If you have decided to start the journey setting up an online business, then the next step is to set up a website.
How do you do this?
What platform do you choose and what are the crucial steps of setting up a blog or website correctly? Today I will start with one of your most important decisions: choosing a domain.
Unfortunately, many new bloggers choose their domain name on a whim. They login to blogger (where you can setup a blog really quickly) and just choose something that pops up into their head.
This is generally not a good idea as selecting your domain name will be one of the most important decisions you will make and needs some careful consideration.
Why is a good domain name so important?
Your domain name sets the tone of your blog and website. It will be the first impression someone will have of you.
Here are some of the key components of a good domain. I will use 40PlusStyle.com as an example as I feel that it is a perfect domain for my fashion site.
A good domain name:
- Is Short - The shorter your domain the more memorable it is. Not everyone is going to subscribe to your blog immediately. When they are able to remember your name, the chances of having them as repeat visitors are bigger. 40PlusStyle.com is short and memorable.
- Is brandable - If your blog becomes a success, you are essentially becoming a brand. You want that brand name to be memorable and marketable.
- Is a .com - A .com is still the most recognised and respected domain name. If readers start to remember you, they will always type in your domain as a .com. You will also be able to tap into a global audience. I would only go for a local domain if you specifically only want to target one country. The other reason that you want a .com is that it will tell your visitors that you are a business. Websites that end with blogspot.com or wordrpess.com just don't look professional. Even if you are using blogger as a blogging platform, make sure to redirect your site to your own domain name from day one.
- Makes it immediately clear what your blog is all about - This is not always possible of course, but if you are able to do it, it is very effective. 40PlusStyle.com is a good illustration of a name that does this, since the site is all about style over 40.
- Is very specific on the niche you are going to target - Again not always possible, but a name that specifies the specific niche or target groups of your blog will make it immediately clear for the visitors that this blog is aimed at them. 40PlusStyle.com specifies the niche immediately: women over 40.
- Is memorable - when you have a short memorable name, visitors WILL remember it. I get lots of searches every day for the term 40PlusStyle
- Will last a long time - Don't choose a name that is only valid for a certain time. I thought 40plusstyle.com was suitable here too as I'm always going to be over 40. It's for all women over 40. Some people may find it a bit confusing of course, perhaps thinking that it is only for women in their 40s and sometimes it gets confused for women with a plus size. So I will need to make it clear on the site itself that the site is for all women over 40.
- Has some of your keywords in the name - Although this has become less important in SEO (search engine optimization which is the process of getting your site listed as high as possible on the search engines) it still helps. 40PlusStyle was perfect here too as a main key keyword '40' was in the name as well as 'style'.
- Cannot lead to confusion in spelling - try to choose a name for which there is only one spelling, so that readers cannot mistype your domain. Here 40plusstyle falls short as there are several ways to spell the domain. Some may use forty and other 40+. If your domain does have different ways of spelling, it is a good idea to also register those. For example, I have also registered fortyplusstyle.com which automatically redirects to the main site. Domain names cannot have a '+' so I can't register this, but my branding is now so good that when someone types in 40+style into a search engine, 40plusstyle.com is the first result.
- Does not have hyphens - Sometimes people are tempted to use hyphens when they cannot get the name they want. Or they think it's just easier to read. This is not a good idea as readers will not remember hyphens. It's also a pain to explain over the phone or in person that your domain name includes hyphens.
- Is not a registered trademark - Before settling on your domain, be sure to check that it's not a registered trademark already. If it is you can potentially get sued to take the domain offline and will have to change it.
Start the brainstorming
Now that you know all the requirements of a good domain, it's time to start brainstorming. Start with a piece of paper and a pen and start writing names. Write down everything you can possibly think of. Write down many variations and try out a lot of different possibilities.
Once you have a good list and have highlighted a few favorites, you can start typing them in online to see if your domain name is still available. You can do this at any domain name registrar. A well-known register and the one I use for all my domains (yes a I have quite a few!) is Namecheap. Just type in the domain name in the big 'start a domain name search' box and click enter.
If your most preferred name is available, you are in luck! However, many times you will find that the name you want is already taken.
You will just have to continue with your brainstorming until you find the perfect one that is still there. It took me months to find 40plusstyle.com after considering more than 100 names (and first starting the site on a different domain, which by the way is not a good idea).
Believe me, it is worth taking your time. If you start with a name that you don't like, it will continue to bug you. Before 40plusstyle.com I had a different site with a name that I really did not like. I was never proud of this site and never wanted to promote it. Needless to say that the site failed and one of the main reasons was that I did not like the domain. It seemed too negative for me. When I started 40plusstyle.com I knew I had to find a better name that from the outset would be positive.
Caution though! Although I think it's important to have a good name, don't use not being to find a name as an excuse not to start your business. I know it can be a great procrastination tool so don't fall into that trap. All said and done it's still better to just get started rather than to wait until your find the perfect name.
Looking for a name? Here's what to do!
- Write down lots of potentials and brainstorm with others.
- You may like to use mindmapping for this.
- Then make a shortlist and see if your name is available. It if is, ask the opinion of a few others. What does it mean to them when they first hear the name? If they answer in similar lines to what you want to achieve with your site, you are on the right track!
- If people are confused on the meaning of your domain name or don't like it, continue with your list and brainstorm for more alternatives.
- Take as much time as you need until you are really happy with the domain and it complies with most of the above requirements.
- You may start writing articles while you are brainstorming. That in turn may give you a better idea what the site will be about and which message you want to convey.
- If you find a good domain name but are not 100% sure, register it. Good domains are snapped up pretty quickly so you don't want to risk losing it whilst you are thinking about it. Since domain names are super cheap, you can afford to make a few mistakes.
- Decide on your final name and register it! You can do so at Godaddy, Namecheap> or any other reputable registrar.
Good luck and if you need any more help with this or want my feedback, let me know!
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