Suzy: Week 3 Goals – Picking a Domain Name

Suzy's Goals for Week 3: Pick a Domain Name for her travel blog
4 September 2009 Post Author:
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If you’re wondering what this Case Study is all about, please read the introductory post from Week One.

In last week’s installment of this Case Study, we covered Level 1 of the Flow Chart and the steps Suzy went through to choose her travel niche.

Level 2 of the Flow Chart deals with picking a domain name and choosing a site hosting company for Suzy’s new travel blog. It may sound easy, but getting right makes all the difference in the world!

Choosing a domain name for your travel blog is a very important – I would even say critical – step.
Each step in the Flow Chart links to explanations, free tools, and resources
While I do recommend that — if possible — you get the domain that is your name (for the purpose of branding youself) in order to have a Portfolio site (upon which you would advertise your services as a freelance writer/photographer/whatever), your Travel Blog is a different matter entirely. For this I don’t recommend using your name.

Instead you want to consider these key factors:

  • Does it clearly tell people what you do? (does it describe your travel niche)
  • Is it easy for people to remember?
  • Brevity rules – concise and to the point is easier to remember
  • Is it likely to be misspelled? (if so, be sure to get the misspelled version also)
  • If it’s a multi-word phrase, consider getting the hypenated version as well.

Start by writing down whatever comes to mind – sometimes just writing down a name for your website will inspire creativity and you’ll come up with many other names. Use a thesaurus if needed to find words with similar meaning.

Once you have a list of potential domain names that you really like, have close friends and family members help you with honest feedback and opinions, but ultimately it’s going to be your website, so don’t eliminate any that you really like, or add any that you don’t.

A word of caution at this point: There are many unscrupulous people out there watching what happens on the ‘net. if you go to a Registrar and check to see if the names you like are available and find that they areDON’T HESITATE – register right away the ones that you like. Many Registrars offer domains for under $10 per year. Opt for a one-year registration and get all the names that you like – you can always drop any that you decide not to keep after the first year. Those you decide to keep, renew for longer terms (say 5 years or more at a time) – often you’ll get discounts and Google loves this as it tells them you plan to be around for a while.

Why do I say don’t hesitate? Because these aforementioned unscrupulous persons watch to see what domain names get searched, but not registered, and they snap them up, betting on the fact that when you go back to get them later, you will be willing at that point to pay more for the name(s), giving them a quick profit. If it’s a really good domain name, or one you really have your heart set on, be prepared to pay more or be disappointed. It happens. And it happened to Suzy.

The first idea for a domain name that she had was a great one – cute play on words, short, clear meaning. We checked using my iPhone while we were still at dinner, and it was available! She decided to wait until she could get home, chat with her husband, think about it…… by the time she went to register it a week later it was gone. Disappointed, she went with a Plan B variation that works, but, darn it all, just isn’t quite as good.

Tip: A number of Site Hosting Companies, such as 1&1, BlueHost, and Omnis Network offer hosting packages that include a free domain, so they can be a good place to register your domain name and set up your hosting package all in one place.

You’ll no doubt hear a LOT of people recommend that you set up free blog hosting at companies such as Blogspot (owned by Google) and WordPress.com – I DON’T RECOMMEND THIS. Sure they’re free, and great for personal diary style blogs, but there are downsides to each – limitations on style and functionality, terms of service that may inhibit what you can/can’t do, and advertising on your travel blog over which you have no control and earn no revenue.

Site hosting is cheap – you can get a good package with any of the three I reference above for around $5 per month, and all three will include your domain name registration. If you can’t invest $5 per month in yourself, then you really aren’t serious about a writing career or having a successful travel blog. Really, that’s about the price of a venti latte. Cut just one of those out of your monthly budget and invest in yourself.

Stay Tuned! Over the next two installments we’ll cover setting up your Travel Blog using WordPress, as well as customizing the style and layout, and essential features and plugins to incorporate.

~Trisha

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8 Responses to “Suzy: Week 3 Goals – Picking a Domain Name”

  1. Rebecca
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great case study! Sometimes coming up with a domain name is not easy or you think of one and it’s taken. I do a brainstorming session then I look up domain names to see if they’re taken.

    I use Blue Host and like them. They keep updating the site and services. Setting up WordPress.org for the first time is easy, after that it’s just a routine update. Once you get the hang of updating you’ll be fine.

    • Thanks Rebecca! I’m glad that you like BlueHost – I’ve recommended them to quite a few people and have yet to hear anything negative about them. As you know, I’ve been using 1&1 for about 5 years and have been pleased, but it’s good to know who my “backup” could be if that ever changes!

  2. Diogo Slov says:

    Couldn’t agree more about registering your chosen domain name ASAP. Most of the free resources on the internet to check whether a domain name is available or not are traps to steal good ideas, as Suzy has learnt the hard way.

    I have more than one domain registered and I prefer the combo HostGator + NameCheap (free privacy thingy on domains registered with them). I guess we could ask this question to 100 people and get 100 answers, right?

    Trisha, I really like the series so far. The way you approached the subject (fake name for your friend, though revealing URL at the end) has definitely hooked me. :-)

    I understand this is a work in progress. How long do you think it will last? Is it real time, with a delay?

    Cheers,
    Diogo

    • Thanks Diogo! I’m glad you’re hooked :) :)

      Yes, it’s mostly real time with a delay of about 2 weeks in there, because as a working travel writer “Suzy” does travel, so some weeks we have to skip our call….I expect that this series will last for roughly another 6 to 8 weeks depending on how much we can get accomplished each week. After that I’ll do a phone interview with her, make it into a podcast and then do a blog post about the reveal. In the interview I’ll ask her to share her thoughts on the whole experience. It should be interesting!

      And I agree – I think if you ask 100 different people you’ll get 100 different answers. I personally use Moniker for registrations and 1&1 for site hosting, but I have heard good things about both BlueHost and Omnis as well, and I do think for people that only plan to register one (or maybe two) domains, it is much easier to register them with the company that hosts the site.

  3. Dave and Deb
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great Advice. We agree that the domain name really is important in solidifying yourself in the community that you choose. A name that you like and that gives potential readers an idea of what your site is about can go a long way to helping you gain readership. When we chose The Planet D we were looking for a name that gave people the idea of how we (Dave and Deb) see the planet and that is what our blog is about.
    We also think that a self-hosted blog is the way to go it gives you so much more freedom. We also use Bluehost and they have been great, especially from the support end.
    Looking forward to the next installment.

    Dave

    • Always nice to see your comments, Dave and Deb! I think your domain name is very catchy and most importantly very easy to remember and associate with the two of you. You’ve done a great job of developing a brand, and wrapping up all the components – clarity (the image of the Planet forever symbolizes travel), recognition (as with Sonny & Cher, people easily remember the two of you as a couple because of the catchiness of your names), and definition (your moniker of “Canada’s Adventure Couple” tells people exactly what your travel niche is) – that’s some great brand development there, folks!

      P.S. I’m glad that Bluehost is working out well for you also – good support is one the most important factors in choosing a site host and Bluehost gets high marks for theirs.

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