I recently received a reminder to renew a domain I use for a rather frivolous side project.
At the checkout screen, I realized it would cost me $105 to renew this domain for 5 years.
Why 5 years?
Right now my disposition is: if I plan on keeping a domain for as long as possible I renew it for as long as possible upon each renewal because I can only foresee the cost of domains increasing over time. (Maybe I’m wrong here — if you think I am, I’d love to know why.) I kinda wish I could renew it for 20 years.
You’ll have to ask GoDaddy.
The point is, many of my side projects could’ve been a subdomain of my personal domain, e.g. instead of:
I could’ve done:
Sure, it’s not as cool as the top-level domain, but it’s way cheaper over time.
This is a lesson I wish I knew 15 years ago.
So my advice to my younger self is this: get a personal domain and start all your side projects as a subdomain of that top-level domain.
Your personal domain is the one you’ll own the longest, so you can easily upgrade a side project subdomain to a top-level domain if/when it becomes reasonable enough to justify it for X, Y, or Z reasons (simply setup up a long-standing redirect from the subdomain to the top-level domain).
However, you can’t easily “downgrade” from a top-level domain to a subdomain because eventually you’ll stop paying for the top-level domain and lose the redirects from any residual traffic.
Also, it won’t be a cool URI anymore because cool URIs don't change, which means domain names eventually bankrupt you.