If you’re looking to make money online, be it through a blog, a business website, online store or a podcast, you’ll need to have a domain name. Domain names act as your unique address on the internet where people looking for your content can find it.
For example, yoursite.com is the typical format domain name takes. You could have other suffixes, like .net, .org, .co and others. A .com domain name however projects more authority to anyone who visits your site. It is a key part of building your online brand.
To anyone who is brand new to owning and creating a website, this may seem like a daunting task. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of options you have to get a domain name.
Usually, domain names are purchased separately from your web hosting. Popular web hosting service providers will charge you anywhere $8/year to $30/year in addition to your hosting plan just to give you a domain name.
Even that varies depending on the kind of extension you choose for your domain. For example, getting a domain name with HostPapa, a well-known, small business web hosting service provider may cost you the following in extra charges
- .com extension – $10.99/ year
- .org extension – $14.99/year
- .net extension – $15.99/year
- .co extension – $29.99/year
So it’s pretty clear getting a domain name registered can cost you a little bit or a lot depending on what you choose and how long you choose it for.
If you’re on a tight-budget, you may begin to look into how to get a domain for free or consider creating a free website which is not ideal for business.
That’s why we put together this guide to show you how you can get a FREE domain name of your choice regardless of the extension you choose.
How to Get a Free Domain Name Using Bluehost
There are lots of web hosting service providers who may offer a free domain in addition to your web hosting plan.
But it’s not unusual to find out after subscribing, that their services leave much to be desired.
Or perhaps that your new website runs pretty slow and customer support takes forever to respond. That’s why our top pick by far for this service is Bluehost.
Why Bluehost Is Your Best Choice For Web Hosting
Bluehost has built its reputation as one of the most reliable web hosting providers over the past few years. Loved by bloggers, ecommerce store owners, beginners and veterans alike Bluehost simplifies and provides solutions for all your web hosting needs.
Apart from ease of use and a responsive customer care team, it is one of the few web hosting providers that WordPress recommends. WordPress is one of the most popular website building platforms, serving some 37% of all websites.
This means Bluehost integrates seamlessly with WordPress making it simple to build your website in just a few clicks. The best part is Bluehost has varied hosting plans to suit every budget, making them ideal for beginners and established online businesses alike.
It’s clear Bluehost comes with lots of perks as a web hosting provider, but for now let’s get started on how to get a FREE domain name with Bluehost.
Step #1: Go to Bluehost.
To get your free domain, you’ll first need to go to Bluehost’s website. On their homepage, you’ll see lots of options including WordPress, Hosting, Domains and Affiliates.
It may seem like a logical option to go to the domains tab since we’re looking to get one but skip the domains tab.
The Domains tab lets you buy either a .com, .org, .net, .tech or .website domain name. Since we are looking to get the domain name for free we must skip this option. Rather select either the Get started button or go to the Hosting tab.
As you’ll see on the homepage, Bluehost is offering a one year FREE domain name subscription as well as secure encryption of your site. This is the offer we are looking to take advantage of to get a free domain name. Click the get started button to continue.
Step #2: Select a Web Hosting Plan.
If you selected the Get Started button, you’ll be looking at the different plans Bluehost has, their features as well as pricing.
Alternatively, if you went to the Hosting tab, you’ll see the Hosting plan types compared side by side so you have an idea of which is right for you.
Now we need to choose a hosting plan.
Bluehost offers three main categories of hosting plans; Shared Hosting, VPS Hosting and Dedicated Server Hosting. If you’d like a more in-depth explanation about the differences between these hosting types check out our web hosting article.
For a brand new personal or business site, the Shared Hosting plan is the best option as it provides everything you need to get started with building your online presence. You’ll get enough storage, site security plus easy one-click WordPress installation on your website.
Within the Shared Hosting plan, you’ll find four different packages with varying price points and features. Let’s take a quick look at them so you can choose which one works best for you.
The Basic Plan gives you
- Hosting for one website
- 50GB of data storage
- No bandwidth caps (unmetered bandwidths)
- Free security certificate (SSL encryption)
- Five free domain reservations even if you don’t intend to develop them right away(parked domains).
- 25 subdomains
The basic plan is a good place to start if you’ve never run a website before.
The Plus plan gives you
- Unlimited website hosting
- Unlimited data storage
- Unlimited domains, domain name reservations, and subdomains
- Spam protection from spam experts
- Microsoft Office 365 mailbox free for a month
If you have a good idea of where your website is going, run multiple websites, or intend to develop more websites down the line, the plus plan is the perfect fit for you.
Next is the Choice Plus plan which comes loaded with
- Host unlimited websites with unlimited storage
- Unlimited domains, parked domains, and subdomains
- Free Domain privacy
- 24/7 customer support
- Free security encryption via SSL certificates
- Office 365 Mailbox free for 30-Days
- Automated Site backups
- Spam protection
The domain privacy and automated site backups here make this plan ideal for any website owner who takes both their security and privacy seriously. Domain privacy prevents spam and unwanted solicitations. Choose this plan if your business needs extra security and less spam.
The fourth and final plan is the Pro Plan. This plan is designed for medium to large online businesses or power users. Some of its features include
- Unlimited Websites and data storage
- Custom Themes
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Optimized CPU Resources
- Free security encryption (SSL certificates)
- Free Office 365 – 30 days
- Free Domain Privacy
- Free Automated Backup
- Free Dedicated IP
For most beginners, the Basic plan is more than enough to help you find your feet as you create your website. Also, all plans come with free domain name registration and subscription for a year.
Again, if along the way you need to upgrade, Bluehost makes that easy too. Their web hosting plans are designed to scale with your business as it grows.
Step #3: Choose a Free Domain Name.
After selecting your plan of choice, it’s time to choose a domain name. Bluehost will redirect you to a page where you can select a new domain name or use an existing one.
This is where you get to choose what kind of domain name you want.
If you already have an idea of the kind of domain name you want, simply search for it in the search box on the left side of your screen. This will help you first check if it is available or not.
With websites springing up online almost every minute, it helps if you have alternative domain name ideas so you don’t get stuck during this process. If you’re still at a loss as to what domain name to choose, try some handy tools like this free domain name generator to give you ideas.
Worst case scenario, Bluehost gives you the option to skip choosing a domain so you can come back to it later. You’ll still get the domain for free.
Bluehost by itself offers lots domain name extensions like
Domains ending with .com usually have an implied sense of credibility and authority compared to other extensions. Most reputable and corporate websites have a .com extension.
So this should be your go-to choice for domain name extensions especially if you want to set your business up for long-term success.
Nonetheless in some instances, you may not get your choice of domain name with the .com extension. This may be either because it’s been taken by someone else or may cost a little more to get. In this case, you may consider getting an alternative extension.
Alternative extensions like .net or .co are often less expensive than .com domains. That shouldn’t matter in our case, since we are getting the domain free for a year anyways.
Who knows? Perhaps by the time you’re ready to renew your preferred choice of domain name will be available.
If your domain name is unavailable upon searching, Bluehost will give you an alert saying your choice is unavailable and offer alternative domain name extensions with the same name or ask you to try searching for a different name altogether.
In this case, using the domain name generator tool or entering different domain names altogether will help you narrow down your choices. In some rare instances, your choice of domain name is available but not for free.
If you’re still intent on using that exact domain name, you may have to buy it online from any domain marketplace or even from Bluehost’s domain directory.
Step #4: Create Your Account.
After settling on your domain name, it’s time to create your Bluehost account. Bluehost itself will prompt you to create your account.
You’ll see a form asking you to fill out your details including your name, email address, city, zip code and other personal details.
Filling out information for a Bluehost account is pretty easy and is the same as filling out any form with your personal details e.g on the checkout page of a website.
Without creating your Bluehost account, you simply can’t get a free domain from them.
Step #5: Choose Your Billing Terms.
Now it’s time to choose your subscription plan. It pays to take some time to look at the fine print here.
With Bluehost you get three different, progressively longer billing periods i.e 12 months, 24 months and 36 months. The longer the billing period, the cheaper the monthly fee is. This only applies if you pay for the entire subscription up front though.
These are the price points for the entry-level Bluehost shared plan:
- Basic 12 month — $5.95 per month ($71.40 total)
- Basic 24 month — $4.95 per month ($118.80 total)
- Basic 36 month — $3.95 per month ($142.20 total)
Keep in mind that these prices are only special introductory offer prices. Once your initial subscription ends, your billing will revert to the standard renewal price of $7.99/month for the basic plan.
For those looking for the most savings, it would be best to choose the 36 month offer, even though that requires the most cash upfront when you register for a billing plan. If you can afford it, go for it, since you don’t have much to lose.
If it happens that you need to migrate to a higher plan, it becomes as simple as contacting customer care and paying the difference. At least you’re assured your website or online business is in safe hands.
In case you change your mind, Bluehost offers a 30-day money back guarantee so you can request a refund. It’s really a matter of preference and budget. Would you rather pay more now to potentially save more over the period of three years or not.
Step #6: Select Add-Ons (Optional).
After entering your personal info and picking your billing option, you’ll notice that there are some extra features that may be automatically added to your cart.
Most of these features are upgrades of some of the free added features Bluehost offers with their hosting plans.
While some people may not consider them essential, some people will recommend getting them anyway because they could be potentially useful in future.
Ultimately, let your budget and your business’s growth determine whether or not you get them.
Since they are add-ons, you can still come back later and get them if you feel you need them.
The first feature you’ll see selected is Codeguard Basic which creates daily backups of your site and saves them in versions. This means in case something happens and you lose your site data, you can easily restore your website to a previous version with just one click.
Codeguard will also monitor your site for changes and store older versions of site backups in different secure locations.
Given that automated backups are available with the Choice Plus and Pro plans, you may not need this feature right away. You can also find some free WordPress plugins that help with site backups to help you save your site’s data in our guide to creating a website for beginners.
The next add-on feature you’ll find already ticked is SiteLock Security Essential. This feature protects your website from malware and malicious attacks. SiteLock offers services that monitor and protect your website as well as find, fix, and prevent attacks.
It also keeps your website from getting on search engine blacklists. For some people this feature may be well worth the extra $35.88/year.
But if it’s not within your budget, you can find plugins that can do the same thing for free especially if you use WordPress until your website’s revenue can pay for these features.
One feature that may be worth getting is domain privacy. Domain privacy is a way of ensuring your personal information stays private. It stops your personal details like email, phone number and address from being listed on a public database.
Domain privacy may be especially useful to keep away spammers, unsolicited and telemarketing calls and emails as well as avoiding cyber fraud.
While it may not seem like a big deal especially when you’re starting out, once your website begins to pick up steam things could change. That’s when you’d rather not have your private info out there.
For all the other add-on features, you’re sure to find some free WordPress plugins that do pretty much the same thing and more, so you may not need to pay for them right away. So uncheck the boxes of any added features you believe are not needed now.
Be sure to review the terms and conditions of service, especially those for renewal and then tick the box showing you have agreed to the terms. This is the final step to complete setting up your account and giving you your free domain for a year.
If for any reason you are unsatisfied with Bluehost’s service or your purchase within the 1st month, you can take advantage of their 30-Day money back guarantee to get a full refund.
Other Ways to Get a Free Domain Name
So what if you want to explore other ways of getting a free domain aside from Bluehost?
Perhaps you have seen a few ads online about getting a free domain and are curious to try them out. Let’s take a look at what other options you have including their perks and downsides.
Use a Free Subdomain (Not Recommended, If You Want to Make Money with Your Website)
The first other option if you’re looking for a free domain is to get a free subdomain on another website. A subdomain is simply a domain that is part of a bigger domain or comes under a bigger/main domain name.
For example, WordPress allows you to create a free website using its .wordpress.com subdomain. So your free domain with WordPress will be yoursite.wordpress.com.
Subdomain names usually come before the main domain name or main domain name extension and are ideally used to help organize a site better.
Best All-Round Website Builder with Free Domain Subscription.
You may have seen a Wix website builder ad somewhere online featuring Hollywood Stars like Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Heidi Klum. Over the last few years, the platform has grown into a website builder platform giant, providing for an estimated 150 million plus websites.
Wix was one of the first website builders to be known for the drag-and-drop builder. It came with a simple visual interface and guide for anyone to create a website. It also has one of the largest template and theme libraries to help you create beautiful websites in seconds.
Best part is your free website is mobile-friendly and can benefit from collections of apps, extensions and tools on the Wix app market. This is one of its most outstanding features.
When you sign up for a free account or to create a free website, you’ll get a website with the .wix.com extension. So in the end your web address will be yoursitename.wixsite.com.
A Beginner-Friendly Option for Creating Blogs, Portfolio Sites and Online Stores.
Squarespace is better known for helping complete newbies build sophisticated websites easily. While other website builders may offer lots of templates or a well-populated app market, Squarespace gives you better flexibility and customization.
This makes Squarespace ideal especially for personal blogs, portfolio sites and online stores. You could even create a podcast website using their platform. Aside from their clean and impressive designs, you can still get a domain for free.
However, you will not give you a personalized domain name with a .com or .net extension for free. Squarespace will charge you an all-inclusive fee which includes a one- year domain name subscription. You can go to the Squarespace domains tab to learn more.
A Good Option For Building Free Online Stores with a Free Domain.
Another popular website builder that offers free domains is Weebly. Weebly’s main service is providing an easy, beginner-friendly and intuitive platform to help build your website. Currently powering 30+ million active websites, Weebly is one of the largest website builders in the world.
Whether you’re building a basic blog or full-feature ecommerce store, Weebly has a large library of extensions and tools to help create a fully responsive website. It is especially a good option for building an online store and generally growing your business in the long-term.
If you sign up for a free domain with weebly, your website’s domain name will be yoursitename.weebly.com. This may not be that much of an issue to begin with, but the limited flexibility and customization you get with a free domain will limit the growth of your business.
Are Free Subdomains Worth It?
Free subdomains may be tempting especially if you feel you just want to try out creating an online business on a shoestring budget, but they could actually end up hurting you in the long run.
How? Because it doesn’t give your website credibility and authority.
As you start out, you may use it for your personal website, blog or just to get a better grip of how the website builder works since no one knows your domain. But eventually as your website gets more attention, you will have to move it to its own domain.
Again, if you’re thinking of opening an online store, selling online courses, starting a podcast site or running a blog as business, then you’ll need to get your own domain and web hosting. It will give you much more flexibility and allow you to customize your website a whole lot better.
Domain Registrar Ad Programs (Not Recommended, Bad for SEO and Monetization)
Another option you may come across if you’re looking to get a free domain is a domain registrar ad program. A domain registrar is a business that provides domain name registration and reservation services and also assigns IP addresses to those domains.
A large number of domain registrars may offer you a free domain in return for running ads on your website. This may sound harmless but it’s not the right way to go about advertising on your site. Especially given the fact that poorly placed ads take away from your visitor’s experience.
Given that you could actually make money by placing targeted and relevant ads on your website using legit ad platforms like Google Ads, you’d want to keep that control.
Maybe you could even try high-paying affiliate marketing programs and ads which are good even for beginners.
Because you often have no control over what ads are put on your website, it can end up making your site look cluttered, suspicious or even driving visitors away in the first place. Sometimes it gets as bad as placing scams or adult content as ads on your site. Yikes!
Apart from making your site look bad, it doesn’t help your website’s page rank with search engines(SEO) too. And we all know how important SEO is for getting traffic and growing an audience in the first place.
On top of that, let’s assume you’ve finally been able to get some traffic to your website. Perhaps your Facebook marketing strategy or email marketing strategy is finally kicking in and bringing good results for example 500,000 to 1 million new visitors per month.
Because you’ve ‘sold’ your ad space in exchange for a free domain name, you will make zero dollars from the ads being displaced there. Yes, not a single cent.
On the contrary, if you controlled the ads being displayed, you may have made a decent amount from all those visitors clicking links on ads.
Better yet, your website visitors would click links to your affiliate ads and make purchases, allowing you to make even more money from that traffic.
So the point is simple, if you really want to maximize what you make out of your website, and control what gets shown on it in terms of ads, don’t exchange ads for a free domain.
When it comes to ads, stick with reputable networks you can benefit from, like Google Ads or Monumetric.
Free ccTLD Services (Not Recommended, Get a Top-Level Domain)
The next popular option for getting a free domain is to get a country code based Top-Level-Domain (TLD).
A Top Level Domain is what comes after the dot in a domain name. There are two main types, generic TLDs and country-code TLDs (ccTLDs). generic top-level domain names are simply the existing domain extensions common today. This may be .com, .net or .org to name a few.
Country-code top level domain names often have the country’s name abbreviated as the extension. For example, .uk (United Kingdom), .de (Germany), .fr (France), .ie (Ireland) just to name a few.
ccTLDs are often used to show an online business’s geographic location or where it primarily conducts its business.
Finding a ccTLD is easy. They are fairly common and you can get them for free to register with your web hosting account. Service providers like Freenom and Dot.tk are popular for giving these domain names out for free. But as always there’s a catch.
As is the case with most free things in the online space, it often ends up not being entirely free or what you don’t pay for in cash, you pay for in other ways like poor service, non-reliability or lost sales.
For a start, these service providers don’t have good reviews from their customers. A quick online search shows their services leave much to be desired.
Many people are criticizing them harshly for having a poor service and how unresponsive their customer support team is.
You would have been better off paying for a domain name than wasting time trying to deal with the issues that come with this.
Some complaints raised with these ccTLD providers include unapproved malicious ads and adult content and having your domain taken down out of the blue.
Imagine spending time and effort to create content to post online, just to have your website go down randomly.
It’s simply not worth the headache!
Register a Domain Name For Free Now
So there you have it! Anyone who is looking to create a strong online presence whether for business, personal brand or any other reason will eventually need a website. And you can’t build a website without first getting a domain name.
A domain name is your unique address on the web where anyone can find your content, visit your online store, podcast site or simply learn more about your business. Domain names for an integral part of your online brand.
Usually, you’ll have to pay extra for a domain name alongside paying for your web hosting which can be a stretch especially if you’re on a budget.
Signing up for free subdomains or country-code Top-Level Domains may not be the best thing if you’re building a global business or brand.
Bluehost is your best choice for getting a FREE domain name for a year along with top-notch, budget-friendly web hosting and responsive customer care. So if you’re looking to get started with your online business journey, register a FREE domain with Bluehost now.