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How to Get a Free Domain Name in 3 Steps

Your domain is what makes your website unique—it’s where your website lives on the internet and how visitors look you up.

Registering a domain name is one of the first steps of building a website. While it usually costs money, I’ll show you how you can get one for free—and pick something that aligns with your business niche.

Here’s everything you need to know on how to get a free domain.

Want a quick answer on how to get a free domain name? I’ll cut to the chase.

Not only does the company provide excellent speed and uptime reliability, but it also offers a free domain name for the first year.

Get your domain and hosting set up in one fell swoop with Hostinger. You still have to pay for hosting (which you can lock in for under $3 per month), but you get the domain name for free.

After that, you’ll have hosting, a domain, and a basic website ready to go.

If your budget is really tight at the moment, you can also consider using a free subdomain.

yourusername.wixsite.com/yoursiteaddress or yourdomainname.wordpress.com

This isn’t an ideal situation. Some downsides of not having a clean .com include:

All that said, a free subdomain can be a viable option when you want to experiment with the free features of the website builder. It may also be a temporary way to get your content online so you can start building a website before investing in a clean .com. In many cases, you can convert your site to your own domain and even other hosting solutions at a later date.

If not having a clean .com is a non-starter out of the gate, don’t worry. The process for getting set up with Hostinger and snagging your free domain is as simple as it can be.

Read on to follow the three easy steps to get a free domain name for your website.

You’ll be able to do all of this in one place with Hostinger. I will walk through some of your other options, but you may need to interface with multiple vendors to accomplish all of these steps.

Click Start Now and you’ll be taken straight to the checkout page.

Conveniently, that checkout page is all set up with my recommendation. You’ll get premium shared hosting, which is the lowest-cost plan that also includes a free domain name.

My tip is to select the longest term for the best rate. If you commit to four years of hosting up front, you can lock in a really attractive rate of $2.59 per month.

Just click on the right-most box at the top to make sure you get the best deal.

Take a look at the add-ons below there to see if any are useful to you. None of them are absolutely necessary, but daily backups and priority support are helpful features, and they’re reasonably priced.

After that, enter your payment information, click Submit Secure Payment, and then you’ll be onto setup.

With my offer for Hostinger’s shared hosting, you actually don’t have to select a hosting type yourself. Premium shared hosting is all ready to go for you.

However, you may know enough about your website’s needs to also know that you might need a more powerful hosting type than shared hosting, like VPS or dedicated.

If you have no idea, read on to learn a little bit about the differences between those three types of hosting and who each one is best for.

Not only are the plans under this category cheap, but they can also accommodate the needs of low-traffic sites quite efficiently. Your website is hosted on a server along with a bunch of other websites. You save money by sharing server resources with the other tenants.

It’s like living in an apartment versus having your own house. It costs less and you don’t have to worry about maintenance. 

If one of the sites on the shared server starts taking too many resources, it can cause problems for your site’s performance. This is why shared hosting isn’t appropriate for really big complex websites. 

If you’re building a website for a small or local business and concentrating on driving quality traffic that is likely to convert — and not building something like a viral media site — starting with shared hosting is likely optimal. You can always switch to a different model later if you find your site growing beyond what the shared servers can handle.

With cloud hosting, you get the same environment as shared hosting (that is, you’re sharing resources with the other sites on servers), but multiple servers work together via the cloud to prevent any one from getting bogged down because of a bulky, popular, or resource-hungry site.

That usually results in more reliable speed and uptime, since you’re not sharing the resources of just one server.  This might be a good option if you’re not expecting extraordinary traffic on a regular basis but it’s critical for your business model that you maintain uptimes and speeds no matter what any other site sharing your resources does.

Cloud hosting is a good half-step up from shared hosting but not as powerful and reliable as the next option.

The good thing about this hosting type is that it guarantees useful resources for you exclusively. Technically, you still share a server with other websites, but you have a “virtual“ server that includes dedicated resources. 

You can consider this hosting type if you expect sudden spikes in traffic volumes.

Understandably, you get premium performance with this subscription plan, but you have to be ready to pay its premium price, too. 

This is a good option if your business is a large enterprise that regularly handles high traffic. It’s also great for those who want complete control over the hosting environment, such as businesses in more regulated industries like healthcare or finance.

For this guide, I’ll suggest you choose the premium shared hosting plan that’s preselected. However, if you prefer other plans, you can easily select them to customize how you set up your free domain name and pay for hosting to go along with it.

After you’ve completed checkout and payment, you’ll be taken to your Hostinger control panel, hPanel.

There, you’ll see an option front-and-center for claiming your free domain.

Click Claim Domain to search for your preferred free domain name. Once you see it, click the purple box next to it.

I’d encourage you to select a .com extension, as it looks more professional and helps you appear more reliable to your visitors. 

The only time that I’d consider an alternative domain extension is if the .com extension is already taken and you are absolutely set on the name.

Having a .com domain is particularly important for businesses—small blogs, personal sites, and side hustles may be able to save a few bucks by going for an alternative extension.

After that, you’ll just have to enter some basic information to register your free domain name. Fill out the form and submit it. Hostinger will take a few minutes to verify your registration information, and then send you an email with a link to complete the verification.

There’s just one more thing I recommend.

Make sure to enable WHOIS protection. After you’ve completed verification, you’ll be taken to the section of your dashboard for your new free domain name. Then, just look for the slider button under WHOIS Privacy and click it so it becomes purple and enabled.

Doing this will conceal your name, email, phone number, and address from appearing on a public database, providing some important benefits including:

Once you complete that last step to safeguard personal privacy, you’re done!

For the sake of comprehensiveness, I’ll also discuss two other ways of getting a free domain. Although I don’t recommend them, it’s always good to know all of the options.

I’ll explain each of these methods in greater detail below, including the reasons why I don’t recommend them when talking about how to get a free domain.

Several website builders offer subdomains, which is a personal domain that exists within an existing domain name. 

Remember that movie Inception where Leonardo DiCaprio dreams that he is in a dream? Something similar happens here. 

You end up getting a domain name within a domain name. 

You typically get a free domain name with these options along with a few other perks, including:

Given those perks, why do I still say this method is not ideal? 

First, some of those perks can be a bit limiting, especially if you want to grow outside of the box with your website. You also run into all the challenges of not having a clean .com I discussed earlier in this article. 

Let’s dig deeper into those issues with an example. 

Imagine you use a free website builder like Wix. You won’t have to pay for a domain, yes, but your site will have the Wix subdomain. It’ll look something like this:

yourusername.wixsite.com/yoursiteaddress

Suppose your Wix username is “My Stunning Website 123,” and the free domain name you want is myblogsite. Here’s what you’ll get:

Think about it: Does that look professional? Have you seen any credible websites that have  domains like this? Would you input your personal information or credit card data into a site with this type of URL structure and feel good about it? If not, why would you expect customers to do the same.

That is why I’d only suggest this method if you want to experiment with your website builder’s free features or new updates.

WordPress is your other option, and luckily, it is not as invasive as Wix. The format for a free WordPress subdomain is: yourdomainname.wordpress.com

This is a good option for situations when one cannot spend money, but it is not a viable long-term strategy. You want your free domain name to be memorable and short—both of which aren’t possible when you use a subdomain.

The fact that your visitors won’t remember your domain or find it hard to remember is another disadvantage. Even if these site builders offer some SEO tools to help you give your site a slight boost in the search engine results, that positive might wash out to a neutral, at best, if people can’t remember your domain.

You can get a free domain name from a free domain registrar, but it’s generally unsuitable. Especially if you want your domain to reflect a certain level of professionalism or trustworthiness. 

You see, the truly free domains use uncommon extensions. For instance, you’ll get .tk instead of .com.

Your prospective customers would much prefer working with a domain name that reads yourbusiness.com instead of your yourbusiness.tk. Uncommon extensions are confusing for many people, and they can quickly erode trust. At a time when many people are aware of online phishing and scam schemes but don’t fully understand them, having a site show up with an unfamiliar extension creates too many questions in the consumer’s mind.

Add to that the fact that it’s much easier to remember a .com than some domain extension few people have seen before, and you can see why this isn’t a great option.

Plus, you don’t own the domain name, which also defeats the purpose of launching a blog or a website.

Several domain registrars will give you a free domain in exchange for running ads on your website. There is nothing wrong with running ads, but this just isn’t the best way to do it. Here’s why:

If you’re seriously toying with the idea of running ads on your website, I’d advise you to do so through a legitimate advertising network as it can be a great source of income. Don’t exchange ads for a free domain.

Setting up a website or blog is hard work. You put in a lot of effort to find the perfect URL, design a website, and publish relevant content on it.

So, just imagine the horror when you get up and realize some random stranger has bought your domain out from under you.

The reason? You forgot to renew your domain.

Tragic.

Many people have made this mistake in the past, and it cost them dearly.

An adult website scooped up the Vidme expired domain, an action that eventually led to adult video content showing up as the embedded videos on older news stories and on other web pages. It was a huge fail for Vidme, but also a major issue for the brands and trustworthiness of all sites with those embedded videos.

How can you avoid this?

First, take note of your initial term. A lot of registrars default to a one-year registration, but with some, you can buy five, 10, 20, or even 100 years at checkout.

The longer your initial term, the longer you don’t have to fret about renewal. Plus, you lock in the annual rate for the duration. That can save you money over the long term because like all other goods and services, domain name prices can increase over time.

Second, and this is most important if you don’t buy a multi-year term at first, is to make sure the domain renewal date is marked on your calendar with a reminder set for around one month in advance.

That way, you can prepare for renewal without your registration lapsing.

A one-month heads-up also gives you a chance to review the renewal rates from your domain registrar. Sometimes, that renewal rate jumps up quite a bit. If it’s more than you were expecting, at least you have a few weeks to consider your budget and options.

Last, if you don’t have a shoestring budget, I’d suggest just setting your domain to auto-renew.

With most providers, you can find in your dashboard the expiry date of your domain, the renewal cost, and an option to enable auto-renewal. You can see in the image above that Hostinger makes this really easy in its services submenu under billing settings.

The other providers I’ve reviewed on this list also allow for auto-renewal, so you can set it and forget it with any that you choose.

I just suggest checking in on your domain’s renewal rate before the time comes, so you don’t get any unfortunate budgetary surprises if the rate spikes on you. 

You also do need to ensure you use a payment method that won’t expire before the renewal date. 

Most sites won’t automatically drop your domain name if the payment method has expired. Typically, you’ll receive an email letting you know the payment expired and you have a certain amount of time to update it.

However, emails can get lost in the shuffle, and this is just another way you could accidentally lose your domain name. Use a credit card or other payment methods with expiration dates a few years out if you can to avoid this issue.

Yes, if you’re looking for how to get a free domain, it’s as easy as signing up with Hostinger or another provider that offers free domain names. Note that a free domain doesn’t mean you automatically have a website. You still need to set up hosting.

I recommend Hostinger. It’s easy to set up and offers free domain names with common extensions such as .com. You can purchase hosting through Hostinger for less than $3 a month, making it an affordable solution for getting a free domain and adding the hosting necessary to get your site up and running online.

To auto-renew your domain and ensure you don’t accidentally lose it to someone else, simply select auto-renewal settings with your domain provider. You can usually find the expiry date for the site in the dashboard or settings. Look for a box or other option you can toggle on to select auto-renewal. Just be sure that the payment method you enter will work when the auto-renewal date arrives. 

Yes, if you’re looking for how to get a free domain, it’s as easy as signing up with Hostinger or another provider that offers free domain names. Note that a free domain doesn’t mean you automatically have a website. You still need to set up hosting.

I recommend Hostinger. It’s easy to set up and offers free domain names with common extensions such as .com. You can purchase hosting through Hostinger for less than $3 a month, making it an affordable solution for getting a free domain and adding the hosting necessary to get your site up and running online.

To auto-renew your domain and ensure you don’t accidentally lose it to someone else, simply select auto-renewal settings with your domain provider. You can usually find the expiry date for the site in the dashboard or settings. Look for a box or other option you can toggle on to select auto-renewal. Just be sure that the payment method you enter will work when the auto-renewal date arrives. 

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Written by robert

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