BLOGGING 101: Custom Domain Names for Free Hosted Blogs

When I first created Mom Spark, I was using the free Blogger platform, so my blog address was http://MomSpark.blogspot.com.  When I started taking myself more seriously, I wanted to simplify that url.  I’m sure many of you are in the same boat right now or similar (maybe with WordPress.com) and want to officially change your blog url to a simple, custom address.  I’m here to save the day!  It’s not difficult to do and makes a world of difference regarding the professionalism of your blog or website.  In this post, I will be provide a few tips and websites I have used to help walk me through the process of setting up a custom domain for free hosted blogs.

BLOGGER USERS

You have the easiest instructions!

  1. Go to the Settings tab in your Dashboard.
  2. Click on the Publishing link.
  3. Click on “Need a domain?  Buy one now!”  From here you can search for your custom url.  Check to see if your blog’s name is available, and if not, try to pick something that is similar, but easy to remember. (I have more suggestions below, as well)  Blogger uses GoDaddy or eNom registration sites and will automatically configure the DNS (Domain Name System) and attach your new custom url to your current blog.  It’s also inexpensive, starting around $10/year.

If you would like to use a registration service other than GoDaddy.com and eNom, or use an existing domain name, you will need to configure your DNS and CNAME manually.  Blogger has step-by-step instructions on how to do this HERE.

Have an easy, memorable url.  Try to reserve the .com if possible, too. (I know, I know)

WORDPRESS.COM USERS

If you are currently using WordPress’ free blog hosting (WordPress.com), you can use what is called “domain mapping” to create a custom url for your blog.  For instructions on how to assign a new or existing custom domain to your WordPress.com blog, follow the instructions HERE.

You can also move your blog from WordPress.com over to self-hosted WordPress.org.  For instructions on how to do this, click HERE.

Be aware of when your domains expire and sign up for the auto-renew if your registration host offers it.  You don’t want to loose your custom domain a year from now because you forgot to renew.

THE DOMAIN YOU WANT ISN’T AVAILABLE

Many of us are in this boat.  We started our blogs using free platforms, and didn’t realize our blog urls were already registered until it was too late.  There are a few things you can do at this point.

  • Contact the owner of the url. Yes, this information is public.  You should see a “get info” link when searching for reserved domains.  Try to email, call, or write the owner of the url, especially if the url isn’t being utilized.  You may be able to purchase the domain from the owner or work out another deal.  You will also be able to see the expiration date of the domain registration.
  • Use a domain purchasing service. Most domain registration sites offer a domain purchasing service, but it is pricey and does not guarantee that the owner will want to sell their url.  Consider this a last chance effort to attain the domain.
  • Pick a different domain name. If your efforts in retrieving your dream domain fails, pick a new name.  Yes, it won’t be easy, but your domain will be yours and yours only.

Questions?  Leave a comment!

Want to see more from our Blogging 101 series?  Click here to see more! Have an idea for a future Blogging 101?  Please email us at momspark@gmail.com.