One of the toughest aspects of choosing a blog name is finding a great domain name that's available at an affordable price.
You can start out with some great business name ideas and end up completely off track once you start trying to pair your ideal company name with an available domain name.
It's true that a lot of domain names have been registered and are either in use and unavailable, or for sale but at a high price. However, with a bit of work, you can still find a great, available, and affordable domain name for your online business.
Don't get stuck with an embarrassing online business name you'll come to regret. Here's how to name your blog:
You can get lost in all kinds of weirdness if you name your business by first and foremost trying to find an available domain.
I've been there.
You start out with some perfectly reasonable concepts that are a good reflection of the business you envision. Then you start checking domain name availability and discover that every single decent domain name is already taken.
That's when the problems begin.
You get so caught up in just trying to find a domain that's available, you completely lose sight of what your business is all about and what you want your business name to say about your company.
Alexandra Watkins, author of the book, Hello, My Name is Awesome, says you should, "First determine your brand name then get a domain name - otherwise you run risk of falling into trap of choosing a bad business name for the sake of getting the URL."
If you're starting an online business, like a blog, for example, the idea of choosing a business name fist and getting a domain second might seem a bit odd. If your business is entirely online, it's true that your domain may take on more prominence. But every guideline for how to name a business applies to bloggers as well as it does to more traditional business owners.
A naming brief is a summary of the essential traits of your business, your customers, and your competitors. It helps you develop and maintain a focus and vision of the type of business you are building and the characteristics you want to your company name to communicate.
This type of summary will help to get you back on track when problems like unavailable domain names cause you to lose focus. Complete a naming brief before you get down to brainstorming and choosing a blog name. Keep it by your side through the entire process and refer to it often to keep yourself on track.
When you check to see if the domain name you want is available, you'll find one of three things:
Here are some of your options in each case.
Woohoo! You've hit the internet jackpot!
If you've chosen a fabulous name for your blog or online business, and the exact match URL is available, you've pretty much won the internet lottery.
Buy the domain immediately. Don't hesitate. Then have a little celebration and bask in the glow of your good fortune.
Discovering the exact domain name you want is available to buy is uncommon. Even if you're not completely convinced you want to use this URL for your new blog, if you think you might want it, buy it.
It will only cost you about $10 to register the domain for a year. You'll protect it so someone else can't buy it, and if you change your mind before you're through the entire process of choosing a blog name, you won't be out a lot of cash.
Don't be surprised if the domain name you want is already taken. If it is, your next steps will depend on whether the URL is:
When choosing a blog name, you might discover your ideal URL is a parked domain. It's not associated with a blog or website, but it's also not available to register for $10 with any domain name registrar you choose. It has already been bought by someone else - possibly a company that makes money buying good domain names and selling them at a profit.
If that's the case, you'll know the owner of the URL wants to sell, but you'll need to decide if you want to buy. You'll need to be willing to pay more than $10 for it. Exactly how much more it will cost depends on the circumstances and the domain name, but parked domains can cost thousands of dollars.
Don't worry if a parked domain is not in your budget. There are plenty of other options for securing a great domain for your blog, as you'll see in tip #3.
If someone owns the domain name and is actively using it, there's still a chance they might be willing to sell, particularly if the site looks like it was built and then abandoned. However, there can be some complications when using a URL with a history.
If the domain name is taken and it is an active site, consider that a red flag for the business name you're considering. You should be aware of potential trademark infringement problems even if you use a slightly different but still similar URL.
You'll need to be particularly wary if the domain is used by a business in your niche. Potential confusion caused by a name that's too close to a competitor's name is a solid reason to drop the name you've selected and go back to brainstorming more business name ideas.
I'm not a lawyer, and if you have any concerns at all about trademark when choosing a blog name, you really do need to check with lawyer.
Don't worry if you can't get the exact URL you initially wanted. There are perfectly reasonable alternative solutions. Keep working at it. You'll find a domain name that works and meets all of your requirements.
You don't need to use a domain name that is an exact match for your company name.
It's really hard to find one or two word domain names that aren't already registered. And those that are registered can cost you thousands of dollars. That's money you might not have. Or, it's money you could be spending in plenty of other, more effective ways to build your business.
Luckily, there's a simple way around this problem.
Just add a modifier to your company name. That is, add a single word before or after your company name to create your domain name.
It's a perfectly reasonable option. Plenty of businesses, even huge companies with big budgets, do it.
A well-chosen modifier can even add charm and provide a great opportunity to follow through with the personality of your brand.
Here are a few modifiers you can try combining with your business name, so you can have a great company name and URL that doesn't cost a small fortune.
Art or Craft-Related Modifiers
Be a bit careful with product modifiers. They might limit your growth if you want to expand your product range in the future. Be wary of being too specific, but consider adding a word that describes your product such as:
Retail & Shopping Modifiers
Modifiers with Personality
Adding a simple modifier is a reasonable strategy for finding an available domain name. There are a few other strategies people use which are less reasonable.
Avoid these common mistakes when choosing a blog name:
Don't resort to misspelling a word to get an available URL. You'll have to constantly spell your company name for customers. It will cause confusion and annoyance for you and anyone who deals with your business.
There was a time when using hyphens in domain names was more acceptable. If a two-word URL was not available, people would just put a hyphen between the words and register that domain.
That's not really done anymore. Hyphens in domain names may cause your site to look outdated or unprofessional, they make your URL difficult to say, and they cause confusion because people aren't expecting them.
It's better to use a modifier than a hyphen.
TLD (top level domain) simply refers to the extension at the end of your domain name. You'll recognize popular generic top level domains like .com, .net, or .org.
Countries also have their own country-code top level domains such as .ca for Canada or .au for Australia. They are generally well recognized within the relevant country but not as well recognized outside of that country. The rules for using these TLDs are governed each country and vary widely.
Generally, it's best to stick with more generic, common, expected and trusted TLDs. It can be easier to get a particular URL if you use a less common top level domain, such as a country-specific TLD. However, getting cute with a fancy domain hack can be the source of all kinds of problems.
Don't settle for a bad company name just because the domain is available.
You're going to need to be persistent, but don't give up. This decision is important and you don't want to have to change it.
While you're choosing a blog name, you might be tempted to test out your ideas on others. Be careful. You need to be discreet until you actually buy your domain name or someone else might buy it on you.
I know - It sounds like a horrible thing to do to a person who has trusted you. Unfortunately, I have seen this awful scenario unfold.
It's fine to ask for input before choosing a blog name, but buy first and then ask for advice. Domain names aren't that expensive.
I bought a few I liked when I changed the domain name for this site. It allowed me to ask for advice without worrying I'd lose my best options.