Since this is our first real post, why not talk about the process of choosing a domain name. Saying that, it actually took a really long time to come up with a domain name for this website. How long, you ask?
An embarrassingly long time!
It took so long that going forward, we can probably apply a lot of what we’ve learned and save a lot of time the next time around!
Like most people, when you’re faced with a big choice like naming your website (or cat, or 7th kid) we sometimes get caught up in the process. Call it writer’s block or whatever you want but whatever it is, no one is immune to it.
Trying to come up with a name for your website can really consume you and eat up so much valuable time. This is time that could be spent writing, but yet, you feel like you have got to get over the hurdle of “The Name”. This is what I call being caught up in “productivity purgatory”: you are in one sense being productive by spending time working out the name for your blog/website but in fact you’re at a standstill instead of writing/preparing content.
I know, it’s a bit of a catch 22. On one hand, you need a name, and on the other, you need to write or at the very least, move forward with your new site! So when do you spend time and energy on the website name? The general consensus is this: try not to over think it. Yeah, we all want a cool and memorable name and we want it now. In fact, you may get lucky and brainstorm a really great name in 5 minutes, and what you actually need in the end is great content and great marketing. But mostly great content/product because if your product sucks, people will eventually see through the slick marketing.
All The Cool Names Are Taken
Have you ever been in a band? Choosing a business/website name is a lot like choosing a band name. Seriously, the last band I was in was changing names every week and each subsequent name spawned another name and another Google search to see if the name existed or not, and if it did, then it was back to the drawing board. Plus, most of the awesome names that seemed awesome in the heat of the moment ended up cooling off after a few days. So, what seemed like active brainstorming and creativity, was actually stagnation because we could have spent that energy writing songs. This reminds me of a quote by Dave Grohl where he declares that Foo Fighters is a stupid name for a band. Yep. It’s no secret that choosing a band name is really hard, but in the end, if your music (product) is great, the name will start to sound “normal” and familiar to the people who admire you.
Can you think of some dumb sounding company/band names that now seem completely normal? There are too many to list, but Google and Yahoo come to mind.
Coming Up with That Name
Yes, coming up with the name is the tough part. If only you could come up with a name and register the website you can finally get on with your life and start writing! (hint: you should always be writing so that you have content waiting in the wings). Another issue is that the name you come up with might not even be available, which only adds to the frustration. Still, there are ways to make the process a little less painful if you’re really at a dead end.
Generating random words is a great way to build a list of words you like or that fit in with your niche or business. Once you have a nice list of say, 20-30 words, walk away from it for a few hours. Then, come back to it and try pairing up some of the words that you think sound good together or fit in in some way with your content.
The domain name for this website was born out of the random word generator. The word planet came up and I wrote “something” next to it as in, “fill this in later”. After finally settling on and registering a completely different domain, I came back to the list a week later and said, you know what? Planet Something is the one! Why? Because it was just ‘general’ enough for a personal blog that I planned to throw a lot of random thoughts into. So now I have 2 domains. No big deal. Domains are pretty cheap and I can always develop it later on. Or not!
2. Try not to stretch it – Once upon a time, I came up with (what I thought was) a great name. The problem was that it was kind of an inside joke, and only to myself and a few friends. I even figured out how to spin the name and “make” it mean something, but the more I tweaked my About page, the more it read like bullshit and had less and less to do with the content I was planning to write. I was forcing it. So back to my previous point: try not to over think it. But if it feels like a stretch, it probably is.
3. Domain name relevancy. So much has been written about domain names and their relevancy to your content that this is less an authoritative list and more of a loose guide.
Should you have a relevant keyword in the actual name? Should you use hyphens? Numbers? Long tail keywords? Etc, etc, etc. The way I see it, you can ask yourself a number of questions to try and narrow it down:
a) Are you a blogger? – This should be easy, but it never is. For some people, using their real name for their blog is the way to go. Using your real name lends itself to sounding more authoritative and trustworthy. Otherwise, you can go the more anonymous route and name your website
b) Are you a business? – Again, you can focus on what you sell or, build authority around your product and choose a name that’s unique. Again, this is an exercise in brainstorming. I think business names are the toughest because you want something catchy, hip and memorable. You want to stand out.
c) Are you a niche website? – You might want to include a keyword or phrase in this case. However, the SEO game changes so rapidly that building a site around a niche phrase or keyword can be risky. Still, so much of website building is trial and error that I don’t believe that there is any one true formula.