviously, option one isn’t the best option.
Getting domain names for site builders is a fantastic option if you also need a website. You can kill two birds with one stone by choosing this method, which lets you have a free domain name plus helps you build your website however you prefer. Unfortunately, premium functionality comes with premium pricing, and you’ll have to spend far more than you would on a domain name alone.
Option two, getting a free domain name from a hosting provider, is the best for a simple reason: it is cheaper. For just a couple of dollars a month, you can get ownership of a brand-new domain name, hosting, plus up to five domain emails. It’s also easier to pay for hosting than to create a whole new website if you already know how to create one.
Therefore, the best (and cheapest) way to get a free domain name is by using a registrar that offers free domains as part of their hosting plans.