How to get a Free domain + More! (for Students)

Namecheap offers free domains for students

Free domain for students from Namecheap

 

NameCheap is offering free branded .me third level domains (TLD) to current students from UK, US, Canadian and Australian Universities as part of their education’s initiative to get students online.  As of 22 Apr 2016, there were 2,102 eligible Universities, including 1,931 US universities, 133 Canadian Universities, 24 UK universities and 14 Australian Universities.

(If your university is not listed or you do not study in one of those universities, don’t fret – read till the end of the article!)

The Namecheap Student Package comes in a bundle that includes discounted third level domains or TLDs (e.g. .com and .io), free web hosting and a personalized email address.

Free Domain for Students - What's includedGitHub Pages are public web pages for users, organizations, and repositories, that are freely hosted (for students and non-students) on GitHub’s github.io domain or on a custom domain name of your choice.  Note: Anyone can get free hosting on Github. In fact,  Dropbox and Google Drive can both used to host websites.  You can find instructions on how anyone can create a web page  host it on Github by going to my Github hosted website.

I also like to practice my Git by creating pages with my favourite quotes
Or fork and adapt other cool sites that I find

Page Transitions

But good things seldom come for free, so the important question to ask is whether there are any hidden costs.

1. Beware of first year discounts

Low first year prices are a common tactic that domain registrars use to acquire customers in a competitive space. Whenever you see domains (or anything else for that matter) on offer, always ask how much it costs to renew after the promo period is over.
In the second year, Namecheap’s student bundle renews at:
  • US$18/year for the Standard Bundle (.ME, GitHub Pages and WhoisGuard)
  • US$25/year for the Premium Bundle (.ME, about.me Premium and WhoisGuard)
The great thing about Namecheap is that they list 5 year pricing for all 400+ TLDs they offer.  (Note: these prices represent the standard price for the TLD.  You should expect the price to vary based on name, availability and perceived demand,  (e.g. very short domains that comprise of 3 letters tend to be priced in the four digit category.)

 

You can see that a .me domain costs $18.99 which is twice as expensive as the standard .com ($10.99).
Using a Chrome extension called Scraper. I can extract all the data fields and export to Google Sheets, allowing me to sort and search the data more effectively. Before buying a discounted TLD, I would check  if the .com is available, I would get both the free .me and the $5 .com in the first year, and drop the more expensive .me in the second year. Other TLD’s like .space or .site can be as cheap as $0.88
To make a copy of this sheet (which also has the student universities scraped), go to http://deb.bi/Namecheap-Pricing

 

In case you are still not convinced about the need to own your own personal URL, modern parents are picking baby names based on domain availability.

baby name

 

Which is what I have been telling mothers – buy up the damn domains for your kids now!

 

According to Neil Patel, avoid .biz or .us TLDs as they tend to be perceived as spammy.
Note: In Singapore, the price for a .sg or .com.sg domain is fairly standard across different registrars – SGD $40-45 (~US$30).
Domcomp is a nifty site that allows you to compare prices for the same domain name across different registrars, and use Knowem to check for user name availability on the various social media networks before buying the domain – not essential, but nice to have the same domain name and username for your social media accounts (yes it might be time to purge the embarrassing social media accounts and change usernames before you graduate from University).

2. Beware of Hidden Costs

Other things to consider besides domain registration and domain hosting:
  • WHOIS protection –  which is  free for the first year and cost $2.88 thereafter ($9.99 on Bluehost from first year onwards and other registrars).
  • SSL certificates –  are available from $1.99 (start at $15 on some other domain registrars).
For those of you thinking of buying a “fake” community college .edu email address from Fiverr, forget it – it’s been tried (not by me!) See this thread on Reddit and it does not work.  However, if your university does offer multiple .edu email addresses, you can get more than one free domain.

Conclusion

Namecheap offers the best deals across the board.   I buy all my domains from Namecheap and host my sites on Bluehost.  Both offer excellent service and transparent pricing.
And if you would like to build a personal site like mine, I highly recommend Strikingly where you can make a personal site like this:

Website Card - Facebook 1200x800

as well as an online resume with their One-Click LinkedIn function

Deborah Kay Online Resume


PRO TIP:

If you don’t attend on of the eligible universities, don’t fret. What the Namecheap site does not tell you is that Github has an Education for Github package that is even more attractive (which comes with a brilliant student bundle packed with freebies such as access to Amazon’s AWS cloud, Digital Ocean (storage), 15,000 Sendgrid emails, free Stripe payments and much more.

Github Education Perks 1

Github Education Perks 2

Github Education Perks 3

This means that even if your university is not listed under Namecheap’s “eligible” list, you can still apply for Github’s student programme which comes with the same Namecheap free domain anyway!

 

Eligibility: Any student age 13+ and enrolled in a degree or diploma granting course of study can apply with a student email address, student ID or proof of enrolment.

Go on! Start building your digital presence. If you need more convincing, other Must Read Articles:

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