I am SO excited about this new series, y’all! When I first started blogging three years ago, I didn’t really know what I was doing or where to even begin. This column, Blogging 101, will share the ins and outs of the business side of blogging and how to get started. If there’s any particular topic you’d like to cover, please leave it in the comments! I am totally open to suggestions and want to make sure that I’m answering your commonly asked questions. So let’s do it to it!
For the first post, I thought it was only right that we start at the very beginning: how to buy a domain name.
1. What is your blog’s name? Believe it or not, but this is actually one of the hardest parts about getting started. And it’s something I wish I would have put more effort into with my first blog, 52 Weeks Project. The reason for that is simple. The first question people will ask you when you tell them you have a blog is, What’s your blog’s name? It’s going to be your first impression to brands and strangers and it will follow you and your work around as long as you’re publishing content. No pressure, right?
For my rebrand, it helped me to make a long list of names without judging any one too critically at first. Let me tell you, things got a little wacky. From there, you can start weeding out the ones that clearly aren’t a good fit or perhaps too similar to other sites already out there (you don’t want people to confuse you for someone else).
One of the biggest tips that I can give you is to call someone outside of your industry (I call my dad, which is why I call this my “dad test”) and tell them the name you have in mind. If they understand what you say and get it, you most likely have a great name. But you need to be sure that name isn’t taken, which leads me to my next point…
2. Is the domain available? When you’re narrowing down your list, it helps to see if the domain name is even available before you get your hopes up. A great resource for this is Domainr. It’s essentially a domain search that checks to see if anyone owns it or not. If you also have ideas of what words you want in your domain, but aren’t 100% on the name, Lean Domain Search allows you to type in words you want in your name and tells you what domains are available.
3. Are the social media handles available? If the domain you want is available, it’s time to check social media. Almost as important as the domain are the social media handles. Check for each major platform, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, even if you aren’t sure if you’ll be using them or not. The last thing you want is for your blog to take off then realize that someone has your handle (and others can mistake them for you.)
4. How to Register a Domain. Name? Check. Social media handles? Check. Now you’re ready to commit. Yahoo! There are a few sites you can use to buy a domain, but I recommend Name Cheap and iwantmyname. Go Daddy may be the one you’ve probably heard of, but here are a few reasons I don’t support their service.
To purchase, you basically check out, just as you would when shopping for anything else online. You might also want to consider buying varations of your name if available for future use (ie craftedlife and thecraftedlife). Domains typically run ~$15/year. If you see a price like $2k, it’s most likely because someone else owns it and are trying to sell it. You also don’t need any extras or hosting when checking out (they’ll add them on), and if you ever do, you can add them later. If there’s an option to set up auto-renew, select yes. They will email and remind you, it’s just always good to have these things locked down.
So that’s it! Hopefully that wasn’t information overload. Next time I’ll cover what to do now that you have a domain, so stay tuned :)
**If you’d like to dig even deeper into blogging, I also now offer consulting as a service! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.