If you want to become a writer online, you need a website.
Nobody will deny that. As a freelance blogger, your website is one of the most crucial factors in getting you started.
But choosing the right domain name for this website is a HUGE obstacle for some writers. I’ve seen people ponder this decision for weeks, wasting time that could have been spent on marketing and blogging and making money.
To make this easy, I’ve broken the basic process of choosing an effective domain name into just 3 questions. Answer them and you can choose your domain name today. Tomorrow we will continue to make money. 🙂
To be clear: I came up with all of the sample domain names that I give in this post on site. They may or may not already belong to someone, and they are not referrals.
Question 1: SEO or brand recognition?
Are you hoping to bring a lot of customers to your website through search engines?
If so, then you need to consider what words your ideal client will type into Google when they need a freelance writer and use them on your website. It’s not necessary to have them in your domain name, but it can help people realize that your website is what they are looking for.
Here are two easy ways to choose domain names.
- location: If you specifically want local customers, you can include the name of your nearest city in your domain name. (Examples: LondonBlogger.co.uk, ChicagoWebContent.com.) To be honest, I find this approach kind of weird and impersonal – as if your location is the most important thing about you, which I sure am not.
- specialty: If you write in a specific niche, you can include that in your domain name. (Examples: TechnologyWriter.com, HotelBlogger.com.)
SEO is nice and all, but I think it’s better to focus on brand recognition than on search engine attention. Why?
First, because the way Google and other search engines decide which sites are at the top of their search results can change from one day to the next. And they’re not big fans of exactly matching domain names like CheapAirlineDeals.com or Best-SEO-Tool.net. You don’t have to worry about “what do I do if Google updates their algorithm and I drop out of search results?”
Second, because waiting for a prospect lands on Google looking for a freelance writer is much less effective than talking and speaking to your prospects before they start their search.
And third, because you might change your niche or location – you don’t want to have to register a new domain name every time!
Instead of hoping to attract customers by getting their attention on a search results page, build attention and focus on your company brand.
Question 2: Your name or a company name?
Using your own name as a domain name depends on how infrequently you have a name and how much you can tweak it to differentiate yourself from others with a similar name. I use Namecheap.com (affiliate link) to search for domain names, check that they’re not already taken, and buy the ones I want.
The most popular and logical domain name is FirstnameLastname.com, but if you find that someone is already using it, there are other “your name” options:
- Your InitialsSurname.com
- First Name Last Name Writer.com
- Last nameWriter.com
(Anytime I’ve used “writer” in these examples, you could use a variation like “writes”, “writing”, “blogger”, “blogs”, “blogging” … you get the idea, right?)
For example, my name is pretty rare. There aren’t any other Sophie Lizards I know, although there’s a Sophie Lizardi somewhere in South America (but she’s not a freelance writer so that’s fine).
I use SophieLizard.com as a personal portfolio site that links to my authoring site, this blog, and anything else people want to know about me. And my author site url is LizardCreativeChaos.com. Why the “creative chaos”? It doesn’t do anything to my SEO, but it tells potential customers a lot about what to expect. 😉
If you give your business a name other than your own, you can use that as the domain name of your authoring site like I do at Lizard Creative Chaos. The advantage of this approach is that you can choose your company name (and the appropriate domain name) to use one of the following names:
- easy to remember
- easy to spell
- a reference to the service you are offering
- a sign of your style and personality
This is also a good option if “your name” domains are difficult to come by, if there is another freelance writer with a name similar to yours, or if you want to keep your domain firstnamelastname.com for some other purpose.
Question 3: Which top level domain?
If you had a shiny new domain name in mind but already registered the .com version of it, you might be tempted to go for one of the alternative top-level domains. (The top-level domain is the part after the last period in the domain name, e.g. com, org, biz, net, etc.)
My advice? Do not do it.
If someone is already using the .com version of your dream domain name, you end up splitting your audience between people who visit your .biz site (or whatever) and people who accidentally visit the .com site instead walk.
This is annoying even if your company isn’t directly competing with that other site – but if the other site is owned by a hired other writer, you are in a greater rush and your prospects get confused. Some companies buy up all of the top-level domains for their chosen domain name to ensure that they are not being used by others.
There are more top-level domain options now than ever, but .com is everyone’s first guess so I’ll stick with it. If the .com domain name I want isn’t available, I would choose a name other than a different top-level domain.
OK, have you selected the domain name you want? Great. Go now and register it!