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Suzy: Week 3 Goals – Picking a Domain Name

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 [2], 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 [3]
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:

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 [4], BlueHost [5], and Omnis Network [6] 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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