When is it time to buy a domain?

How to know when you should buy a domain for your blog?

Allison said,

Hello Sarah! I was wondering if you could help me with a blogging question. For the past few months, I’ve been toying with the decision to start a personal/music blog. I know free blogs that end in .wordpress.com or something similar don’t bring as much visitors or traffic or even publicity, but I’m hesitant to pay for a custom domain and hosting without knowing how successful my site will become. Is it better to start with a free domain until I get my blog running and see how things go? Or should I jump right in with a custom domain and get noticed more quickly?

Thanks for your question Allison! Since there are no steadfast rules in blogging, it can be difficult to decide when to get serious and put money toward your blog. When I started the previous version of XO Sarah, SillyGrrl, I began with a WordPress.com site. After a year or so I was writing on a regular basis and was ready to start designing my own templates, so I decided to buy hosting and a domain.

Here are eight reasons to help you decide if you should buy a domain now or not…

Buy a domain if…

  • Your blog is going to be a business or will be attached to a business – a domain gives you credibility
  • You want more control over your design – WordPress.org opens your site up to a ton of new design and customization possibilities
  • You have a blog title you love or you’re using your name and you’re worried someone else might grab it first
  • If you’re on Blogger, terms of service state you don’t actually own your blog – violate their terms of service and your blog may disappear without warning

Skip the domain for now if…

  • You aren’t really sure what you want to blog about
  • You haven’t found a name you love
  • You only blogged three times this month
  • You’re still figuring out basic things like adding images and hyperlinks

Since it’s fairly easy to transfer content to WordPress.org, there’s no harm in using Wordpress.com until you get a feel for what blogging is all about. And if you’re worried about losing a specific domain name you can always buy it and direct it to your Wordpress.com site until you’re ready to invest a little most in hosting.

Domain owners – how did you decide it was time to buy?


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  1. says

    I bought when I took web design last semester as I had no choice. I still use my wordpress.com blog, though, because I haven’t worked on my website.

  2. says

    Domains cost less than a cup of coffee, if you don’t use it within the year – don’t renew it, you will use it though, domains are motivating (and addictive)

    Its more expensive to have your domain mapped to wordpress.com. You can just setup a url redirect in namecheap – people will still see blah.wordpress.com but they can at least type in the domain name to get to your site.

  3. says

    I blogged casually for 2.5 years and then decided if I ever wanted to get serious about it buying a domain name would be a good start. It has really motivated me to keep up with writing and take myself more seriously.

  4. says

    I bought my domain name immediately and paid for hosting. I use WordPress but I host on GoDaddy and it’s less than $10 a month. It only cost $12 for my domain name so I was up and running for $22 and now pay only $10. That’s worth it to me.

  5. says

    Great points, Sarah! I always say that if you have the money for a domain, go for it. It’s always a good idea to start out on the right foot. Even if you don’t buy hosting right away, you can still use a custom domain with Blogger or WordPress.com. For someone starting out but not sure which direction their blogging is going to go in, I think that’s a great compromise.

  6. says

    I’m so glad I stumbled on this right now! I just bought my domain name to be routed back to my wordpress.com, but wasn’t sure if that meant I needed a host right away. I definitely don’t need a host yet and I feel a lot better about my decisions after reading that the transfer from wp.com to wp.org is so easy! Thanks so much, I’ll definitely be spending some more time on your blog!

    • Sarah Morgan says

      You’re welcome Mckayla! Congrats on jumping into the blog world! I know there’s a ton of information on how to build every inch of your online presence so hopefully you don’t find it too overwhelming. You can definitely blog on WP.com for a while to get the hang of everything and make the transition to .org later on. Looks like you’ve got a great start over there!