Meet Porkbun, an Affordable Domain Registrar and Web Host with Some Awesome Flair

Porkbun Affordable Domain Registrar Unique Flair

TL; DR: We all know first impressions matter, which is sometimes why taking yourself a little too seriously in business comes so easy. But domain registrar and hosting platform Porkbun doesn’t subscribe to this. Andrew Merriam, Chief Operating Officer, and Eddie Barksdale, Registry Partnership Manager at Porkbun, told us how the company aims to become the go-to alternative to big-name registrars with guaranteed low prices, top-notch customer support, and, of course, playful branding.

“Location, location, location.” I’ve watched enough HGTV to know every real estate agent has repeated this mantra dozens of times in their careers. A house in a rural town could go for $100,000, but its value could skyrocket to seven figures if it’s oceanside on the eastern seaboard.

Well, the same can be said for online businesses — except instead of location, it’s branding. A company can have all the right services at all the right prices, but no one will give it a chance if it’s not different enough from its competitors.

Whether it’s a unique brand name, an eye-capturing design, or a bold claim right on the homepage, something has to be there to lure customers in before you hit them with your unique selling points. And this is exactly what Porkbun does to a tee.

No, Porkbun isn’t a business where you can order whole hams or char siu bao — but it got your attention, right?

Porkbun is an affordable domain registrar and web hosting provider with an adorable mascot.

Porkbun is a domain registrar and in-house hosting platform that hits all the marks I mentioned above. In addition to its quirky brand name, centered on its homepage is a cartoon pig next to the header: “An oddly satisfying experience.” It manages nearly 2 million domains with a vast marketplace boasting trending top-level domains (TLDs), such as .xyz, .meme, and .design, alongside traditional TLDs like .com, with some of the lowest and most transparent registration and renewal rates on the market.

Two of Porkbun’s experts, Andrew Merriam, Chief Operating Officer, and Eddie Barksdale, Registry Partnership Manager, explained how the heart and soul behind the company centers on delighting its customers.

“It’s always about providing a superior product, not just having cheaper domains,” said Andrew. “It’s a fun brand, and it’s clearly coming from an independent, customer-oriented company — not a faceless multinational conglomerate.”

Once Upon a Time, There Was Porkbun

Andrew and Eddie describe Porkbun’s founding as a journey of clear intention sprinkled with ongoing development.

“We had some other options to name our company, but we had the domain and decided to go the brandable, fun route,” Andrew said. “Our first version of the site was almost entirely gray with no pink and our business at that time centered on a few external partnerships that meant we were a bit self-conscious of our brand name. Once we embraced the name and its potential, especially as our business changed direct to consumer, we really felt liberated and began to have even more fun with it.”

They also said that since Porkbun launched in 2015, a few other registrars have competed closely on price. The recently shuttered Google Domains, for example, launched around the same time — and even though this major name offered low prices with an established customer base, Porkbun managed to continue growing.

Porkbun is also the name of the company’s mascot: a cute little cartoon pig with a taste for style. She’s described as having lived on a farm with the dream of starting her own business instead of rooting for truffles in the mud like her pen mates; now, as the brand face, she enjoys fine wine, monster trucks, and making early American patchwork quilts.

Porkbun takes its mascot seriously. If you’re curious, you can find this on the “Awesomeness” page.

“It’s funny how branding and iconography go through these trends, but it’s nice not to follow someone else’s design trend,” Andrew added, referring to Porkbun’s logo of a curly-tailed pig.

Andrew said the other part of the puzzle was specializing in new domain extensions, with trending ones such as .dev and .ai at the forefront but also tons of other personalized TLDs, including .fishing, .guitars, or even .lol and .meme. You can search for your own custom domain name or see what’s available on the domain marketplace.

The pricing structure is also clear and includes ICANN fees, with custom domains ranging from $1 to $100. But if you’re not convinced, you can always check out what’s on sale.

How Porkbun Stands Out in a Saturated Crowd

Porkbun the pig is just one example of how the company stands out among a saturated market of domain registrars and hosting providers.

It offers the services you would expect — including domain-buying and a variety of web hosting plans — but it includes necessary tools like WHOIS privacy, SSL certificates, email forwarding, and URL forwarding, all for free.

Andrew said Porkbun was one of the first registrars to offer WHOIS privacy for free. Additionally, when Let’s Encrypt came out, Porkbun took it a step further and was the first registrar to integrate the offering into its own services so any user could get a free SSL certificate quickly and easily. So basic security measures like WHOIS privacy and SSL certs are standard with every domain.

Porkbun competitive pricing for .xyz TLD
Porkbun offers this domain extension at half the cost compared to other major domain registrars.

This isn’t standard for everyone, though. Take HostGator, for example. HostGator is one of the industry’s leading web hosting providers, but it only offers a free SSL for the first year for its most basic plan. If you upgrade to a premium plan, you get free SSL for life — which isn’t a bad deal considering it’s only an extra $1 per month. But Porkbun doesn’t see the point in charging for security.

“We provide free WHOIS privacy because it’s the right thing to do. We offer a free SSL with your domain because you’re going to need it. We are able to get these services free ourselves or cheaply at scale and so there’s no reason for us to upsell you,” Eddie explained. “We’re adding more value for everyone. We believe that we can be successful by offering more people a great deal and an incredible service instead of finding more things to upcharge. That’s why we’re excited to be on your radar because that means it’s working.”

It is no surprise that Porkbun also centers its mission around its community and customers. The Porkbun team carefully watches its reputation — even its dev team religiously sifts through reviews on forums, Reddit, Trustpilot, or direct agent contact to make and implement changes people are asking for.

Porkbun responds to feature requests in real-time as much as they can.

“You could easily look through Trustpilot, Twitter, or Reddit and see someone from our team responding with, ‘That’s a good idea,’ or ‘I’ve implemented this,’” Andrew said. “Our developers will read a review or comment and want to do something about it, and the turnaround time is pretty mind-blowing.”

Customer support is another way Porkbun differs from big-name providers: It doesn’t use artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots.

Of course, there was a time when consumers believed AI agents would address the need for 24/7 support, but data shows otherwise. Despite the surge in chatbot usage, customers want to speak to actual humans.

“Seemingly everyone is running toward that and trying to automate support, and we’re trying to run in the opposite direction,” Eddie said. “The core of our business is built around our support department and being able to support every single product we sell.”

All Porkbun customer support representatives are also based in the US. Eddie said new hires are flown to the Portland headquarters for a meet-and-greet and on-site training. You can meet Porkbun’s support team here or chat with them during their availability from 6 AM to 5 PM (PST) Monday through Friday and from 9 AM to 5 PM (PST) on Saturday and Sunday.

Support gurus
If you ever have a question, you’ll end up speaking with one of Porkbun’s support gurus.

“We’re excited to have grown our support department and further extend our hours. It’s important for us to grow our support team first so that when we do launch new products, we can fully stand by them. It will allow us to offer things like more traditional hosting plans at a better price than the current market,” Eddie said.

“We’re slowly extending our hours and are aiming for 24/7 coverage in the near term,” Andrew added, and then laughed: “It’s not sexy to talk about in the age of AI, but I struggle to think of another registrar that competes with us on price and will also pick up a phone.”

Riding the Wave of Emerging Domain Trends

Even if you haven’t launched a website recently, you can’t deny the .coms and .nets are no longer your only options as new top-level domains (TLDs) gain increasing acceptance.

If you don’t know the difference between new TLDs and legacy TLDs, here’s a quick summary: New TLDs (.art, .shop, .online, and hundreds of others) were first introduced in 2014 en masse, with still some new ones launching more recently such as the 2023 launch of .ing, whereas legacy TLDs are original extensions that were created alongside the modern domain name system (.com, .net, .org).

“We provide free WHOIS privacy because it’s the right thing to do. We offer a free SSL with your domain because you’re going to need it. We are able to get these services free ourselves or cheaply at scale and so there’s no reason for us to upsell you.”

— Eddie Barksdale, Registry Partnership Manager at Porkbun

New TLDs were a result of the 2012 program when ICANN allowed businesses to apply for new TLDs to bring competition and innovation to a market that suffered from artificial scarcity. Everyone was excited about the next .com, but as we know, it didn’t work out that way: There is no “new” .com that just took hold.

But little by little new TLDs began to grow in popularity. The growth of these new extensions coincided with Porkbun’s own launch and growth. While Porkbun is likely within the top 40 largest registrars when looking at all TLD extensions, they punch above their weight with new extensions, where they are entering the top 10.

“We are strong with customers buying new TLDs because maybe this is their first domain, and they don’t already have a registrar, or they don’t like the options they’ve seen in the past, and so they’re looking for a good deal, and looking for a new alternative and they find us,” Andrew observed.

Porkbun’s trending TLDs include:

Porkbun trending TLDs (Dec. 2023)
Porkbun’s trending TLDs include .xyz, .ing, .meme, .pro, .day, .info, .me, .app, .dev, .foo, .inc, and .art.

Andrew noted that nTLDs often resonate with social media-first companies or businesses prioritizing their Instagram and TikTok markets.

“These companies want their handle and domain name to match, and they’re able to get the right name by not using a .com,” he said. “I think adoption is happening. Now, new businesses have a .studio or .io domain. The naming and branding options available to new businesses have really just exploded.”

Eddie and Andrew also note they’ve seen a few other trends among other registrars, such as AI. Porkbun incorporated AI-generated domain searches a little while ago.

“Our team loves building new things, but we have renewed focus on providing a superior product at an unbelievable price, so much so that it’s a no-brainer when you’re trying to decide between GoDaddy and Porkbun,” said Andrew. “Now, we know it’s not a fair goal to say we’re going to be the next GoDaddy — but instead, ask, what’s the GoDaddy alternative? I think that’s what we’re looking at.”