Free is Not ALWAYS Good!
Most hosting companies offer a free domain name registration when you sign up for a hosting account.
It may sound like a tempting offer, as it could save a little money, but I recommend not using this free domain name at all.
Instead, ALWAYS keep your domain name registration separate from your hosting, using a domain name registrar.
I can already hear you screaming right now, “But, why would you do that?”
Allow me to put you out of your misery.
There’s no Real Benefit At all
Many of the hosts giving the domain name for free, or at a discount, are only offering that discount for the first year.
After the first free year, the hosting company will charge you the normal domain registration fee (usually around $10-12.00 per year), each year after that.
So, even if you paid for a few years of hosting in advance, you’ll still be paying the same for your domain name as you would with a normal domain name registrar.
If you still want a discount on the first year of domain name registration, you can usually pick up a domain name for around $1.00 for the first year anyway.
Stick around for a minute, and at the end of this article I’ll show you a few different domain name registrars that have this kind of discount.
You’ll also avoid any of the other issues I’m about to go into.
It’s a Little Harder to Leave Your Hosting Company
If you have your domain registration through your hosting company, and decide you want to leave that hosting company, it’s not as easy.
You’ll need to transfer the domain over to the new hosting company, or a domain registrar.
To be completely honest, it’s not super hard to do, but it can delay the moving process, and it’s just a step you can avoid.
If your domain name registration is separate from the hosting, it’s just a quick and easy switch.
All you do is point your domain name at the new host, and you’re done.
Issues Can Become MUCH Bigger Problems
If you ever have problems with your hosting company (which is almost guaranteed to happen at SOME point), having your domain name registration tied in with their hosting account can make things more difficult.
When one of my sites got hacked with malware, it was a pretty easy process for me to work around, but it could’ve been a LOT WORSE.
When My Business WebSite Got Hacked
I once had a site that got hacked with a malware attack.
This site was for a profitable, operating business, making around $300,000.00 a year.
Every second the site was down, I was losing money.
Whilst the malware attack wasn’t the hosting company’s fault, they weren’t being very helpful in resolving the issue.
I was also getting phone calls from customers asking questions that the website usually answered for me.
If you’ve ever seen any business owner, their phone is often very busy. When my web site was down, it became overwhelming.
All the hosting company wanted to do was recommend REALLY expensive services. This incident became one of the reasons I eventually left that host.
I knew it was going to take at least a few days to figure this issue out, so I came up with a quick solution.
My $10.00 Solution – I Moved the Site to Another Host Temporarily
I opened an account with another hosting company that had no contract. They just had a monthly fee of around $10.00.
I then transferred my backed-up site files over to the new host server and pointed the domain to that server.
My site was then back up and completely operational. This entire process took about an hour or so.
With the malware issue, It took about a week of time, and many tech support emails to figure everything out. But my website didn’t miss a beat.
More importantly, my customers didn’t know any different. My business operated perfectly.
That solution cost me less than $10.00.
The issue was resolved quickly, and my phone went back to the normal chaos I was used to dealing with.
If your Hosting Account Expires Your Domain Might go with it
Some hosting companies tie the domain registration and the hosting together. If they do, when your hosting account expires, so can your domain name.
If your hosting was discounted, usually the price of hosting goes up quite a lot after the discounted time runs out. Register your domain names seperately and you can simply switch to another host, and get a discounted hosting rate from them, instead.
That’s okay, but these are the things hosting companies sometimes do with expired domains.
What Hosting Companies Do With Expired Domain Names
If you decide you no longer want the hosting, and don’t transfer the domain away, the hosting company can do several different things.
They Could Let Your Domain Name Expire
Sometimes the hosting companies just let the domain names expire. If they do, the domain will then go out into the marketplace.
If nobody buys it, you MIGHT be able to buy it again for the same price as a new domain in the future.
Sometimes that’s possible.
Used domains are more often sold as ‘premium’ domains, simply because they’ve been used before. These domains can be very expensive. I’ve seen used domains from VERY small niches for sale for ridiculous money.
An old friend of mine’s domain, HighlandStreetboards.com is for sale right now for $2,395.00, because it has the word ‘street’ in it.
It was first registered for just $0.99.
‘Domain sharks’ are people that trade domain names for profit.
If a domain shark sees your expiring domain and they’re interested in it, they can put in a bid for your domain prior to expiration. When the domain name then expires, they snap it up the moment it does.
Also, if your expired domain is snapped up by domain sharks, they’ll want a premium price for it.
There’s a domain I had my eye on for a few years that’s currently for sale for $10,000.00.
It’s not worth that at all. It never could be.
There’s never even been a site, or even so much as a web page on the domain, only a redirect.
But… …the owner names the price in the domain name world.
The Hosting Company Can Park the Domain and Resell It
Sometimes, when a domain name expires the hosting company re-register the name and keep it.
They then park the domain, and put a placeholder page on your old site, telling the world the domain is for sale.
Like this one time I bought a competitor’s domain name, for a GREAT price…
That Time I Bought my Competitor’s Domain Name
…A few years ago, I was doing some scheduled competitive research within a small niche I operate in.
When I visited my competitor’s site, it wasn’t there anymore.
There was a placeholder for the site, and the domain was for sale for $100.00. I was really surprised to see this.
$100.00 is 10 times more than the annual registration for a domain name (usually registration fees are around $10.00) but still a VERY good price for a used domain.
I was curious as to why it had expired, so I contacted the site owner, as I knew him.
My Competitor Let His Hosting Account Expire and Lost His Domain
He’d let the hosting account expire, as he didn’t have the time or the money to continue with the site.
Instead, he’d decided to keep running the blog on a free wordpress.com account.
He could’ve kept his domain name and used the free WordPress.com account to host the blog, without changing his domain name at all. Had he kept the domain registration separate from his hosting account, he would’ve only had to pay around $10.00 per year to keep the domain name registration.
Instead of doing that, he let the domain expire, and he lost it. The hosting company had basically kidnapped his domain name and were selling it for just $100.00.
I knew it was a great deal for a used domain name, and he told me he wasn’t interested in it anymore. So, I bought the domain and redirected the domain traffic to my website.
My site got a free boost in traffic from the redirected backlinks, and I now own my ex-competitor’s domain name.
That was some cheap, easy marketing!
It also effectively removed a competitor from the niche.
If anyone ever wants to buy that domain, I’ll be able to name my price, which will at the very least cover my costs with a little profit.
I couldn’t have lost out on this one. It was a good deal, and too good to miss.
Hackers Can Steal Your Domain Name
If a hacker ever gets into your hosting account, and the domain name is registered there, they can transfer your domain away.
Basically, hackers can steal your domain name from you.
You might be able to get it back, but it that’s a might, and it will probably not be too easy.
You Can Sell Your Domains Easier
It’s easier to sell domain names if you have them registered separately from a hosting account.
You can be approached by people at any time to buy your domain, so it might work out for you.
When I Sold a Domain for 349 times More Than I Paid For It
I had once registered a few different domains for websites within a niche that I was very involved in. there was a special offer of 99 cent domains, so I grabbed a few I was considering using.
As I was building one of the sites, and still had my WHOIS information not private, I was approached by somebody randomly that wanted to buy the domain.
I agreed to sell the domain for $350.00. Not bad for a domain name I paid $0.99 for!
As I had the domain registered with a domain registrar, and not tied into a hosting account, the ownership transfer was super easy to do.
Hosting Multiple Domains is Easier
When all your domain names are seperate from your hosting, you don’t need a hosting account for each domain.
It’s just easier to host them all on one hosting account. You can register as many domain names as you want, and simply upgrade your hosting to an account that allows multiple sites to run.
If you do have multiple sites on one host, I would highly recommend getting at least a VPS hosting account, so you won;t hit any server time or processor limits.
New Domain Name Registration Only Costs a Dollar
You can always pick up a new domain for around $1.00 for the first year.
Different domain registrars always have different offers available, but you can usually find one of them with a $1.00 offer.
GoDaddy.com usually has a $0.99 offer to grab your new domain.
NOTE: I usually register my domain names for at least 2 years.
This is because then I’m committed to make the domain work as a business, and I know I have enough time to build SEO rankings.
For me, 1 year just isn’t enough time to know if that domain is going to work out. It goes by so quickly, that I like to not have the expiration sneak up on me.
After 2 years, I usually know I’m keeping that domain or not, and commit to a longer time period, or let it expire.
What to Do if Your Domain Name is with Your Hosting Company
If your current domain name registration / hosting situation, is that you have them both together, don’t worry.
You can transfer your domain away from the hosting company, to a domain registrar at any time.
Simply go to a domain registrar, and request a domain transfer.
You’ll need to pay for the domain for at least a year. Then unlock your domain with the current domain registrar, and request the transfer.
This may take a day or two to figure out, but at least it’s better than doing it while you’re having problems with your site.