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!)
Find a domain starting at $0.48
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Building a website
Once you have a domain name, you’ll need to build a website! For personal sites, I recommend Carrd (cheaper but basic, like a calling card with your social profiles) or Weebly (for a multi-page website) or Strikingly (more professional, one-pager website) for a site you can get up and running in 2 hours. All have free options.
Carrd is great if you want just a landing page / calling card website. I’m a huge AJ fan – having learn how to code from his Pixelarity and htmlUP5 templates. He’s also super responsive on Twitter, and Carrd is so easy to use. This is by far the easiest to use and by most reasonably priced option to get a website up and running. Check out my free Debbiediscovers, Designer, Empathy Carrd sites.
Weebly – if you plan to have 5-8 pages and want it built fast. My Pencils of Promise fundraising website was built on weebly. It’s also great for kids! Check out Zac’s Lab (age 10) and Ryan’s Reality (age 7).
Strikingly – if you want a beautiful, mobile optimised, one-pager website or online resume in 2 hours. The Free plan is pretty sweet . Strikingly also offers a one-click integration to create a resume website from your Linkedin profile!
>>>Get one month of free Strikingly PRO by signing up using this link!<<<
If you plan to blog, then use WordPress. I’m currently using the Alpha theme from Krown Themes. I also recommend the Uncode theme which I love! Both come with amazing support. You can purchase it from Envato Themeforest.
For a wordpress site, you’ll need hosting. I host my sites on Siteground (which is by far the best web hosting plan – much better than Bluehost which more people promote because of higher affiliate commissions and avoid Godaddy like the plague!!)
Finally you can build a free website using GitHub Pages with your own custom domain. Github 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 debbiediscovers Github hosted website.
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
- 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)
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.
Note: In Singapore, the price for a .sg or .com.sg domain is fairly standard across different registrars – SGD $40-45 (~US$30).
2. Beware of Hidden Costs
- 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 – SSL certificates are free with Cloudflare or Let’s Encrypt so no need to buy one.
3. 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.
Go on! Start building your digital presence. If you need more convincing, check out these must-read articles: