I have been doing web design for myself and clients since about oh, 1998. While HTML and web design technologies have changed since then, the domain and hosting game by and large has not. And I’m continually surprised at how some simple facts about domain and hosting practices are unknown to many people and small businesses. I’m going to share some of them here.
You Can Buy a Domain for as Little as $1
I’ve seen customers get duped into paying as much as $35 a year for domain hosting. While domains may have been that expensive in 1998, they are dirt cheap now. There are many “resellers” of domains, and prices vary. GoDaddy’s “normal” price for a .com domain is $11.95, and 1plus1.com is $4.95. However, GoDaddy regularly releases a “code” that you can use when buying a domain to get a discount. How do you find these? Easy.
- Go on Twitter.
- Do a search for these terms: “godaddy” “domain” and “code.”
- Enter the code you find in the “apply coupon” field when you buy the domain.
There is almost always a code for a domain for $7.49, and frequently they have one for $1.99 or $1. If you aren’t in a hurry to buy a domain, watch Twitter for a week and see if you can find a cheap code.
Note: while you can get a discount on the initial domain pretty easily, the renew discounts aren’t so prevalent. But again, it’s just $11.95.
You Don’t Have to Have Your Domain and Hosting in the Same Place
On GoDaddy, you can buy a domain and buy hosting. but you don’t HAVE to. In fact, sometimes it’s to your advantage not to. Go Daddy’s backend for hosting is kind of a mess (although their customer support is very helpful and friendly if you do end up having it). So I use GoDaddy for domains and another company for hosting. I have changed hosts a few times over the years, and since my domains are in one location, it’s easy to just “point” them to new hosting when I need to.
If You Have a Simple Website, You Shouldn’t Be Paying $50/Month for Hosting
I have a friend who was talked into website hosting and site development with a company that provided her with domain and hosting services. Not only did they charge her $3000 to build what was essentially a five page brochure site, they were charging her $50 a month for hosting. I nearly wrote them a strongly worded letter for that kind of ripoff.
My friend is a life coach and knows nothing of tech services. She didn’t know that the site they built for her (besides not capturing her essence at ALL) was complete overkill for her simple needs. They had built it on a backend that was better suited for an ecommerce site needing a CMS.
To add insult to injury, when she wanted to add a WordPress blog to her hosting, they charged her an “extra hosting fee” for the wordpress blog hosting. Which leads me to my next point.
LESSON: Site hosting costs are an average of $5.95 a month. They will often give you a discount if you buy many years at a time. Some sites to check out: bluehost.com, dreamhost.com, hostgator.com
Once You Have [unlimited] Hosting, You Can Host as Many Sites/Blogs on it as You Like
This is something else that none of my clients seem to know (and why would hosting companies tell them?). I met one client who had two websites and a blog, and had purchased three separate hosting accounts for them. Most hosting packages these days give you unlimited space and unlimited bandwidth. As long as you aren’t hosting a site that will be getting millions of hits a day or needing to processing a lot of video (which takes up a lot of bandwidth and could slow down your other sites), the average hosting plan can easily handle a website and a blog or two. For example on my own hosting, I have six different blogs. None of them have that much traffic so they co-exist peacefully.
It’s Pretty Easy to Migrate Websites to New Web Hosts
It used to be a big hassle to move websites to new hosts. But these days web hosts have pretty robust migration services (included with hosting), and all you need to do is change the DNS settings after the site has been migrated (telling your domain name where your website lives).
If You Switch Web Hosts, You Can Usually Get a Refund for the Time Left on Your Yearly Hosting Cost
For most web hosts, you need to pay up front for a year of web hosting. The good news is, if you switch web hosts, you’re not out the money for the rest of the year.
Some Other Tips
WARNING: Domain Registries (other than the one that holds your domain) Will Sometimes Send You Official-Looking Letters Saying That it’s Time to Renew Your Domain
My dad showed me a letter he’d received the other day asking to renew his domain – for $35 dollars. This letter was from the “National Domain Registry,” and since I knew I’d gotten his domain on GoDaddy.com and knew it would at most cost $11.95 to renew, I knew it was bogus. If one read the fine print, it stated that in filling out the form and submitting it, his domain would be TRANSFERRED to them. Sneaky.
LESSON: Know who owns your domain. If you forget, there’s an easy way to find out.
- Go to http://www.whois.net.
- Enter your domain.
It will show you who owns it.
Here is information about my domain. Now, to administer it, I’d still have to know the login details to GoDaddy, but I wrote those down in a safe place. 🙂
Keep Your Email on Gmail
Your email is the lifeblood of your business, so you don’t want to be affected if there is a server outage. The best way to avoid this is to keep your email on gmail. it takes a LOT to knock down Gmail.
have a gmail.com email account doesn’t have the same stigma as things like @aol.com or @hotmail.com, but if you want to have an email from your actual domain, just create a forwarder for it that goes to your gmail account.
So, if I have email@example.com, I could create a forward for charlene@thecontentfix.
Another benefit of this email arrangement is that if I change web hosts, then I don’t have to worry about losing email during the transition.