If you want to be a writer online, you need a website.
Nobody’s going to argue with that. As a freelance blogger your website is one of the deciding factors in getting you hired.
But choosing the right domain name for that website is a HUGE obstacle for some writers. I’ve seen people dither over this decision for weeks, wasting time they could’ve spent marketing and blogging and earning.
To make this simple, I’ve broken down the basic process of choosing an effective domain name into just 3 questions. Answer these, and you can choose your domain name today. Tomorrow, on with the making money. 🙂
Just to be clear: all the example domain names I give in this post are ones I made up on the spot. They may or may not already belong to somebody, and they aren’t recommendations.
Question 1: SEO or Brand Recognition?
Do you hope to bring a lot of clients to your website via search engines?
If so, you’ll need to consider what words your ideal client will type into Google when they need a freelance writer, and use those in your website. Having them in your domain name itself isn’t necessary, but it can help people to recognise that your site is what they’re looking for.
Here are two simple ways to choose domain names.
- Location: if you specifically want local clients, you can include the name of your nearest town or city in your domain name. (Examples: LondonBlogger.co.uk, ChicagoWebContent.com.) To be honest, though, I find this approach kinda weird and impersonal — as if your location were the most important thing about you, which I’m sure it isn’t.
- Specialism: if you write in a specific niche, you can include that in your domain name. (Examples: TechnologyWriter.com, HotelBlogger.com.)
SEO is lovely and all, but I believe you’re better off focusing 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 exact match domain names like CheapAirlineDeals.com or Best-SEO-Tool.net. You don’t need the extra worry of “What will I do if Google updates its algorithm and I drop out of the search results?”
Second, because waiting until a potential client hits Google looking for a freelance writer is much less effective than reaching out and talking to your potential clients before they start searching.
And third, because you might change your niche or your location — you don’t want to have to register a new domain name every time that happens!
Rather than hoping to win clients by snagging their attention on a search results page, build and focus attention on your business brand.
Question 2: Your Name or a Business Name?
Using your own name as your domain name depends on how rare a name you have and how much you can tweak it to differentiate yourself from anyone with a similar name. I use Namecheap.com (affiliate link) to look up domain names, check they aren’t already taken, and buy the ones I want.
The most popular and most logical domain name to use is FirstnameLastname.com, but if you find that somebody’s already using that, there are other “your name” options:
(Each time I 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’s pretty rare. There aren’t any other Sophie Lizards that I know of, though there’s a Sophie Lizardi somewhere in South America (but she isn’t a freelance writer, so that’s fine).
I use SophieLizard.com as a personal portfolio site that links to my writer site, to this blog, and to whatever else I want people to know about me. And my writer site URL is LizardCreativeChaos.com. Why the “creative chaos”? It does nothing for my SEO, but it tells potential clients a lot about what to expect. 😉
Lisa Baker’s name is not so rare, so she writes as Lisa C. Baker and uses the domain name LisaCBaker.com. Check out her site — it’s an excellent example of what you’re aiming for when you create a writer website.
If you give your business a name other than your own name, you can use that as your writer site domain name, as I do with Lizard Creative Chaos. The benefit of this approach is that you can choose your business name (and matching domain name) to be any or all of the following:
- easy to remember
- easy to spell
- indicative of the service you offer
- indicative of your style and personality
This is also a good option if “your name” domains aren’t easy to get hold of, if there’s another freelance writer with a similar name to yours, or if you want to keep your FirstnameLastname.com domain for a different purpose.
Question 3: Which Top Level Domain?
If you had a shiny new domain name in mind but somebody’s 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 dot in the domain name, e.g. com, org, biz, net, and so on.)
My advice? Don’t do it.
If someone’s already using the .com version of your dream domain name, then you’ll end up splitting your audience between people who go your .biz (or whatever) site and people who accidentally go to the .com site instead.
That’s annoying even if your business doesn’t directly compete with that other site — but if the other site belongs to another writer for hire, then you’re in a bigger pickle and your potential clients will get confused. Some businesses buy up all the top level domains for their chosen domain name, just to make sure they don’t get used by anybody else.
There are more top level domain choices now than ever, but .com is everybody’s first guess so that’s what I stick with. If the .com domain name you want isn’t available, I’d choose a different name rather than a different top level domain.
OK, have you chosen the domain name you want? Super. Now’s the time to get it registered for free…
Win Your Domain Name Registration!
Today’s prize is a .com, .net or .org domain name registration for 1 year with Namecheap, the domain name registrar I use and recommend. (I’m an affiliate and the lovely people at Namecheap are donating these prizes for the contest.) One first prize winner will get 3 domain name registrations and two runners-up will each get 1 domain name registration.
For your chance to win, leave a comment and tell me what domain name you use for your writer site — or if you haven’t set up a site for your freelance blogging business yet, what domain name would you *like* to use?
Bonus points for helping other commenters check domain name availability and refine their choices! I’ll choose the 3 winners at the end of January 12th, 2014. 🙂
[THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED]