One of my goals this year is to start a website – I just purchased my domain name on a whim, but… now what? I thought by purchasing my own domain I could just hook it up to a FREE online website builder software, but when I Googled the top ones (web.com, wix, weebly, etc.) it looks like I still have to pay a monthly fee to use my own domain? I thought the point of my already BUYING a domain was so I could set up a site for free?
Am I misunderstanding this? HELP!
A Muddled Muggle
It’s confusing to me too, so don’t feel bad.
For starters, understand this: domains and hosting are two separate concepts. Your website “domain” (or address) is “hosted” (or residing) on someone’s server. You purchased an address, now it needs to reside somewhere.
If you want to keep your website free, ignore the domain. You can create a “hosted” blog on a website service provider, such as WordPress or Blogger. The catch? Since they’re providing the domain and the hosting service, your website name will look something like this: “MuddledMuggle.wordpress.com” or [WHATEVER NAME].blogspot.
If you’d like, you can keep the domain you purchased and still use WordPress or Blogger. There should be an option in your admin panel to add your purchased domain name. Once it is added, the free blog should “point” (or redirect) to the new domain name. (Google instructions on how to do this if you’re not sure.) Your website address will become the domain name you purchased. There will most likely be an annual charge for this, but probably not a monthly charge.
Finally there are services that will “host” your website for a monthly fee. Basically, your domain is living on their server. Some of these services provide website templates or you can build your own site and upload it. However, you should expect two bills — one for domain name renewal (mine is charged annually) and for the hosting service (mine is charged monthly).
There are smarter authors out there than me, and hopefully one of them will comment if I’ve missed something.