- Picking a Brand identity for your Blog
- Getting A domain name
- Choosing a hosting for your Blog
However, read the post to learn more about choosing your domain name, branding basics as well as how to choose a good hosting for your website!
Branding is basically having an identity for your blog.
No matter how small or big you are, branding should be something that you should worry about and do, day in and day out!
But First, let’s get some of the basics down.
What is Branding for a Blog?
A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising. — Wikipedia
That’s what Wikipedia says. But… How does that relate to your blog?
Think of it this way. How do you know a building is a McDonald place? What about “Target”? And your favorite supermarket?
When you brand your Blog, you need to choose a brand that alights with your Blogging Goals.
The details are many, but as usual, I will show you exactly what matters most and give you a formula you can use to establish a great brand that people will remember!
Throughout this post, keep in mind when I say “Brand Name”, or “Brand”, I am referring to the name and the domain name of your blog.
Also, remember that your brand needs to align with your blogging goals!
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Choose a sticky brand name
To leave a great first impression, ensure your brand name is super sticky and makes people smile!
Examples are like Facebook and Amazon.
A good name should create positive, brand-aligned associations without being difficult to understand. Facebook for example, instantly conjures thoughts of people connecting.
Flickr, on the other hand, is more challenging because people don’t know what its name stands for.
You don’t want people to draw a blank when they hear your name.
The “SMILE” approach to picking a brand name
To discover a name for your blog use the SMILE approach (Suggestive, Meaningful, Imaginary, Legs, Emotion)
Your Blog’s name needs to suggest to people the meaning.
Amazon, for example, suggests the company has from A-Z, and the river name makes it look massive.
If it was named bookshop.com instead of Amazon.com, it would have been difficult to grow and become the massive Online Mall it is today!
The name of your blog should have a meaning to convey to potential customers/readers.
Don’t use your own name since people don’t know you, they won’t associate anything with it. Unless you are trying to build a brand, then your name as the domain name could work.
Otherwise, use keywords as much as you can.
If your blog is about cooking, try to add the word “cooking” in your domain name.
An example is Blogging Tribe, where the blog is about blogging and a community, which translated into the domain being “bloggingtribe.com”.
When choosing a brand name for your blog, make sure you chose an evocative, visual name.
An example is “timberland”, which suggests woods and outdoors.
Create space for wordplay. An example is Ben & Jerry’s and half-baked. chose fun and playful names people might even want to see printed on a t-shirt.
A recent fast company study showed that 50% of every business is driven by emotion. So add feelings to your brand name.
Above all, making people smile when they see your Brand Name. That’s key to truly having a successful venture!
The 7 Deadly Sins of Naming your Blog
There are 7 things that you should NOT do when it comes to naming your blog’s domain or your blog in general!
1. Spelling Changed
If you are thinking of making your Blog’s name a misspell of some word (like bloger.com instead of blogger.com), that might kill you before you even start.
The reason is the way the brain is wired is it sees the word right even if it has a spelling error.
That results in people actually getting your blog’s domain wrong, or even your Blog’s title wrong!
TIP: Use a voice recognition software to make sure your name doesn’t fall into this trap.
Thinking of naming your blog “iSomething”?. Don’t!
It will scream copycat and people generally tend to hate copycats, which in return undermines your brand.
So there is this company called “Canadian Tire”. What do you think they sell?
If you guessed tires then you are like the majority of people. However, did you know they sell more than just tires?
They also sell toys and tents.
Now think of how hard it is to convince people that “Tire” doesn’t mean “we just sell tires”!
Your name shouldn’t annoy potential customers. Suffixes like “-ly”, “-mania”, or “-topia” sound forced and manipulated.
Also as much as you should use keywords in your name, try to not make it sound flat or uninspired.
If your name is flat and uninspired, it won’t work. Your name won’t stand out if it’s just a generic words like “cloud”.
Have a story behind your name as much as you can.
6. Curse of Knowledge
Insider knowledge can be a curse if you communicate with potential customers who are unfamiliar with your world.
If you sell cycle pumps, don’t name your company after the “Schrader Valve”.
Even though “Schrader” might be meaningful to you, anyone who doesn’t know what the word means will be confused.
7. Hard to pronounce
Think about it, how would you pronounce “THX”? It’s an AV company that should have used a different name.
Along the same lines, don’t use backward names like the software company that’s based in San Francisco. They called themselves XOBNI, a reversal of “inbox”
What domain name and hosting to get for a Blog?
Now that, you know what to avoid in your domain name (Brand Name), let’s dive in!
Find the perfect domain name for your blog
TIP: Work independently, then brainstorm.
Brainstorming seems to be the holy grail of marketing these days. You see people brainstorming day in and out as if their lives depended on it.
However, due to the fact that extroverts tend to take a lead in discussions, many ideas from introverts don’t come out.
So if you are working with a team or a partner, the solution is to first brainstorm yourself.
Come up with many ideas, and then give it to your team or partner to think about them and brainstorm with you even more.
Keep doing that, and you’ll have better results.
* Remember to trust yourself. It’s ok to be different. The best names often seem jarring at first… just think of “Google”.
Securing the right Domain Name
Securing the right domain name is essential! Many bloggers and companies start out with an imperfect URL.
At first, Facebook was located at thefacebook.com. In such cases, companies spend huge amounts money to buy the domain that actually best fits their identity.
So try to figure your real name from the beginning to avoid spending too much money down the road for a domain name!
Be careful when using country codes in domains. Country codes are like “.us”, or “.ca”. Many companies tried using “.ly” which is Libya’s country code.
They were fine till the government shut down all domains which were in violation of Sharia Law.
Make sure you have rights to the trademark before securing the domain.
Make sure the words you use in your domain don’t have unintentional meaning. Using strategic capital letters can both help and hurt. Examples?
A firm called “Pen Island” should avoid the name penisland.com.
Same for “Therapist Finder”, should avoid therapistfinder.com
You get the point right?
What if your Domain Name isn’t available?
You could try:
- Hiring an SEO expert to make sure your brand shows up in the search results for your keyword.
- You can try to add a word to your name. For example, use getDropbox.com instead of Dropbox.com.
- It’s ok to have a longer domain if it’s easier to comprehend and memorable. it’s better to be RapidCityBookNook.com than RCBN.com. However, make sure your domain name length is not more than 15 characters long.
- You can try alternate extensions like .net or .org, but try your best to get a .com domain first.
- You can try to give an offer to the owner of the domain. It often works.
- It’s a smart idea to buy a domain that contains common misspellings of your band and redirect readers from them to your homepage on your actual domain. For example, Flickr owns Flicker.com (but you don’t have to do that from the start).
Alternatively, you can use the following tools to find alternative domain names you could use:
1. Namemesh.com: This tool is incredibly simple to use. Just type two or three keywords into the search bar and the generator produces a variety of available domain names categorized under headings like “common,” “new,” “short,” “similar,” “ and “fun.”
2: Lean Domain Search: Consistently ranked as one of the best domain name generators on the internet, and rightly so. All you have to do is start with a keyword and you’ll get a bunch of results. (And I mean a BUNCH.) You can list them by popularity, length, or alphabetically. You can also set search term filters for more focused results.
3. Bust a Name: While the tool’s layout and design may not be as attractive as some of the more modern tools, don’t confuse its bland look with a lack of results. Bust a Name has a ton of features that other tools simply don’t have. These include the ability to set prefixes, suffixes, hyphens, plurals, and even the option to drop the last vowel of a word.
4. Shopify Business Name Generator: Shopify is known for offering free tools to its visitors and the Business Name Generator tool is a good one. There isn’t a ton that sets this tool apart from the others in terms of features, but it’s one of the quickest and easiest to use. I’ve personally used it a few times before and it could help you as well.
Domain Name Providers
Once you have a domain name, you’d also need hosting for your blog.
Think of hosting as a land where you build your business on. It’s what stores your files, your website so other people can come by and visit.
What to look for in a hosting company.
If you have never built a blog before, I recommend starting small. Namecheap provides hosting for $9.88 for your first year which I think is very good for a start since it’s literally cheaper than getting a .com domain name.
It won’t handle lots of traffic but can handle up to 1000 visitors a day (not very sure though).
Make sure you look at the different features when buying hosting and try to do your research always. Look at testimonials, and complaints alike.
There are always downsides to different hosting companies so research them well before using them.
If you have a big budget and plan to drive lots of traffic to your website from day 1, then I recommend ditching shared hosting and going with a VPS.
VPS vs. Shared Hosting
VPS stands for (Virtual Private Server). You basically rent space on a big server and you get a virtual space where you pretty much have your own server.
This allows you to get over the limitations of hosting providers since the “server” is yours. You can drive as much traffic as your server can handle, also you can optimize it the way you want, and install whatever software you need to run your blog without having to get permissions from someone.
The only difference is VPSs are slightly more expensive than shared hosting. However, I think the upgrade is worth more than the price difference.
If you were to get a VPS, I recommend DigitalOcean. I’ve used 1&1 VPSs, Amazon Web Services EC2 Servers, Softlayer and a bunch more! Trust me, DigitalOcean beats them all because of their pricing. You can get a VPS for as little as $5 / Month.
If you want to use DigitalOcean, I’ve written a blog post about it here where I show how to start blogging for $0.88. Ignore the part where I bought the domain name since it was a challenge and I bought a bad domain name.
Your Todo List:
Step 1: Brainstorm a brand name
Step 2: Find a domain name and make sure it passes the following questions:
- Your domain…
- Is a .com domain
- Easy to pronounce
- Shorter than 15 characters long.
- Contains your blog’s keywords
- Doesn’t include hyphens (recommended, but optional)
- Doesn’t infringe on others trademark
Step 3: Get hosting with your domain.
Step 4: Check that everything went right and you actually have registered your domain name.