The second you decide to start a blog, you’re faced with an important decision: what will you call your new website?
Coming up with blog name ideas is hard, and there’s a lot riding on your choice. After all, you’re making a decision that — if all goes well — you’ll be living with (and marketing) for years to come.
Some new bloggers are so excited to get started that they rush through this process and settle on a name that seems “good enough.”
While I appreciate that enthusiasm, it’s not a good approach.
You’re about to devote hours upon hours to building this new publication, so it’s important that you love the name. Even more importantly, you want your future readers (and Google) to love it.
There’s a lot to think about here, especially if you have no prior experience in blogging.
But that’s what this guide is for. In this article, I’ll explain how to choose a blog name that sets you up for success, and I’ll go over some of the most common mistakes new bloggers make.
One important note before we get going: throughout this article, I’ll sometimes use the terms “blog name” and “domain name” interchangeably, even though they’re not technically the same thing. However, your choice of blog name will probably be driven by whether or not the matching domain name is available.
Let’s get started!
What Makes a Blog Name Good?
Before we get to the tips, let’s go over the qualities to look for in a blog name.
- It’s professional. Even if you’re writing about a not-so-serious topic, you want a domain name that shows people you’re serious about what you’re doing.
- It’s catchy. It’s easy to remember, and people like it. Ask yourself, if this was someone else’s blog, would I want to wear their t-shirt?
- It’s short. Choosing short names has become more difficult in recent years, because fewer and fewer domain names are available. That said, short names are easier to remember, and they’re more brandable. So try to limit your domain name’s length to two or three words and less than 15 characters, if possible — keeping in mind that it’s OK to break this rule for short, easy to spell words (like “The Ways To Wealth”).
- It works as a blog name, a domain name, a brand name and a business name. Your blog doesn’t just exist on the web. It’ll be on your business cards. You’ll be putting in your email signature. Depending on your niche, you might even sell physical products someday. The best blog names fire on all of these cylinders.
- It instantly communicates your blog’s purpose. I talk about this in detail in Tip #1, below.
If you check off all five of these boxes, you’ll be good to go.
Tip For Brainstorming Blog Name Ideas
Here are the tips I wish I had been given when I was first starting out. After over a decade in online publishing, I can tell you that considering these now will save you time and headaches down the road.
Tip #1: Communicate Your Blog’s Purpose
When someone comes to your website for the first time, you want them to feel like they’re in the right place.
And the first thing new readers notice is your domain name. If that doesn’t align with what they’re looking for, it doesn’t really matter how good your content is — you’ve already lost them.
Ideally, they’ll be thinking something like:
Wow. This site speaks to me. I’m going to read this article, then check out more. I wonder if they have a way I can keep in touch, like with a newsletter?
In other words, you want to find a domain name that speaks directly, not generally, to the purpose of your content.
Here are a few examples from the personal finance space.
And here are a few good food blog names I like:
These names are great because you don’t even need to click through to the content to know what each site is about and who it speaks to. You can tell just from reading the domain name.
…a personal finance blog from a frugal mom’s perspective.
…a blog for women interested in living the paleo lifestyle.
…a blog about personal finances for those in the military.
Of course, each of these blogs has a clearly defined purpose and target audience, which makes finding a clear, direct domain name easier.
Many new bloggers struggle with this concept because they haven’t thought hard enough about their own niche.
If these examples make you wonder whether you’ve sufficiently defined your blog’s purpose, check out my article on profitable blog niche ideas and my guide to starting a blog that actually makes money.
You may also want to download my free blogging e-book, which you can access by entering your email address below. It goes over everything you need to know to get started, as well as some of the more advanced strategies I’ve used to help grow The Ways To Wealth.
Tip #2: Choose a .com Domain Name
Always choose a .com address.
Yes, I know — they’re more popular, which means it’s harder to find a good one that’s still available.
And let’s be honest: there’s absolutely no good technical reason why you should choose .com over .net, .biz or any other domain extension. They all work exactly the same way.
But readers trust .com websites more than any other domain, according to a study conducted by the content marketing agency Growth Badger.
There are legitimate reasons for some websites use .blog, .us and other alternate domain name extensions. But those reasons don’t apply to most new bloggers; they opt for alternative endings because their ideal .com names are unavailable.
If you’re serious about running your blog as a business, don’t give in to the temptation to cut this corner. Take the time to research and brainstorm and find a great .com name you can be proud of. It might take a few days, or even a few weeks. It’s worth it!
If you don’t, you’ll find that you’re constantly having to explain why your site ends in .net. And you’ll probably discover that people, like your fellow bloggers and potential partners, take your site less seriously. It’s not fair, but it’s the truth.
And on top of that, you may end up paying a boatload of money to buy the .com version from an aftermarket domain seller down the road.
Tip #3: Don’t Repeat Letters
Repeating letters at the beginning and ending of words — such as the double “t” in wallettips.com — can make a name look awkward. And while that may not matter much functionally, it’s a very important consideration when it comes to branding and marketability.
One of your big challenges as a blogger is to inspire trust among readers, partners, sponsors and Google. So it’s important to think about every decision you make from a marketing perspective — including how your name looks when printed out.
My advice is to test your name in multiple formats.
How does it look under your name on a business card?
Does it work on a t-shirt?
Does it roll off the tongue, so that it will sound natural coming out of the mouth of a podcast host?
Think through every potential usage, not just how it looks in a web browser URL bar.
More often than not, this process will show you that repeated letters look and feel unnatural and clunky, and should therefore be avoided.
Tip #4: Don’t Be a Copycat
You should absolutely research the other blogs in your niche and take cues from them.
Think about the kinds of blog names used by the most successful sites, as well as what can you infer about the niche from their choices.
But don’t try and copy them or ride their coattails.
On more than one occasion, I’ve come across a blog that chose a domain name very similar to a top blog in their niche.
When that happens, my first impression is that the site is a knockoff, and that the information probably isn’t as good as the site they’re mimicking.
Tip #5: Get Feedback First
Once you have a few domain names in mind, use your friends and family as a focus group.
In particular, you want to try and gauge whether the names you’re considering effectively communicate your blog’s purpose, as outlined in Tip #1.
So you might send a text message along the lines of…
Hey! Random question. If I was to start a blog with the domain name YOURBLOGNAME.com, what would you think it would be about?
Listen to what they have to say. If they can summarize the blog in one sentence, that’s a very good thing. If their answer is general or imprecise, then you may want to go back to the drawing board.
It’s much better to find out that your name isn’t very good before you spend time and money launching a site.
Other Tips Related to Blog Names
These tips aren’t directly related to choosing a name, but they’re still important things to consider as part of the process.
Make Sure to Self-Host Your Blog
There are many websites out there that allow you to start a blog for free. The biggest names are Blogger.com and WordPress.com.
But if you start your blog through one of these sites, your domain name will be something like: yourdomainname.blogspot.com. Which is obviously not ideal.
The advantage to this approach is that you can get a blog up and running in minutes for free.
But the disadvantages are enormous.
If you plan on making money from your blog, having your own domain name is a must.
So you need to set up a self-hosted blog — meaning that you own your own domain and pay a small monthly fee to have your website kept online.
This way, you won’t have .blogspot or .wordpress.com at the end of your domain name — which is more professional, easier to type, better for search engines, and more trustworthy to future readers.
It’s also an enormous pain to switch over to a self-hosted domain if your blog does become popular.
Don’t Pay to Register Your Domain Name
If you buy a domain name from a company like GoDaddy or Google Domains, it will set you back about $15. Fortunately, there’s a way to get a free domain name.
With a company called Bluehost, you get a free domain name upfront when you purchase a hosting plan. So, right off the bat, you’re saving $15.
BlueHost also makes it super simple to set up your blog on the popular WordPress platform.
I started this blog with Bluehost and still use it for a lot of my sites. It’s cheap, the service is good, and they make it super-easy to get started.
How to See if Your Blog Name Idea Is Available
With these tips in mind, it’s now time to check out if your blog name is actually available.
The quickest method is to simply type in the URL.
If you get an error that looks something like:
You’re in luck. That domain name is available.
If you do get a site, whether it’s a real site or advertising, that domain name is taken.
And unfortunately, this is a problem you’re most likely going to encounter. Domain name squatting — when companies buy domain names with the explicit intention of holding them to resell for a profit — is a major problem on the internet.
Chances are the first few domains you think of won’t be available. If not the first few dozen.
Here are a few strategies to try when you get stuck.
Search Recently Expired and Expiring Domains
Cybersquatters don’t hold onto their domains forever. To keep a domain name, you have to pay an annual fee. And even though it’s only $5 to $15 in most cases, that can add up to a lot of money if you’re holding 10,000 or more domains.
On top of that, people sometimes stop using their domain names and just let them expire.
This means that a new batch of thousands of recently-expired domains is freshly available every day.
Sometimes, if you’re paying attention, you can snatch these up manually the moment they drop from the domain registry. But if you’re targeting a good domain name, you may have to participate in a bidding process.
Here’s a website where you can search the entire list of recently deleted domain names, as well as the ones that are pending deletion. You may also want to read about the domain deletion process and timeline, as well as this guide on how to bid on expiring domains.
Keep in mind that every domain registrar (GoDaddy, BlueHost, etc.) has slightly different rules about how they delete names.
Use a Blog Name Generator
If you’re still stuck, you can try using a blog name generator to come up with name suggestions. Typically, these tools allow you to enter a set of words and/or criteria (such as a maximum number of characters), and will then spit out a number of potential options.
Based on my very limited experience, some of the best blog name generators are Lean Domain and Name Mesh. Panabee and Nameboy are also popular and well regarded — although the former is more of a business name generator.
Blog Name FAQ
Avoid using hyphens, underscores and numbers. Doing so makes your site seem less professional — like you couldn’t think of a high-quality blog title and took a shortcut.
Some SEO professionals believe that including a keyword in your blog’s domain name is a positive ranking factor. For example, if you write about money, they would argue that you should try to find a domain with the word “money” in it.
Google has stated that having a keyword in a domain is not a ranking factor.
But from both a user experience and branding perspective, it’s still a good idea to include words that clearly describe what your content is about.
As you scour your brain (and perhaps your thesaurus), wondering how to come up with a blog name that isn’t already taken, you may find yourself tempted to purchase a domain from a reseller. Depending on the domain, doing so will probably cost you from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
While I sympathize with this urge, I don’t recommend this approach for your first blog. As I discuss in this article, your first blog might fail. There’s a lot to learn. And you might not even like blogging.
Plus, even if you’re successful, there are other, better things to invest that money in, like hiring content writers and an editor.
For these reasons, I think you should work to find an available domain that fits your needs.
But if you’re someone who has already launched a successful blog and you have enough capital on hand, then purchasing a good after-market domain might be worth thinking about.
Choosing a Great Blog Name: Final Thoughts
Coming up with a good blog name is difficult. And coming up with a great blog name can be difficult to the point of maddening. As you go through the process, you’ll probably wonder if there are any good domain names still out there.
Have faith! There is, and you’ll find a perfect blog name for your business. But don’t be surprised if it takes more brainstorming — and more time — than you expect.
That’s OK. No matter how eager you are to get started, remember that a brandable, marketable and creative blog name is the foundation for your business. If you take the time to get this right, you’ll be better positioned to grow your new blog in the future.