A guest post by Nathalie Lussier, who blogs as The Raw Foods Witch.
Is your blog getting the attention you know it deserves? Maybe you haven’t started your blog yet because you can’t settle on the right name or theme. Perhaps you’re thinking of starting a second blog, but want to “do it right” this time…
Whichever camp you’re in, you need to consider five basic factors in naming a new blog or business.
You’ll need to weigh up the branding pros and cons before you settle on a name. You’ve only got a few seconds to make an impression with your web site visitors, or potential visitors. If your blog or business name doesn’t capture what you’re all about, then chances are that people will just click away.
You didn’t start your blog to have drive by visitors did you? No, you want to foster a community, get comments, and get people to subscribe and come back for more. All of that starts with your branding, and more specifically, with your blog or business name.
Let’s look at the options together, shall we?
1. Just be yourself: the pros and cons of using your own name
The benefit of using your name as your domain or blog is that it’s not likely to change. Plus, you’re getting people to connect with you as a person and not a business entity.
Another benefit of using your name is that if ever you decide to switch gears and blog about new topics, your readers will stick around, because they’re there to read what you have to say. Oh, and you won’t need to have people change their links if you decide to stop writing about your chosen topic and start another blog.
In a way, using your own name is more about creating a strong connection with you as a person and blogger than it is about delivering a particular type of advice or information. This doesn’t mean that you can’t deliver value or targeted blog posts — it simply means that you’re not as tied down. You can always create a tagline that describes your main area of expertise.
The downsides of branding as yourself are that you need to train people to remember your name. If your blog name is memorable, you won’t have this problem. You also need to ensure that yourname.com domains are not already taken, and you might also want to buy common misspellings of your name.
When using your name, you also need to keep in mind that potential employers, family, and friends can easily find your blog. Now that might not be much of an issue, but it’s something to keep in mind if you aren’t ready to announce your blog to the world.
2. Picking a targeted name that’s catchy and relates to your topic
The other blog-naming strategy is to choose a name that describes the topic you’re blogging about. Some examples include Problogger, Ittybiz, and Escape from cubicle nation. You can tell just from reading the name of the blog exactly what the blog is about and what you can expect.
There are many benefits to choosing a targeted keyword and title. There’s definitely a search engine optimization advantage to including a common word or phrase in your title. Plus, people are more likely to remember how to spell your domain name.
If you come up with a fun, memorable brand and blog name, you can set a new trend in motion. Today there are people calling themselves probloggers, referring to the ProBlogger blog. Just like White Hot Truth started a tribe of “fire starters”.
The disadvantage of using a specific blog name is the limitation on what you can write about. If your blog’s name is Dolphin Rescue and you start talking about manicures, you might throw your your readers off course along the way … not to mention negate some of those SEO benefits we talked about earlier.
Another common issue with specific blog names is that we are all human beings who evolve and change. We can’t expect our blogs to stay static any more than we can expect our cells to stop regenerating.
One way to deal with your changing views is to expand your blog name — like the blogger who made the switch from Illuminated Mind to Illuminated Mind & Body.
You might also lose some of your blogging mojo if you get burned out writing about the same topics year after year. (Though there are great tips for battling bloggers block.) In the end, it’s best to pick a specific name for your blog only if you can see yourself sticking to your topic for at least a few years.
3. Pick a niche or market because you care — and not just about the money
Before you choose a blog name, you’re likely going to think through what you’ll be writing about. I want to caution you not to get sucked into certain topics or niche markets just because they’re currently hot.
There are definitely trends in the blogging world, and you don’t want to be one of the latecomers to the party.
Avoid choosing a topic because you think it will monetize well. If your heart isn’t in it, your readers will be able to tell. Nobody wants to spend tons of time setting up a blog and then giving up just a few months down the line.
Pick a topic that you’re really passionate about and that you can see yourself writing about long term.
4. Create a meaningful name that says something
Another thing I’d like to caution you about is picking a name that doesn’t really mean anything, or worse, that has a meaning your readers aren’t interested in.
Try to stay away from bland, no-real-meaning names like “Positive Living” or “Thoughts on Leadership”. You don’t want something that is so generic that people will forget it immediately. This isn’t to say that you can’t pick a great name that is both simple and conveys your topic well.
Let me tell you the story of how my blog’s name came to be. I initially chose the name Raw Food Switch, because I wanted to help people make the switch to a raw food diet.
I discovered that I was actually antagonizing my readers, because I was assuming they wanted to switch their diet. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was just itching to voluntarily change the way they eat.
Usually the changes come about because of a health challenge, or other life changing experience. So you see the name of my blog was not talking to my people the right way. That’s why…
5. Listening to your friends and family works … sometimes
At this point I had received a couple of suggestions from friends and family members about the name of my blog. In general I try not to be too influenced by people who aren’t in my target market (and some of my family members are not into raw foods at all!).
My boyfriend had a great insight. He suggested I move the “s” from the word switch to the word food, and become the Raw Foods Witch. At first I resisted his suggestion, since it’s hard to see the genius in someone who is so close and potentially biased.
Yet as soon as I took his advice and decided to make the witch switch, everything fell into place. Martin Whitmore illustrated my new witchy logo, and I got tons of great comments, new subscribers, and more overall connection with my readers.
So my advice here is to listen to your friends and family, because although they may be biased, they probably know you well enough to see things that you can’t see yourself.
Pick something and go for it
If you’ve been stuck in the planning stages of your blog and have yet to create one, there’s no better time than the present. You can always tweak your name over time, so dive in and create that blog of yours!
Remember that you can choose between branding as yourself or creating a memorable targeted name. Don’t pick a topic just because it’s cool, and plan to write about your topic for many years to come. Finally, listen to your friends and family’s input when picking your name.