Whether you're starting a brand new blog or rebranding an existing blog, choosing a blog name is no easy task. Soooo, I can't promise you “THREE EASY STEPS!!!!” to naming your blog. IF ONLY it were that easy. It's a process to get to a blog name that you'll truly love. But doesn't a little sweat, frustration, tears, & I'll-never-pick-a-good-one whining make that light-bulb moment all the more satisfying?
When I announced my blog name change years ago, one thing that surprised me was how many bloggers were going through (or about to go through) rebranding of their own. Even to this day, I've seen large bloggers and business owners go through name changes as they've either narrowed or broadened their focus. So I thought a little guide to choosing a blog name might come in handy.
To get to a blog name that you won't regret down the line, try breaking the naming process down into two phases:
- Part 1: Explore the Foundation of Your New Blog
- Part 2: Vet Your Blog's Name
Grab a notepad, some markers (or even a black ballpoint will do), and let's go.
PART 1: Explore the Foundation of Your Blog Name
1. Write Down Your Blog Topics
I imagine if you're starting a new blog, you already have an idea of what you want to write about. If you're rebranding, this might mean you're narrowing your focus, expanding your focus, or doing what I'm doing, which is leaving my focus the same.
Jot down the topics you'll be writing about and then any words associated with those topics. For example, if you had a food blog, you might write down obvious words like “cooking” or “kitchen” but go further and think: utensils, cooking methods, fave ingredients, how food/cooking makes people feel (comfort, enjoy), how people describe food (delicious, savory), etc.
Brainstorming all these words helps spark blog name ideas, so write down a word even if you know you wouldn't use it for your blog. You'd be surprised how just writing words down can springboard into more words (one of which just might end up being part of your blog name).
Look at your words. Are there words you know you definitely want or don't want in your blog name? Circle the definites and cross off the “no ways.”
For example, I knew that I wanted the word “blog” or “blogging” in my name. However, I DIDN'T want “blogger” because I didn't want to chance people calling me by “__blogger” rather than my name.
2. Explore Your Blog's Tone
Next, really give some thought to your blog's tone. A good blog name should align with how you want your blog to feel. The mood you want to exude (oooh I can rhyme). Is your writing sassy? Serious? Hilarious? Sarcastic?
In Blog Design for Dummies, I cover tone and voice as a part of getting to know your blog better. For example, I describe my tone as being approachable, casual, and simple. And with a touch of humor.
Even if you write about many topics, your tone brings it all together.
Write down some words that describe your tone. What words would you want your readers to use to describe your blog? These words may or may not be a part of your blog name, but they'll help you pinpoint the feel of your blog. And a good blog name should match that feel.
3. Consider Your Target Audience
Who is your audience or potential audience? Are they mostly women? Mostly men?
Why do they come to your blog (or if you have no blog yet– why do you want people to come to your blog)? To be entertained? To laugh? To learn something? Because they're curious about your life? You can have more than one answer.
Is there an audience you want to attract, but aren't at the moment?
List some characteristics of your ideal target audience. You want your blog name to resonate with them. For example, if your blog readers love that you make them laugh, then a bland name won't be as effective as a name with a tinge of humor.
4. Research Blogs You Like (and Even Similar Blogs)
No you're not trying to steal their name, or even play off of it. But looking at blogs you like can spark creativity that leads you in the right direction. Read through their taglines, sidebars, and a post or two. You don't have to spend much time on this, but if anything, it can get you in the creative spirit by looking at other creative blogs.
The “Clarity” part of my blog name came from a sentence smack in the middle of someone's blog post about productivity. It was a blog for entrepreneurs and one I've never visited before. I wasn't even THINKING about my blog name at the time. I simply clicked on a link to read an article. “Clarity” was one single word in the middle of a sentence and the post had nothing to do with blogging, but as soon as I saw it, I KNEW “Blog Clarity” was it.
5. Start Writing Down Blog Name Ideas
Once you've done those three steps, look at the words and notes you jotted down in the previous steps and then start writing down name ideas. You might pair two words together. Or start with a word and add something to it (like -ista, or -ed).
Even if you think your ideas suck, they might pave the way to THE ONE. Give yourself permission to explore ideas and words, rather than feeling you have to go down one path and one path only.
At first, I thought incorporating a designy word to my blog name since I wrote Blog Design for Dummies. One idea had the word pixel like The Blog Pixel or something. But I decided that made my blog sound like it had a narrower focus than it did (plus lots of people use pixel in their name). I also explored playing off my popular course's name, Content Brew. But Blog Brew was taken (and sounded too masculine) and any word plays off of coffee just sounded so ordinary.
Once you get names and ideas, a name idea might pop out right away. Or you may have to sit on it. Try writing down some ideas and see if they stick. Remember it's a process of both elimination and refinement.
6. Whittle Your Ideas to a Short List of Names
Okay good. Now we're getting somewhere. Take a look at your names and consider your topics, tone, and audience. Circle the one (or ones) you think might work.
When you have one you really, really love (or a few you're considering), it's time to analyze the names. That's when you mosey along to STEP 2: Vetting Your Blog Name.
PART 2: Vet Your Blog's Name (So You Don't Regret It Later)
1. Check Domain Name Availability and Potential Conflicts
There's nothing worse than thinking you've come up with the BEST BLOG NAME EVAHHHH, then finding out someone is already using that blog name. Oh wait, one thing's worse. When someone owns the domain but is doing absolutely NOTHING with it.
Before you even take one step further, check the domain name's availability using the tool below.
Find a domain starting at $0.48
powered by Namecheap
If the .COM isn't available, it's back to the drawing board. Yes, there are successful blogs with .NET names, but you really don't want to start your new blogging life with a disadvantage. Plus, the owner of the .com might have their name trademarked. You don't want people confusing you for that person, and you most definitely don't want to receive a cease and desist letter.
And I'll tell you a little secret. Sometimes not getting your first choice of name is a blessing. Even if you thought “Oh that was a great name,” you might find that having to continue the creative brainstorming process leaves you with an even better name. That's what happened to me, anyway.
If the .COM is available, you aren't done yet. Check the .NET and .ORG to make sure there aren't any existing sites or organizations with the same name. Then Google the name to make sure another blogger doesn't have a similar name that could make someone mistake your blog for theirs. Then head over to uspto.gov and check for any trademarks on the name.
2. Consider How It Looks as a Domain Name
When you scrunch your potential name into one word, a la yourblogname.com, how does it look? Could someone read it differently that how you intended? It's not the end of the world if so, but something to consider. Of course, it IS the end of the world if it turns out something like penisland.com. That's PEN ISLAND, you dirty kids. No seriously, it's a real site.
3. Consider the Name's Staying Power
By staying power, I mean 2 things: relevance and potential.
Relevance: Could the name be outdated in a couple of years? Of course, you don't have to pick a name that'll last for the next 25 years either. But don't go with “Happy Mom to Bryce” if you're planning on having more kids. Or resist including your location in your name unless you're pretty sure you aren't moving anytime soon. Is a word in the name too trendy? Using a word that's trendy at the moment (like YOLO- you only live once) may make your blog name sound outdated down the road.
Potential: What about the name's potential? Does the name still work if you tweak your focus down the road? If not, are you still cool with that? If you're rebranding, does your new name cast a wider net that could lead to more opportunities and increased readership? For example, I knew that changing my name to Blog Clarity opened up the blog to a wider audience than Momcomm, which made the main focus mom bloggers.
4. Determine if the Name Needs a Disclaimer
What do I mean by that? Well, I knew it was time to change from the name Momcomm when I found myself adding a disclaimer: “Well, it's not really just for moms.” In talking with some close friends, they had sometimes recommended my blog to someone with the same disclaimer. Not good.
When you tell someone your blog name, you shouldn't have to say “… except for” or “…but it's really…” Your blog name should be able to hold its own. Inspect your potential names and see if they all pass the test.
Keep in mind this isn't the same as your blog name piquing someone's interest in learning the meaning behind the name. THAT is a good thing. Having to say “well my name is THIS but really I blog about THIS” isn't so great.
5. Run the Name by a Few People
The first blog name I came up with, my husband kind of gave me the side eye. Honestly, something didn't quite feel right to me either but I liked the way it sounded and the design potential. While I didn't necessarily cross that name off the list right that instant, it did make me think more critically about the name. (And another name I had too).
When you have a name or two you think are THE one, ask a few close people their opinion. Don't post your blog name ideas to a 500-member Facebook group. You'll get mixed results. But a few people who really know you will know if the name feels like you or not. This doesn't mean you need their support to move forward, but if they're wishy-washy on the name (or hate it), inspect the name a little deeper and try to get to the root of why they don't like it. Is they don't like it, does that mean your target audience won't like it? Not necessarily, but it's good to do some extra vetting of the name.
6. Say It Out Loud
No, really. We might blog in an online world but eventually you're going to tell someone about your blog…. using those vocal cords of yours. Say it out loud and make sure it doesn't feel awkward to say. Trust me, some of the names I considered just felt weird when I actually said them.
7. Make a Final Choice (or Start the Process Over)
Whew- that's exhausting work! You might even do as I did: end up empty-handed at first then start all over. It was only when I saw that word Clarity that it clicked THIS WAS THE ONE. When I vetted the name, I still loved it every bit as much.
Wherever you are in the blog naming process, good luck with picking out a name you'll love!
Adjust this process as you need to in order to work best for you! Remember there's no ONE way to come up with a blog name; this is just a way you could approach the naming the process.
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Hey- I'm Melissa! I'm a mom, side hustler, online course instructor, and brand marketer. I run a 6-figure blog helping online biz owners find their a-ha moments with can-do tips, tutorials, and online courses. I also work at Burt's Bees as the Social Media Strategist (yep, it's as cool as it sounds). Jump start your biz productivity with my free worksheet!