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Choosing a blog name and registering a domain are among the first steps you’ll take when launching a new blog. While you can most certainly go with a working title until you come up with a decent name, you can’t actually build your website until you register a domain, so you may as well kill two birds with one stone by naming them after one another. In this post, I’m going to help you do just that.
In the first part of this post, we’ll focus on naming your blog. We’ll go over what blog and domain names are before discussing the dos and don’ts of naming both. After going over a few different tools you can use to name your blog as well as a few real-world blog name examples, we’ll go through the process of registering a domain name with Namecheap.
Let’s get started.
What is a Domain Name?
Without getting too technical, a domain name is the user-friendly web address internet visitors will use to identify your website. A few examples are “learnwithlyn.com,” “google.com” and “wikipedia.org.” Without this name, a user would need to type the IP address that truly identifies a website instead.
Domain names can be registered with your host or with what are known as “domain registrars,” services who specialize in domain registrations. The most common type of domain extension is .com, but most registrars have a plethora of extensions you can use, including .net, .org, .info, .biz, .tv and more.
What is a Blog Name?
In simple terms, your blog name is the publishing title you assign your blog. If you’re starting a blog and do not yet have a business, your blog name will typically become your company’s brand name. Some companies name their blogs something entirely different from their brand names, especially companies who established their blogs after they’ve established their businesses. An example is ConvertKit, who have named their blog Tradecraft.
Since this article is aimed at newbie bloggers, I’m going to advise you to think of your blog name as your brand name, the name the world will associate your business with. The rest of this article will be written from this perspective.
Does Your Blog Name Need to Match Your Domain Name?
The short answer is no, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. While there are plenty of businesses who thrive with domain names that don’t match their brand names 1:1 and having a domain that doesn’t match your blog name is not going to make or break your business’ success, it’s best practice to ensure they do.
The reasoning is simple. You aren’t an established brand, at least not at this point in time. Passing and returning visitors will have a much easier time remembering your domain if it matches the brand name they see throughout your website. That’s a great way to segway to the next section of this post.
The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing a Blog Name
So, to reiterate, in simple terms, your blog name is the name that represents your brand while your domain name is the name that represents your website. It’s best practice to ensure they match one another, but there are specific rules that apply to each. Let’s start with the ones that apply to your blog name. Keep in mind these are merely guidelines for you to follow as you come up with a name of your own.
- Keep it short and concise – The shorter the brand name, the better. See Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, Tesla, etc. Aim for one to three words that have a small number syllables each, and try not to go over five words.
- Make it memorable – Not all of your visitors are going to stumble across your brand through social media or Google for the very first time. Some are going to hear about you on a podcast or by word-of-mouth from a friend. Because of this, it’s best to use a name that’s memorable and easy to recall later on.
- Make it descriptive – This guideline isn’t gospel as there are plenty of brands that get by with a name that has nothing to do with the product they sell or service they provide. Again, see Google, Apple, etc. However, following this guideline can make it easier for you to come up with a blog name. Take this site, for example. I named this site “Learn with Lyn” because I wanted to teach people about blogging and WordPress while I learn about online business myself. We’re learning alongside one another.
- Ensure it complements your audience – This guideline isn’t gospel, either, but it can help. For example, if you’re starting a blog about a more serious or professional topic, you may want to steer clear of a blog name that has a comedic tone. On the other hand, your “serious” or “professional” topic may surprise you by attracting an audience with a great sense of humor. It’s on you to know who your audience is and what type of name would complement them best.
- Plagiarize – There are numerous reasons to not copy another brand’s name, even if it seems they haven’t been very successful. It all boils down to two—the law and respect. You could very well face a lawsuit if you wind up plagiarizing a trademark, and when it comes down to it, plagiarizing your way into a niche is simply rude.
- Use a name easily confused with another brand’s name – Again, you’re coming up with a blog name for a brand you haven’t established, yet. You don’t have the authority to plow your way into success with a name that’s common and easily confused with another brand’s name. It is possible to gain success either way, but customers new and old will have a much easier time finding you if you choose a unique name. Take my host, Flywheel, for example. When you search “flywheel” in Google, pages related to the company only take up two spots on the first page. “SiteGround,” on the other hand, takes up every spot when you input them into Google.
- Use offensive language – Again, this ties back into the point I made about knowing your audience and understanding who they are. You can use offensive language in your brand name if you feel it would complement them, but I recommend censoring yourself here, if only a little. You’ll leave the door open for a broader audience and will be less likely to turn sponsors away. But again, you do you.
- Overcomplicate things – This ties back into the first two points I made in the DO section. You want new and returning customers to recognize your brand with ease. You also want them to be able to remember it when they tell their friends or audience about you as well as when they type your domain name into their address bars.
Blog Name Generators
Before we get into a few different tips you can use to come up with a few blog name ideas, you might want to try using a blog name generator. This is a tool that generates blog name suggestions for you based on a given keyword. Here are a few decent ones to look at:
Tips for Coming Up with Blog Name Ideas
Creating a blog name may very well be one of the most difficult tasks you accomplish while you launch your blog. If you’re still having trouble coming up with a few ideas, follow these tips. Some of the best blog names incorporate them.
Look at Your Competitors
If you’re having trouble coming up with a name, take a look at a few of the top blogs in your niche. If you’re not sure what those are, input your niche into Google, and see which blogs come up on the first few pages. Take a look at their blog names as well as their domains, and see which styles and strategies they’ve chosen. Again, don’t plagiarize. All your looking for is inspiration.
Use a Thesaurus
If you have a basic concept of a name, meaning a word or two, try using a thesaurus, such as Power Thesaurus, to see if you can come up with more interesting variations.
Try Humor or Inspiration
Try playing on your audience’s emotions by incorporating humor or inspiration into your name. For example, if you want to start a fishing blog and have a healthy love of alcohol, try “Whiskey for My Fish” or “Fishin’ Beers.” If your blog is about helping your audience improve their lives in some sort of way, such as a mental health blog that teaches people how to improve their mood through exercise, try something along the lines of “Mindful Fitness.”
Play with Alliteration
I know what you’re thinking. “Is this English class?” Seriously, though, alliteration can sound really cool when used properly. Need a refresher on what it is? It’s simply a phrase or sentence that uses words that begin with the same letter or sound. My own blog name “Learn with Lyn” uses alliteration. If you’re having trouble coming up with a full name, try playing with alliteration.
Incorporate Your Own Name
If you’re stuck, come up with a few names that incorporate your own name in some type of way, be it your first or last name. You can see I’ve done this with my own name. The only reason I’d advise against using this tip is if you plan on selling your site some point down the line or plan on outsourcing quite a bit, meaning to a level where you’re no longer the one communicating with your audience through your blog, comments or email list.
Use Abbreviations When Appropriate
If you have a bit of a complicated blog name in mind and are struggling to think of simpler variations of it, try abbreviating it instead. Take outdoor equipment brand REI, for example. Their real name is “Recreational Equipment, Inc.,” but I think we can agree that “REI” is much better. You can also abbreviate parts of words, such as “PepsiCo” instead of “Pepsi-Cola Company,” “Nat Geo” instead of “National Geographic” or “Apple TV” instead of “Apple Television.”
Use Misspelled Words When Appropriate
It’s important to ensure your audience can find you through Google and other search engines. That’s where misspellings can work to your advantage, but only if they’re used properly. Let’s use my favorite metal singer Roy Khan as an example. Khan’s been in two main bands throughout his career—Conception (1991-1998; 2018-) and Kamelot (1998-2011). The name “Kamelot” is obviously a variation of the medieval kingdom “Camelot” while “Conception” is a word that already exists. The difference? When you input “Kamelot” into Google, all you’ll find are pages related to the band. When you search “Conception,” well…I’m sure you can guess what sort of results that leads to.
Let’s talk about turning your blog name into a domain name and registering it with a domain registrar.
Registering a Domain Name
Once you come up with a name for your blog, you need to convert it into a domain name. A blog name doesn’t necessarily need to match your brand name, but I highly recommend doing so. Here are a few quick tips I have on converting your name for a domain registration:
- Use the .com domain extension. – The only reason you should use another extension is if the .com is taken and is not being used, meaning there isn’t another company or blog out there actively using the name.
- Use abbreviations appropriately to shorten your domain, even if your brand name doesn’t have an abbreviation. – An example is John Lee Dumas’ site Entrepreneur on Fire, which uses the domain eofire.com.
- Don’t use hyphens. – A workaround some people do when a .com is taken is inserting a hyphen in a domain. However, this is messy and always seems to look unprofessional wherever the domain is featured, especially if it’s spoken.
With that said, let’s get into actually registering your domain. I recommend using Namecheap. This is the registrar I use to register all of my domains, and it’s the one I’m going to teach you how to register a domain with in a second. First, let’s briefly go over why I advise against registering a domain with your host.
Why I Don’t Recommend Registering a Domain with Your Host
SiteGround is one of my favorite web hosts. When you sign up for a hosting account with them, you’ll see an offer to register your domain with them if you don’t already have one. The same goes for a lot of hosts, namely shared hosts. Some even offer your first year free of charge, which is a hard deal to pass up, so why do I recommend registering your domain with a dedicated domain registrar instead?
It has to do with the way domains and web hosts operate and avoiding “putting all of your eggs into one basket.” If you register your domain with your host and one day decide to move away from that host, you’ll need to transfer your domain and website, which are two separate entities. It’s possible to transfer a WordPress site without experiencing any downtime, but a domain transfer can take as long as 15 days. That means 15 days of potential downtime for your site. If you host your website with one company and register it with another, all you’ll need to transfer is your website, a move that’ll have little to no downtime.
The second reason has to do with security. Hackers may find their way into your website in one way or another. While they can certainly do a lot of damage to the frontend of your site as well as its database and file system, what they can also do is point your domain to their own site if it’s hosted by the same company that hosts your website.
The third reason isn’t as serious as the first since it doesn’t occur all that often. However, some hosts straight up state in their terms and conditions that they reserve the right to terminate your account at any time, which would mean deleting your entire website with little to no warning. With WordPress, you have many options at your disposal when it comes to backing up your website and database, but that won’t help you recover your domain if a shady host decides to withhold your own access to it.
You can protect yourself from all of this by keeping your website and domain separate by hosting them with different companies. With that said, let’s go over the process of actually registering a domain.
How to Register a Domain Name with Namecheap
Once you know what you want your blog and domain names to be, you can register your domain. I highly recommend Namecheap. They’re a domain registrar that offers a variety of different services, but I’ve used them to register my domains for years. Their .com domains cost $10.98/year, though they do offer sales several times a year on new registrations. Domain privacy is offered free of charge.
Domain privacy is a service offered by domain registrars that prevents your private information from becoming public when you register a domain. An ICANN bylaw requires every domain name to have a real address attached to it. The idea is to reduce the amount of spam on the internet. Domain protection services, such as WhoIsGuard by Namecheap, replace your personal information with their own so yours remains private.
Visit Namecheap, and enter the domain you want to register in the Search Domain box.
If your domain is available, meaning it’s not owned by someone else, it’ll have a checkmark next to it and an Add to Cart button. Click that button if so.
If it is owned by someone else, it’ll have a “Taken” label next to it and a Make Offer button. Don’t lose hope, though. Open a new tab in your browser, and enter the domain in the address bar to see if the domain has an actual website attached to it and not a simple splash page telling you the domain or site is available for purchase. You should also enter your desired brand name in your preferred search engine to see what pops up. If it doesn’t seem like the domain or brand name are actively used, you might be able to register the .net version or another extension.
You can search for these other extensions by scrolling down the page and viewing the Suggested Results and Results sections.
You can also use the search bar located above the domain you originally searched.
If the domain has a website and the brand name is active, you’re going to have to come up with a new name or at least a variation of the one you want. That’s what I had to do with the domain you see me registering in this tutorial, RPGbc.com, a gaming blog I want to start. Other names, such as “RPGland,” “RPGworld” and a dozen or so other ideas, were already taken. I came up with the name “RPG BaseCamp” but didn’t like how it looked as a brand or domain name, so I came up with “RPGbc” instead.
If you’re wondering why I’m having you look for an available domain rather than making an offer on one that’s already taken, it has to do with what are known as “domain sharks.” They buy up domains they don’t intend on using so they can charge obscene amounts of money for people who legitimately want to attach their brand names to it. Unless you want to drop a few hundred or even tens of thousands of dollars on a domain, look for an available one.
Once you have an available domain in your cart, click View Cart.
Click Confirm Order.
Create a Namecheap account, or sign in if you already have one. You’ll arrive at the checkout page soon after. Select a payment method, and enter your payment information. Enter your billing information after.
You can decide whether or not you’d like Namecheap to renew your domain automatically after that. The service does a really good job at reminding you when your domain is about to expire, but if you’d rather renew it manually every year, make sure the automatic renewal selection is deselected.
Once that’s done, click Continue to review your order. Review your order’s total to ensure it looks correct (the ICANN fee is mandatory), and click Pay Now to complete your order if all seems well.
You’ll receive an email shortly after asking you to click a link to verify the information linked to the domain. This email is legitimate, but if you’re not sure, sign into your Namecheap account, view your domain list, and click Verify Contacts to generate a new email.
Naming your blog and registering a domain name are among the first steps you’ll take when creating a new blog, yet despite their importance, they don’t get talked about nearly enough. I hope I made the process a little easier for you, and at best, I hope you walked away with a domain your blog can call home.
You’re probably wondering what to do next. Well, you have a domain. Now, all you need is a website to attach it to. That means choosing a blogging platform and a hosting solution. I recommend WordPress as a blogging platform, which you can learn more about in my guide on WordPress for beginners. For hosting, I recommend SiteGround or Flywheel depending on the budget you’re working with and the level of technical knowledge you feel like learning.
SiteGround is cheaper in the long run, but they require you to purchase an entire year’s worth of hosting upfront. Fortunately, they offer a discount of over 60% on your first year. They also give you more control over your website, but this means learning a lot of technical information about running a WordPress site. Read my guide on how to start a blog with SiteGround if you’re interested.
Flywheel is more expensive in the long run, but if you can afford $15 every month for hosting, they may be cheaper upfront. Plus, they’re what’s known as a “managed WordPress host,” which means they’ll handle most of the technical details of hosting a WordPress site for you. This includes installing WordPress, keeping your website secure, taking and storing backups, and installing core updates. Read my guide on how to start a blog with Flywheel if you’re interested in them instead.
That’s all for this post. As always, if you have any questions or tips of your own, let everyone know in the comments!