How Long Should You Buy a Domain Name For, And Why?
I spend hours searching for a suitable domain name for this website. Though when I finally made up my mind, there was another hurdle to overcome. I needed to decide how long my first registration term should be.
So how long should you buy a domain name for?
2 years is the best option for most domain registrations. It depends on the reasons why, and the type of website the domain is registered for. Take into account: the time for creating the website itself, its content, and how long it takes for the website/project to gain traction.
It makes sense to purchase a domain name for at least 2 years. Though there are some valid reasons for shorter and longer registration terms, as you’ll find out below.
Why registering your domain for 2 years makes sense
2 years is actually the bare minimum, if you’re planning to create a website. Getting a website online, doesn’t need to take very long. Though the majority of your time will be spent on either creating content or getting your business off the ground.
If you aren’t planning on monetizing your website, feel free to skip to the next section.
Getting your website up and running, is probably just the first milestone of a bigger project. If you’re starting a business, it will take time in order to grow your clientele. If you’re looking to generate organic traffic with a blog website, it will take time to create and rank your content.
In both cases, you’ll experience something that I’d like to call, “the lonely desert”. You’ll first have to plant some seeds and wait until something grows. When something does grow, nourish it, so it will grow bigger.
This metaphor is 100% accurate, though most will give up, as they think they have waited long enough for something to grow. You shouldn’t expect to get 100.000 pageviews a month, when you only have 4 pieces of content on your website. And the same goes for impatient entrepreneurs who leap from project to project, when they don’t get instant results.
Whatever kind of project you’re starting, a good rule of thumb is to give it at least 2 years for it to succeed. That’s why it makes sense to register your domain for at least 2 or 3 years. Give yourself a few minutes, to let this sink in: “if you don’t invest, you’re not invested”.
Ok, enough with the words of wisdom and quotes. You came here, hoping to find content that can help you decide which kind of domain registration term is best for you. So I’ve created a little table which, I hope, will make your decision a bit easier.
|Initial Term||Best for|
|1 year||Low Budget|
When learning to create websites
Experimental or test websites
|2-3 years||Blog or business websites|
Small Ecommerce websites
|5-10 years||New brand or product line|
Avoiding inflation/cost increase
As you might notice, I’ve capped the longest term at 10 years. As this is actually the longest term, most registrars will offer. Some will only give you the option to register a domain name for a single year. Though I’ve found one registrar which allows a 100-year registration term.
Now don’t get carried away here. Registering a domain name for such a long term doesn’t make much sense when starting a new project. You’ll never know upfront if your project will actually be successful. That’s why 2 or 3 years is actually the sweet spot.
Oh, and just so you know the registrar who offers the 100 term registration is quite expensive. You’ll be able to register your domain for a lot less at porkbun, and this ain’t an affiliate link. I’ve actually purchased my domain from this registrar, and I’m quite happy with their service.
In some cases, it does make sense to register a domain for a longer period of time.
For instance, when you’ve got a well-established business and launch a new product line. Take the automotive industry, when they launch a new type of car. It makes sense to register a domain long-term, as they’ve invested a lot of money upfront.
You now understand, why you should register a domain for at least 2 years. So now it’s up to you to decide if a shorter or longer term makes sense or not. Though before you take the plunge, be sure to read the last section. “Good to know, when registering a domain name”.
Registration term for hobby websites
If you’re not planning to create a website for commercial purposes, there’s actually no need to register a domain name. There are plenty of free options available for creating hobby websites. You could even register a free domain name, if you’re not that picky.
Though before you start building your hobby website, take a moment to think about the following. There are loads of people who follow their passion every day. Without them even realizing it, they’re creating something of value to others.
They unexpectedly find themselves at a crossroads. When they realize, their hobby can be turned into business. Instead of working a 9 to 5, they could be doing something they’re truly passionate about. But they can’t make the switch, as they’ve made a crucial mistake.
They created their website using a free website builder, like Squarespace, Site123 or Jimdo. These platforms will give you the opportunity to use a subdomain. Your website’s URL will look similar to this: “YourName.WebBuilder.com” instead of “YourName.com”.
So when you decide to upgrade your free plan to a paid plan, the domain for your website will change. And although all your hard work will be transferred, you’ll actually lose all of your rankings on Google. As the content was originally created on your subdomain.
Now, in all fairness, the likelihood of a website builder’s subdomain ranking on google is zero to none. Although there are exceptions to this rule. Take Medium.com for instance, I’ve seen some of their web pages ranking fairly well. Though they aren’t actually using subdomains.
Anyway, what I’m trying to get across is: If there’s even the slightest possibility you can turn your hobby into a business, always register a domain name. We’re talking about less than $10 annually, which is a small price to pay for potentially realizing your dream.
You could use platforms like Ucraft, Google, or Freehosting. As they will allow you to connect your domain name for free. Yes, these platforms all have their own limitations. Though in my opinion, it’s worth a try. If you don’t like them, there’s always Bluehost.
Good to know, when registering a domain name
A word of warning, especially if you’re going to register a domain for a longer period of time. Most Registrars will allow you to auto-renew the registration term. Although this feature is very handy, you should be aware of the payment method you use.
When paying with your credit card, you’ll need to be aware of your card’s “valid thru” date. If your card expires before the new registration term is due, you’ll risk losing your domain. You’ll have this same issue when using PayPal, as they don’t allow these long payment terms.
To circumvent this issue, take the following measures:
- Use your own name and main email address when registering a domain name
- Set up an appointment, 1 month prior to the domain’s renewal (Online Calendar)
- Add additional funds to your registrar account, enough for at least another term
There’s an additional benefit of registering a domain name, using your own name. If you’ve got a business partner and things go south. Your business partner could hold your domain name for ransom. By registering the domain in your name, you’ll mitigate the risk.
The consequences of losing your domain name, are devastating! All the work you put into creating a beautiful website, gone. The measures to circumvent this from happening will already give you a basic form of protection. But there’s still more you can do.
You’ll need to create an account with your registrar of choice, to be able to register a domain name. You’ll get access to this account, by using an email or username and a password. Now, I don’t have to tell you to use a hard to guess password*, the longer the better.
* Tip: Use a password manager like LastPass to generate and store passwords. Be sure to enable 2FA though.
If you lose your password one day, you’ll be able to use your email account for resetting it. Though what if your email gets hacked one day? Hackers will be able to use the same trick to access your registrar account. Hence they’ll be able to transfer your domain elsewhere.
I don’t know about you, but this would be my worst nightmare. Everything you’ve worked so hard for, gone at the flip of a switch. To mitigate this risk you should use a registrar which provides Two Factor Authentication (2FA). Always be sure to switch this feature on.
The way 2FA works is by installing an app on your phone* and connecting it through a QR code. Now the only way to get access to your registrar account is by logging in and typing in the code provided by the app. This way your registrar account is safe, even when your email gets hacked.
* Play it safe and install this app on multiple devices and create some backup codes
Although 2FA will drastically improve your security, I advise you to turn on some emails notifications. Turn on the notifications for logins and domain transfer requests. Not all registrars offer this feature, so be sure to do your homework.
A good rule of thumb is less than $10 annually for a domain name with the .com TLD. Always check the renewal fees, before you purchase a domain. Web hosting providers and some registrars (for example GoDaddy) will offer you a no-brainer deal. Though the renewal fees are much higher than other registrars will charge you.
You’ll also need to think ahead, will this registrar be here for the long term? If you find a good deal, be sure to check out their business model. I currently own several domain names at three different registrars: GoDaddy, Namecheap, and Porkbun.
But there are many others to choose from, it’s up to you to decide.
- Register a domain for at least 2 years (commercial website)
- Also register a domain for your hobby website – better safe, than sorry
- If you’ve invested a lot upfront, it makes sense to register long term
- When registering a domain take these measures:
- Register it on your own name & main email address
- Create an appointment for registration renewal
- Add a term worth of funds to your account
- Use 2FA for logging into your registrar account
- Watch out for high renewal fees