* This post might contain affiliate links or ads in which I can make a sales commission at no extra cost to you. For more information click here.

If you are thinking about starting a website or blog, the first step is understanding what a domain name is.

Ok, So What’s A Domain Name?

A domain name is simply a “location” or an “address” on the internet where people can find you. However, you still need to create a website for people to look at or they will be looking at a blank screen.

What's a Domain

So, when you have a domain name all you have is an “address” nothing more. Just a blank screen will show up if you don’t create a website or blog.

When you think about a house it has an address. A domain is just the address, you need to build a house or a blog so that people can see it.

Here Is A Domain Name Example:

HowToStartaBlogOnline.com is a domain name example.

I had to attach a website to it in order for people to see more than just a blank screen.

So, if you know my address or domain name you can type it into Google and find my website.

A Domain Name Is Also Known As:

  • A domain
  • A website address or web address
  • A url . It stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is pronounced as ‘U’ ‘R’ ‘L’. Just say the letters.

So, you will hear people use terms like: domain, domain name, web address or url and they are all talking about the same thing, which is a domain name.

I will show you a picture of my url or domain name below:

domain example

What Is A Domain Used For?

  • To create a website or a blog
  • To have your own email address
Building a blog

So, the domain is the address you will use to start building your website or blog. Think about it as an address, but you still need to start building a house or a website.

I also use my domain name to create an email where people can email my website. I created the email address: info@howtostartablogonline.com from my domain name.

I will show you how to create an email address from your domain name in a future article.

So How Do I Get A Website or Blog Online?

To put a website online you need:

a blog involves a domain name web hosting and a blogging platform
  • A domain name or subdomain name
  • Web hosting (it’s a company that has the technology to put your website online). They also store all your website files and folders.
  • A blogging platform/blogging software/website builder (there are so many different ones!)

My website uses:

  • HowToStartaBlogOnline.com as the domain name.
  • A Canadian web hosting company, but a good international web hosting company is BlueHost (my affiliate link).
  • WordPress.org a free blogging platform/software.

Every single website online uses: a domain name or subdomain, a web hosting company and some kind of website builder in order to make the website. At least that’s what I know of at this particular moment. LOL! Technology is changing so fast.

Is A Domain Name Free?

Usually no, but a “subdomain” can be free if you are using a free blog. I explain the differences between a subdomain and a domain further down.

.com .org .net extensions

Sometimes you can find free domains online but the extension isn’t going to be a .com. A .com is usually what most people want. The free domains out there usually offer you an extension that isn’t used that much online, so I wouldn’t go for that.

I’ll be discussing extensions like, .com , .net and others in the next article. They are known as top level domains.

I have to pay a yearly fee of around $12 per year to keep my domain name (this amount will vary on where you buy it from and your currency). If I don’t pay that yearly fee then I lose almost everything (my domain name and my email address) because I will no longer have a domain. Cause I let it expire and then someone else can own it.

yearly fees

You will still have your files that are stored at the web hosting company, but you will have to attach a new domain name to those files if you forget to pay the yearly fee.

You don’t want to forget because you would have been building up that domain name and promoting it for one year, so that’s why I said you will lose almost everything. But technically you still have your files that are kept at your web hosting.

Now a lot of web hosting companies will usually give you a free domain name for one year if you ‘pay’ for their web hosting. I got my domain name free from my web hosting company for the first year and then I started paying a yearly fee.

*Note:*If you are starting a free blog then the company that is giving you the free blog usually takes care of the web hosting, the blogging platform and will usually give you a free “subdomain” but not a free “domain.”

See the next section below where I explain the differences between a subdomain and a domain.

Free blogs are great if you just want to see what blogging is all about and not pay anything. I started with free blogs first before I started paying for mine.

When I started using a free blog there was so much I didn’t know. I was promoting something that I didn’t even own. So, technically I didn’t own a domain name and I didn’t have control over my files on the web hosting.

When you don’t own something, it can be deleted if you don’t follow the company’s guidelines.

What forced me to start paying for my blog was one day my free blog got deleted! Yep, you have to follow their rules or it can get deleted. I just never thought it would happen.

At the time that I was using a free blog, some free blogs were limiting how you can earn money online. I’m not sure if it’s the same now, but just make sure you backup all your work to your laptop if you are going to go with a free blog and know their guidelines well.

I know some companies that offer free blogs also allow you to buy a domain name and attach it to their web hosting. Which is great when you are just starting out. So this is why it’s very important for you to decide if you want to start with a free blog or pay for your own one.

Delete button

Since you aren’t paying for web hosting then you can’t control if your files get deleted or not. I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but it happened to me.

Like I said previously my free blog was deleted. However, to be fair I must have not been following a guideline. This was a long time ago and I’m sure things must have changed, but I just wanted to mention it.

What Is a Subdomain versus a Domain?

subdomain example

If you analyze the word “subdomain” the word “sub” means “below,” so you are getting a form of a domain that is below the primary domain or a ‘subdomain.’

My primary domain name is HowToStartaBlogOnline.com

A subdomain name example would be: Baseball.HowToStartaBlogOnline.com

So, in the above example I could put a totally different website about baseball into a subdomain. I wouldn’t recommend it though, because it’s two different subjects and it could hurt how people find you online.

So, when you use a free blog you are getting a “subdomain” based off the free blog company’s primary domain name.

So a free blog would have a subdomain that can be made this way:

A Name You Choose + The Name of the Company That is Giving it to you free = a subdomain

It would look like this:     Baseball.TheirCompanyName.com

So, everyone online will know that you are using a free blog because that is usually the condition in which they give you a totally free blog (their company name will be included in your free subdomain).

If I wanted to I could create a whole bunch of subdomains that have a website attached to it just based off my primary domain name. But like I said usually it’s not a good idea unless you are say adding a “shop” as a subdomain or something relevant to your main domain.

How Do I Get a Domain Name?

OK, not so fast! The best way to get a domain name is to first decide what blogging platform/blogging software/website builder that you will be using.

If you get it now without deciding which blogging platform you will be using, you will have to connect it to your website later on.

It’s easy to do, but it’s another step that you will have to research if you just buy it now and don’t figure out what blogging platform you will be using.

Do you want a free blog? If so, then you usually won’t be getting a domain but a subdomain from the company that’s giving you a free blog.

There are a lot of good companies that allow you to blog for free such as Blogger, Weebly, Wix and many others.

Some of these same companies have paid plans as well, so you need to research what blogging platform you will be using first. I will be discussing that in a future article. I use WordPress.org as my blogging platform.

I “pay” for my domain name and my web hosting, but I use a free blogging platform from WordPress.org.

So, the blogging platform (WordPress.org) is free but the domain name and the web hosting are not.

If you are really impatient you can just get one from companies like: Namecheap.com, Godaddy.com and other companies that sell domain names.

However, I wouldn’t do that just yet. There are so many things to think about before you get a domain name.

Such as:

– A .com is always the best extension to get.

– Is the domain name already trademarked (you could get into legal trouble if you decide to copy it) and many other things that I will be discussing in the next article.

Was A Domain Name Explained Well Enough for You?

If you still have questions feel free to contact me.

So now are you beginning to understand what a domain name is?

In the next article I will be discussing how to choose a domain name. It’s very important to take some time to think about it before you rush in and get a domain name.

Many times, I’ve rushed and bought a domain because I wanted get it quickly before someone else does. Then I ended up not liking it and had to pay for another one.

So, take your time to know what you are doing before you purchase a domain name.

If this article helped you figure out what a domain name is, then let me know in the comments below. All the best!