Your blog’s domain name – part 3

This is part 3 of the series: Your blog’s domain name

Should my domain name be the same as my website/blog name?

  • Yes!  People tend to think of websites by their name.  What if  they type your site name into the address bar and it doesn’t come up – or they end up at a different site altogether?

What kind of TLD (top level domain) should I use?

  • It used to be that the various TLD endings meant specific things, and people really followed those meanings:  .com = commercial;  .co = companies;  .org = organizations; .net = networks and so on.  There are also specific country TLD’s, for example .uk = United Kingdom; .ca = Canada (though they usually cost more).  But now people often don’t follow the old TLD “rules” that much.  Many people try for a .com TLD because it’s the ending everyone thinks of, and often automatically type in.  Another popular TLD is .net.  However, there are some times when a specific ending is important – we’ll discuss that below.
  • Some bloggers get creative with their endings, and use endings to complete a keyword that reflects the site focus in some way. Just remember that you have to go with TLD endings that are available.  Google search “domain names” and you’ll get lots of ideas and find out what is available.
  •  If your site aims specifically at a particular geographical area or country, you may well want to use the TLD for your region.  But if you plan to expand later, you may be wise to also register other TLD endings that you will want to use when you expand.  If you wait to do so, those TLDs may no longer be available.

Can I use any name I choose?

  • By 2010, there were about 196 million active domains in use.  Remember that your domain name includes the various parts — www … .com … yourname … etc.  But each unique combination of parts can only be used once.  When you have chosen a name you like, you must use web-based search features or tools like WHOIS, to find out if your choice of name is available.  If it is not, many of these tools will suggest similar names that are available.
  • To find out what names are available, you can search “domain name search” and then go to a reliable company that provides these services.

What if I cannot get the domain name I want?

  • If you have a brand name by which you are already well known, or you have settled on a name you “just gotta have,”  there are some possible ways to get that domain name, if it is already taken.  You could try to buy the domain name from the current owner – information about the owner is available through “whois.”  But they’ll probably charge you a hefty sum – if they are willing to sell it at all.
  • You could also check to see if the name is available with a different TLD – if so, you’ll want to choose one that is well-known, or works together with your name in a catchy way people will be able to remember.
  • You could also go for a slight change in spelling, or add a number or dash – but those kinds of complications often come back to haunt you.  You may actually be better off to come up with something new, unique, and memorable.

Question of the day:  What kinds of problems have you run into while trying to decide on a domain name?

Tip of the day:  If you have a domain name you really, really want to use, and it is available right now, but you aren’t ready to start your site quite yet, you should reserve/ purchase the name now, as it could be gone by the time you get your site started.

Put it into action:  Check the top name options on the list of domain names you are considering, to see if they are available.  If they aren’t, can you make adjustments that will work (ie change in TLD, or a different order of words, or ??).  Will those adjustments work well?  Or should you consider a different name instead?

Advertisements
Posted in Blog Contents, Blog Planning | Leave a comment

Your blog’s domain name – part 2

This is part 2 of the series:  Your blog’s domain name

How can I create a good domain name?
Check out the following thoughts.  Though you obviously won’t be able to use all of them, pick out the ones you feel relate to your blog niche and focus.  Apply them to the potential names you’ve already come up with.  Make a short list – and then stay with us for the rest of the posts in this series.  You will come up with a great name!

Make it memorable:

  • Easy to remember: catchy, intriguing, appealing, descriptive
  • Sounds appealing

Common sense thoughts:

  • It should speak for itself, and make sense
  • Easy to say and spell
  • Easy to remember, whether it is seen or heard
  • You should not have to explain it
  • Brainstorm lots of ideas before settling on a name
  • Easy and smooth to type
  • Avoid names that reflect current fads or trends, and that may soon be seen as outdated or silly.  Think long-term.
  • Consider how the name sounds when spoken.  If it contains words that could be misunderstood (for example, homonyms), or if it sounds like a different word when spoken with an accent, it might not be a good choice.
  • Sometimes a name that brings forth a strong, positive emotional response can also work well.

How long should it be?

  • Common wisdom says the shorter the better – apparently about 5 to 8 letters is ideal, and over 20 is an absolute no-no (ha ha! someone should have told me that!); also one word is good, over 3 words is also usually a no-no…
  • On the other hand, domain names can be up to 67 characters, and some folks argue that a meaningful longer name is easier to remember than a short name that is an acronym or too broad in meaning, etc.

Ask for help:

  • Share your ideas with people who know you, and who know your niche.  Do they “get” why that domain name works for you and for your niche?
  • Type it out as it will look on the URL.  Ask people to read it.  Do they read it easily and correctly?  Or do they struggle to understand it, or come up with an unexpected reading?

Does it reflect your brand?

  • Choose a name you’d like your blog, yourself, and all your activities to be recognized with.  If you already have a strong branded name that is well known, it is worth naming your blog after your brand.  In that case, don’t abbreviate, unless your brand is known by its abbreviation.
  • Is it too general or too specific, as related to your blog niche focus?
  • Is it relevant to your content?
  • Have your domain name reflect what you represent, what you are promoting, what you want your readers to do when they read your blog
  • It is generally better  to choose a name that is specific to the narrow focus of your blog.  If you are writing about Victorian homes, you are better off with a name like “victorianhomes” than with a name like “oldhomes” or just “homes.”
  • You should feel proud of it.  Don’t choose a name that could end up being embarrassing, even if it seems “catchy”

Some technical aspects:

  • Base your domain name on some of your important keywords (words that express you and the focus of your blog) – but put them together in unique and memorable ways.  This helps you rank better in search engines, and brings more traffic to your blog.
  • Search to check that your proposed domain name is not so similar to a trademarked/copyrighted name that some business will sue you and demand you change the name.
  • Usually it is best to use just alphabet letters, rather than numbers, dashes/hyphens, etc.  Easier to type and remember – although numbers can sometimes be used strategically.  And hyphens can make it easier for search engines to distinguish your keywords, if site ranking is really important for you.
  • Consider possible spelling mistakes.  If the name you choose has a variety of spellings, you might want to register additional domain names with these alternates, and have them point to your site.
  • If you plan to sell a product or service, you may also want to register extra domain names that relate to that, and have those names point to your site.

Question of the day:  Do you wonder about some of these tips, especially the technical ones?  Come back for Part 4 of this series, where we will give you links to some blog posts that discuss these points in greater detail.

Tip of the day:  Run your blog domain ideas through the “tests” above.  If a name fails more than one or two of the tests, you might want to discard it or adjust it.  If it passes most of the tests, you probably have a good domain name.

Put it into action: Run your potential names through the tests above – right now!  And get at least 3 or 4 other people to run your short list of “best” names through the tests, too, to be sure you haven’t missed a big potential problem.

Posted in Blog Contents, Blog Planning | Leave a comment

Your blog’s domain name – part 1

As you plan your blog, you will want to choose the best domain name possible.  That domain name will be your URL (uniform – or universal – resource locator), the address that readers will use to reach your blog.  Obviously, you will want a domain name that is easy to remember, that clearly describes you and/or your blog niche and focus, and that will bring readers to you, not to someone else.

In this mini-series, “Your Blog’s Domain Name“, we will discuss the following aspects of this extremely important decision:

Part 1: (this post):
Why is my blog domain so important?
Should I use my own name?

Part 2:
How can I create a good domain name?

Part 3:

Should my domain name be the same as my website/blog name?
What kind of TLD (top level domain) should I use?
Can I use any name I choose?
What if I cannot get the domain name I want?

Part 4:
Is it okay to use a cost-free domain?
Should I buy up extra domain names relevant to my blog?
Some excellent articles about domain names

So… on with Part 1:

Why is my blog domain name so important?

  • It is your identification, the key to your Internet presence.
  • It helps you focus your content: it’s the foundation of your site.
  • It establishes your brand and relates to your business and/or other activities.
  • It is the first thing your readers and new visitors see.
  • It communicates the type of content of your blog.

So, if at all possible: get your domain name before you start your site and/or related business!

Should I use my own name?

  • Not unless you are already a well-known personality – and even then you need to think about factors like the possibility of changing your name down the line (getting married, perhaps), or if your name is hard to spell or pronounce, or has an “interesting” meaning in some language!  And what if you want to sell your blog or pass it on to your kids down the line?
  • But you should still choose a name that is “you,” related to you as a person, and related to the content and focus of your blog.

Question of the Day:  Have you created a list of possible domain names for your blog?  Or are you just going to go with the first name you’ve thought of?

Tip of the Day:  Choosing your domain name is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your blog.  Take it seriously!

Put it into Action:  Make a list of lots of possible blog names – and then measure them up to the advice you’ll find in this 4 part mini-series (be sure to read the next 3 posts!).  Then ask people you trust to help you choose your domain name from your short list.

Posted in Blog Contents | Leave a comment

Planning your blog content

Have you found your niche, and created your blog yet? If you haven’t actually set up your new blog yet, it is time to get started. The “mechanics” of starting a blog can be very easy, even if you are still a bit nervous of the technology of the internet.

If you want some great help in setting up your first blog, go to our post, “Resources on the Mechanics of Blogging.”  There you will find links to excellent tutorials on how to set up a blog on each of the major blog platforms, or on community-type blog platforms. Whether you prefer to learn from written instructions with pictures, or from videos; whether you prefer to learn from the platform’s own instructions, or from bloggers who are experienced users of those platforms; we promise that you’ll be able to find a helpful tutorial site, to help you start your very own blog!

Our upcoming posts will focus on producing content for your blog. Every successful blogger will tell you that “content is king!” As we walk you through planning your blog content, we will cover the following important topics:

  • Your Blog’s Domain Name
  • Does it Matter What Theme I Choose?
  • Different Kinds of Posts
  • Flagship Content
  • Evergreen Content
  • How to Write Truly Engaging Content
  • Hints on Research
  • How to Come Up with Awesome Post Topics
  • How to Write Great Blog Post Titles
  • How to Write Great Headlines in Your Post
  • How to Start Your Post with a Bang
  • How Long Should Your Posts Be?
  • Keep Each Post Focused
  • What Does Style Have to Do with Great Posts?
  • Post Usability
  • How to Handle Controversial Topics
  • How Frequently Should You Post?
  • Categories and Tags
  • What are Keywords and Do They Matter?

In our very next post we’ll start off with choosing your domain name. This is one of the most important blog decisions you will make. If you’ve already chosen a name, you might still want to check out this topic. If you discover there are potential problems with the name you’ve chosen, it is best to make changes in the early stages of your blog. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes, and the more problems it can cause for you and your blog. If you haven’t chosen a name yet, you’ll definitely want to make the best choice possible, so be sure to check out our advice.

Question of the day:  Have you checked out the different blog platforms yet?  Which one do you plan to use?  Why did you choose it?  Tell us your choice, and your reasons, in the comments section below.

Tip of the day:  Your blog domain name is very important.  Be sure to check our advice in the next post.

Put it into action:  Choose your platform, and sign up for your blog.  Get advice from our post, Resources on the Mechanics of Blogging.  Then come back here each day as we walk you step by step through the process of naming your blog, designing it, and creating great posts and pages.

Posted in Blog Contents | Leave a comment

Don’t lose your focus!

This is the final post in the series: CHOOSING A NICHE

By now, if you’ve been following this “Choosing Your Blog Niche” series, you’ve probably come up with a great niche, and hopefully you’ve taken the leap and started your blog.

Just one last tip:  Don’t lose your focus!

Over time, you’ll probably be tempted to wander off into other areas.  You might develop a new interest in life, or some current event might get your attention, and you become so excited about it that you want to tell everybody.  Or you might run out of ideas for writing about your niche area, or reach the limits of your personal expertise, and rather than expending the effort to research or do whatever it takes to reinvigorate yourself and build upon your expertise in that area, you become tempted to start writing about something else.  And sometimes, someone in your audience will try to take you down a “rabbit trail” in your comments section, and you’ll be tempted to start engaging that topic in your posts.  Perhaps you simply become discouraged in the early stages of your blog because you haven’t gotten the level of instant response and acclaim you’d hoped for.

If you want your loyal audience to stay loyal, you need to keep focused on what it is that attracted them in the first place.  When you go off onto other topics, it won’t take long for them to become bored or disgruntled, and move along to another blogger who is providing them with information they need, and not wasting their precious time.

Furthermore, you’ll find yourself losing your own passion for your niche if you start spending time on other topics, , and you may simply end up giving up altogether on your blog.

What should you do if you start losing your focus?

  • It is better to gradually spread out your posts (say, to posting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, rather than daily) than to start adding posts that wander from your niche focus, if your problem is a temporary lack of interest or distraction.  When you have more time, energy, and/or interest, you can increase your posting again.
  • Before you totally give up on your niche, take some time to go back to your planning notes, and to your early posts.  Try to analyze what it was that had you so engaged in that topic.  Remember what the core of your blog really was.  Figure out where you started to go astray, and why that happened.  Then try to get back on track.
  • If you’ve run out of ideas, or reached the limits of your own expertise, start researching and studying, and get more involved in your niche in practical ways, and you’ll no doubt find your passion returning.
  • But if you then discover that you really have lost interest in maintaining your blog in that niche, be honest with yourself and your readers.  Perhaps one of your readers would like to buy (or take over) your blog.  Or a group from your audience might offer to provide posts on a regular basis. If you are still interested in your niche, but have become really passionate about another topic, consider starting a separate blog on the new topic, and keep your present blog focused on its own niche.

John Saddington, at tentblogger.com, has written an excellent post, “Great Blogs Find Focus in These 3 Areas: Passion, Expertise, and Unique Value.”  In this post he discusses in-depth how to keep your focus in your blog.  I highly recommend you read his article now, before you start suffering from lack of focus. But of course, if you’re already wandering from your focus, also be sure to read his article right away, and get back on track!

Focus, focus, focus!

Question of the day: What causes you to lose focus in other aspects of your life?

Tip of the day: Be aware of those “distractions” in relation to your blog, as well.

Put it into action: Read John Saddington’s excellent post on keeping your focus.

Posted in Blog Basics, Potential Problems | Leave a comment

Niche ideas for seniors blogs – Part 2

This is post #16 in the series: CHOOSING A NICHE

In Part 1 of “Niche Ideas for Seniors” we talked about how many seniors blog, reasons for seniors to blog, and some interesting articles about seniors blogging.  Today we’ll give you a list of some of the niches that other seniors are already using for their blogs. We’ll also point you to some lists of seniors blogs you can check out, and we’ll talk a bit about writing by hand vs writing on computer.

Some niches seniors are using for their blogs:

  • Relationships: Parent care, parenting and child care, empty nesters, sexuality and aging, family, housing, email pals, memorials, dating, reuniting with old friends, electronic greeting cards, grandparenting, alternative lifestyles, parenting grandchildren, sandwich generation, social networking
  • Travel, hobbies, personal interests: world travel, hobbies, travel stories and information, ex pat lifestyles, active lifestyles, activism, lifestyle options, computer tips and tricks, warnings against scams, sports, games, organizing your home and life, personality profiles, how technology affects aging, snow birds, moving to tropical islands, gardening, pets
  • Health: nursing homes, dementia/Alzheimer’s, health and fitness, disabilities, diabetes, health insurance, discount drugs, drug advice, patient assistant programs, hearing loss, blindness, nutrition, health foods and supplements, hospice and preparing for death, hospitals, aging gracefully, safety for seniors, brain exercises for a healthy mind, exercise, assisted living and other housing and care options
  • Genres: humor, personal diary/journal, insights, anecdotes, local interest stories, memories & reminiscences, photos, videos, alternative news, music, book reviews, national and international news and views, discussion boards, genealogy, literary articles and commentary, gossip and trivia, opinionated ranting, short stories, poetry
  • Business and finance: finances, consumer guides, social security, disability insurance, employment opportunities, resumes, home based business, international job opportunities, shoppers bargains, price comparison sites, government benefits programs, banking, insurance, investments, career changes, customer service and complaints, dealing with telemarketers, living on a fixed income, identity theft, retirement planning, working in the traditional retirement years, overcoming recession losses, generational concerns in the workplace, encore careers (moving into work with social value)
  • Personal: values, interests, passions, wit and wisdom, creativity, self-discovery, giving back, self-esteem, life management, life lessons, memoirs, inspiration, renewal rather than retirement, contributing
  • Other popular topics: politics, religion, spirituality, arts, government sites and information, seniors organizations, philosophy, history, veterans information, elders law, online learning (courses, resources, seminars, lectures), online reference materials and sites, wars and military, culture, new technologies, beauty tips, Hollywood (movies, films, theatre, dance, etc), volunteering, regional blogs, mission trips, ageism

Which of these topics are of interest to you?  What can you share about your favorite topic that has a unique slant, or an interesting form of presentation, or involves your own one-of-a-kind experiences or stories?  What other niches (topics) can you think of?  You are a wonderful, experienced, unique, valuable member of society!  Why not share yourself via your own blog?

Want to check out some blogs by and/or for seniors?  Here are some excellent lists of seniors’ sites:

And one last tip:  Some seniors argue, “I’d rather write on paper than type on a computer.”  Well, why not?  Even many young bloggers do their note-taking, and also write their blog post drafts, with pen on paper before transferring their writing to their blog.  After all, there is strong evidence that you retain information better by handwriting than by typing.  In fact, “digital distraction” means your brain doesn’t work as well if you’re in front of a screen all the time.

It is also easy and fast to jot down notes in a little notebook you carry in your pocket, and you don’t have to worry about batteries or plug-ins or computer crashes.  And if folks see you jotting down notes in public places, you’re bound to get them curious! If you’re a pen-and-paper writer (as I am – after all my username is “penandpapermama”), check out this article, and this one.  They will encourage you, even as you learn to transfer your hand-written work to your computer and on to your blog. And if you don’t have a clue how to use a computer, here are some great how-to resources, especially for seniors:

Question of the day: What niche have you decided upon for your own seniors blog?  Tell us about it in the comments below – and give us a link to your new blog!

Tip of the day: Check out other seniors blogs for ideas.  What blogs really appeal to you?  What blogs do you really like that are in your niche area?

Put it into action:  Subscribe to blogs that appeal to you, and blogs you like that are in your niche area – get on their email newsletter list, or sign up for their RSS feeds.  Comment on posts that interest you; it’s a great way to get to know other bloggers, and other blog readers!

Posted in Blog Planning, Seniors Blogs | Leave a comment

Niche ideas for seniors blogs – Part 1

This is post #15 in the series: CHOOSING A NICHE

Do seniors really use the internet?  And do they really blog?  Yes, they do!  In fact, in December of 2009 The Neilsen Company released statistics which showed that, by the fall of 2009, over 17.5 million seniors (age 65+) in America were using the internet.  Between 2007 and 2009 alone, the number of seniors visiting social networking and blog sites increased by 53 per cent.  In fact, by fall 2009, 8.2% of all social network and blog visitors were over 65.  And of course the numbers of seniors who use the internet – and who themselves blog – are increasing every day.  Add in the numbers of “young seniors” between 50 to 65 and those numbers likely double.

How old is too old to blog?  Perhaps you think that most of the “seniors” who blog are at the lower end of the age spectrum, perhaps under 70 years of age.  Not so!  There are seniors blogging – and reading blogs – in every age decade: fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties – and yes, hundreds!  In fact, one blogger, Olive Riley of Australia, blogged regularly as long as she lived: age 108!  So it is unlikely that YOU are “too old” to blog 🙂

Would anyone be interested in your blog niche?  Seniors use the internet for personal e-mail, online maps, weather, paying bills, posting and viewing photos, news, health care information, travel planning, recipes, and business and finance news.  And those are just the top 10 uses and topics – there are countless more!  So as you can imagine, no matter what your personal interest or passion, there is no doubt a group of internet users who would love to read (or watch via video or photos, or listen via podcasts and webinars) your blog!

Why do seniors blog?  Here are some reasons:

  • mental exercise: to keep your mind sharp
  • to meet people and expand your social circles
  • to bring the world to you when you can’t get out there
  • great way to communicate when one’s senses (hearing etc) are failing
  • provides a voice, a public platform
  • connect with the world
  • to learn new things
  • to keep up on current events
  • to share life experiences
  • to share knowledge and wisdom
  • to teach hobbies and career skills
  • builds self-esteem and sense of accomplishment
  • keep connected with loved ones and friends
  • to tell stories, write poetry, and other literary endeavours
  • to share your life story, and the story of your family
  • to reestablish appreciation and respect for elders in our society
  • and yes, even to get a bit of fame and recognition

Society benefits from Senior Bloggers!  Blogs are a great way for seniors to accomplish any of these goals.  The cost is minimal (or even free), and not only are the personal benefits great, but in sharing their wisdom and knowledge, seniors enrich the younger generations.  Society benefits from the recording of history by those who have lived through it, and the same goes for the recording and building of  cultural identity. Seniors can also pass on useful tips to younger people who are following in their career paths; you can become a wonderful teacher and mentor.  Seniors who have succeeded in business can help young people establish their own businesses.  Seniors can pass on useful skills which are being lost.

And unlike traditional ways of writing and sharing information, with blogs you don’t have to worry about finding an agent, or a publisher or printer. You don’t have to put money upfront.  You don’t have to worry that there will be no readers, for search engines will bring you readers from many parts of the world.  And if you are hoping to make some money from your blog, that is also possible, though of course you will have to work at it (find some starter information here and here).

Here are some interesting articles about seniors blogging:

Coming in part 2 of “Niche ideas for seniors blogs” :  A list of some niche topics for seniors blogs; links to lists of seniors sites; a discussion about writing by hand vs writing on computer; and links to some useful “how-to-computer-lesson” sites for seniors.

Question of the Day: Look at the list (above) of reasons seniors blog.  What reasons relate to your life?  What other reasons can you think of? (Please list your ideas in the comments section below.  Thank you).

Tip of the Day:  If you think blogging is only for young folks, get started today before you get any older 🙂

Put it into Action:  Read the articles listed above (just click on the links) to get more inspired about becoming a senior blogger!

Posted in Seniors Blogs | Leave a comment