Whether you’re a veteran online business owner setting up a new niche site, or a brand new blogger testing the waters of the online business world for the first time, choosing a domain name is something you’ll have to deal with. One of the first things you need to do, when you set up a new blog is to choose a name for the blog, and a matching domain name.
You’ll generally want the domain name to be a perfect match for the name of your blog, and you’ll want to think ahead, too. Maybe you’re setting up a blog for fun, to spread a message, or raise awareness of an issue, but you’ll want the opportunity for it to grow into a business and brand in it’s own right, with options for monetization, so you need to think about that when you name your blog and choose a domain name.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing your domain name:
- Shorter is better
- Choose something easy to remember and easy to say out loud
- Avoid hyphens
- Avoid words that are hard to spell
- Avoid words that are spelled differently in different countries
- Don’t think just in terms of your blog – pick a domain name that will make sense as your online business grows
- Does the domain name match the feel and tone of your brand and business?
- What does the domain convey about you and your business?
Once you’ve decided on your domain name, it’s time to register it. This can be done through the same place you’ve chosen for web hosting or it can be done separately through any domain registrar. I’ve chosen to separate my domain registration and hosting, even though it seems convenient to bundle them together (especially as so many hosting companies offer a free domain name). The problem with this is that if there’s a problem with your hosting site, you can’t just move to a new host and point your domain at your new site. As I had to do this recently, it made me realize the benefits of keeping domain registration and hosting separate.
I’ve registered domain names at GoDaddy. Siteground and Bluehost in the past, and I’ve now taken the step of making sure my sites are hosted separately from the company that holds the domain name. So this site, for example, is hosted at Mom Webs but the domain is registered with GoDaddy. Plenty of people do keep their domain names and hosting with the same company. IIt just gives me an extra bit of security to feel my virtual eggs aren’t all in the same basket.
Free Hosting With Your Own Domain Name?
Some platforms allow you to link a paid domain name to a free site. WordPress tell you how to do this with their free platform right here. If you’re really strapped for cash this is certainly an option, but I don’t recommend it. Web hosting isn’t a huge expense. Bluehost hosting starts at just $3.95 a month, though you do have to make a big time commitment (I believe it’s currently 3 years) to get the lowest price. Siteground are currently offering basic hosting for $2.75 a month (just be aware that is an offer for new customers so expect it to get more expensive after the first year). Mom Webs (who I absolutely love) pricing starts at just $5.00 a month. It doesn’t suddenly jump up after your first year, AND you can pay quarterly!
A few more things to keep in mind when looking for domain names
When you’re searching to see if a domain name is available, be sure you’re ready to purchase at the time you’re searching. If not, when you go back to pick it up you may be surprised to find that it’s no longer available. There are people out there who monitor domain name searches, pick them up and then try to sell it to you later for a profit.
A .com is always best, but be aware that if you can’t get a .com it’s worth checking what the .com version points to. Is it a site that could get confused with yours? Last time I checked the .com version of my only non .com domain went to a site entirely in Japanese, so people are unlikely to confuse it with mine.
Always check what your domain name looks like as one word. Can it be easily misread.? You don’t want a situation like the site Who Represents, who didn’t realise their site’s domain could just as easily be read as Whore Presents, and don’t even get me started on the companies who thought Pen Island or Experts Exchange would be fine as domain names (how do you read penisland or expertsexchange?).