So now you’ve got your blog and web site looking the way you want them, why not go the extra mile and get your own domain name?
Note this tutorial is very advanced.
What is a domain name?
You see domain names all the time. in the URL http://www.bbc.co.uk, "bbc" is the domain name. In "www.dundee.ac.uk", "dundee" is the domain name.
Your blog currently has a domain name that you chose right at the start but with the addition of "wordpress.com". In other words, your domain name is really "wordpress.com", just like everybody else’s.
Having your own domain name is a way to brand your site and yourself. Instead of "www.johnsmith206.wordpress.com" you could have "www.johnsmithdesign.com" or "samjonesjewellery.co.uk".
Mapping a domain name
There are several ways to get domain names and they can often be very inexpensive. WordPress allows you to buy and register a domain name and then "map" it to your blog. That means someone will type your new URL in to their browser and automatically be redirected to your WordPress site without the address changing.
In the next few steps I’ll show you how to get your domain from WordPress directly but you may want to consider another route which is to have your WordPress site hosted somewhere else. That gives you even more flexibility like adding better themes, designing your own style sheets, having an email address with your domain (e.g. "firstname.lastname@example.org") and so on. Because that’s a bit more complex I’ll cover it in a future tutorial. For now, this is probably the simplest way (and you can always take the more complex option later).
Find a domain name company
To get a domain name you need to first of all find out if it is available, and then register it. There are lots of registration companies around and you need to do your own comparisons. My advice would be to find a company that offers a range of services such as registration and hosting (hosting, as I explained above, is where they keep your site on their servers). Even if at the moment you are happy just to map your domain to WordPress, having your domain registered via a company that offers hosting just makes it easier to "upgrade" later.
I use a company called LCN (low cost names) at www.LCN.biz, more out of habit than anything else. They’ve been around for a while and offer a range of services along with good pricing. However, I am not endorsing them – as I said above you need to hunt around. Ask friends or family who they use and see if they can get deals for referring you.
You can see in the screenshot here that, like most registration companies, there’s a big white box where you can type in your ideal domain name to see if it’s available.
So I type in my chosen name, "pink pineapples" (see earlier tutorials to find out why!) and click "search"
Is it available?
it turns out it is, although "pinkpinapples.com" is taken (you can click on "more information" if you’re intrigued as to who has it). But I can get it in lots of different ways.
Notice the different letters in green? These are the top level domains. Back in the old days, ".com" meant "company" and ".co.uk" meant "a UK company". There are all sorts of top level domains such as ".fr", ".cn", ".net" and every so often a new one come along such as "me", "me.uk" and the latest, "co". These new top level domains tend to be quite pricy compared to the others, mainly because the chances of your chosen domain being available are higher. (For example, type in your name and you will probably find it is gone, unless you have an unusual name, but it may still be available in the newer top level domains).
If you can get ".com" or ".co.uk" go for it. ".me" and ".me.uk" are meant for personal sites and perhaps don’t look as professional as ".com" etc. But that will probably change very quickly.
From the screenshot above you can see I can get pinkpineapples.co.uk for £6.00, and the registration will last two years. (You get first refusal on renewal so someone else can’t come in and pinch it from you).
Multiple domain registration
A lot of comanies register variations on their domain, even though they may not use them. For example, Microsoft probably owns "microsoft.co.uk", "microsoft.net" and so on. One reason for doing this is to automatically forward people who type the wrong address along to the correct one. But another reason is to stop people setting up rival sites, or "cybersquatting" – a practice that is now broadly illegal but used to be quite trendy in the early days of the web, when someone would buy a domain like "alliedcarpets.co.uk" and wait for Allied Carpets to decide to get a web site, only to find their domain had gone. The idea was to sell it to them for a profit! The early days of the world wide web were a lot more fun…
If you are setting up a business you may want to register different versions of your domain. Otherwise, it may be overkill.
Choose a hosting package
Remember I’m using LCN.biz as my example. Most other companies follow a similar process.
Having selected the ".co.uk" domain I can now choose my hosting package. The simplest is "Domain Only" – use this if you want WordPress to "map" your site to your domain. Note however that WordPress can only host
I’ll look at the other options in a future tutorial but if you’re interested, why not visit the site and look at what they mean. For example, if you want to sell your work online, one of the eShop hosting options may be of interest. But for most purposes the "starter hosting" package will be enough.