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5 Blog Naming Basics

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

There are many bloggers and business owners who chose to brand their blog using their own name (or a pseudonym). Blogs like Steve Pavlina, Laura Roeder, and ElizabethPW come to mind.

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.

Nathalie Lussier is a software geek turned healthy food blogger, and you can get tons of easy-to-prepare recipes and see her in her witch’s hat at The Raw Foods Witch. Tweet her at @NathLussier.

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Comments

  1. Branding the blog with own name will only work if you are already established in the field, famous and just by looking at your name people know who you are. Even if you are popular, some search engine juice will be lost in branding with own names. Moreover, despite how famous you are, there will always be some newbie who stumbles upon your blog at the search engine results and will have no idea whether to click your link or not.

    Anyways thanks for the nice article Nathalie.

  2. Natalie, this is a fantastic post – go you!! Love all the points you made and this is definitely something I struggled with when I first started my blog. I wanted a catchy name that related to publishing so I ended up going with marianlibrarian.com. Now I’m less in publishing and more in social media, but the name stuck. It’s so much easier to remember than my last name (which is a BITCH to pronounce) but I sometimes worry about the inconsistency between the name of my site and the name of my business (which is just my first name).

    Anyway, ramble ramble. Great post!

  3. Just remember one thing and one thing only, Branding is the blood line to your business. Period

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  4. Awesome post!, I choose “A Sitting Duck” as at the time with the economy I felt a bit like that!… Now there’s momentum the focus is more on “Candy”…

    Never forget your roots!…

    David Edwards

  5. @Jane: I think it’s possible to “make a name for yourself” even if you’re not yet established. We all have to start somewhere, right?

    @Marian: Honestly before I knew you I thought your last name was Librarian, and I thought that was the coolest thing! :) I also wondered whether my name was too complicated, what with the extra “h” and all the French sounding stuff. ;)

    @TrafficColeman: Indeed!

    @David: It’s awesome that you bring up the roots, since it’s the only thing we all have in common isn’t it? ;)

  6. Dane says:

    For me, there was almost no other choice: I needed to have the option to change, or expand, topics down the road.

    Whether it’s 1 year from now, or 10 years from now, InstantDane.tv will still have my voice, no matter what (hopefully) valuable or entertaining information I might be providing at the time. Currently, I share insights on “the longevity lifestyle,” including cutting-edge nutrition and personal-productivity tips.

  7. MsKatrina says:

    This post came about 24 hours too late as I just purchased a new domain name last night! Lol.

    But, I’m glad to see that I am on the right track as I looked for a name that was both catchy and topical.

  8. Vernon says:

    I enjoyed reading the post and you make some great points, but I sometimes feel that there is an over emphasis on the “keyword rich” titles that reflect a topics. If you have a “BloggingTips.com” and a “BloggingAdvice.com” and on an on they all get a bit lost in the naming. I know this from regional hotel business – where everyone is choosing a name that has meaning to the location.

    If you look at big brands you see so many names that are not related at all to the product – “Google” or “Apple” come to mind. They don’t exactly tell you what they are all about.

    I personally aim to go for a catchy name – and then do the branding on top of it. It sticks out and people will remember it once they know you. With promotional web2.0 tools like Twitter you don’t really have to worry to much about what people understand from the name – rather worry about whether you catch attention.

  9. Jess Webb says:

    Hi Nathalie!

    Love your tips here – great job! :) When I was looking at what to name my blog and what to use as a domain, I wanted my own name, but every version of it was taken! That was when I stumbled upon the “Jessilicious” idea and I haven’t looked back since! It’s still ME and it’s catchy and unique enough that people remember it and comment on it. :)

  10. @MsKatrina: Aww shucks, funny timing! Glad you snagged a good name though. ;)

    @Vernon: I agree on the generic titles that can all start to look like one another. At that point you’ve got to rely on things like design, and other types of branding to look different!

    @Jess: You’re about your name being catchy! It’s different and it makes people ask you about, which is awesome. :)

  11. Heather says:

    Wow, talk about timing on this article!! I’m struggling right now with making a name change. I don’t feel that my current blog is as representative of the “brand” I want to be/develop. I still haven’t made a decision, but having this post pop up today, keeps me pushing for it! Thanks!

  12. Good advice. Thanks. How about looking into the google keyword tool to find names with high search volume?

  13. Nathalie,
    Very good tips – naming a blog can be a bit of a struggle.

    Another option, if I may suggest, is to name a blog after a book or an item you are promoting that has long term impact.

    I wrote an e book on how to buy organic food inexpensively and it is still selling (with updates) five years after I wrote it.
    Recently, I decided to make a blog using the name in the title http://www.buyorganicfoodinexpensively.com to bring more attention to the book and I found out daily more visitors come to the site.

    Cheers,
    David

  14. Ash says:

    Hi, I really like this post. I like to think about the name for the SEO benefits mainly, but it should also be catchy.

  15. jason says:

    I agree. Names are so important, especially with the growing number of competitive websites. Thanks for giving us the tools to start choosing great names for killer brands.

  16. Mel says:

    What do you think of having a pr4 domain and it not matching the title of the blog. Will this cause SEO issues?

    I recently changed directions with my blog and thought I would give it a new name as well.

    Is this smart or should I just purchase a new domain? Thanks!

  17. There are a few times I’ve regretted picking the blog name I have, but the more I think about it, the more perfect I think the name was.

    Apart from obviously talking about dividends, I chose “Monk” because I’m a minimalist, I have a straightforward approach, and I wanted to keep my site as streamlined and simple as possible. My about section states clearly that I’m not a literal monk. Sometimes I regret picking it.

    But, it’s short, it’s catchy, and it’s a brand. That’s why I love it. I see so many investing sites with the blandest names, while mine says clearly what my site is about while also having a catchier aspect to it that is easy to remember.

  18. I love my blog’s name but I think I may have overestimated the number of people who know what a “vocation” is.

  19. Rednights says:

    Be careful with your naming choice though. There was a World of Warcraft related website and they began to expand outside of that game … as when they requested interviews for other game developers … they were denied because their entire domain was “affiliated in name” to something they did not want to be associated with.

  20. What is your opinion on having a different domain name to that of a blog name? Does it matter?

  21. Hi,

    I have my name as the URL of my blog, and its for a reason totally not discussed here: to create my brand.

    You see, I am a financial planner, and I provide personalized service to clients. I wanted to promote myself as an expert, and wanted my name to be easily recognizable among my target audience.

    Therefore, I wanted to promote my name as the brand. When someone comes to my blog and gets impressed, they should know that the expertise is provided by “Raag Vamdatt”, and not by (say) “FinancialPlanner.com”.

    Of course, I added a descriptive (but crisp) tagline as described in the article – “Financial Planning Demystified”. This helps people recognize what the blog is about, and there are SEO benefits when the links have the tagline as the anchor text.

  22. Brandy says:

    Great article! Thanks for the tips :-)

  23. Good points, especially for anyone struggling with what to call her new blog. I loved point 5 about your boyfriend’s suggestion for a simple name-change that made a big difference.

    “The disadvantage of using a specific blog name is the limitation on what you can write about.” I think it depends. Is it the name Dolphin Rescue (in your example) which is limiting or is it the choice of topics. My blog name, Age Myths, covers so much more territory than I imagined when I began.

  24. Joy Basdeo says:

    Sometime you can get lucky, like I did in 2007 when I was naming my first blog. It’s title “Joy of Wedding” captures my name, what I blog about and how I feel about the work that I do.

    The downside is that some people thought “Joy” and my company “Simply Weddings” were two businesses, however over time I have managed to tweek that.

  25. Great post, The name of your blog is essentially your online blog brand, and everyone knows how important branding is!

    Personally I would not use my name, i feel that only works if you are popular in your field or a celebrity!

  26. Hi Nathalie, I think you got right to the core of it in #1, just be yourself. Maybe it´s not always the best choice for a domain name, but it is for the content of your blog. You would think that would be easy but it can be hard if we put too much emphasis on what other thinks. Sometimes one may feel deep, sometimes light. Let it show.

    Thank you!

  27. vicky89 says:

    i am also planning to change my blogs name in hope that it will drive traffic to the site.
    thank you guys for an informative post.

  28. Carolee says:

    I think it depends on what you are trying to accomplish, for sure.

    I started blogging years ago with my “Working In My Jammies and Loving It” blog.

    (http://workinginjammies.blogspot.com/) but it started revolving into a Mom blog with a little of everything.

    So I started an advice blog for those who work at home.

    I had a domain name, “Come On Home” from a previous website that I just couldn’t get into.

    I was switching from Blogspot to WP, so I started using the Come on Home (www.comeonhome.net) for my mom blog.

    My business blog “Blogging Biz Mom” is pretty specific as is my “Working at Home Advice” blog. Both say what they are.

    If people want help with monetizing their blogs, they know who to come to. If they want advice, they know to go to my advice site.

    My mom blog (and another one I have) are more for fun and maybe to throw a few affiliate links on.

    The other two are business….

  29. Kate says:

    Naming a blog can be a daunting task and you make some great points. I write a humor blog, so the title of my blog is a little different…On a Chicken Wing and a Prayer….I’m not sure how folks perceive it. I hope it’s unusual enough to draw people over for a look-see. The title definitely doesn’t limit what I can write about.
    Thanks for the informative post!

  30. @Mel: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a name that doesn’t match the content (SEO-wise) if you’re happy with it. The domain name is only part of the equation in this. :)

    Thanks everyone for the great comments, I love hearing what you thought about the tips. And I also love seeing everyone’s blog naming stories. :)

  31. Many people pic niches with high paying adsense keywords like loans etc.

    Most of the time they fail cause they dont love what they do. If you love what you write … you can remain in the surfice ;)

  32. Personally, I like pseudo-names as a blogging name because you can be yourself while being whatever you want to be. I agree that using names as brands doesn’t limit your topics. Readers are there because they like what you have to say. So I like that kind of freedom. However, the downside to it, I think, is that you must have a special voice or unique personality to pull that off and also the topics need not be all over the place. It’s also harder initially to be found on search engine because no one searches for your name only. Using a generic, search-able terms are good as well. Like you said, readers know right away what information they will find on the site. In the mean time, I’m going with a generic term for my site because it’s precise and short. It has to start somewhere,right?

  33. John Dill says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I recently started a second blog that I wanted to use to give out advice (because I always feel like giving tips but it never seems to be the place). I went with the one-word naming method, and it seems to fit my theme well. I’ll be checking back here regulary without a doubt.

  34. Marcie Hill says:

    Number three pretty much answered a questions I asked myself recently: Should I should sacrifice people for profit? Someone told me that I could get advertising with more engagement. Right now I have over 1,000 visitors per month and NO conversations. I think this is because I only share resources on my blog.

    I provide information and resources to others through Shorty: Your Chicago South Side Resource. I do ask questions but no one responds. I used to get discouraged. Now that I know that people are reading, I’ll just continue to do what I do to enhance their quality of life.

    Again, thanks for this.

  35. Siraj says:

    Your views are absolutely right, we have picked the second –

    2. Picking a targeted name that’s catchy and relates to your topic.

    Wish we could have read the article while we were searching for the name and domain name for our blog. Our blog is about telling the story of Apparel Makers’, in Bangladesh and around the world. Will bridge the apparel buyers and manufacturers. We thought something should be in the name that will perfectly talk about what this site all about, so Apparel Makers’ Story blog got the domain .

    So, seeing the name and domain, readers can understands blog exactly what the blog is about and what they can expect.

  36. After reading this post, i am planning to change many thigs in my blog in hope driving more traffic to the site.
    thank you for the useful information!

  37. Great post Nathalie! These are some incredibly useful tips :)
    I know that I can really use this advice as I often come up with ideas for new blogs but the names always seem to escape me or have already been taken.

    Having used both tips 5 and 1 (in part) I can say that these tips are really helpful ; using my parent’s help and collective brainstorming, we managed to make a fabulous name for my video game blog – J Station X
    J stands for Jasmine (my name) , Station, as in the Sony PlayStation games console and X for Xbox, Microsoft’s games console < and that's my blog's tagline too (give or take a few words!)

  38. Viv says:

    I chose my blog title almost as a joke but I found as I went on it was the perfect name for what I was wanting to blog about. 20 months on it’s very much what I wanted.
    A case perhaps of a happy accident(serendipity) perhaps but sometimes you just need to launch out and see what develops.
    Tim Brownson did vote it recently the best blog title(admittedly in a very small selection), so I must have done something right.
    thank you.

  39. Craig says:

    Great post and some very useful advice on deciding on a blogs name, which can easily be overlooked, and a blog is definitely a long term strategy so naming is so very important!

  40. Colleen Fong says:

    Thanks for the advice! It makes me feel more confident about the direction I’ve taken.

  41. Brian Oji says:

    Some success is in a name, i do agree! The name matters; think through the scope of your blog and look inwards for inspiration…it would come to you.

  42. Once again an excellent post, Darren Sir!

    With thanks,
    Shafin
    (http://productivehobbies.blogspot.com)

  43. Angela says:

    i know the importance of blog now

  44. Angela says:

    i know the importance of blog now,great

  45. greg urbano says:

    number 2 and 4 were things i had many attempts with before settling on my current blog name, the previous asttempts all have their domain name now redirected to my current home page, i should have spent more time picking carefully the first time and saved all that iccann registraTION MONEY

  46. Clare says:

    This was an interesting article to me as my blog started with the concept first. Then the name followed.

    I run a music blog called Milky Tea Kid.

    I was adamant that I did not want my name to be in the Blog Title and I also did not want “music” in there either as I thought it would make the blog another generic music blog.

    Milky Tea Kid was a nickname at work and it stuck, I decided to use it for the blog. I did not ponder over it too much and I’m glad I didn’t. It has been a memorable name, it also sticks in people’s heads as it is similar to the milky bar kid. When it is shortened to MTK it is similar to MTV.

    All these things became apparent after choosing the name, but it goes to show you should go with your gut!

    Good article!

  47. Jan Husdal says:

    A catchy name can be a good thing for a blog that is just starting up, and if I were to start a blog today I would probably chose a domain that is related to my topic, but when I started my online presence in 1999, my name seemed the obvious choice for my domain. Having written/blogged about the same topic more or less ever since, my name is starting to become a brand name, and it would be a fatal mistake to change it now. Looking at my search traffic I can already see many searches like “keywords + myname”, which to me is an indication of brand or blog recognition.

  48. I would not use my own name, instead separate the business stuff from the private.

    When it comes to naming, verifying is very important. Does your name mean something provocative in another language? Does it sound pathetic in other langugaes, give wrong ideas etc..? Use naming services to name and verify names and get help with lots of more. A good name is worth it!