Episode 9: Registering your domain name

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Show Notes for Season 1, Episode 9

First, if you absolutely, totally can’t spend a few pounds on your own domain, I am genuinely willing to help you out with a free subdomain to attach to your free web hosting so that you could press on. Just ask, “Is this the right long-term choice?” If it is, put a comment in the shownotes and I’ll get right on it!

My checklist for a good church domain name (which will become your home address online) is:

  • Short
  • Memorable
  • Easy (try and avoid tricky spellings)
  • Specific (which usually means your name should probably include where you are)

In the .uk top level domain, the leading choices are .co.uk, .org.uk or just .uk, and these are probably also your lowest cost options. .uk on its own was a relatively recent addition, (e.g. thischurch.uk) in 2014, and many .uk names are reserved until June 2019 in case, say, sttiggywinkles.org.uk would like to move to the shorter name sttiggywinkles.uk

There are lots of websites offering domain registration. In Episode 7 I recommended two choices from those I price-checked. TSO Host (which is the provider of the free web hosting we’re using and recommending in this season) has very fair pricing and it is a little simpler to keep web site hosting and domain registration together. And Tortilla Hosting came out as the lowest cost option for the examples we price checked.

If there’s an “orphan” website out there (maybe someone once created a website and it’s still there but out of date), it’s worth trying to tidy up that loose end, but should you wait to press ahead with your new website? I doubt it. You may never resolve the situation. Or if you do, both domain names can be connected to the same website while you decide which name you prefer.

Your homework is simple: register the domain you’re going to use! Then we can take a giant leap forward next time.

  1. wix.com is a brilliant service, but I don’t see their free plan as a good choice for churches
  2. weebly.com (love that name!) is a great way to make a beautiful website quickly, and their free plan isn’t feature-rich but it covers most of the basics
  3. wordpress.com uses WordPress technology to power a managed service, and free users don’t feel like second class citizens: compared to most rivals, the free plan has a decent array of features, but if you use the free WordPress software on your own hosting package, there’s much more you can achieve without spending a penny

What if you do have (or plan to acquire) a domain name?

  • Wix, Weebly and WordPress.com all require you to have a paid plan if you want to use your own domain name (though the entry level WordPress.com plan includes free domain name registration)
  • For Church of England churches, you can have a free A Church Near You directory entry, and they plan to offer a free option to connect your own domain, however “it is a starting point not a complete solution” (from “Parish Websites” Diocese of London)
  • Add a domain name to your free hosting package and you’re good to go with registering a domain name

And I mentioned a couple of low cost options, up to £50 per year, within the WordPress “universe”

  1. The entry level wordpress.com paid plan removes advertising, includes a domain name, and has a strong basic feature set
  2. (Disclosure: I’m connected!) ThisChurch.uk is a non-profit service built on WordPress technology that includes practical help getting your website up and running, and bundles in lots of premium extra features used by large churches

From this point on, I’m going to assume you’re “in”! We’re going to register a domain (or if you really, really can’t afford that, get in touch via the comments below and I’ll help organise a free subdomain for you) and press on with making our free website!

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