The first couple pages of Google will have you think that the first step in starting a small business involves 7, 8, 10, or even 35 steps, a bank, business plans, structures. The first step in starting a business is registering a domain.
Every one knows this. Even Squarespace uses the tagline “A web site makes it real.” Namecheap’s slogan is “Bring your ideas to life.” It must be real.
I’m obviously being facetious, but we’ll assume you already have a business idea/plan/product/etc … or you don’t. Heck you might not be here because you have a business idea at all! And that is fine too. We are not judging. Any idea may need a home, and this guide is for simply registering the domain for an idea — even if that is all we have at this point. It will cost us two cups of ☕️
Before we register our domain name, we’ll take a quick look at the overall structure of our “technology stack” … that’s nerd lingo for the technology behind the primary components of a web site. We like to break things out into four distinct parts, and will cover the first two in this article.
- Namecheap for registering the domain (our Domain Registrar)
- Cloudflare for all kinds of goodies (our DNS Management)
- Digital Ocean or SiteGround for serving our web site (our Web Host)
- WordPress & WooCommerce for our web site/blog/store/whatever we want (our Content Management System — CMS)
The first two items on that list are only relevant for right now, the Web Host and CMS are linked to separate guides for the next steps. For now, let’s get our domain registered, and DNS setup.
Domain Registrar — Google/Namecheap
There are endless options for registering a domain, and where you host your web site might be of influence, but based on the overall structure we’ve already outlined, we will be registering our domains with Namecheap. Honestly, it’s because that is where my domains currently are, and I’m too lazy to look for anywhere else or move them.
Google Domains is another good option because … it’s Google. Plus if you are going to use Google Workspace (or whatever it is named this week), Google provides a nice little interface to manage all that business in one spot. Automatic DNS verification with Google services, and easy integration with just about anything. Google does cost some extra coin. Keep in mind, if you are already saving a whole pile—O—money 💰 doing this crap yourself, and spending the extra $7 makes life easy for yourself. Go Google.
The most important thing in my opinion for domain registration is getting free identity protection. Namecheap offers this, and again … I’m lazy.
A couple other alternatives I’ve consolidated domain registrations with, are Dreamhost (yeah, sounds weird but hear me out). They offer free identity protection so your name, phone, and address are not sitting out there — attached to a domain — 📣 for all to see. They will register any and all domain names. And Dreamhost has been around for a lifetime.
Or just use GoDaddy and 🔥 burn in hell with all the bitcoin investors destroying this planet, I honestly don’t care. That’s up to you.
When you head to Google Domains, and if you are logged in to a Google account, there should magically be a link at the top of the menu on the left hand side to 🔍 Get a new domain. Start your search and register that hot 🌶 sauce digital home address.
DNS Management — Cloudflare
Like multiple options for Domain Registration there are endless options for managing DNS, and where you registered your domain will do just fine too. So why Cloudflare? What is DNS? Why does this seem so difficult?
Again, it is difficult. That is why there are countless guides. If you want to throw money at the problem and make it easy, there is a package for that. I’m simply providing a DIY guide to what the package I offer, supplies.
Cloudflare offers a free layer of protection (DDOS et al.) and features (c-c-c-c-caching) that are basically our duty to use. It’s not that you intend to be a target of mischief or malicious characters, but if there was a free version of monitored security for your home, you would take it? No? You take the escalator? No?
Think of CloudFlare as a simple layer of free protection, and offloading some of your server load.
I know of multi-million dollar retail businesses that could greatly improve their web experience, simply running DNS through Cloudflare. I digress.
DNS is Domain Name Server. It allows us to type “free palestine” into our address bar and end up at Amnesty International reading about an illegal occupation the whole world is just — cool with — and goes about their business ignoring. Just … for example.
It allows your domain to send users to your web site IP address (111.222.333.444). Like the street address of your home, it translates a complex Lat/Long combination of numbers into a human readable address. Simply put, a human readable translator.
Signup for a CloudFlare account, and get to the point of CloudFlare looking to change our domain Name Servers.
Running our DNS through Cloudflare
We are almost ready to call our site Protected by CloudFlare so we can sleep soundly at night knowing you locked the doors of your car so the neighbourhood kids don’t steal your change.
Cloudflare obviously has a bunch of guides for this process so I will link them here: How to Change Name Servers
The long and short of it is that we tell GoDaddy that we don’t want it to handle our DNS (human readable translator), we want CloudFlare to translate for us … and then it does the other good stuff.
Once our Name Servers are updated with GoDaddy (Registrar), it takes some time for GoDaddy to tell everyone it just got fired by us, and CloudFlare is handling our translation.
This is called Name Server propagation. The same thing happens when we change actual DNS values — in the 2nd part of this 3 part series. Effectively we wait until this occurs.
After updating Name Servers, CloudFlare may want to walk us through enabling some services. This guide will advise to “skip” on this screen as the choice will depend on hosting potentially.
This also signifies the end of the first part of this guide. If your domain was working before, it still should be. If it wasn’t, it won’t magically be pointing to a host. CloudFlare will still be sending traffic to the same place.
To quickly recap what we have done here today. We’ve registered a Domain with what is called a Registrar, and configured CloudFlare to handle our DNS routing.
The next step is setting up a web host to serve some content to the traffic we are now routing through CloudFlare’s DNS! That guide is coming soon.