Podcast Episode

471 – The True Cost of a Domain Name


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Throwback Posts – Celebrate your old posts is a plugin created for blogs and websites with posts. Let your viewers discover old content on your site.

The True Cost of a Domain Name

Between $9 – $15. End of show 🙂

But if you are starting a new website, then you could get a domain bundled with hosting.

These prices are for new .com domain names only. The pricing of other extensions such as .net, .org, .info, .blog, etc. will vary based on the domain registrar you use.

Hidden Costs of a Domain Name

  • Yearly Renewals
  • Business Email Accounts
  • WHOIS and Domain Privacy
  • Secure a domain for multiple years

Premium Domains

Domains are kind of like real estate, they go up and down in price and are worth what the buyer pays.

Expired Domains

Sometimes folks will let domain names expire and you can pick up an expired one.

These can normally be renewed at regular, new domain registration rates.

Thank You!

Thank you to those who use my affiliate links. As you know I make a small commission when someone uses my link and I want to say thank you to the following people. For all my recommended resources, go to my Resources Page

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler, and it is hard to believe we are wrapping up 2020, or almost to 2020. I guess we’re wrapping up 2019, and it has just been a thrill to go through another year and have another of 4-year of the Your Website Engineer podcasts. As we talked a little bit last week about the, it was the anniversary, the ninth-year anniversary or the tenth year. I don’t know. It’s been lots, lots of time and it’s been 471 episodes. I’ve been bringing these shows to you, and today we’re gonna talk about domain names. This is something we might have covered on episode two and three, but it’s something that is still relevant and still an interesting conversation when we talk about the true cost of what a domain is. So, let’s go ahead and talk about the announcements first, and then we’ve got a plug-in to share. Then we’ll go into the discussion.

The first announcement comes over from an article on WP Tavern. It is all about Gutenberg, and Gutenberg: One Year Later is the name of the article. I’m not gonna go through and read all the pieces of it, but it basically talks about how we went from no Gutenberg, and the need of some sort of better editor, all the way to the point where now, we’re at one year after WordPress of 5.0, and all of the things that have changed with the Gutenberg aspect, or how it’s changed and how it’s impacted, and how it’s been better and how it’s been worse. There’s tons of information there, and it’s a really neat overview of sharing where we‘ve been, and some of the plug-ins that are now part of the “Block Party,” the ones that interact and work well with blocks in the new interface and whatnot.

So, you can go ahead and check that out. You can look for Gutenberg: One Year Later on the WP Tavern site, or you can find a link directly to it in the show notes for episode No. 471. If you’re new to the show, you can always just go to yourwebsiteenginer.com/, put the three digits for the episode, and get directly to that episode. So, in this case, yourwebsiteengerineer.com/471.

The other announcement that I want to share with you today is all about the progress of WordPress in 2019 and the future roadmap for 2020. I believe I might have talked about this a couple of weeks ago, but it basically says that the version 5.4, 5.5, and 5.6 are all targeted and planned for 2020, and we’ve got March, August, and December as those three big releases will take place. Each of those dates are obviously subject to change, and they’ll get a little bit more specific as we get closer and closer to that time period and whatnot. So, the article also talks about the projects that shipped in 2019, continuing to go through blocks, and focusing on what the blocks can do, and in 2020, some of the things they’re working on is getting the menus piece working in the blocks, and doing content aware areas in themes so that blocks work better, which is to be transforming the blocks into a block directory search and install right from a post or a page.

That’s something that’s kind of targeted to do, and then they’ve got automatic plug-in theme and major core updates. They‘ve been doing it for minor updates, and now they’re gonna start rolling out the features to do major releases and have them update already. They’re trying to tackle also 6,500 track issues, and so those are all the issues in the things that are coming up in the Gutenberg plug-in that’s found on the repository. There’s thousands of tickets awaiting patches, reviews, and decisions, so they’ve been taking the time and they’re gonna try to knock out a bunch of those in 2020 as well. So, those are the things that are to come in this next decade, as we start 2020 here in just a few weeks, and so, that is the full article. Again, you can get the link to the article over at the show notes for episode 471 as well.

The plug-in that I want to share with you this week, as I try to always highlight a new plug-in, or something that’s interesting, or something that may have a neat effect on your website, and this one today is called Throwback Posts. You can celebrate your old posts. That’s the name of the of the plug-in, but it is a plug-in created for blocks and websites to have lots of content, and you can show old posts for your new users with this plug-in called Throwback Posts. So, basically you can configure it, whether it be one year ago or one month ago. You can configure all of that. You can filter different post categories. You can set up different design settings so there’s images or icons. There’s a number of posts that you can put in there. It’s kind of like some of those tools that help you recycle tweets and Facebook posts, and pull up old content, so that’s automatic, so people continue to see that kind of stuff. That’s essentially what this Throwback Posts is.

So, if you’re interested in something like that, if you need a way for people to see more details on your site or older content that you’ve created that’s really well done, then this is a plug-in that you can try out. Again, it is a plugin called Throwback Posts, and you can find that by searching it in the WordPress repository.

All right. Today, let’s move along and we’re going to talk about the true costs of a domain name or the hidden costs or the “How much does it actually cost to keep a domain name forever?” type discussion. I could start the whole episode and say a domain name costs between $9 and $15 on average, and that’s all you need to know. But there’s so much more than that. It could just be, if someone asks how much is a domain name, that’s gonna be the general answer. It’s going to start around the $9 mark and it’s gonna go up to about the $15 mark, and that is just general pricing.

Now, you can get a lot of discounts or there’s different ways to do this. I guess I should preface the conversation by these are prices for the “dot com” domain names. So, if you buy some sort of other domain names, the “dot net,” “dot life,” any of the new ones that are out there, “dot io,” those ones are actually more expensive. It’s just a matter of the way the domain works, and I’m not even sure exactly how they come up with the pricing and the strategy or whatnot, but for the most part the whole conversation is gonna go under the fact of we’re gonna look at a “dot com” domain name. It basically starts between $9 and it goes to $15 is the general consensus, but you can get a discount from several different places.

One of the places you can get a discount is if you bundle your domain name with your hosting package. You can do this with GoDaddy or HostGator, Domain.com, Bluehost, DreamHost, WordPress.com is hosting. You can do all of that if you are interested. Some of them like Bluehost, for example, you can get shared hosting for $275 per month, and you get a free domain name if you pay for a year. It’s pretty inexpensive, you’re talking $3 a month times 12 months, $36 for the year, you can get for Bluehost for very low-end hosting. Not necessarily the end-all-be-all when it comes to hosting, but one of the things that I want to emphasize here is that while you can get a domain name with a host, it’s probably better to get it from an actual registrar. GoDaddy is one that is a registrar. They can do a bunch. They do hosting, and you can register domains there, but I really like Hover.

Hover.com is the one that I recommend. If you use my affiliate link at yourwebsiteengineer.com/Hover, I believe you get $2 off. So, the domains are $15 and then they will actually go down to $2, which is a savings of $2. Anyways, with Hover you get discounts based on how many domains you have. So, if you have more than 20 domains, you get x amount of dollars or cents off each domain renewal every single year. The thing I like about using Hover versus any of the other platforms, if you listened to and you’ve followed my story for a while, I’ve changed hosting providers probably a dozen times since I launched yourwebsiteengineer.com back in 2010.

If I had my domain name paired with that hosting company, it would make it really challenging for me to move. Well, I mean you can keep a domain in one place, and you can move hosting to another place, but when your renewal comes up, you still have to keep that old host. It’s really kind of a pain, so that’s why I like Hover. They do a great job of no mark-up, and there’s no bunch of junk in your way when you’re trying to check out. With some of the other name platforms, you buy your domain and it’s gonna be $5 for your domain, and then they’re like, “Do you want this protection and do you want this and do you want this and do you want this?” All of a sudden, they’re adding up all kinds of stuff, and now you’ve spent $100 for a domain that really only costs $5 to $10.

That’s kind of a nutshell about the domain and the cost, but there are some hidden costs, so remember that we’re doing this, and this is a cost based on each year. So, the domain registration is done on a yearly basis, so you can control your domain name as long as you continue to renew that registration each year. Some registrars have a discount on the first year, some have coupon codes that you can use to redeem and get a discount on subsequent years, but basically, the premise is that the domain while you purchased for $15 the first year, it’s gonna be $15 forever, as long as you want to keep that domain. That’s where it comes into, “Oh, a domain name is pretty inexpensive when it comes to running a business.”

So, you can get started with a domain and you can get going, but then, “Oh, well, now I have 10 domains, and now they’re $15 a year, so now I’ve got $150 in domains and half of them I’m not using.” This is something where you have to really think though. You can try domains pretty inexpensively, but then if you are not using them this would be a good time every time the renewal comes up, “No, I don’t want that one anymore.” Let that one go. We’ll talk about what happens when people let domain names go.

So, that’s yearly renewals. There’s also costs sometimes with privacy or “whois” privacy, it’s called and so, basically, if you do a standard domain name registration you have to put in your contact details. So, that is your name, your address, your phone number, your email address, all of that stuff. Well, there is a way that you can go ahead, and you can pay extra for privacy. Some web hosts or some domain registrars like Hover, that’s included in that $15. Others you have to pay in addition to have that privacy. Basically, what that does is, it will cover up and hide any of your personal information. So, if you go to a website like who.is, that will do a “whois” search on the domain. You can put anything that’s in there.

You can try yourwebsiteengineer.com if you want, but I do have privacy enabled on that domain. So, you won’t see anything, but you can see all of the details. You can see what name servers it’s pointed to and see a bunch of information about the domain. This is a must have. I have found if you don’t use this, sometimes you’ll get spam, sometimes you’ll get people trying to buy your domain for low cost or whatever. So, I make sure that I always do that. Then again, registering with Hover, it automatically does that, and you don’t have to worry about this privacy, because it’s already included as part of that.

Also you need to think about if you’re going to do email, it’s not really a domain thing, but if you have a domain name and you want an email address like dustin@yourwebsiteengineer.com you have to pay additional, in addition to the domain costs. You have to pay for the email costs, and if you’re using Google Suite or G Suite, as it’s called, and that’s $5, per user, per month, or $50 per year.

So, that’s an additional cost that’s not really part of the domain name, but it’s part of your web package that some companies will actually, you can pay and use that. So, with Hover, they have an email client, if you will, or an email inbox and you can pay an additional x amount of dollars per year to have email turned on for your domain name. So, that’s something you have to think about as well.

One other thing when it comes to the hidden costs or the true costs of a domain, is that if you secure your domain for multiple years at a time, you might get a fee or might get a reduction in fee. With Domain.com, you can pre-pay for multiple years up front. It’s a great way to get introductory, that introductory discount, whatever you get as a discount when you’re signing up for a new domain, then you can use that for multiple years at a time. So, paying for multiple years in advance, if you can save a little money there, that’s a good way to do it.

Domains are crazy things. You want a short URL, which is really getting hard to do in 2019. You want one that makes a lot of sense for your business or your brand name or whatnot, but sometimes people are squatting on those domains. They already have owned them, and then they’re looking to sell. A couple that, when I was doing this research, a couple of premium domains that went for millions of dollars recently was Insurance.com. That sold for 35.6 million dollars. Private jet.com was 30.18 million. Hotels.com was 11 million. FB.com for Facebook was 8.5 million, and Business.com sold for 7.5 million dollars. So, if you got into the dot.com world early, early on, way back when, and you have some of these domain names, you might a get a lot of money if you try to sell them.

That’s a little bit about some of the premium domains. Again, it is all about the cost of how much is it worth to the company. If I really wanted to have the domain dustinhartzler.com, and somebody else owned it, what would it be worth to me? I mean I’d have to go out and find who’s the owner of it and see how much it’s, maybe they’d want $1000 for it, and then I’d really have to justify. Is it worth $1000 to have my domain name? Well, luckily, I got in early and I have dustinhartzler.com. I have all of my family’s, and so we have those, so I don’t have to worry about trying to figure out “How do I get the ‘dot com’ for each person in my family?” which is really nice. So that is a little bit about premium domain names. There’s a few places, too, that you can get expired domain names. This is a good place to do some searching: FreshDrop.com and the other one is called ExpiredDomains.com.

So, if you do have a generic name, maybe John Smith, maybe Jane Doe, and you want those “dot coms,” these would be good services to go in and it will see if the people have not renewed. Things happen. People may want to have that domain name forever, but if their email address changes, or maybe they didn’t get the renewal email, and all of a sudden it goes into a redemption period. There is basically a period that when a domain owner does not pay for a domain, they have up to 80 days, I believe it is, to actually pay for the domain. So, I think for the first 14 days the site continues to work, and then from 15 to 80 approximately, those days, it will, the domain name no longer resolves. It won’t go to where it was previously pointed.

So, if you had a website and your domain name is passed 15 days expired, then when somebody types that in, it’s not gonna work. The email client would not work or anything like that, but if maybe somebody has a regular site, it doesn’t get email. Maybe they aren’t using it very often. It’s not a daily driver, they’re not using it for a block or anything. They just forget, they forget that they have the domain. After 80 days, then it goes into this redemption period, where you can bid on the different domains, and as it gets a little bit farther expired, then you can actually renew the domain name at the exact price that you would buy it initially. So, if you have a specific name that you’re looking for, I recommend using these services, FreshDrop and ExpiredDomains. Go through and figure out, see when those things are about to expire, and then put calendar reminders or to-do list reminders to trigger at those days, so you can go in and see, did they renew it or did they not.

Also, you can buy domain names that are not listed for sale. There’s a few different places that you can do that. Basically, if the domain has a website you can contact them, use a contact form on their website. You can use that “whois” search that we talked about earlier if they don’t have privacy turned on then you’ll see an email address and a phone number for them. Some people just buy domains and they don’t use them, and so they forget about them. They just renew, and they think of it as a business expense. So, you might be able to look at and pick up a domain.

The thing is, I’ve done a lot of research for just helping my wife pick some domains out, and this would be a perfect name, but somebody else owns it. You look at it, they’re not even using it, and so those would be good opportunities to say, “Hey, let’s see if I can figure out who owns this thing,” and then send them a message and say “Hey, we’re interested in this domain, and we’ll offer you x amount of dollars to do that.” That is a little bit about domain names. So, they are a little bit more complicated and a little bit more complex than just the standard “Oh, buy it for $10 per year.” So, I just wanted to outline some of those costs.

Another thing that’s really important to check out is before you buy a domain name, you wanna check for trademarks. This is something you can just search for a trademark search. This is a big deal, because when I started, and if you go all the way back to episode No. 1 of yourwebsiteengineer.com, I purchased yourwordpressengineer. That was what I was gonna call the show, Your WordPress Engineer. I was getting some designs done and whatnot, and luckily, somebody that was on the 99designs plan (they were the ones that were designing the logo), they said, “Hey, just to let you know. I can design this, but you are not gonna be able to use WordPress in the domain name, because WordPress is a trademark thing and you cannot put it in the domain name.”

That’s why you see so many things like wpbeginner.com, wptavern, wp101, because WordPress is a trademarked word and you can not use it in a domain name. So, I had to readjust, and of course, now I’m at yourwebsiteengineer.com, but I should have checked for trademark first. Now that was a $13 mistake, $15 mistake, whatever I paid for that domain name. I purchased another domain name, and then I moved the WordPress site and I was all set up. It was way better than discovering that two years down the road. I had to rebrand everything and whatnot.

So, you wanna check for that, and then there’s also a place to see if the domain name has been used in the past. You can use a tool the Wayback Machine. It is a historical archive. You can find that at archive.org. You can see if any website has ever been at that domain name before. Those are some things you can learn about past domain names, even if it looks like it’s brand new, you can always go back into. First, do a trademark search, and then look at archive.org to see if anybody has ever used it. Now, if you’ve made up a name, you’ve come up with a brand new name for something, and just to get a domain that’s short and “dot com,” then most likely there’s never been anybody registering it, but it’s always good to look through those tools and see what you can do.

So, that is an overview, in a nutshell, of what a domain name costs. You can not buy a domain name forever. It is basically like we’re renting it, essentially. You can do up to a ten-year, some domain registrars allow you to do ten years, which guarantees you to have every 10 years, but most of them don’t go any farther than ten years, so every ten years you would have to renew it. In general, you’ll have to pay that yearly fee every year. If you add on email, it’s gonna cost you a little bit extra as well.

But, in the grand scheme of things, if from running a business, just having a domain and email is going to probably be one of the cheapest things, as part of your business as a business expense. That’s what I wanted to share with you this week. Take care, and we’ll talk again soon.