Buy a Cheap Domain Name

Buying a domain name can be a great way to set up your own website and/or personalized email address. Here are some important factors to keep in mind as well as step-by-step directions for both buying an available domain name and haggling for an occupied one.


Things to Keep in Mind

  1. Weigh factors that affect price and value when choosing a domain name. A great domain name is simple, unique, and easy to remember. That being said, the price (not to mention the intrinsic value) of a domain name depends on many factors including overall length, number of words, ease of spelling, and how much traffic goes there without prompting.
    • A short, one-word name (ex., and especially .com domains, will be pricy because simple titles have a lot of potential uses, meaning people probably already check them out on their own. If you are going after a registered .com domain, you will have to contact the current owner, and even then, prices could be high for misspellings and multiple word domains. In the past years, companies and individuals have settled for bizarre names, misspellings, and old tricks like adding “the” or “my” to the front; note, however, that this will also reduce domain performance.
    • Since 2014, new domain extensions (top-level domains, or TLDs) have been released as alternatives to .com, .org, etc. There are hundreds of such extensions that continue to be released, which include .club, .guru, .design, and many others, and they have effectively relieved the issue of scarcity in .com domains.
    • Before you allow yourself to completely fall in love with a domain name, create a few variants and backups.
    • If your desired name contains an intentional misspelling, be prepared to lose traffic to the properly spelled version. Alternatively, if your name contains a commonly misspelled word, consider buying one variation (or more) on your domain name and redirecting it to your main site. Of course, this will cause additional expenses.
    • Avoid including characters (ex. _, *, #) in your name, as these aren’t intuitive and will divert traffic.
  2. Consider going through an ICANN-accredited domain name registrar. An ICANN-accredited company has to go through all the ICANN accreditation checks, which is an expensive, in-depth process. This lets you know the company is committed.
  3. Make sure you can control every aspect of your domain name. Many domain name registration companies don’t let you make changes to your domains yourself. You have to enter a request via their support systems and then wait days for assistance. Simple things like changing IPS tags and changing name servers should be possible via your control panel. Make sure you get a control panel and check out what the control panel lets you do.
  4. Check to see if there’s a fee associated with releasing or transferring your domain. Many domain name registration and hosting companies charge a release fee. Others will charge a transfer fee every time you change hosts (.com, .net, .biz etc.). This charge is completely unnecessary; you should never be held to ransom over your domain name.
  5. Check to see if you get any email accounts. Many web hosting companies don’t include email or charge extra for it. In many cases, you can only get email forwarding. Even for straightforward POP3 email, some companies only offer 1 or 2 email accounts. You should make sure you get at least 15-20 POP3 email accounts included free of charge with your domain.
  6. Make sure you can use their SMTP servers for outgoing email. Many hosting and domain name registration providers will not let you use their SMTP servers for sending emails. They assume you can send email via your internet server provider’s SMTP servers. However, a great many ISPs and broadband providers will only let you use their SMTP servers on their branded email accounts (i.e. This means that if you use your own email address (i.e., you won’t be able to send email via their SMTP servers. There are workarounds but you shouldn’t have to go to the trouble.
    • Watch out: there are a number of the top hosting companies that will only let you use their SMTP servers on premium email accounts which incur an extra charge.
  7. Make sure you always retain control of your domain name. There are hundreds of businesses hosting their websites with a web host they’re not happy with. Poor service, surprise invoices, unreliable uptime and email issues are just some of the common issues customers are facing today. What most of them want to do is vote with their feet and walk out the door and find another web hosting provider. They don’t go through with it, however, because moving all their domains to another host is a complete admin headache. Choose wisely from the get-go so you don’t become one of these customers.
  8. Never register your domain in anyone else’s name. Your webmaster or kid cousin might be more tech-savvy than you, but if the domain ends up registered in his/her name, you may lose your site overnight should (s)he neglect to renew it on time or have a falling out with you.

Buy an Available Domain Name

  1. Research a few companies before deciding which one to go through. Price, amount of control, ease of use, level customer service, and whatever else they may have to offer you can differ widely between companies.
  2. Check to see if your desired name is taken. The company you decide to register through will allow you to search a database to find out whether or not your domain name is taken. If it is, proceed with the following steps; if not, either think of a new name or see the section below.
    • Don’t assume a name is available just because you typed it in the address bar and didn’t get a hit. Sites that haven’t yet been uploaded or are undergoing major repairs can sometimes produce false negatives.
  3. Choose and pay for a domain. To get and keep a domain, you will usually have to pay a purchase fee, a yearly renewal fee, and possibly a setup fee.
  4. Never forget to pay your renewal fee on time or you will lose your site overnight. This will be particularly embarrassing if your domain is bought out by an unsavory business that shocks your old visitors.

Haggle for an Occupied Domain Name

  1. Find out who owns the domain. If it’s a major operator with a well-established site, just bow out gracefully. However, you might get lucky and find that the domain was purchased on a whim, as a backup, or without careful consideration, in which case you may be able to negotiate a deal.
  2. Contact the owner. Before so much as hinting at a price, simply email to ask whether or not the domain is for sale. If you are known or can clearly be linked to a thriving business, create a generic alternate email address through which to contact them, as your success might be leveraged against you. Be aware, however, that an informal-sounding email address is more likely to be regarded as spam or junk mail.
  3. Negotiate a price. According to internet entrepreneur James Siminoff, there are four basic haggling scenarios:
    • The owner suggests an unreasonable amount. If this is the case, counter with what you think is fair instead of low-balling it. It’s no secret that domain names are valuable real estate, so your underwhelming offer is unlikely to make the owner take you seriously.
    • The owner asks you to suggest a price. If this is the case, they want to sell and are likely to try to negotiate up. Suggest 20 to 30% below your bottom range and let the haggling begin.
    • The owner asks for less than you’d prefer. Accept, but not too enthusiastically, or they might begin to suspect they’re being too generous.
    • The owner suggests exactly the price you’d prefer. See above.
  4. Be extremely cautious while communicating with the owner. Even if you casually agree to buy the domain via email, the communication might be used against you in court as a legally-binding contract should you change your mind. Until you’re absolutely certain that you want to make a deal, agree to buy the domain provided that all the terms are agreeable. This will leave you an escape hatch if things go south.
  5. Get the owner to agree as soon as possible. If the owner out-and-out agrees to your price, the email becomes an enforceable contract.


  • Just to give a range: you should be able to get a provider that gives you all as described above for less than 20 US$ a year; assuming traffic is not to high (like < 5 GB per month), and size of website not too big (like < 50 MB). That is pretty decent, especially for personal websites.
  • Is there another way? Yes, there is. Businesses should be making use of a domain name registration company to centrally administer all their domains. There are lots of very professional domain name registration companies that have been in business for years and that provide fully functional control panels that give their customers full control over their domain names. Then, all they have to do is change the name server details from their old host to their new host for each domain.
  • "Legacy" or "vintage" top level domains (TLDs) include .biz, .com, .net, .org, .mobi, .info, .edu
  • Country Code Top Level Domains (TLDs), have only 2 characters, such as .us, .fr, and .cn for the USA, France, and China respectively.
  • New TLDs are being released on an ongoing basis. Popular new extensions include .design, .club, .love, .rocks, .guru, .ink, .wiki, .realtor, and others. Complete lists can be found through ICANN or ICANNwiki.

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