Small Business Owners Need Both: Website Hosting & a Domain Name

MSK Web Hosting

Many costs go into building a website, ranging from graphic design to digital media to paying a great developer to build the site. All of these costs are variable and have a variety of options or choices depending upon your budget and the quality of the product produced. However, there are two costs for every website project that are necessary and unavoidable: domain name registration and website hosting.

I have had numerous consultations with clients who had no idea what these two things were or why they are important. Typically, that is perfectly fine as I am happy to explain why Domain Name Registration and Website Hosting are necessary and then, provide options to best suit my clients’ needs. But I have also discovered that many clients who I have consulted with have purchased these items not knowing what they are exactly. This usually means they are grossly overpaying for additional services they don’t need.  Domain Name registrars and Website Hosting providers base their business models off a basic package; then, they upsell additional services that are not required or necessary. This is the case with ALL of my clients who have purchased these items before consulting with me. I think we all hope that the corporate business model is built to look after the client’s best interests, but in most cases that is not the reality.   Your best defense is to educate yourself on your specific needs for Domain Names and Website Hosting.  These are recurring costs and overpaying for them can quickly add up into wasted expenses. So, let’s define Domain Name Registration and Website Hosting, and then present the best options for your small business.

Each individual website requires a Domain Name and a Website Hosting Provider to house the website files. A very easy analogy that I always use is to think of the Domain Name as your website’s street address and the site hosting services as the house where the website files live. In terms of the web, you can have multiple street addresses that resolve to the same place, such as .com, .org, .net, .mobi etc.; and depending on the size of your website content, you can buy various housing sizes that can store all of your site files. If your website is selling a product, then it’s important to secure the house and put up a gate around it for secure and safe transactions.

As you can see, as this analogy starts to grow, it’s clear that while Domain Name Registration and Website Hosting are necessary for every site, these options will differ depending on your needs, the type of website, and the size of your website.  Let’s look into both options in a little more detail.

Domain Name Registration

You don’t own the name of your website; you lease it for a period of time: 1 year, 3 years, 5 years etc. This gives you the exclusive rights to that domain name for that period of time. Another site will not exist on the web with that exact name. Generally, everyone thinks of the standard top level domain with the .com end. But, there are other top level domains that exist, such as .org, .net,  .gov and .mobi.  Each of these specific, top-level domains have unique purposes: .org is reserved for non-profit organizations, while .gov is reserved for government institutions. While it may not be necessary for you to buy each of these top-level domains, it is important to know that you only own the rights to the top-level domains that you decide to purchase. For example, if you have registered the domain mywebsite.com, then you would not own the rights to mywebsite.org, or mywebsite.net. Purchasing multiple domain names doesn’t mean you necessarily need to use them all; it’s simply a way of protecting your brand and identity which ensures that nobody else on the internet will be able to use those website addresses for their own sites. So, if you decide to simply purchase mywebsite.com, then there is the possibility that someone else will purchase mywebsite.net.  Obviously you don’t need separate websites for each address as they can all be directed to one distinct site, but you will need to own the rights to each top-level domain name that you want to use for your specific brand. For most of my clients (and small business owners), the single .com level domain is sufficient, but there are some people who want their brand fully protected from any competitors using the same name.

Website Hosting Provider

A website hosting provider allows you to store all of the files and content associated with your website.  This is important because websites are stored on servers running software that is different from your home computer, and these servers are running 24/7 providing constant access to your site. There are many companies that offer website hosting services and I have heard good and bad things about all of them. The most important thing to understand when purchasing a site hosting plan is the amount of space you are getting and whether your website will reside on a shared or a dedicated server.  Will it be on its own server, so all traffic directed at that dedicated server will go directly to your site or will it be hosted on a shared server with multiple sites sharing bandwidth and resources? For most small businesses, a shared server is sufficient, but if you run a site and are expecting a lot of traffic, then you might want to consider a dedicated server.

In my experience, purchasing a single domain and website hosting service provider costs generally between $80.00 and $130.00 per year, depending on which website hosting option you choose. If you are a small business paying hundreds of dollars per year for these services without knowing exactly why or where these costs are being spent, then make a list of exactly what you need and call your providers.  Chances are, you are overpaying for services or space you don’t need. If you have any questions, I’m always here to help as well. We provide Domain Name Registration and Website Hosting Options for small businesses, including actors and entertainment professionals.

Until Next Week,

Matt