Ready to show off a new domain? Want to use a “personalized” domain for a new customer, but don’t wish to buy the domain until the customer actually engages you with a contract? Sometimes having a free domain is of benefit.
I’ve updated this article quite a bit from how it looked at the start. Before? I recommended free second level domains like those found with *.tk (such as “marksatterfield.tk). Today? My attitude is much different. My experiences with *.tk helped to solidify my new recommendation: Just Say No!
Recommended option: Buy one!
The problem with free domain registrars is that you are likely not the owner of the domain. If the company goes out of business, your url likely disappears with the company.
What are your options? One option is to buy a domain for each of your tests. This can get quite expensive.
Other options? One other option is that you buy a single second level domain (for example, marksatterfield.com), and then host subdomains such as “salestemplate.marksatterfield.com” and “wootemplate.marksatterfield.com”. In this way, you wind up owning the primary domain, and controlling the subdomains as well. Need a temporary one for the new pizza store around the corner? Show it off on “joespizza.marksatterfield.com”.
Not recommended: Freenom
Freenom is the registrar for a number of free sites, including those associated with the TLD .tk, registering through dot(.)tk.
I thought dot(.)tk was a great resource in the past. However, it seemed as though my domains would be randomly deleted. When trying to re-register I’d receive what appears to be the now infamous
At this moment we are unable to register any domains or other services in this account. Please contact support for more information. Error code 0x08823.https://my(.)freenom(.)com/failed_registration.php
Through searching for options, I found any number of people who have also had problems with Freenom. According to many reviews, it seems that Freenom grabs back their domains (you don’t own them after all) when the site starts receiving a certain number of hits per month. Going back to Freenom, you have the option of buying the site back … or, well, hitting the road. Kind of felt a bit like front running .
You can google search for other comments on Freenom. Please note that these are based on my experiences. Your experiences may differ.
Not recommended: Site builders free URL
Any number of “free website builders” are available. But almost every one of them lock you into a proprietary web experience.
In my experience, I recommend building your site with WordPress or other transferable site builder. Being “stuck” in a proprietary system is no fun.
My recommendation is to buy a “testing” domain like “mytestcompany.com”, and placing all of our test companies as subdomains to that, like “joespizza.mytestcompany.com”. You’ll pay less than $20/year for the domain mytestcompany, and you’ll be left owning that domain.