Choosing the winning domain is a damn hard task. I changed it thrice, and I finally decided to write this post to warn you of early mistakes you might do to then regret them. Here’s how to avoid them!
I began thinking of a domain name last year when I first hosted my blog on Weebly. Back then (and still now) I was a complete dummy in all these tech stuff. I had to learn about domains, domain authorities, URLs, and all those acronyms which made no sense to me.
Well, my first domain choice was Always Learning. It wouldn’t have been cool even for a learning platform. Anyway, guess what? Taken! Even in a platform as Weebly.
From always I switched to forever, from learning to traveling (as it was a travel blog and learning was referred to learning while traveling. That was the thought behind the first name), so Forever Travelling was born.
After a while I left it, updating it very sporadically.
Choosing a Non-Winning Domain
Mid 2016, I decided that I wanted something more serious. After a passive period, I wanted to take it to the next level! (How cool is to say ‘to the next level’? It looks like we are doing great things, then we’re struggling to choose a name that should best represent us and our lifestyle).
I got a proper host, bought a theme, and bought a new domain: I Feel Like Traveling.
First question: traveling or travelling? Being not a native English speaker, I had to look up. It came out that traveling is the American English form, while travelling is the British English one.
US people: 325 million.
UK people: 65 million.
Of course, you should take into account the non-native English speakers and other countries like Ireland, but the ratio was by far pending to traveling rather than travelling. (Read: how to chew yourself into little mental bits).
When I was setting up social media accounts for my blog, I realized that I Feel Like Traveling was way too long: I often had to cut it down to IFeelLikeT. IFeelLikeTwhat? I Feel Like Terrifying you? Or I Feel Like Taking you down? Another one, I Feel Like Tolkien? You get the idea. For example, a beautiful name as Wonderful Wanderings (Hello Sofie) had to be cut down to WondWand in Twitter.
I suggest no more than 15 characters and no more than three words. Of course, there are exceptions: for instance, Extra Pack of Peanuts, or A Dangerous Business or I’m Lost Around the World. However I noticed that the most successful travel blogs have very short, 2/3-words name like Nomadic Samuel, the Blonde Abroad, the Expert vagabond. Those have been winning domain for sure. In addition, the shorter the more people will remember it.
Length matters (always!).
When I chose I Feel Like Traveling I didn’t pose myself too many questions. I woke up one morning and biking to work I said ‘Oh, today I feel like traveling!’. Perfect. The name was quite straightforward, direct, impulsive. Brandable – can you imagine something like ‘Keep calm and …’ with ‘I feel like’? That’s a heck of an idea! Include all the destinations you want, like ‘I feel like…Cuneo’ (I’m sure you are not feeling like Cuneo. Me neither). However…what was the name telling about myself and the blog itself? Actually nothing. There was no city, no country, no name, anything that I could identify myself with.
In that moment I felt the analysis-paralysis approaching. Holy crap, am I going to choose this f*****g domain or not? So my run on choosing the winning domain was not finished yet…
At this point, I decided to change the domain to make it more personal. Something people could easily remember and associate with my being. Something that could get a beautiful logo. I wrote down a list of many, many, too many names and adjectives, variations and synonyms included.
When you start merging the words, you’ll stand up say ‘ah! That’s the best one!’. Guess what? Taken – again and again. You’ll discover who is ‘Whois’ and a lot of other guys who buy the domains just to re-sell them. Pretty bad, but that’s how business works.
So, who am I? Stefano. I’m pretty good in saving money, trip planning, I love nature, trekking, though I’m bad in mountaineering and climbing, I like to explore everything. I’m curious, I’m a biologist, I’m a sort of researcher, I just like traveling. Also, I’m skinny. Shall I put that in my domain? The skinny traveler? The skinny explorer? Doesn’t sound good. (P.s. I can eat to the point of shame, though. Want to make a challenge?)
I’m…curly. What? Oh yes. The curly traveler. Taken.
Maybe the curly explorer? Taken.
The curly wanderer. Of course taken. OH NO WAIT.
Now. What if I lose my hair? What if I don’t feel comfortable anymore and I want to cut them? Also, what will people think when they will see a picture of me bald? Well fuck everything, be that as it may. I’ll take my domain.
At this point, I googled the curly wanderer. I found out the domain curlywanderer.com was already taken, and the girl running the blog is a US expat in Bangkok. What could I do…? Moreover, I was also risking to put myself competing with that. I thought – uhm, that’s not a proper winning domain..
(When I was googling I Feel Like Traveling, the first two pages of results were about ‘I Feel Like Traveling On’, a song of Loretta Lynn. Great song, by the way).
Vagabond? Uhm, sounds like I copied from Matthew Karsten.
Meanwhile, I left for a one-week trip to Bulgaria. I did minor tweaks in the meantime.
Then, walking and still thinking about it, I had a brainwave.
Bulgaria is full of bakeries. Cheap bakeries. I ate countless time in those little, cozy, friendly shops.
Not just in Bulgaria, but all over Europe! So, bakery…
A place where you meet people and a place that is usually very cheap. Exactly what I look for when I’m traveling.
It’s also a place where the baker gets up quite early. He produces something different every day, with love and passion.
Why can’t I bake travels? Wonderful travels. Every day, as in a bakery.
The Travel Bakery was born!
Ivano, my travel buddy in Bulgaria, got an idea about the logo, I improved it, and Devin (message me on Facebook if you want him!) transformed into reality.
It was a great moment.
That’s the whole story, sorry if it took this long. If you need advice or you want to tell me your personal domain journey, I would be glad to read it in the comments below!
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