A domain name is commonly known as a website address. It has three parts, including a website name, a dot (or period), and an extension like “com” or “net” like fitsmallbusiness.com. Some domain providers offer truly free domain names, while others offer a free domain name as part of their paid hosting packages.
Here are the six best ways to get a free or almost free domain name.
Option 1: Get a Free .com Domain With Affordable Web Hosting
Bluehost offers a free .com domain name if you purchase one of its web hosting packages. Because .com URLs are in high demand, it isn’t possible to get one completely free. However, you can get an excellent deal with Bluehost by signing up for a hosting plan that costs only $2.95 per month, which includes a free .com domain.
When it comes to choosing a domain name for a business website or professional email address, most people are looking for a .com URL, such as www.yoursite.com. This is the most common and professional-looking domain extension, so choosing a hosting provider that includes a free .com domain name — included with a website and a business email account — is best.
Bluehost is a great option for this. You can buy hosting starting at less than $3 per month that includes a .com domain, a professional WordPress website with easy installation and customization in under an hour, and up to five professional email accounts. In other words, you not only get a domain of www.yoursite.com, but you can create a high-quality website and get up to five email addresses that use the same domain.
Option 2: Get a Free Website Domain for One Year Plus Site Builder
Wix offers a .com domain free for one year when you pay for a Wix website builder package. For solopreneurs, the $11 per month Combo package comes with 2GB of bandwidth, 3GB of storage, and a free domain. The small businesses $14 per month Unlimited package gives you the free domain, 10GB of storage, and unlimited bandwidth.
The limitation here is that, once that year has passed, you do have to pay a fee for your domain. The pricing for this domain will depend on the type of domain extension you chose, the number of years you’d like to pay for at one time if you’ve added privacy protection, local taxes, and more. You’d have to look in “Billing and Payments” in your Wix account, then find your “Subscriptions” tab to learn what you’d pay after the first free year.
The beauty of Wix is that it offers a highly customizable website you can edit with no coding skills via drag-and-drop tools. It best serves small business or solopreneurs looking to avoid web design costs and need an intuitive site builder they can use themselves. You can also click on the “Features” tab on Wix’swebsite.
Option 3: Get Free Domain Name & Limited Web Builder
DreamHost offers a free .com domain name for one year when you choose its annual Unlimited Shared or DreamPress hosting plans. The annual Shared Unlimited plan starts at $5.95 per month, and the annual DreamPress plan starts at $16.95 per month with a cloud-based server for better website reliability and faster performance.
DreamHost is pricier than Bluehost for a small business website but comparable for a solopreneur or starter website. Because its shared Unlimited plan offers storage that’s shared with other businesses, speed can sometimes be unreliable. Its Remixer website builder, included in both plans mentioned above, isn’t as customizable as Wix’s but can be used to import a website design into WordPress for additional customization.
DreamHost is best for companies that want a free domain name with affordable hosting, a drag-and-drop builder able to create very basic websites, and one-click install of content management systems like WordPress and Joomla. You can learn more about DreamHost’s hosting packages by clicking on its “Hosting” header menu tab, then “Hosting Overview.”
Weebly can help you build your simple website with a free site builder and subdomain (a website address that includes the hostname as well as your site name, such as yoursite.weebly.com). This is a great option for solopreneurs or early-stage startups. With Weebly’s website builder, you drag-and-drop shapes and photos to design your site as you would to design a PowerPoint presentation.
The only catch is that the builder is somewhat limited at the free level. Storage and features are truncated, and you cannot remove ads placed by the website builder. Further, the included subdomain is a bit clunkier than a custom domain name. For more information, read our article on comparisons of the best website builders.
The Weebly free plan offers a subdomain (www.yoursite.weebly.com), 500MB of storage, and a footer link ad for Weebly. By upgrading to the paid $8 per month plan, you get a free domain name (www.yoursite.com), unlimited storage, and no footer link ad inviting visitors to also sign up for Weebly. For information on setting up your site, read our free guide on how to create a website with Weebly.
Some of the other big website builders include Wix and Squarespace (although Squarespace doesn’t have a free version). Weebly is our favorite among the three for its simpler editing tools and faster speed. Get started with a Weebly plan that includes a free subdomain or purchase a paid plan with a free custom domain by visiting its web hosting plan pricing page.
Powered by Freenom, the website dot.tk offers .tk domains (www.yoursite.tk) completely free for up to a year. It also has .ml, .ga, .cf, and .gq domains available at no cost, but it offers no site builder or additional hosting features.
With dot.tk, you get a clean URL like www.yoursite.tk. It’s also free to transfer the domain to a hosting service to create your website or professional email address. The catch is that dot.tk only lets you register the domain for up to a year at a time. In addition, dot.tk domains don’t rank as well as more common extensions like .com or .net. While renewals are currently free, we can’t guarantee it will remain that way in the future.
If you’re looking for a domain you can use in the long term (two or more years), it’s wiser to pay the small fee for a .com domain instead. After all, this looks more professional and is generally more trusted by visitors. On the other hand, if you only need a temporary domain and aren’t too concerned about appearances, dot.tk provides a simple and free alternative.
At Biz.nf, you can register a .co.nf domain name (www.yoursite.co.nf) completely free. Unlike dot.tk, which only allows you to register one year at a time, biz.nf lets you own the domain for an unlimited amount of time, provided you only use it with its website hosting services.
To help solopreneurs and small businesses get started, biz.nf provides a free website hosting and domain package. You get 5GB of traffic per month, although there are some significant limitations, like no files more than 15MB can be uploaded.
Another key limitation is that you cannot transfer your free domain name to another host like you can with Bluehost or even .tk, although this is likely to be available in the future for a surcharge. Also, unlike dot.tk, .co.nf is technically a subdomain owned by biz.nf. While this makes little difference to visitors besides the slightly longer URL, it does mean you will lose the URL should biz.nf ever discontinue service.
If you’re looking for a long-term solution, a low-cost hosting plan with providers like Bluehost or DreamHost that offer a .com URL is a wiser option.
However, if you’re looking for a simple informational website and aren’t particularly worried about expanding or keeping it up for long, biz.nf provides an impressive free service.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Is a Domain Name in a URL?
A domain name has three parts, your website name, a dot or period, and an extension like “com” or “net.” For example, in the URL www.fitsmallbusiness.com/marketing/, the domain name is fitsmallbusiness.com.
What Is the Difference Between a Paid & Free Website Domain?
A free website domain has either uncommon extensions like .tk (versus common extensions like .com) that don’t rank well and lack credibility or require a sign up for other paid services like web hosting services. Most small businesses can get a free domain name with a credible extension for a few dollars a month or for free by signing up for quality hosting services like Bluehost.
Which Free Domain Name Is Best?
The best free domains are ones with credible extensions readers or customers trust, like .com, .org, .net, and .edu. These make your readers feel more at ease by offering a professional look that puts your website in the same class as reputable organizations’ and businesses’ websites. To get a free, credible domain name, you can purchase web hosting packages with a company like Bluehost that include a free domain name.
Can You Buy a Domain Name Outright?
Since registering a domain name means you are leasing the name, it cannot be purchased outright. Just like renting a house, you have possession of a domain for a certain period of time. However, some providers allow you to register a domain name for anywhere from one month to 10 years before having to renew it.
How Can You Create a Domain Name in Less Than a Minute?
This depends on your domain name provider. For Bluehost, for example, register for an account by clicking “Create account” on the homepage. Select the hosting package you’d like by clicking on the green “Select” button under your package description. From there, enter the domain name you’d like under “New Domain” and the extension you’d like (we recommend .com). Enter your contact and credit card information, then click the green “Submit” button.
The Bottom Line
A domain name is a website address made of a website name, followed by a dot, then an extension like .com. You can receive a free domain by purchasing web hosting packages or via domain name registrarswith little-known extensions like .tk allow people to access business websites and are best for entrepreneurs and small businesses that rely on an internet presence for sales, brand awareness, or content marketing.
If you’re creating a website for your business, we strongly recommend paying the small fee for a .com domain instead of a free domain like .tk. You get a more reputable domain name and don’t have to worry as much about price increases or service interruptions. With Bluehost, you can get a domain name, website hosting, and a professional email account for $2.65 per month. Click below to get started.