Changing the name of a website, or rebranding a blog is almost impossible to do without adversely affecting readership and traffic levels. Equally, the wrong brand in the first place can make it difficult to build something successful. The moral of the story then is: Spend some time picking the perfect blog name.

This post will look at a few methods to help dream up names, as well as showing you some really useful tools for making sure you can secure those all-important social networking usernames!

This is the second part in my ‘Getting Started with Blogging’ series, and will focus on choosing the right name, domain name and social media usernames for your blog. If you missed part 1 (Picking the Right Topic), you can read it here.

What it essentially comes down to is creating a memorable association between you, the content you create, and the name/branding of your blog.

What we’re doing here is creating a brand. At the moment, you might just be trying to come up with a name for a blog, and you’re thinking “I just want a name. I don’t need a brand; this isn’t a business.”

Banner Image - Pick the Perfect Blog Name

Your Blog is Representative of Your Brand

A brand doesn’t have to mean a clever name, fancy logo and catchy graphics all over the place. What it essentially comes down to is creating a memorable association between you, the content you create, and the name/branding of your blog.

A brand doesn’t have to mean a clever name, fancy logo and catchy graphics all over the place. What it essentially comes down to is creating a memorable association between you, the content you create, and the name/branding of your blog.

A few examples of what I mean:

  • Create a logo. Even if it’s just a text-based logo, make it, and make sure you use it. You don’t want a different logo in different places. You want people to start associating the tweets you write with the content on your blog, for example.
  • Don’t go out and pick the first website name you think of. Pick a name where the corresponding social networking usernames are available.
  • Plans change, so plan ahead! Register an account on every possible social network while you still can. You might have no interest in Pinterest right now, but there may come a time where you want to start using it. Equally, you probably don’t want someone registering the username and potentially creating confusion with your blog.
  • Imagine you’re setting up this site. Do you call it taptappost? TapTapPost? Taptappost.com? It doesn’t really matter which, but whenever you use the name, make sure you’re using the same form, especially when linking back to your blog. People may not consciously notice, but again, it’s about building the association.

Coming up with the Perfect Blog Name

I’m assuming that you already broadly know what you’re going to blog about. If not, I’d recommend going back and reading this.

I’m also going to assume that you’ve decided against going for the most obvious blog name of all: yourname.com.

Starting to come up with names can be tricky as you’re generally trying to think up the perfect name, but realistically, you’re unlikely to be able to do this straight away.

Step 1 – Brainstorm

Give your brain a warm up by writing down any name that pops into your head. Tell yourself to come up with some really silly names!

As you start to get into the flow of it, the names should become less silly, and more related to your topic.

Even if you think you’ve stumbled onto something great at this point, keep going, as you’ll want to get a few options to choose from.

Step 2 – Break them down

Take everything on your list, and break them down into their individual words. Remove any duplicates, or common words you may have (of, the, a, etc.).

If you can think of any other related words at this point, add them to the list.

Step 3 – Put them back together

Hopefully, you now have a list of at least 15 words, so now, we want to build them back up. There are lots of websites that can help with this, but one example is Dot-o-mator. Go there, and paste your list into both the beginnings and endings boxes, and now click the combine button.

Dot-o-mator will initially just show the options that are available as .com domains, but ignore this and click the ‘show all’ link.

Now it’s up to you – go through and copy the ones you like (without the .com) to excel, Google sheets or numbers. If you’re not sure about some of them, copy them anyway. It’s better to have too many than not enough.

Step 4 – Try a different approach

Combining two (or more) words is a good way to start, and will hopefully get the ideas flowing, but it can only go so far.

If you keep finding yourself empty handed, you could try to come up with something a bit more abstract. Even if you have a good list already, it’s worth doing this anyway, to see if you can come up with something a bit more unique.

This really is down to you, but a few ideas:

  • Use play on words. Take a well known phrase or saying and try to fit keywords into it.
  • Use song titles/lyrics, or movie titles. Starting a palm-reading blog, and your favourite movie is Armageddon? You get the idea.
  • Some words have multiple meanings. Try to find something that works on both levels.
  • Use words which sound the same. Their/there/they’re could give you a tongue in cheek name. Want to blog about incorrect grammar? ‘Over their’ would work quite nicely, as whether it’s correct or not would be down to the interpretation of the reader.
  • Use onomatopoeia. When coming up with the name for this site, I started thing about the process of blogging, typing writing, etc. and then specifically thought about the sound of typing.

If you manage to come up with a few here, add them to your spreadsheet and keep moving.

Step 5 – Use a username checker

Instead of checking for a free domain name, and then checking each social network to see if the name is free, we can a free website do the heavy lifting for us!

Namechk is my go-to site for this, as it checks for quite a few different domain extensions and loads of different social networks.

Put each name on your list into Namechk and see what is returned.

In your spreadsheet, note down whether the .com domain is available, as well as the usernames/URLs for: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and perhaps LinkedIn.

A .com domain is probably still best, but if a name that you like is available with all the social networks you need, don’t discount it just because the .com option is taken. I’ll come back to this shortly.

It’s worth taking a moment here to scroll down and see just how many different social networks and similar platforms there are.

Realistically, you can’t register all of them, so work out which ones will be key for your blog (e.g. If you’re going to blog about gaming, you’ll probably want a Twitch username), and work backwards from there.

It’s better to do more than you think you’ll need (as I said before, if you decide you want one later one, but someone else has snatched it up, you’ll be a bit put out) but when you’re asking yourself ‘do I need a MySpace account?’, you’ve probably got enough.

Ok, so back to your spreadsheet!

Go through and fill in each line (this may take a little while, and you might need to refresh Namechk once or twice), but once you’re done, you’ll have a much better, more visual way to see your ideas.

Step 6a – Pick one [too many!]

Picking a name will be tough if you have lots of good options, and all have social networking usernames available.

This is really down to you. It’ll be your blog; you’ve got to like the name, so ultimately the final decision should be yours. It’s better to have too many, than not enough, though.

At this point, you want to rank your list and pick your top three choices.

Start by ranking them based on the availability of the usernames. If something doesn’t have Twitter, Facebook & Instagram available, it’s probably not worth a second thought.

If you’ve come up with a great name (you know it’s the ‘one’), and it has everything available, apart from Twitter, use your judgment, as ultimately, sometimes you have to go with your gut. Is a shortened or abbreviated version available? Would you be upset with that underscore in the middle?

I’d argue that the social network usernames are the most important part of this, thanks to the huge number of domain extensions which are now available. Yes, .com is still the best if you can get it, but it’s not the end of the work if not, so don’t punish a good choice based on the .com availability.

Once you’ve ranked by availability, look at the merit of each idea.

Here are a few things that might point you in the direction:

Say the names out loud

The way something sounds in your head is very different to how it sounds when spoken aloud. Repeat it a few times, in different ways.

Try to pick one that rolls off the tongue (i.e. not too much stress between words). For example, ‘catblog’ is quite smooth, but there’s a bit of stress in the middle of ‘blogcat’.

Search for them

Just because domains and social profiles are available, doesn’t mean someone isn’t already using the name, or a similar one.

Of course, sites with similar names can quite happily coexist, but if there’s a blog with a similar name to your idea, and they’re subject matter is similar, not only will you be fighting to differentiate yourself and attract readers, but you could also end up in hot water if they’ve trademarked their name.

Equally, association to a company with unpopular practices can also hurt. For example, if you’re starting a fashion & beauty blog, it would harm your brand if you end up picking a name which is similar to an animal-testing cosmetics company.

Lastly, even if no one is using it, searching for it now might highlight a meaning of a word, or the phrase that you weren’t aware of.

Ask someone

Perhaps it’s the most obvious option, but it can also be the most difficult, especially if you don’t want to put yourself out there until you have something up and running.

Ideally, ask someone you trust to rank the available choices you have.

Step 6b – Pick one [too few :( ]

Having just one or two options might seem like a good thing, and an easy choice to make, but I’d argue that you need a few more to make a good decision.

If you don’t have any at all, that’s definitely not good. So what can you do?

Go back to steps 2, 3 & 4 and add to your list

Add some more words to your list. Start to think slightly further afield, and a bit more conceptually. Try adding some abbreviations and shortened/slang words. Dot-o-mator has some built-in lists on different subjects that you can try using (as well as some generic suffixes).

Or…

Step 7 – Ignore everything I’ve said

I’ve you’ve run through the above steps a few times, and you still don’t have anything, then perhaps my methods just aren’t for you.

You could try this last option, though.

If you found a name for your blog that you absolutely loved, but no matching social networking usernames were available, there may still be hope.

Let’s say you’re starting a blog on Marvel comics and movies, and you wanted to call it ‘How Marvelous’, but you couldn’t secure ‘howmarvelous’ on each platform.

One option would be to deliberately use a different username on each site, with each one being the name of a Marvel character. The beauty of this is that you’re bound to be able to find an unused one for each site, and for the purposes of this exercise, the more obscure/less popular characters will probably work better.

Depending on your blog, this works with lots of different subjects:

  • Weather blog – @cloud, @thunder, @drizzle
  • Final Fantasy blog – @cloud, @seifer, @cid
  • Types of computer storage – @cloud, @solid, @spinning

My bad cloud joke aside, you get the idea. As social networks mature, you need to be smarter about the names that you register.

Step 8 – Pick your domain

If you found an idea that you like, and the .com domain is available, then you might be set already.

If you’ve got an awesome name, but no .com, then you’ll need to be a little creative (I’ve asked that a lot, haven’t it? Sorry, one last time…).

My favourite tool for checking domain name availability is Domainr. Not only does it check regular extensions, but it also tries to use the plethora of domain extensions (gTLDs) to make up your word/name.

For example, using our hypothetical ‘How Marvelous’ idea, it might check to see if the following domains are available:

  • howmarvelo.us
  • how.ma/rvelous

Additionally, going to a domain registrar and searching for your idea will show you loads of potential domain extensions. While testing, I found that Namecheap (a registrar that I use, and recommend on my resources page) also showed the ‘howmarvelo.us’ option.

Obviously, if you’re not planning on self-hosting, and want to use a Tumblr or WordPress subdomain, you’ll need to pay attention to that option in the Namechk results, however, I would definitely recommend getting a domain to make your blog stand out just that little bit more (Tumblr and WordPress both let you point your domain to your blog).

Register, register, register

Phew! With the decision finally made, you now need to register your domain and signup for all of your shiny new accounts. Your reward for making it this far is this bonus list of tips:

Tip 1: If you’re signing up for new accounts for your blog, and you already have accounts on things like Twitter, you’ll need to use a different email address. You could either register your domain and get it set up with hosting/email first, then create them, or you could create a temporary gmail/yahoo/whatever account for the sole purpose of signing up for new accounts.
Tip 2: If you already use some social networks and aren’t particularly attached to the username you have, look in your profile options to see if you can change your username to the new one you’re after.

This is a lot easier than starting from scratch (you’ll already have followers, interactions with others, etc.). This may not be appropriate if what you tweet about, and will blog about are completely different.

Tip 3: Create a Facebook page for your brand, not a separate account. Facebook frowns on whole accounts for a brand, and you might find they have an issue with it further down the road. Creating a page doesn’t automatically make it visible to your friends and family, so if you’re doing this on the DL to start with, you don’t need to worry.
Tip 4: When creating a page, Facebook says you need at least 25 likes on it before you can get a custom Facebook page URL (until that point, it will have a long string of numbers after it). I do believe, however, that you should get your first one for ‘free’. Any feedback on this point would be great.
Tip 5: Similar to the Facebook URL, Google+ doesn’t give you the one you want by default, and actually, it tries to be fair by giving no one the one they want! If you want to get a custom Google+ URL without adding extra characters, check out this guide I wrote on it.

Summary

Ok, this post was quite long, so if there are just 4 things you take away from it, make it these:

  1. Think social first. There are tons of domain extensions to choose from, but fewer options with social networks. If you find the right Twitter/Facebook/Instagram etc. accounts, you’ll be able to find a domain that fits.
  2. A clever name isn’t everything. Your content is ultimately what will attract people to your site, not the name, so you can afford to drop the awesome-level a couple of notches in favour of consistency across different social sites.
  3. Think of your blog as a brand. Make sure you call it the same thing/use the same logos/artwork across all platforms.
  4. Register accounts on more social networks than you think you’ll need. Go for all the popular ones, and a few niche ones that you think might be vaguely useful in future.

Thanks for reading!

If this post helps you come up with an awesome brand and the perfect blog name, please come back here and link to it in the comments once it’s up and running!

Is there anything I missed? Something you want me to expand on? Please leave a comment, or tweet @taptappost!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *