Identity Crisis – What’s In A Blog Name? (Part 1)
If, like me, you tend to overthink things, choosing a blog name can be traumatic; fraught with indecision, with occasional bursts of resolve, only to be scuppered by second-guessing.
The process can drive you insane, sap any creative juices and leave you feeling defeated before you’ve even started. If you’re me, that is. Which, as it happens, I am.
There are umpteen very useful, enlightening articles on t’interweb providing guidance on ‘How To Choose a Blog Name’. I’ve probably read them all, and there’s little point in a re-hash job on my part. Not only very plagiaristic but I wouldn’t be ‘adding value’ to the concept (to use the popular commercial term).
Plus, theories don’t always give you what you need, i.e. that real-life, meaty context that you can properly relate to. Even if that very context teaches you what not to do. What I haven’t seen much of during my search for online inspiration is the individual journey, from the first spark of enthusiasm, through hair-tearing despondency and that final, fist-pumping moment of relief.
So I’m offering you context by the bucketload. Welcome to my own challenging journey from blank canvass to fledgling identity. I don’t mind if you laugh at me or with me, because you won’t be thinking anything I haven’t already thought myself.
One inspired evening, following an engaging afternoon talking future plans with friends, I took to a quiet place with pen and paper, trusting to the tried and tested method of self-brainstorming. Fortunately, I already had a particular concept, or direction for my website, and various elements I wanted to incorporate; travel, space exploration and sustainability.
Travel: I took the concept out as widely as I could. Anything that suggested movement, searching, destinations. Online thesauruses (or thesauri, or just thesaurus as in 1 sheep, 2 sheep??) were a godsend as I stretched the idea to breaking point. Areas such as sport, dance and even communication found themselves loosely assembled under the ‘travel’ umbrella!
Space Exploration: From our very own ‘pale blue dot’ (as Carl Sagan referred to the Earth), to the vastness of the cosmos. I wasn’t trying to be grandiose, but the subjects of astronomy and space travel have featured heavily in my life and would form an integral part of my blog, so I wanted that aspect represented. For the record, PaleBlueDot.com itself, of course, was gone.
Sustainability: It’s a no brainer, for me at least, that for each and every travel choice we make, we should be mindful of its impact. Now, there are far better, eco-savvy people out there doing fantastic work on that front, but maintaining awareness of sustainability issues in tourism is an essential aspect of my remit.
Honorary Mention – Music: This was always likely to be the area of compromise. I love music intensely, but I wasn’t creating a music blog or review site. At most, music would feature in an incidental way, or from a cultural perspective, i.e. a festival. (having said that, one of the first posts I wrote was a live gig review for Rival Sons!).
The final category was for those words I just liked, or that didn’t quite fit into the first 4, such as ‘sparkle’ and ‘labyrinth’. This section included onomatopoeic words such as ‘whoosh’ and ‘buzz’.
I imaginatively labelled this section ‘Other’.
I didn’t try too hard, jotting down words as they occurred to me; travel, trek, voyager, journey, global, space, stars, world, earth, tales, pages, woman, beats, tracks, notes, skies, sphere – straightforward words. A few connections started to emerge, for example: journeywoman…. globalskies……mostly, the names were taken, at least for all the major domain extensions.
Which wasn’t a big deal because, although I liked them (sort of), they weren’t quite right for a number of reasons. Suddenly, I saw it.
Earthnotes. It was p.e.r.f.e.c.t. Simple and succinct, it said what I wanted it to say – I travel around the world and write about it in my blog posts i.e. notes. The word ‘Earth’ gives an astronomical context. ‘Notes’ doubles up as a musical reference, which for me, was a nice-to-have. Earthnotes even has an ethereal quality to it, and an ecological nuance, all of which suited my embryonic agenda for blogosphere domination.
Square Peg, Round Hole
It almost seemed too good to be true, and sure enough the euphoria lasted only for as long it took to check the domain name. It was gone, at least the .com was taken and let’s face it, for many folk it’s the only choice. I wasn’t planning on being an information site or a charity/NGO, so the .net and .org extensions weren’t for me.
I wallowed in the concept for a while, buying the .uk alternative, and considering various hybrid versions such as ‘earthnotesnews’ and ‘newearthnotes’. It all felt derivative, shoehorned and too much of a compromise.
Nothing else jumped out at me so I spent a while away from my identity crisis and invested time in setting up the initial website. The days passed by and I learnt about widgets and slugs, web hosting, domain name parking and cybersquatting. As a last-ditch attempt to secure Earthnotes.com, I spent a few weeks to-ing and fro-ing with ever-increasing bids to the incumbent registrant of that domain, through an intermediary organisation.
I got nowhere slowly.
The worst of it was that during this period of frenetic activity I attended a blogging event under the ‘Earthnotes’ moniker. A rookie error, but I was convinced at the time it would work out. My advice, should you ever find yourself stranded in blogname limbo, is to stick to your own personal identity until you have 100% established your professional one.
The positive in all this is that I felt relieved in the end. I had tried everything possible, and it just wasn’t to be.
It was the end of one phase, and the beginning of another……..
…..continued in Part 2 …………
Disclosure: There’s nothing left to disclose – I’m laying myself bare here, innermost thoughts an’ all….! Open to chortles, guffaws and snorts of derision. That’s just going to have to be enough! 🙂