There’s something magical to me about choosing the perfect domain name for your business or blog. I get excited and overwhelmed just thinking about it. It’s a very creative and fun part of starting a blog or an online business.
There almost couldn’t possibly be a more important decision about your blog, could there? Have you thought about one yet?
If you’ve been following my ‘How to Start a Blog and Make Money Online’ blog post series, you should be just about ready to choose a domain name, and get it registered.
Let’s take a moment to look at the wrong way to go about choosing a domain name, which often leads to frustration for many new bloggers. Not just while registering the domain, either.
The WRONG way to Choose a Domain Name
Many people when choosing domain names, start off by sitting in front of a screen typing random domain names into a hosting site.
This is often done on a WordPress hosting site as you’re signing up for a hosting account.
This is ABSOLUTELY NOT the place you want your domain registered, by the way. You should always keep your domains registered separately from your WordPress hosting, with a domain registrar.
I’m SO glad you found me before you went ahead and made this mistake. You’d only have ended up changing your domain soon enough, anyway.
If you already HAVE done this, don’t worry, it’s something that’s easily fixable. For now, let’s continue with THIS article.
Even if you already have a domain in mind, or chosen, I highly recommend reading this article. After reading this article you may decide you want to completely change your domain name to something better, and this is perfectly okay, too.
I’m Rick, AKA Tricklowe
Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Rick, or Tricklowe.
I’ve been building my own websites, doing my own graphic design, and much more, since 1998 when I got my first ever Graphite iMac, back in the day. Man, I loved that thing!
In the past 20 years or so, I’ve learned a lot, made a thousand mistakes, use a lot of different systems, software, and social media. But, I’ve also been able to build a few successful businesses.
This blog is my way of giving back to the online community.
I hope to help people get a head-start with the best advice possible, and I also have a big audacious goal of helping at least 100 people become milllionaires with their own businesses.
Picking the Wrong Domain Name can be a Pain in the Ass
If you pick the wrong domain name, and don’t set it up correctly, it can become a REAL pain in the ass.
It’s nothing that can’t be undone, or changed, but choosing the right domain name, using the advice in this article, will DEFINITELY save you a lot of time, trouble, confusion, and frustration in the not-to-distant future.
Building a Brand
Starting a blog to make money online, is all about building a brand, so It’s important to find the right domain name for you and your audience.
Whether it’s a personal brand, blog, or online business, your domain name is the CENTER OF ALL YOUR BRANDING.
Logos, advertising, marketing, business cards, merchandise, social media accounts… …everything revolves around your domain name.
Many people get frustrated when the first start looking for a domain name, as often many of them are taken already. If this has happened to you, don’t worry.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a great domain name, ready to go.
Whilst choosing a domain name IS an important decision, but it’s one you want to get done quickly, and not get stuck on.
Action is Motion
With any decisions like this, as important as it is you need to come to a decision quickly, and keep moving forwards with this project.
Procrastination and indecision kill action, and action is motion. It doesn’t matter how slowly you move forwards, as long as you’re still moving.
So many people get so hung up on or stuck with the domain choosing process, it becomes crippling to their progress.
Give Yourself a Short Deadline
Give yourself a short deadline of just a couple of days to come to a decision on this one. This will give you enough time to think it through, but still achieve what you need to quickly.
Before you start searching for an available domain name, there are a few important things to think about.
First, I’m going to lay out a few guidelines to follow, that will make your entire blogging experience better. These are guidelines I follow, that after all these years, have served me well.
Then I’ll go into a few different creative approaches you can use for coming up with a great domain name for your brand.
So, let’s take a look at those guidelines first, shall we?
ALWAYS Keep Domain Names Separate from Hosting Accounts
All hosting companies offer a free domain name when you register a hosting account with them.
Many people DO set up their domains and hosting accounts together in this way, and there’s nothing wrong with doing it that way. You can do this if you wish, but I don’t recommend it.
I always register domain names separate from my hosting accounts.
It’s something I did when I very first had a website back in 1998, and it’s paid off for me MANY times since then.
You can take this advice at face value, if you wish, I have a full length article where I go into detail, HERE.
Use the RIGHT TLD for your Domain Name
The TLD, or Top Level Domain, is the last part of your domain name. Which TLD you go for, is important.
These are the guidelines I follow;
- If you’re based in the USA OR your site has an international audience or customers, or if you intend to be an industry leader, ONLY USE A .COM.
- If you’re outside of the USA, your customers are NOT international, and you only intend to sell within your own country, then consider using a country code TLD, if the .com is not available, such as these;
- United Kingdom – .co.uk
- Spain – .es
- Germany -.de
- Canada – .ca
I wouldn’t consider ANY OTHER TLD than a .com, or a local TLD.
I also have a blog post that goes into detail on TLD’s, where you can learn more about why this is so important.
Don’t Buy Additional TLD’s
When you register a domain name, domain registrars will suggest to buy other TLD’s to match your domain. Things such as buying a ‘.net’, and a ‘.org’, to match your .com.
Don’t buy them, there’s no point at all.
Your Domain Name MUST be Available on all Social Media Platforms
Unless you intend to market like it’s still the 90’s, you’re probably going to be using social media to market your blog.
All your social media accounts ABSOLUTELY MUST have EXACTLY THE SAME spelling as your domain name. This is just so much better for branding.
If you imagine people looking for you on social media, having different spellings and usernames causes confusion. Also, if people ARE looking for you on social media and find one of your competitors instead, you’re just giving your competition free marketing.
So, let’s not do THAT!
Before you make a decision on ANY domain name, you must know the domain name is available across all social media platforms you’re ever going to use. And preferably available on ALL social media platforms, across the board.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to do a ton of legwork on this one. This one’s actually SUPER EASY to figure out, even if finding a name might still be hard. There’s an awesome free site you can use that will save you a ton of time. It’s called Namechk.com, and it’s your new best friend!
When you’re searching for a domain name, use Namechk.com before anything else.
This site brings up results showing you many of the top TLD’s availability for your name, AND shows all social media platforms availability.
Rules for Choosing The Perfect Domain Name
These are the guidelines I follow when choosing a domain name for any new brand I’m building.
A Domain Name Must be as Short As Possible
Keep your domain name as short as possible.
Shorter names are easier to remember, there’s less chance of a typing error, or people forgetting what the domain name is.
As short as possible, is always best with any domain name. Anything more than 15 characters could be too long.
Twitter Account Names
Twitter only allows a maximum of 15 characters for a username. So, if you might want to use Twitter, keep your domain name below 15 characters.
This one’s NOT SUPER IMPORTANT, as you can always have a twitter handle that’s shortened in some way.
You may not ever even want to use Twitter for your marketing. If that’s the case, this won’t matter to you at all.
Never buy a Premium Domain Name
When looking for domain names you may find one that’s available that comes with a HUGE price tag.
This is known as a ‘premium’ domain.
These are often shorter domain names, using English words that the domain registrars know people will pay for. Premium domains are often used domain names that people have registered before, and let them expire.
When the domains expire, ‘domain sharks’ often grab them and hold them, hoping to sell these domains for a lot more than they paid for them. Premium domains can often be tens-of-thousands of dollars.
Don’t buy a ‘premium’ domain. Doing so is just giving someone else money for nothing.
Instead, be a little more creative. Buy a new domain for $1.00 (I show you how to do this, here), and build your business from there with a brand new, shiny domain name.
Stay Professional with Your Domain Name
You MUST stay professional with your domain name.
This doesn’t mean you need your blog or website needs to have a boring name. Professional means different things in different industries.
If you were a lawyer, for example, calling your business ‘Roguesforhire.com’, might not work out too well for you.
Having a skateboard company called Rogueskateboards.com, however, would be great!
Perhaps a butcher called ‘deadanimals.com’ would be truthful, but maybe not a great idea for a business. I think it would be refreshingly honest, but I’m a little weird like that.
Or, what about a mortuary or funeral home called ‘Dropdeadfreds.com’?
Not so cool.
Humor is Still Okay
For some domain names, a funny, quirky name is a bad idea. In others, I highly recommend it.
In dog grooming it seems almost necessary to have a fun business name.
My favorite dog grooming business name ever, was in Thousand Oaks, California. It was called ‘Indiana Bones and the Temple of Groom’. It would be WAY TOO LONG as a domain name, of course, but I just love the humor in the name.
I first saw this business just once around 13 years ago. It left such an impression, I’ll never forgot it.
It’s okay be creative with your name, and even funny, but stay professional within the confines of your industry.
Keywords or No Keywords, That is the Question
It seems to be standard practice to use your blogs target keywords as your domain name, or as part of it.
There’s nothing wrong with doing this at all, and many people do. If you can find a great domain name that’s available on all social media platforms, with a perfect name that ties into your keyword research, that’s GREAT!
Some bloggers believe you absolutely MUST use a keyword-rich domain name.
I completely disagree.
I’ll go into the reasons why here, quickly. Then I’ll show you some tricks I use to find great domain names, either way.
Keyword Rich Domain Names don’t Help SEO Rankings
Some believe a keyword-rich domain name helps with SEO, but this is not true. SEO happens on a page level, in the content of the site, not at the domain level.
For this keyword-rich theory to be true, the millions of famous brands out there wouldn’t stand a chance against the one-man blogs with keyword rich domain names.
If this was true, the number one site for used books would be ‘usedbooks.com’, not Amazon.com.
MAYBE A GRAPHIC HERE SHOWING THIS THEORY IS WRONG.
It’s not Always Possible to Find Keyword Rich Domain Names
It’s not always possible to find keyword rich domain names that are available to register.
Many of the simpler, shorter domain names with natural spellings or keywords, are already gone.
Many of these domain names were bought up in the dot-com boom era, or have been bought by domain sharks, They’re hoping to sell it to you as a ‘premium’ domain name.
It’s also easy to find a domain name with your exact keywords, but with a different TLD. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, either.
Remember, your domain name will be the center of all your branding, it will BE YOUR BRAND.
If you can’t find a keyword rich .com address, then move on. It’s just as easy to come up with a brand name for your domain name.
I do have a few tricks I use, if I’m specifically looking for a keyword-rich domain.
Tips for Finding Keyword Rich Domains
If you still have your heart set on getting a keyword-rich domain, but haven’t been able to find one yet, try these few tips, for finding available names.
Some words mean the same as others. Google recognizes synonyms for searches, and so do people. Are there any synonyms that work for replacing one or more of your keywords?
Look up synonyms of every one of your keywords, maybe there’s something available out there.
Try replacing your keywords with other similar words, and mixing them around.
Add ‘The’, or ‘a’ to the Domain Name
Something as simple as adding the word ‘the’, or ‘a’ to a domain name, and you might find it’s available.
Facebook.com was originally called ‘thefacebook.com’.
There’s a big paintball park on Camp Pendleton in Southern California, that has the domain name ‘ThePaintballPark.com’.
What a great domain name for a paintball park website, right?! No wonder it’s one of the busiest paintball parks in the USA.
If there’s another company with the same name, be careful doing this as you may end up sending your audience their way.
If they’re from a completely different industry, however, this may still be okay to do.
Add ‘my’, or ‘your’ to the Domain Name
If you couldn’t find a domain name, you could add ‘my’, or even ‘your’ to it, and it might work for you.
Something like ‘mybudgetmaker.com’ for a personal finance niche site. Or ‘yourcarefreelife.com’, for a meditation and wellness blog.
Add an Adjective to the Domain Name
If you can still keep the domain name short, try adding a word like ‘simple’, ‘easy’, ‘good’, ‘fast’ or ‘yummy’ to the start of the domain name.
Sometimes this gives you an available domain name without changing the concept.
Remember to still keep the domain name as short as you can.
Use your own Name as a Personal Brand
What if you just used your name, instead of any keywords at all? Personal branding has been on the rise now, and much more in recent years.
If your blog or website could be put together as a personal brand, then perhaps your name could be a great domain name, if it’s available.
Great examples that spring to mind for personal branding, are things like photographers, entrepreneurs, artists, filmmakers, chefs, realtors, comedians, etc.
These aren’t the only professions that a personal brand blog might work for, though.
This one might be really easy to do if you have a unique name.
It may be a little harder if your name is something more common like Andrew Smith, Rachel Jones, Juan Lopez, or Grant Cardone.
*apologies if you ARE called any of these names. They were the first few random names that popped into my head, and you probably already knew your name’s already gone.
Domain Names Without Keywords
As I mentioned earlier, keywords are not that important in a domain name, otherwise Uber might be called ‘privatetaxi.com’, or something weird like that.
There are quite a few tricks and thing’s you can do, to come up with great original brand names, or domain names.
Mash-up Your Name
The famous shoe and fitness brand, Adidas, is a mash-up of the founder’s name.
Adolph Dassler was known as ‘Adi’ Dassler, which is where the name Adidas came from.
The brand name I use for this site, is simply my name (Rick Lowe) with a letter ‘T’ in front of it, to spell the word ‘trick’.
Create a Brand Name
A brand name can be almost anything at all.
I originally came up with the name ‘tricklowe’, when I was trying to find a username for an email address, and then for other websites as a username, and then AOL.
I realized I needed something that was unique, that would be available on most sites, and so ‘tricklowe’ was the name I came up with. It worked, and has stuck with me ever since.
Ever Had a Nickname?
Perhaps you had a weird family nickname as a kid. Maybe a lover once called you something cute.
I was once called ‘scruffy baboon’ by an ex, which I always liked. The domain name is available, so I could always use that as a brand name, if I wanted to.
It sounds good to me as a music or movie production company.
Use a Made-up Word for Your Domain Name
Take 2 perfectly good words, and smash them together to make a brand name.
If you do this to combine the meaning of the original two words, it’s called a ‘portmanteau’.
I like to call them ‘frankenwords’.
Words such as ‘brunch’, ‘guesstimate’, ‘webinar’, or ‘sexting’, are great examples.
NetFlix did this.
As did Adidas, PayPal, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, WalMart, etc.
If you mix together the words ‘squashed flamingo’, it would be Squamingo.com.
That domain name is available as a .com and all other TLDs (which means it’s ‘clean’), and all social media accounts, so it could be great as a brand name.
Made-up Words for Branding
Ever had any stupid words you used to say as kids, or maybe just something you say, that makes people laugh?
Think of made up words you could use as a brand name.
What About a Word Mash-up?
Change The Spelling of a Word
Quite often, brands will take a regular word, and respell it, so that it sounds the same, but is a new word.
You could make it sound phonetically the same, like ‘Froot Loops’, ‘Cheez Whiz’, ‘The Beatles’, or ‘Axion’.
What about Netflix’s respelling of the slang word for a movie, or Google…
…‘Google’ is the misspelling of the word ‘Googol’, which is a number with 100 zeros.
Fun Fact: ‘Google.com’ was originally called ‘BackRub.com’.
Take Out Letters
Like texting in the 90’s, you can shorten words, by taking out some letters.
You could do this by taking away vowels, like Tumblr.com, or MGMT the band (management).
Take a sentence, phrase, or a longer version of the name, and make it an acronym.
It works pretty well for these brands and organizations;
- BMW – Bavarian Motor Works
- CVS – Consumer Value Stores
- IBM – International Business Machines
- UPS – United Parcel Service
- WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment, inc.
- ESPN – Entertainment & Sports Programming Network
- GEICO – Government Employees Insurance Company
- NABISCO – NAtional BIScuit COmpany
- HSBC – Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
- NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
- NBC – National Broadcasting Company
- CNN – Cable News Network
- FUBAR – anyone that watched Ferris Bueller should know this one, right?
Use a Foreign Word
The most prevalent use of a foreign word in a brand name at the moment, would have to be ‘Uber’.
Uber is German for ‘over’, but also used as a slang term.
For example, as we would say something is ‘super cool’, or ‘super awesome’ German’s might say ‘uber’ to say something is ‘over cool’.
Anyway, foreign words can be cool in branding.
Another example would be the UK retail clothing chain ‘Pret-a-Manger’, which is French for ‘ready-to-eat’.
Use a Foreign Sounding Word
The icecream brand, ‘Haagen Daz’ is a good example of this.
The name is meaningless, but was given to the icecream brand to give it a Danish-sounding name by it’s founders, Reuben and Rose Mattus. They were Jewish-Polish immigrants in the Bronx, New York.
Giordano, is a Hong Kong based clothing brand, despite the Italian sounding name.
Get Weird / Random Words
You can get weird, and just use something completely random.
Brand names don’t have to be anything in particular.
With a good logo and branding built around it, you can really use just about anything you want as a brand.
Kinda like this site.
Look Around You for Inspiration
Stop for a moment, let your mind wonder, and go blank. Now take a look around you.
Take a look around the room your in. The things you have on your desk, pictures on the wall, random objects. Look out of the window. Simply take the things you’re observing, and see if they could work in your domain name.
Literally take the first thing you look at, and really try to put it in there. Break whatever it is down into elements.
For example, you look out of the window, and you see a crow.
Do this with it;
- Crow’s nest
- Black magic
These are the things that popped into my head looking at a crow. Actually, I didn’t even SEE one, I can just hear one sitting at my desk as I write this. Can you integrate it into your idea?
If it just won’t work, look at something else. There are thousands of inspirational ideas surrounding you, it’s limitless.
You’d be amazed at how the things that may seem completely unrelated, can be put into an idea, or inspire you.
Use Slang Terms
Guitarists often refer to their guitars as their ‘axe’. Maybe a guitar tutorial site could be called ‘axemagic.com’.
People often refer to their car as their ‘whip’. Cars have horsepower, and the term ‘horses’ is often used in car articles. So is ‘muscle’ used in the car industry.
Skateboards are called ‘decks’, or ‘sticks’.
Hair is often called a ‘mane’.
Does your industry, niche, or sector use slang terms like this?
If so, write a list of them, and try to integrate them into your domain idea. Be careful not to use a term that could become dated.
Write a Short List
After trying out some of the ideas here, I’m hoping you’ve been able to come up with a few domain names that you’re considering.
Write all good ideas down, as a short list. There are a couple more things we’re going to check.
Is the Domain Name Available as a Gmail Account?
If you can find a domain name that’s available as a gmail account, it’s extremely useful.
- As many of the things you’re about to set up, such as the domain registration, hosting account, etc., will need a back-up / administrative email address, you can use this gmail account for those things, and you will never forget which email address is for what.
- All social media accounts can be registered through this gmail account. It makes it easier to use this as a recovery email for passwords, etc.
- You’ll need a Google Analytics and a Google Search Console account for your blog or website. I’ll go into this more later. But, it’s easier to run these through this gmail account, too.
- When registering your email marketing provider, you can use this gmail account to run that, too.
- Google Docs – Google’s free cloud-based document system for word processing, spreadsheets, and a world of other things, is an extremely useful tool for a business. Keeping everything within the same account connected to the business, makes life easier, cleaner, and simpler.
You can, of course, use any gmail account for this (even one that’s not related in any way to your domain name).
I like to keep things seperated across my brands, so doing it this way works well for me.
You’re ALMOST READY to buy that domain, but NOT QUITE…
Google your Domain Name
Imagine your short list name was SoCalHipsters.com. Go to Google.com, and search for ‘socalhipsters’, ‘socal hipsters’, and ‘so cal hipsters’.
What are the results? You may find that somebody else has been using this term for something. Preferably there’s nothing negative out there regarding this.
It’s better to do this now, than to find out a few years into marketing and growing your company.
With this google search, least is best. You’re hoping to find nothing at all, or results that are completely out of context with your brand.
Any kind of negative association with the brand, reconsider using it.
Even positive associations can be bad from either a competitive standpoint, or that you’re going to be compared or confused with something else.
Search hard for anything at all associated with your prospect domain name.
There’s only ONE MORE test that your domain name needs to pass.
The COOL test – Think About the Domain Name and Let it Manifest
Take a blank piece of paper and a pen, and write your prospect domain name down in front of you.
Look at it for a moment, and yourself the following questions;
- Does it look and sound cool to you?
- Does the idea of a blog / website with this domain name, excite you?
- Can you really get behind this as a brand?
- Does it feel good? Is it right?
- Let the idea manifest for a moment. Can you imagine what the logo would look like? Do you see the logo on your social media accounts, your face in front of it? Does it make you feel proud?
- What would the colors be?
- Are you able to see your business cards, handing them out to people, and explaining your brand? What would they look like?
- Could you imagine being on the phone, making a business deal, telling the person on the other line it’s ‘Rick from Tricklowe.com?’
After this exercise, do you wish you could’ve found a better domain name?
If so, don’t ignore that feeling. Go back to the drawing board, and start again.
But, Don’t Procrastinate
Set yourself a deadline, to when you will have a domain name ready, and do it by that day.
If you’ve gone through this article, and you’re still having problems, and are totally stuck on this, email me today.
I mean this 100%. If you’re stuck, I sincerely hope to hear from you.
I’m VERY good at finding ideas for domains, and branding. It’s super fun to me. It’s literally one of the most exciting parts of a business, because it’s all pure creativity.
If I’m, going to help you be a millionaire, I would like to think I contributed to your success.
Once you have a great domain name in mind, and you’re ready to go, it’s ALMOST time to get everything registered.
First, you need a brand new, shiny gmail account… …and here’s why.