According to Wikipedia, “A domain name is an identification label that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control on the internet, based on the Domain Name System (DNS).”
Well, that was certainly useful How about if we ditch the geek-speak and go straight into some information that will actually help us?
Basically, a domain name is the address of your blog. It helps people find your blog, and it’s a big part of how they’re going to remember and talk about your blog. Granted, there’s a lot more to it than that, but we’ll save those conversations for another day.
Not all bloggers need to create and register a domain name. If you want to make money with your blog, however, the odds are good you’ll end up going that route rather than relying on a URL provided by a company like Blogspot.com or WordPress.com. Free sites are great for casual blogging and for some business blog purposes too, but for the most part, but they lack the flexibility, options, and tools most bloggers need to build their brands and make money.
I’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of various blog platforms and hosting options down the road, but for now, let’s run with the notion that you’re going to need a domain name that fits and enhances your overall brand.
Just like everything else with blogging, there’s no one right or wrong way of doing things when it comes to choosing a domain name. There are, however, a few general guidelines that seem to work well more often than not:
- Be clear on your brand – What sort of image are you trying to convey? Aim for a domain name using words and a tone that plays up your brand.
- Know your target audience – What words would your average reader use to search about your topic? Include one or two of these if possible.
- Keep it simple – Shorter names without hyphens or numbers are easier to remember and easier to type accurately into search engines.
- Go with a .com extension if possible – .com has an established, solid feel to it, and people are comfortable with it.
- Consider shelf-life – Consider what you plan to do with your blog and how long you plan to do it before putting pop-culture words in a domain name.
- Allow room for growth – Will your name let you expand on your topic in the future?
- Avoid using your own name – Unless you’re a celebrity or highly visible in your topic area, your personal name won’t help readers find or remember your blog.
- Stay legal – Skip any trademarked names or names that seem likely to have you consulting with an attorney.
In the long run, your domain name is just one component of your overall branding strategy, so don’t get too nuts about finding a name that’s perfect in every way. Just take your time, think it through, and have some fun with it.
You can check the availability of your favorite names with the free search functions offered by domain name registration sites like GoDaddy or hosting companies like the one I use and am an affiliate for, bluehost.
I’ll cover registration and hosting options in future posts, but if you find a name you love, there’s no need to wait before registering it. It’s a simple and inexpensive process so take the leap whenever you feel ready.
Got any of your own tips or questions on choosing a domain name? Tell us about it in the comment section.