I’m back for my second installation of the “Tuesdays with Topher” experiment. Thanks for stopping by.
Last week, I shared an abbreviated history on how Restoration Redoux came about, but I cut it short before discussing the naming process. It should become pretty clear why if you scroll down… (I tried to keep it brief — I promise).
When it comes time to name your blog, it might be the simplest task you’ll have to tackle because you’ve had the epiphany, you love it, and there’s nothing else that would be as perfect. But for some people, like us, it might be more challenging than naming your own kid.
About 18 years ago, Shanna and I were pretty deep in 24/7 conversations about what to name the unborn child (despite what Shanna says … she really does have a name).
We were throwing out all sorts of options: Blanche, Gertrude, LaQuisha, Peyton, Simone, etc., until we finally came across the perfect name, and the clouds parted, the sun came out, and that was that.
Naming this blog wasn’t as simple.
Suggestion #1: Find a name that is unique. Then Google (or Bing) it.
Start off with a white board. Start throwing names on it to see what sticks. Try to find words that capture your intent. Then use a thesaurus to find synonyms. Then using a rhyming dictionary to find words that sound good together. Then … try to make a love connection.
I know. It’s not that simple. There were business names Shanna liked, but they were awfully similar to existing companies or sites that were already established. It was tough — she already had her favorites in mind because they reminded her of sites were a perfect blend of catchy names and talented artists creating fun pieces she wanted to own. The names of the already established sites kept creeping into the forefront because they were the inspiration, and that made it tough to stray too far from what’s already known.
We bounced around names for a long, long time. We’d find one we liked, Google it, and find it was already in use by someone who wrote three posts two years ago then abandoned it. Ugh!
It was a challenge.
But before you commit to a name, you have to do the research.
Suggestion #2: Find a domain.
Finding a homebase on the Internet was also difficult. As I mentioned, we found names we liked, but they were already owned.
But there are options.
Your first stop should be your browser. Simply type in that domain.
NOTE: Before I get too far down this road, here’s a 2-second explanation of domains (Sorry if you already know this … just skip this part).
In the graphic above, the “Top Level Domain” is basically the extension (and there are many, many available). The “Domain Name” is what you’re racking your brain trying to think up. And the “Subdomain” is for a conversation down the road a bit.
Back to finding a name…
OK. True confession: Shanna has mentioned I have an unhealthy attachment to my little dog, Charlie.
Say I want to create a website all about this ridiculously intelligent, adorable, loyal dog … named Charlie.
I want to call the site “Charlie Boy”.
So I go to Google and type in Charlie Boy, and I get a million search results, but I’m not seeing anything that takes me to a “Charlie Boy” website. I see ones that talk about Charlie Boy, but nothing that’s dedicated to it, and certainly nothing discussing a dog that’s dang near perfect.
That gives me hope.
So I go my browser’s address bar and type in charlieboy.com.
Lo and behold … it takes me to a page that tells me “The domain CharlieBoy.com is for sale. To purchase, call [phone#] or Click here to make an offer“.
NOTE: If you weren’t already aware, there is a HUGE market buying and selling domain names like they’re stocks and bonds. I own a handful of good ones that I’m patiently waiting for someone to buy for millions of dollars so we can retire to one of those island huts Shanna frequently links to on her Pinterest Party Fridays.
Shoot! So now what??
The next stop is a site that allows to you research availability. I like domain.com for this, but there are others.
Go there, type in your desired site name, and you’ll get a screen that looks like this:
NOTE: Although you can, don’t buy it from here. At this point, we’re only researching.
So this is interesting. Let’s look at some of the Top Level Domains. You’ll notice there are a LOT of options out there.
- charlieboy.COM is not available;
- Neither is charlieboy.NET;
- Nor charlieboy.ORG;
- Charlieboy.US isn’t taken yet — that’s maybe an option;
- But what if I look toward the lower right… charlieboy.NINJA is available ! ! ! W00T! W00T!
My suggestion is to try to stay with a .COM option whenever you can. That’s the general population’s “GO TO” Top Level Domain. Obviously, there are very, very successful sites that use other TLDs, but that could be a big obstacle to overcome, especially if whomever owns the .COM has a successful site — they may not like you owning “their” domain’s .NET. Also, you may not like trying to direct traffic to your .NET only to find folks are visiting someone else’s .COM.
I hope that made sense and didn’t sound like the “Who’s on first” skit…
Also on this page, they suggest other domain names that are similar and available, but I don’t like any of those so it’s back to the drawing board.
This can be a long process, so be creative, be patient, and don’t get flustered.
And don’t rule out buying one that’s owned. Sometimes it might only cost you a little bit (and they’re often times negotiable). But if you go down that road, make sure you have someone knowledgeable in your corner that can transfer domain ownership. It’s not difficult, but there are some little hoops to jump through. If you’re interested in an already-owned domain, you might look at who.is for some helpful information.
SECURITY TIP: While we’re on the topic, if you already own a website, you might visit who.is anyway and type in your domain to see what private information is available about YOU. It might surprise you. See your domain host for directions on how to privatize this information.
Also worth mentioning, there’s a group of domain owners that will encourage you need to buy-up (if you can) similar domains, like [yourdomainname].NET, .INFO, .US, or .ORG. And some of the more paranoid domain owners are also buying up some of the newer TLDs, like [domainname].XXX or .PORN to prevent any negativity should someone want to purchase those and use them in some sort of attack against you. Personally, I think it probably wouldn’t hurt to purchase a .NET or .ORG if you’re inclined, but I don’t see too much of a need to go crazy. Your call.
Suggestion #3: Once you’ve found your name, buy it from your preferred web site hosting company.
This is a probably where I’m setting myself up for some angry comments… Please refrain because if you’re too rude, I’ll delete it. 🙂
Domain hosts are sort of like your home internet provider. Nobody really brags about them. Sometimes it makes you mad. It’s mostly something that you never think about until it’s not working right. And if you have to get “into the trees” with the service settings, things can really get AJU (that a technical term we use in “the business” … it stands for All Jacked Up).
There are THOUSANDS of hosting companies out there. We use 1and1.com. And although we haven’t had any major problems with them, and I’ve had no complaints about their service, support, or control panel … some people HATE them. But for me, I have no complaints.
I also hear good things about BlueHost, HostGator, and GoDaddy, too. If you have helpful comments, please let me know down below.
But no host is perfect, and at some point everyone has a service blip, so I suggest you look at a pricing package you’re comfortable with, one that has good reviews, and if you can find out without paying, look for one that has an easy-to-use control panel that makes it “not painful” to buy domains, set-up domains (and sub domains), configure email accounts, browse your files, etc.
You might also look at scalability — look for a provider that can easily crank-up your sites resources as you grow. Start with the basic package, but know when to upgrade as the need arises. The preconfigured hosting packages should sustain you for a while.
Once you get close to 500,000 monthly page views, you’ll want a more specialized service. But by that time, you can hire a consultant…
Personally, for what you need to get the ball rolling, I think they’re all about the same.
You might also look local. My work uses a company in Wichita, and that’s paid dividends when we’ve had those bound-to-happen blips. Their offerings may not be at the same level as the big boys, and their prices might not be as attractive … but their customer service is second to none — and it can really help to have a person on speed dial when you need them.
One thing you might consider as you’re looking at hosts, check to see how many domains are included in your annual hosting fees. Sometimes, they’ll include two or three domains in your cost. If that’s the case, it might make it easier to own your .NET or .ORG domain. Or save it for another adventure down the road. If the day comes where I get to quit my real job and work for Shanna, I might also have time to pursue my dream of owning my grilled cheese food truck!! And that will DEFINITELY need a good name…
So there you have it. Just like the pine trees lining the winding road … you’ve got a name.
Next week, come back and we’ll talk about Content Management Systems. I KNOW!!! That’s exciting. CMS’s are actually one of my favorite topics, and I can really get to rambling on, and on, and on….
Have a great week!
NOTE: And just so you know, the only link above that we get referral credit for is the 1and1.com link. All other outside links are simply going to that site’s home page.
Don’t forget to check out more Tuesdays With Topher posts:
Heather J says
Thanks so much for sharing! I totally appreciate the guidance and will be following you through your story of how the blog has become what it is today (awesome) Sometimes you need more than just a “for dummies” book so I appreciate what your doing…No unkind words from me… I’m thankful! And Charlie is too freaking adorable:)
Christy @ Our Southern Home says
Topher, I wish I knew Shanna back when I was throwing around names. I decided on a name and couldn’t buy the domain. It was taken by someone that didn’t use it. That’s why I purchased the domain http://www.oursouthernhomesc.com. I had to put SC (South Carolina) behind my blog name. I’ve always hated it. You think I should look into trying to buy the domain w/o the SC? It’s been as is for going on 3 years.
There’s certainly no harm in pursuing the purchase of oursouthernhome.com — and based on the http://who.is page, the owner’s contact info is easily available. Since that domain isn’t operational, she may be willing to part with it for a reasonable price.
There are going to be some challenges with switching to a new domain and pointing existing links to that site, but it’s nothing insurmountable and there are plenty of good resources available to help with that.
I say go for it! It’ll be a fun adventure!
Linda J says
I sure am glad you’re hanging around Topher. Short story – daughter’s name is Christina. Grandson is Christopher. I didn’t want him called “Chris”. Period. I called him “Topher” and so it has been for a long time. Topher he is! Thought you would like that.
I am grateful for all this wonderful information. PLEASE keep it coming. I am following along like a lost puppy. BTW, are we ever going to know the name of unnamed child?
Linda … It’s great to hear from you! Similar story here — Shanna’s dad’s name is Chris, so she had to find something else to call me, and Topher had lingered around from some childhood friends, so it stuck. Regarding the unnamed child … I’m sure someday we’ll reveal her name, but for now I have a filter installed that censors her name (*****). But in due time… 🙂