When you make the decision to start a blog, one of the first choices you’ll have to make is one that will (hopefully) stick with you forever: the name. Or more technically…the names.
You see, picking a name for your blog can a little trickier than simply choosing the first name that pops into your head because there are two names that you need to pick: the blog name and the domain name.
Blog Name vs. Domain Name
A blog name is the name of your blog. For example, the name of my blog is With Kids and Coffee.
A domain name is the name of your website. My domain name is withkidsandcoffee.com.
For professional bloggers (aka, those who are hoping to turn their blog or affiliated social media accounts into a profitable, money-making venture at some point), you really want the blog name and the domain name to be the same thing.
So how do you make that happen?
You focus on finding the perfect domain name first. And here’s why.
Why You Need to Pick a Domain Name First
A blog name is literally whatever you type into a text box. It can be Live Laugh Love. It can be Netflix. It can be Monkey Butt. It can anything.
A domain name, though? Not so much.
While your blog name could absolutely be Netflix if you wanted it to be, you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that the domain name netflix.com isn’t available for you to use for your blog. It’s already being used by…well…Netflix, the video streaming and dvd rental company.
Thus, finding the perfect domain name is really the key to naming your blog.
It may feel overwhelming right now (I know it was for me when I started out blogging), but don’t worry. We’ll go through how to pick the perfect domain name for your blog together. You’ve got this. 😉
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How to Pick the Perfect Domain Name for Your Blog
1. (Try to) Figure Out What Your Niche (Sort of) Is
Niche, niche, niche.
Everyone trying to start a blog hears that word over and over again as a suggested first step.
“You must pick a niche first and foremost.”
“You really need to lock down a niche before you do anything else.”
When I started reading that advise over and over again, it stressed. me. out. A lot.
Not everyone starts blogging with a perfect vision of what their blog will be, and that’s 100% okay. You can still get started with a blog even if you don’t have the perfect niche locked down.
When I first set out to start a blog, I wasn’t 100% sure what my niche would be, and, to be honest, I’m a few months in at this point and I have a feeling it will continue to evolve and finalize a bit over time.
When I began blogging, I focused only on finding a starting niche, which I often refer to as my “ish-niche” because I’m nerdy like that.
An ish-niche is a general direction that you would like your blog to head in that is more specific than a category (food, travel, parenting, lifestyle, etc.) and less specific than a niche (budget-friendly recipes for busy working dads).
If you know your niche already—wonderful! If you don’t, let’s walk through how to find your ish-niche so that you can get started blogging.
How to Find Your Ish-Niche
1. Make a list of what you do not want to blog about
If you’re overwhelmed, start by eliminating some blog themes.
Fashion is not my thing (unless I’m talking about my struggle with it).
Make-up isn’t my thing (unless I’m talking about how to be low-maintenance about wearing it).
Fashion and make-up will never be at the heart of my blog, therefore it’s very clear that my niche will have nothing to do with fashion and make-up.
2. Focus in on what you do want to blog about
One by one things will start falling off the plate and you’ll be left with a few things that you know you’ll want to blog about.
For me, a few such things were:
Parenting. Travel. Career. Blogging. Pregnancy. Birth. Budgeting Attempts for People Who Are Horrible at Budgeting. Autism and Special Needs.
These are all things that I write about, and am truly passionate about, but they aren’t really a “niche”, per say.
But looking at what you’re writing or hope to be writing can help you pinpoint one of the most important parts of figuring out what your niche is: your audience.
3. Figure out who you’re writing for
A niche is typically defined more by who you’re writing for than by who you personally are, and an ish-niche is no different.
In my case, I came to a sort of ah-ha moment when I made that realization.
While a lot of what I write about can be applicable to people from all walks of life, the person that I’m most often writing for is the imperfect millennial mom. The one who doesn’t have it all together and doesn’t fight too hard to give off the impression that she does. The one who has a bedroom chair covered with a pile of clean laundry (because putting it away is the worst part). The one who doesn’t always put on a full face of make-up to take the kids to the park (because why???).
My ish-niche (for now—remember, they can always change and evolve over time) is a parenting and lifestyle blog for the imperfect millennial mom. And that’s enough to define what direction my blog will go in—and what type of domain name I should go with.
2. Write It Out
Once you have a general idea of what your blog will be about, it’s time to start brainstorming that perfect domain name.
If you don’t have a clue where to begin, start by taking a really deep breath. This can be one of the more challenging decisions you’ll make when becoming a blogger, so if you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, you are not alone.
Get out a piece of paper and something to write with. (Yes, you could also do this on your computer or phone, but there’s something so satisfying about writing by hand. Plus, YOU’RE ABOUT TO START A JOURNEY TO BE A PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER. You’ll be in front of screens a lot when you’re starting out. Take the opportunity to unplug for a few minutes and give your eyes a little break while you can. ;))
Now that you have your writing tool of choice…just start writing.
Write down every single word you can think of that could possibly be related to your Ish-Niche; every single word that relates to the topics that you want to write about; every single word that relates to what you typically post on personal Social Media accounts (Chances are, some of it will cross over to your professional accounts. Bloggers are humans, after all.); words that make you happy; words that inspire you; words that just sound nice. The more words, the better. There are no wrong words in brainstorming.
Once you’ve poured out every word you can onto the paper, start piecing them together to create different name options. Throw some articles or prepositions or verbs into the mix and see what happens. Again, there is no wrong in brainstorming. Saying a name in your mind doesn’t automatically register your domain name. There are no mistakes.
Piece things together until something just clicks.
Do this until you have about 5 different options that you like.
Write them down, and then move on to Steps 3 and 4 on this list.
3. Keep SEO in Mind
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is, in simplest terms, making your website Google-search-friendly. Other search engines, too, but (to be honest), Google is the one that matters the most.
While the exact algorithm (the formula that Google uses to rank pages in a search) changes constantly, a domain name will always be important to Google and other search engines (Yahoo, Bing, etc.).
SEO will be something that becomes more important a little further down the road on your blogging journey, so if it makes zero sense to you, that is 100% a-okay. You can start a blog knowing absolutely nothing about SEO and still drive traffic to your blog (we love you, Social Media platforms).
There are a few key things that you can start doing at the very beginning of your blogging journey to help your website rank better in search results, and picking an SEO-friendly domain name is one of the easiest.
So how do you pick an SEO-friendly domain name?
Go back to that giant list of words that you made and pay special attention to the words linked to what you’ll be blogging about.
For me, those words were things like:
Knowing that parenting was most likely going to be at the center of most of what I write (if not all of it), I decided to use the word “kids” in my title.
I chose this word in particular because most of the time when I’m searching for something on Google that relates to my kids, it includes either the word “kid”, “kids”, “baby”, or “babies”. Since my little ones will be “kids” longer than they will be “babies”, I choose to go with “kids”. If my blog were more pregnancy, birth, or infant-focused, I would have probably chosen differently.
One big SEO-friendly tweak that can be made:
Consider not using your name in the title of your blog.
For example, kaityjohnson.com has very little SEO-value because most people aren’t out there searching for what I, Kaity Johnson, personally has to say. If I were a celebrity or a known-figure that would be different because people may be searching things like “Kaity Johnson quotes”, but alas, a humble mess of a blogging human I remain, and there’s no real point in having my name in the title of my blog.
Instead, withkidsandcoffee.com includes a very SEO-friendly little phrase (With Kids) and a little pop of personality (And Coffee). Finding that balance in your own way will set you up just a bit better when you’re ready to focus in on SEO down the road.
4. Check for Availability
Once you have a list of possible blog names, it’s time to see what’s actually available!
A few notes about searching for a domain name:
- All words need to be together with no spaces (e.g. withkidsandcoffee.com, not With Kids and Coffee.com)
- Only search for domains ending in .com. While other options may be available, .com comes with credibility, which is something that you want as a professional blogger
With that being said: start checking!
You can use this little widget below to see if the domain names on your list are available.
If the first name you came up with isn’t available, move on to the next one.
If the domain name is available, but someone wants you to pay for it, move on to the next name.
Keep searching until you find a name that’s available.
Once you find an available name, you can acquire it through your web host (if you’re hoping to monazite your blog at some point and make a some money). As a new blogger, I used Bluehost and was able to get a domain name for free with their Basic Plan. So far Bluehost has made everything super simple for me as a new blogger, so if you’re still on the hunt for hosting—completely recommend!
Pro Tip: After you find an available domain name, do a quick check to see if handles are available on social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter, in particular).
5. Doubt Means Don’t
It’s completely normal to few a bit anxious when going to register your domain name. However, in my experience when the name is right for what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll feel nervous-excited rather than nervous-hesitant.
When it comes to that moment of registration, you want to feel excited about the name you’re entering because youre doing something that’s really freakin’ exciting! You’re taking a very huge first step on your journey to become a professional blogger.
If you enter the domain name in that little registration text box and are having serious doubts about what you’re seeing…don’t register quite yet. Sleep on it and see how you feel the next day.
If you are still having doubts, go back to that list you made and rework some more options.
If your brain is completely fried and you’re becoming overwhelmed, go write a blog post about something that is easy for you to write about. Yep! You can start writing drafts of blog posts even before you have a blog to put them on. Save the text, and when your blog is set up…you’re just a copy and paste away from having a post written. Taking that time away from obsessing over your domain name will allow you to start the process again with a clearer head.
If you’re still stuck on that name, enlist friends or family members for help. Tell them a little about what your blog will be about, and ask them for fresh words to add to your list. Or ask them straight up for domain name ideas! Sometimes when you’re trying to rack your brain for something specific you miss an incredible obvious option right in front of you. Having another voice in the mix can help with that.
Finding the right name for your blog can be a huge source of stress for new bloggers, but you can push through it! Keep trying until you find a name that clicks.