Naming your blog is one of the toughest but most critical considerations when launching.
What are you going to call your blog? How do you choose a domain for it?
Choosing Your Blog Name is Branding
Why did I choose to use my old chrisg.com domain rather than create a new one when I launched this site all those years ago?
Branding was part of the reason.
OK, now I said the ‘B’ word some people will have clenched. Please relax. It is a much-talked-about, much-derided, and even more misunderstood topic.
My personal take on blog branding is that it is what people think about you and what people remember about your product or service.
It’s about giving the right and lasting first impression.
I don’t know about you but I think that all is worth working on.
If you are going to provide a service as an individual, and the customer is going to work with you directly, then it just makes sense that your brand is you and you are your brand.
Choosing a Domain For Your Blog
With a domain of course there is more to it than just branding so let’s talk about those issues first.
What other considerations are there?
- Short, easy to spell – Chris Gee Dot Com is about as easy as I could make it. Even people who know me very well type Garrett incorrectly. I really feel sorry for Chris Guillebeau!
- Dot Com – Getting a .com, even today as I edit this article to bring it up to date, is still the go-to domain. Pretty difficult to get a .com today, and highly unlikely to get 4 and 5-character dotcoms so I am hugely fortunate in my collection. There are many great choices now, however, I quite like .io for example, and Google having .new for creating new documents was a smart move.
- Time to live – In my case, I had a domain that I wasn’t using well and so I could have everything working very quickly. If you already own domains to build projects around “one day” that could be a reason to choose it rather than finding a new one.
- SEO benefits – Older, “aged domains” have some benefits where trust from search engines is concerned. If an old domain has some inbound links that still work, that is a big bonus. Despite many many years of neglect, server moves, breaking site changes, and other dumb mistakes on my part, this domain has been around since the 1990s. While there are no keywords in my domain, I think the lack of keywords in a domain is a small sacrifice in comparison to a short, memorable name.
- Shorthand – Do people already know you by a nickname? Consider Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the politician. Wouldn’t you rather type AOC? chrisg has been my nickname identity and online handle for quite a while. Obviously, the vast majority of the time in business I used my full name but chrisg as an informal short form has worked pretty well over the years. If people know you by a name or a nickname as a shorthand, having that as your domain just makes sense. Which brings me to branding …
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Brand Implications of Blog Names
When choosing a domain name there are some factors to consider:
- How original and unique is it?
- How descriptive is it?
- What image does it convey?
- Would you remember it after seeing it once?
- Could you spell it after hearing it once?
Choosing a name for your blog is like choosing a name for a child, you have to choose carefully because it could stick around for a long time.
How do you go about selecting the perfect blog name?
Names are tricky, along with choosing your niche, a name can be one of the harder initial decisions.
When you do find a name that you like then you have to go back to the drawing board because the ideal domain is taken.
Your Name as Your Blog Name
I chose to use chrisg.com because this blog will succeed or fail based on what I put out into the world, and using my own name shows I stand by what I say. I’m hoping it makes it a little more approachable.
That was not always the case, the first domain name I ever bought was meant to represent me as an us.
Even though the company was 99% me, with a little help, I thought people would be more likely to choose me if they thought it was a bigger company. In fact, people worried that I would not be working on their projects personally, so I changed my approach.
Marrying your name to your blog does mean that you can’t really sell it, and people expect it to be you personally communicating with the audience rather than guest or ghost writers, so consider there are both restrictions and benefits to going this route.
Match Your Blog Name to Your Niche.
If you are going with a new brand then you can only choose a blog name properly after settling on a niche. Each niche will have different expectations, preferences, and requirements.
For example back in the Web 2.0 days domains tried to be quirkily spelled, like “Flickr”, and that wouldn’t play well to a straight-laced-grammar-nazi audience. The missing ‘e’ would just annoy them, but the Web 2.0 audience embraced and ran with it.
Not everything hangs on the name. A great deal of your brand will come gradually from what is written, and how it is presented. A good name though can help in gaining that great first impression.
First, think about what sort of blog you are writing. Take a look around at what sort of blogs are in your subscription list, here are some very different examples.
What do they say to you?
Who are they aimed at?
Would you say they are memorable?
Remember, a good name is
- Easy to spell
But it is also being designed to attract a certain, specific audience.
So think about what your blog is going to be about and consider the type of name you need to choose.
Domains: Descriptive, evocative, direct, keyword, or metaphor?
Looking over the small list of examples above and you can see there are different approaches that you can take.
ProBlogger and CopyBlogger are good examples of blogs by well-known bloggers branching out into multi-author blogs. A Rowse by any other name … ok, bad joke.
In both cases, Darren and Brian are closely identified with the founding of those blogs but other bloggers can post without breaking the format. CopyBlogger has now been sold and I don’t know if Brian will ever be involved with it again.
Completely made-up names, the Xerox-type names, are hard to brand even though they are definitely unique and can sometimes be memorable. This is because they have zero existing brain connections, they are an entirely blank slate.
When looking at evocative or metaphorical names it is sometimes useful to think about the benefit that your blog will provide or the problem you are solving.
I’m thinking Shoemoney is good here, as are SEOBook and Tropical SEO (with a bit of imagination).
2023 Edit: It turns out since this article was originally published that a bunch of people did try to do just that and came up with a lot of me-too variations on ProBlogger. They should have listened to me!
Standing out is important you need to consider what your competition’s names are like. If they are all descriptive a more creative name might give you that bit of difference.
Your name is very important in positioning. It wouldn’t work so well to launch a new blog to compete with Darren and call it BlogPro, ProBlogr, BloggingProf, etc. There is only one ProBlogger.
Future Expansion vs Topical Focus
Will your blog always have the same topical focus or will you want to extend out into related subjects?
A more generic name might be necessary if you will want to have multiple blogs off the same root name.
Before I sold my photography blog, DSLRBlog, I thought it was fixed forever as a blog about a particular type of camera, the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR). Wow did I not foresee how photography and cameras would change!
Sadly the guy who bought that site let it fade way before those changes came about so I don’t know how he would have navigated that.
Focus is good. It’s the old idea of a specialist versus a generalist; in most cases, people prefer the specialist.
Try to create a long list of options. Not all of them will work or be available.
Play with ideas. Combining words and creating new words, checking a thesaurus, and getting the help of friends and family can all help.
Switch off your internal critic while you create. Jot down every name no matter how daft, at this point you are aiming for quantity, not quality!
Sometimes it is good to see the names in a list, there are some names that sound great but look bad (“powergenitalia.com” anybody?) and vice versa.
Once you have a big long list go through and ditch the worst offenders then copy the remaining list and either choose or get friends to each score a top three. Those you take to the computer and check for domain name availability.
Nobody can tell you the right name for your blog, the name you choose has to be up to you as you have to live with it. While I have suggested you take other people’s opinions into account, you go with what you believe is right.
Look out for 10 ways you could be destroying your brand in part two …
Table of contents for series: Better Blog Branding
- Better Blog Branding: What’s In a Name?
- Better Blog Branding: 10 Ways To Destroy Your Brand
- Better Blog Branding: Domain Exclusivity
- Better Blog Branding: Is Your Brand Breaking Promises?
- Better Blog Branding: Crafting Your Positioning Statement
- Better Blog Branding: How to Stand Out By Being First
- Better Blog Branding: Your Blogs Hidden Messages
- Better Blog Branding: Your Successful Brand
- Blog Branding and Positioning: Changing the Rules of the Blogging Game
- Naming Your Blog: How to Create Catchy Blog Names
- What Are You Saying Between the Lines?