"How fabulous! They'll give me a free domain," you think to yourself.
I know when you're first starting out it might seem like a great idea to save a few bucks and accept that free domain name. Please don't. I'm begging you.
Or maybe it's a different scenario...
Client to designer/developer: "I don't have a domain. I don't know where to get one. Will you do it for me?"
Then the designer/developer does so on their own account and you don't have access to it and don't even know you need access. Please don't let someone else buy your domain name for you. I'm begging you.
Your domain name is how people find your site. It's all over your marketing materials, business cards, and potentially your email communications for your business. Don't let anyone but you control it.
Never let your designer/developer buy it on their account and then bill you for it annually (or whatever). What if that designer/developer disappears or becomes ill or is involved in an accident. Or what if you just don't want to work with them anymore and decide to hire someone else?
If any of that happens you'll need to somehow GET control of it and transfer it to your own domain registrar (a domain registrar is generally a company like GoDaddy or Namecheap or domain[dot]com) so that you can have control of it again. It's a pain. It takes precious time and always seems to happen when you need it the most and need things to move quickly.
Same goes with a "free" domain. Some hosts will offer a free domain when you buy their hosting services. The big question to ask here is do they sell domains separately from hosting. If so, then probably it's fine. If not and they don't sell domains without an accompanying hosting account, it's a red flag. If you ever wanted to change hosts (and most people do at least once in the life of their site) then you will have to transfer the domain registration to some other domain registrar before you can point it to your new hosting account. It can delay your move by days or even weeks. It's just best to avoid it and control your domain from the outset.
Here's what I think is the ideal situation:
- Buy your own domain.
- Point it to wherever your hosting is or SaaS account is.
By following this simple two step process you can change hosts quickly and easily without having to stress over your domain at the same time as everything else.
Buy your own domain. Keep control of your domain. Period.