If you’re thinking about launching a new business or a side hustle, one of the first things to consider is purchasing a domain name and launching a website.
Not only is building a website a stellar way to build your brand, but a website also helps you:
- Build credibility as a business owner
- Attract the attention of consumers looking for businesses like yours online
- Sell products online
- Market your products effectively
- Capture customer insights
- Beat your less tech-savvy competitors
- Capture online reviews
- List your contact information
- Take advantage of local search results
- And more!
While having a domain name and a website is a must when building a new business, it’s shocking to learn that stats show that less than two-thirds (64%) of small businesses have a website.
What these business owners might not know, besides that a website is integral to the success of your business, is that it’s affordable and easy to build a website. Additionally, it’s possible to get a domain name for free if you sign up for a hosting account with HostGator.
This post will cover the steps you need to take to get a domain name for free with a HostGator hosting account.
What do you need to get a website up and running?
Before learning how to get a free domain name, it’s important to understand the behind-the-scene basics of a working website.
When a new website owner aims to launch a new website, this is what they need:
- A domain name – A domain name is like the internet version of a home address. Your domain name is 100% unique to your website, and when an internet user types in that specific sequence of letters into their browser, they will get to your website and only your website. For example, if you type in www.hostgator.com into the URL box of your browser, you’ll get to HostGator. If you type in www.nike.com, you’ll get to Nike. Every website owner rents a domain name for a yearly fee, and these fees vary depending on the domain name.
- Web hosting – Web hosting is a service that offers dedicated space on a huge server for a website to store its files. If a domain name is like an address, then web hosting servers are like the actual home. Web hosting makes it possible for websites to exist on the internet, and load quickly and securely whenever an internet searcher types in your domain name.
- Design – Websites also need a design, so something gorgeous shows up when an internet searcher types in your domain name. You can design a site using a pre-built theme from a content management system like WordPress or a website builder like the Gator Website Builder.
How to get a free domain name with HostGator
Now that you know the basics of what you need to start a website, let’s talk about how to get a free domain name and why you should pick HostGator.
The HostGator platform is also built to accommodate larger businesses or businesses that want to scale. For these larger companies, HostGator offers PRO hosting plans, including dedicated hosting, VPS, and reseller hosting.
Regardless of what hosting plan you need, you can rely on HostGator to offer:
- 99.9% uptime
- Unmetered bandwidth
- One-click installs
- Free site transfers
- Free SSL certificate
- A free domain name!
Now, here are the steps to getting a free domain name with your hosting account.
Step 1: Start with buying your hosting package
When you first navigate to HostGator.com, you’ll probably first notice the menu. On the menu, you’ll see “Hosting,” “PRO Hosting,” “Domains,” “Support,” and “Affiliates.”
While securing your domain name is one of the most important pieces of the website building puzzle, don’t start by clicking on “domain.”
The “domain” section of the HostGator website is a great place to search and see if a domain name is available. However, if you purchase your domain name before purchasing hosting, you won’t get your domain name for free.
Instead of starting by clicking on “domain,” start by clicking on “Get Started” on the HostGator main page.
Clicking “Get started” will direct you to the page where you can select your hosting plan.
As a quick side note, there are two exceptions where it’s worth it to buy your domain name before your hosting account.
- If you want to reserve a domain name and are afraid someone else may snag the domain name before you’re ready to buy a hosting plan, it’s sometimes worth it to go ahead and purchase the domain name in advance.
- Another time you may want to buy a domain name is if you already have a website up and running and want to buy additional domain names to point to your current website.
For example, you may have a website www.yourwebsite.com and may want to buy the same domain name with all the top-level domain name options. In this case, you could navigate to the “domain” section of the website and buy www.yourwebsite.co, www.yourwebsite.biz, www.yourwebsite.inc, etc.
If this is your first time buying a domain name, click on “Get started,” and move to step two.
Step 2: Pick your hosting plan
Once you’ve clicked on “Get started,” HostGator will direct you to a page with the three main shared hosting options.
If you’re a novice website owner and are looking to get a new website up and running, you’ll want to select one of these three basic shared hosting plans: Hatchling Plan, Baby Plan, or Business Plan.
If you look at the different shared hosting plans, you’ll notice that all of them come with a free domain name.
To help you decide which plan is best for you, click on “Compare all plans” at the bottom of the screen and you’ll see all the different features included in the three different plans.
The main difference between the Hatchling Plan and the Baby Plan is the number of domains you can host under your account. If you opt for the Hatchling Plan, you can host only one domain under this plan.
If you pay slightly more with the Baby Plan (our recommended plan), you can host an unlimited number of domains. In other words, if you plan on starting more than one website, you can host all of them under the same account, instead of having to open up and pay for hosting for each different website. This is a steal of a deal and a great way to streamline the management of your websites.
Once you’ve selected the hosting plan you want, click on “Buy Now.”
Step 3: Select your domain name
Once you’ve hit “Buy Now,” HostGator will direct you to the next page where you can select your domain name, confirm your plan selection, and enter your account details.
The first step in the process is the fun part. This is where you get to choose your free domain name.
To select your free domain, search for your desired domain name. It’s important to keep in mind that there are over 1.74 billion websites, so your first .com choice may not be available.
If your first choice isn’t available, you can pick another domain name. If you are set on your main domain, then you can choose a different top-level domain, which is the part that comes after the dot. For example, top-level domains include .com, .biz, .inc, .store, .online, and more.
Once you type in your desired domain name, HostGator will conduct a quick search and let you know whether or not it is available.
Here are examples of a domain name that is already taken and unavailable, and a domain name that is available with the corresponding prices.
You’ll notice that the primary domain name is free and included with your hosting plan. If you want to add additional domain names to your plan, then you can click on the corresponding domain name and add it to your cart.
Next, you can choose whether or not you want to add privacy protection to your domain names.
We recommend adding domain privacy protection because it hides your personal contact information from public view.
Step 4: Select your plan and billing cycle
The next step in the process of securing your free domain name is to solidify the plan you want and pick your billing cycle.
Again, we recommend the Baby Plan for most users. You’ll also notice that if you pick a longer billing cycle, HostGator offers you a discount.
A longer billing cycle also ensures you run into fewer hiccups when it’s time to renew your domain name and hosting plan.
Step 5: Create your hosting account
Next, you’ll create your hosting account by entering your email address, password, and 4-digit security pin.
The information you enter here will be your account login information, so make sure to remember it.
Step 6: Enter your billing information
The next step in the sign-up process is to enter your billing information.
HostGator offers several payment options including credit cards and PayPal. You’ll also notice there is a box to enter your tax exemption ID, if applicable.
Step 7: Add additional services
During the sign-up process, you can also opt for additional services, including:
- Positive SSL (Free SSL is included)
- SiteLock Essentials
- Professional Email
- Site Backup
- HostGator SEO Tools
These services are helpful but optional. Two we highly recommend adding are SiteLock, because it helps protect your site from malware and malicious attacks, and CodeGuard, which ensures you always have a backup of your website in place.
Step 8: Enter any coupon codes, review your order details, and check-out
The next steps include entering any relevant coupon codes, reviewing your order details to make sure they are correct, and checking out.
Once you press check-out and your payment is confirmed, your new free domain name will be secured, and you can start taking additional steps to build your website.
Get a free domain name with HostGator today!
Building a new website is the best way to get your new business or side hustle off the ground.
Remember with every new hosting account, HostGator offers a free domain name. We can’t wait to see you get your website up and running. Check out our hosting plans today and reserve your free domain name now.
Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.