Question. Where Should I Buy My Domain Name?
Answer. Once you've determined what kind of website you need, the next step is going to be registering your domain and setting up a custom email address. You asked about your domain name and now I included a custom email address into the answer. Let's explore both of those. That's because these can be handled efficiently at the same time and you might not have thought about that custom email address on your own.
Your domain, or URL, is the web address that will identify your website. You'll be publishing it on business cards, brochures, product and other physical elements. It's important that you register your domain so that you are the primary contact for the future. Once you've registered your domain, you'll share access to your account with me so I can do all of the set up for you and point your domain to your website.
And while you are looking at your domain registration, that leads directly to talking about having an email address set up with your domain name, something like firstname.lastname@example.org. I highly recommend setting both of these up at the very beginning. You'll likely be setting up quite a few new accounts and it just makes sense to use your new business email from the beginning.
Why do I need a custom email address?
- It establishes credibility to the online world you're entering.
- It says you know what you're doing (even when you don't feel like it!)
- It adds professional polish to everything you're doing.
OK, you've convinced me. So where do I register my domain and set up my custom email address?
One answer is that you can set both of those up when you create your Squarespace or Shopify account. Both platforms will register a new domain for you. But neither platform will set up a custom domain for you. However you can set up custom email with G-Suite through Google. This may be the easy answer, but it's not the most cost effective answer.
So how much is that going to cost me?
Let's take this one platform at a time. Note that costs mentioned below assume you have a .com domain. Other extensions may have higher fees across all platforms mentioned.
Squarespace currently offers a free domain for one year with a new Squarespace account and they also have a deal with Google for a free year of one custom email with 35 GB storage. But, after the first year that domain registration renewal will cost $20/year and the G-Suite fee will be $50/year for a total annual cost of $70.
Shopify currently offers domain registrations at $14/year. Now, one thing Shopify does offer is unlimited email forwards, so you can set up email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com and have all of those emails forward to your current email address. But, anytime you reply to an email that was forwarded, it will come from your current email address. So your customer sends an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and the reply comes from email@example.com and you've set them up to be confused. So, let's keep going with setting up a custom email at your domain with G-suite. I don't see the same deal that Squarespace offers with G-Suite, so that annual cost is $60 for one email account. Total annual cost of $74.
Are you with me so far? Let's keep going because there are more options for you that are less expensive. And when you're just starting a new business a lower cost without compromising quality can be a good thing.
You can register your domain and set up a custom email address at companies outside of Squarespace and Shopify. Let's look at two options where you can set them both up at one location. It can be tricky to compare plans when each company has varying offerings, so I've tried to match plans as evenly as possible. You may find sales or coupons along the way but I'm using their published regular prices for this comparison. By the way both Squarespace and Shopify include WHOIS privacy in their domain registrations. Yes, WHOIS privacy is something you want to protect your identity and block spammers—I'm only calling it out now because the two companies below treat it differently.
Namecheap.com offers domains at $10.98/year (discounts available for multi-year purchases) with WHOIS privacy free for the first year ($2.88 after that first year). They offer an email business plan for $28.88/year with 10GB storage and 10 email aliases. Namecheap.com's total for a domain and custom email is $39.86 ($42.74 renewal to add WHOIS privacy.)
Hover.com offers domains at $12.99 for the first year ($14.99 for renewals). WHOIS privacy is included with initial registration and renewals. They offer an email plan at $20/year with 10 GB storage and no aliases. (For an additional $5/year you can set up an alias to forward email.) Hover.com's total for a domain and custom email is $32.99 ($34.99 for renewal with WHOIS privacy included.)
Here's a chart that summarizes these plans and the costs.