This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get paid when you use the links on this page. Please note that I would never recommend a product that I don't completely love, trust, and use in my own work.
My parents bought me my first domain in 1998, which was a pretty big deal since I was a poor kid who barely had internet and buying a domain at that point cost around $60. It put me on a path of lifelong learning and love for making the internet pretty, so I guess it was a good investment. Thankfully, it’s much easier (and way cheaper) to get online now.
I like to buy all of my domains with Namecheap. There are some registrars that have shady backdoor practices, like buying recently searched domains and selling them for a premium, or pushing upsells so hard you think you have no other choice but to buy for the safety of your website.
You have so many options for choosing your domain name, but try to keep it short and as relevant as possible. If you’re aiming for a professional image, try not to use .net and .org extensions, and stick with .com when possible, or .co or one of the new TLDs.
I keep my domain name purchases separate from my hosting subscription, a view Namecheap themselves actually called me “antiquated” for. 😂 But, I keep them separate for the same reason I build an email list rather than a large following on a social platform: I don’t want another company to hold all the eggs in my basket.
Finding a host
There are thousands of hosts out there, so when you find one you’re interested in, make sure that the server offers a Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP (LAMP) server configuration. WordPress uses PHP (a programming language which requires LAMP) so you can’t use a Windows server for it, even if you use Windows on your PC.
A few well-respected, WordPress-compatible hosts are:
I currently use SiteGround, on the GrowBig plan, and I love them. The WordPress dashboard is so much zippier with them than any other host I’ve ever used, including Dreamhost and MediaTemple.
Stay far away from GoDaddy and EIG-owned hosting companies like Bluehost and Hostgator. They’re slow, overcrowded, and there are better options out there, with more reliable service and help. It’s not worth it to save a few dollars here, a slow site will only earn you a high bounce rate (you can check your bounce rate from Google Analytics, which I’ll tell you more about later).
Why does everyone recommend them if they suck so bad?
The affiliate commission payouts are awesome, that’s why. I side-eye everyone (included WordPress itself) that recommends these services because they certainly aren’t using them personally.
Should I look for a host with unlimited bandwidth?
Some places advertise unlimited bandwidth, but that’s a bit dishonest. There’s no such thing as truly unlimited bandwidth. “Unmetered” bandwidth might be a little more honest but the bottom line is: if you go over the bandwidth allotted to your account your site will either go down, slow down, or your host will charge you through the nose for it.
Bandwidth resets every month, so keep that in mind when planning for product launches and traffic spikes. You can usually monitor your bandwidth from within your hosting control panel/administration area, and most hosts will email you ahead of time to warn you that you’re approaching the danger zone.
If your site steadily grows and you think you will need more bandwidth, it’s better to alert the host first so that they can upgrade your plan rather than wait and be charged a premium in overage fees or something bad like that.