The world of online blogging and making money online can be a very daunting place and career change for a beginner starting. Many people often feel like fish out of water.
When I started researching and deciding to create a blog from scratch, I had this one single recurring question. Can I create a website without a domain?
Now, as someone who didn’t know much, I figured this was a fairly reasonable question and an answer I didn’t think I would have a problem in finding.
Well, I was wrong.
I now realize that for many online entrepreneurs, this question might seem like common sense and everybody should know the answer to. I’m here to tell you that common sense isn’t so common and that’s why I’m going to answer this question for you today.
So, let’s get into it…
The short answer to this question is YES, you can start a website without a domain name BUT before you make any decision, continue reading below as I have outlined and explained why this is and why it might not be a good idea.
What is a domain name?
To start and get you up to speed or if perhaps you don’t know yet, a domain name in simple terms is your website name. For example, the domain name for Google is “www.google.com“
A domain name and website address name is technically the same thing.
The reason domain names were created was to solve the issue of us trying to remember IP addresses (which is a mixture of numbers separated with dots) that are assigned to every electronic device that can connect to the internet.
An example of an IP address would be: 188.8.131.52
Because of this, domain names make it easier for us to remember a written name rather than several number sequences such as the example above, that looks like code and that only a computer would be able to recognize and remember.
Now for the big question…
How do you have a website without a domain name?
Many free hosting companies will allow you to create a subdomain. Before I continue let me quickly explain to you the difference.
So, the main difference between a domain name and a subdomain, is that a domain name can exist on its own whereas a subdomain has to form part of the main domain name hence the word “sub” in the prefix. This means that any subdomain created is linked to your website.
To explain it a little easier, here is an example:
Let’s say the free hosting company you decided to use is “freehost.com” (This by no means is a real web host company). You will then create an account with them for their hosting services and with that, they will allow you to create your free subdomain name which essentially would be the name you want your website to be.
You decide to name your website “jamestravel”. When visitors want to visit and view your website, they will then search “www.jamestravel.freehost.com”. This full domain name would be your website name.
To break it down:
“jamestravel” would be the subdomain that you created for free
“freehost” would be the primary domain name which would be the host company you decided to use
“.com” would be the top-level domain.
This essentially means that because your host company allowed you to create a free subdomain linked to their primary domain, you don’t own your website. This comes with its own set of risks which will be discussed in the next section.
Which is more risky – free or paid domain names?
Now, while it seems like an obvious choice to choose a hosting that offers a free subdomain, the benefits might not be what you think they are.
I know when you first start, looking for a way to not spend money is always a top priority. However, investing a little extra money in buying a unique domain name you have rights to and own is far less risky than using a free subdomain offered through hosting companies.
In most situations, I would agree that having everything in one place is a good idea as it does make the process a lot easier, less confusing for a beginner, and with less work in terms of having to connect your domain name to your hosting company’s server but for this specific situation I do not recommend it.
The biggest reason for this is that you will not have any control over your subdomain for the simple reason that you do not own it.
As the example above, the host company owns “freehost.com” and therefore they hold all the power and decision making on when to either delete or create subdomains as they choose.
This is why it’s so important and why I always recommend investing a little more money and buying your domain names separately from your hosting. If something should go wrong with your host company such as they shut down or terminate your contract and you have a subdomain with them, your website will no longer exist.
You would have no legal leg to stand on and there would be nothing you could do about it. This would mean that all your hard work, visitors who enjoy your blog and bookmarked it, page views, clicks, and traffic would be lost forever…
I don’t know about you but that seems far too risky for me to place all my eggs in one basket.
However, if you spend the money and have your domain name and hosting through separate companies and something happens to the hosting company you are using, you would still have your domain name.
As a result, you would be able to reconnect it to a different hosting company instead of losing both your hosting and entire website altogether.
Every hosting company has its terms and conditions when using their services so I do highly recommend you read through those and their policies to better understand and be aware of your rights as a customer.
What happens if you want to create a website for fun?
Whether you are thinking of creating a website as a hobby or a legitimate business, it is important to note that the risk will come either way when deciding to use a free subdomain.
The reason I say this is if you initially created your website to have it as a hobby and lost your website, even though you would be upset, it would not impact your life significantly.
The problem comes when you start to enjoy the process of working and creating content online and decide to turn your hobby into a full-time business and start spending more time growing traffic to your website.
It would be such a shame if all that work you put in was created with that free subdomain linked to your hosting company because at the time it was free and you didn’t worry so much about it, now has become a huge risk.
Under no circumstance do you want to find yourself in this scenario, where there is absolutely nothing you would be able to do about it except start all over from scratch, only the next time to hopefully make a decision not driven by saving money.
Lets recap what we learnt from this article…
1.That you don’t have to have a domain to start a website however it’s not something I would advise.
2.It’s always in your best interest to think about investing in buying your own domain name over that of taking a free subdomain through your hosting company.
3.Last but not least, the most important lesson is to make good and clear decisions from the start to avoid complications later on that are irreversible.
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