On picking domain names for blogs

Students who are starting a blog often ask for tips on what to name their blog and how to pick a domain name. Unfortunately, picking a domain name for a new blog can be a challenging hurdle on the path to launching a new blog.  

In the end, blog name formation usually falls somewhere between the blogger’s personality and the focus of their content but comes down to what domain names are available at the time of launch.  

Here are some tips for selecting a domain name:

Before you look up a single domain, play some word games.

Registering a domain that is not already taken the cheapest route to secure a domain. Most registrars, on average, charge about $12 a year for a domain but, unfortunately, most brandable two-word .com domains are taken.  By playing some “word games” can help identify possible combinations that might be available for the taking.  

word game for picking domain namesHere’s a simple exercise to help put words together. Grab a blank piece of paper or post-it note and just start writing words that represent the blog’s focus.  This will help identify the strongest terms and then connect them together to make a phrase.  Use a thesaurus and dictionary to help brainstorm.

When there’s a match, head on over to GoDaddy and see if the new match is available.

For example, I had an idea for the domain messagelab.com. It is for sale, but not within my current budget.  Therefore, with a few “word games”, I found that messageclinic.com was available, and I registered it for $9.00 at GoDaddy.com.  

Domain name generators can help with picking a domain name

There are a few awesome sites that help generate domain name variations.  First and foremost, GoDaddy.com will make suggestions for domain names directly from their availability search. Even if I know the domain that I want was taken, I will still put it into GoDaddy’s search to see if they provide any decent alternatives.  

Here are two other sites that help with picking domain names:

  • Panabee.com is a free website that allows users to come up with cool two-word domains, it also checks a variety of sources and variations in one search. This site a huge time saver for picking domain names.
  • Domainr.com is similar to Panabee but it generally more for short domains, for example, if you’re looking to shorten up your domain name and register something like ma.tt or sco.tt.

Auctions and domain aftermarkets

One of my secret weapons for securing great two-word domain names is GoDaddy Auctions, which is a marketplace for domain names. Users can list their domains for sale but it is also where GoDaddy sells domains that are about to expire and the current owner is not renewing.  Use the search feature to find domains within a keyword.  Expiring domains start with a $12 auction, if that is unsuccessful, the price then drops to $11, $10, $8 and finally a $5 buy it now closeout.   

via GIPHY

Here are some other reputable sites that sell aftermarket domains. Aftermarket refers to buying domain names from a 3rd party that are already registered rather than registering them directly from ICANN.  

  • SEDO
  • AFTERNIC
  • FLIPPA
  • NAMEJET

Exhausted? Still don’t know what to do?  Use your personal brand!

A lot of times, bloggers overlook one of the best opportunities to personally brand themselves. I often recommend students to just to use a combination of their first and last name. This can be a simple way to build your personal brand while also securing their name from domain trolls who are looking to cash in when they become famous.  

Profile photo of Scott Winterroth
Scott a co-founder of Content Academy and a 10-year working pro of the integrated marketing and communications field, specializing in digital and social media strategy. He is the managing director of Front & Social, a Chicago-based digital marketing & PR consultancy.

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