What Is A Domain? What Difference Does It Make To My Blog?
Should I Pay For My Domain?
When starting your blog you will need to decide where it will live, or be hosted, on the internet. Your blog needs a place where all your information (photos, videos and text) will be stored and displayed for the entire world to see. Where you upload your web pages, photos, videos, etc. is referred to as your web host. Your web host will store all the files that make up your web site. Your readers will find your blog by entering your domain name into their website browser.
Your domain name is the address to your site. Owning your own domain can make the difference in your success.
Note: You don't necessarily have to get your domain name and web hosting from the same company. As an example, you might purchase your domain name from a domain name registrar like GoDaddy.com but then choose to host your website with a hosting company, like Bluehost.com.
Learn how to choose great, cheap domain names.
Domain Providers: Should I Pay For My Domain?
Here is the rule of thumb: sub-domains are usually free and top level domains are not. An example of a sub-domain is: myblog.wordpress.com. An example of a top level domain (TLD) is myblog.com. Blogging platforms (company's that offer free blogging tools) provide free sub-domains to all of their users. Some of the free blogging platforms are:
- TypePad.com Offers free trial only, with prices starting at $8.95 per month.
These domain providers offer very easy start-up options. They are free (at first) and many offer basic themes that allow you to personalize your blog/site with your own graphics.
The thing to keep in mind with these types of domain providers is that they will forever be a part of your URL (your address on the net).
For example if you choose to go with a domain provided by WordPress and you want to name your blog "Tips By Mom" it will have the WordPress domain as well. Your blog address would look something like this tipsbymom.wordpress.com. This is referred to as a sub-domain.
Although these blogging platforms (see above) offer free sub-domains they also put ads on your site that you don’t control. They also start to charge monthly fees when your blog starts to get popular. The more popular you are, the more you pay.
Another disadvantage is that many free blogging platforms don't allow you to have a website for commercially purposes, so if your intent is to make money with your blog, then you'll want to avoid them.
Having a sub-domain may not seem very important, and may not be if you just want to blog as a hobby. But if you want to blog professionally and make money, you will be better equipped if you own your own domain.
Owning Your Domain
If you decide to buy your own domain you can purchase one from a Domain Registrar (like 1and1.com) that will register your domain name and host it on their server. Wordpress and Blogger also offer hosting services for your own domain at a monthly fee. After that you can choose and install a content management system.
A content management system (CMS) is kind of like an engine for your blog - it is the software that actually makes it all work. WordPress is the the most popular content management system in the world. Why choose self hosted WordPress?
By choosing to go with your own domain and installing a blogging platform you will end up with a clean URL like this tipsbymom.com. Having a clean URL means that you will get better search rankings with Google and more people will find your blog. You also have the freedom to host your site where you want - you won't be stuck with just one hosting option. This factor can be important as your site grows and you need to scale your business.
Summing It Up
What this all means is if you want a quick and easy start up and don’t want (need) full control of your blog, you can choose a free domain hosting service. If you want to blog professionally and have full control with a higher chance at turning a profit you should absolutely purchase your own domain name.
Although purchasing your own domain and managing your own blog is more complicated (but not much more) it is worth the time and investment if you are serious about online business and making money with a blog.
Edited by Online Business/Hosting Expert Brian T. Edmondson