Run a business online, then you definitely need to buy and manage your own domains.

You can outsource a lot of things. But not your domains. (Or your email list, but that is another post).

Business owners need to control:

  • purchasing domain names
  • renewing domain names
  • using name servers to control where Internet traffic (web and email) is sent

Does this sound too technical for you? It doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. You can get one of your staff to do it. Just don’t outsource it to whoever does your website for you.

Then again, maybe your philosophy is trust in the universe. So you don’t lock up your business premises. You leave your wallet lying around on the bar. If you trust in the universe this much, then sure, let someone else buy your domains for you.

Why is this so important? If you invest in a domain without owning it, someone else can simply turf you off the domain and take the value for themselves. It doesn’t happen all the time, but its pretty easy to manage your own domains, so why take the risk?

How to purchase an unregistered domain

You purchase unregistered domains from a domain registrar. You establish an account with them (usually free), and you can login to purchase and manage your domains. To find out if a domain is already registered, just do a search.

A .com domain can cost anywhere from $5 USD upwards. Update – registrar names deleted. I use a US based registrar and pay $6.50 USD for a .com domain. I use an Australian registrar for .com.au domains. [Grrr: My Australian registrar has always had problems with support. Most things are self service, but anything that isn’t is always frustrating. Their support has always been glacial – but this has risen to a new level, with support stonewalling an auth code request so I can transfer a domain to a client – unbelievable. Do you know a good registrar for .com.au domains (my definition of a good registrar is one with a reliable, self service website)? If so, please let me know.

How to purchase a registered domain

If you want a specific domain someone else has already registered, you can try and buy it from them. In some situations (for example, if they have a domain with your trademark in it), you have legal remedies. But mostly, its a negotiation. And domain prices are going up.

You can also find domains for sale, either outright or by auction. It is a commercial transaction, and market rules apply.

Why purchase a domain?

Buy the domains you need for your business. Sooner rather than later. A reason I like the $6.50 domains is that it makes it easier to rationalise buying several domains around a keyword.

I said before, domain prices are going up. Buy some domains for the grandchildren. $6.50/yr – if you get a few wrong, so what. A few right could be worth a lot of money.

How to renew a domain

You’ll usually get a reminder notice from the domain registrar. But don’t assume you will. Don’t let them expire unless you enjoy tedium and/or disappointment. Someone may easily snap up domains that are not renewed. There is a whole community of people who pore over lists of lapsing domains, and swoop on the valuable ones as soon as they become available.

How do I set name servers?

Name servers link a domain name to an IP address that handles your web and email traffic. By setting the name servers for your domain, you are controlling which servers can manage web traffic, and which servers can manage your email traffic.

Typically when you choose a hosting provider, you set the name servers for your domain according to their instructions. Nameservers usually look like ns1.yourhost.com and ns2.yourhost.com (and maybe ns3.yourhost.com).

Just about every domain registrar lets you login and change the name servers for your domain. Just look in the support notes if you can’t figure it out, it will be there.

Managing Domains
Updating Name Servers

Registrars often provide hosting services themselves, or offer parking services. If you have already chosen your host, you don’t have to purchase any additional services from the registrar to get your website running (although you might choose to). Be careful here, as they can be quite good at suggesting to you that you do.

Summary

Own your own domains. Come to grips with how to buy, manage and renew them. Its a vital aspect of running a business online.