21 September 2010, 10:05
Hi Gala! Hope you’re doing well.
Something’s been bugging me lately and so I have to ask: how important is a blog title, in your opinion? With previous blogs, I’ve used titles – but with my most recent (and thus far most successful) endeavor, I opted for a personal domain (I simply secured my name). I know you used to call your blog iCiNG, even though you’ve always had http://galadarling.com. You stopped using the title long after you became well-known and successful, so I have to ask – how much do you think it helped to have a cute, catchy title for your blog?
I admit I’m drawn in by all that cutesy crap (it’s more enticing for me, personally, to follow a link to a blog that has silly, fun words like ‘cupcake’ and ‘rabbit’ than somebody’s boring old name). But I wanted to get serious with my blog, which is why I decided to stick with my name (personal branding and all that, I guess?); it also makes the most sense for me, since I’m also a book publisher and tarot reader (in addition to fashion blogger), and all these things are featured on my website – I wanted to make it easy for people to find me and locate my services. Also, no title describes me better than…well, me.
On the other hand, my name is kind of odd (while yours is, in and of itself, very memorable and sweet – it is its own catchy title). My first name is easy, but my last is difficult for most people to pronounce and spell (though I’m not sure how much of a problem this is, because I’m guessing usually someone will be following a link, subscribing, or have it spelled out for them on a business card). It is, on the plus side, unique (and plenty of successful people have hard-to-spell-and-pronounce names). But is it so unique that it’s boring, or is it just unique enough that it’s memorable? I keep wondering this, and worrying about it. I may be succeeding bit by bit, but I hope that success isn’t being slowed down by my lack of a fun blog title/domain.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on all this. I like having my name as the domain, though I suppose if I really wanted something cute, I could register a new domain and have it redirect, and give my blog a cute title in addition to my name – kinda like you did. But maybe that would just complicate matters.
Any input you have would be great. Thanks for being so perpetually inspiring.
In order to answer your question, first you need to know what you’re trying to achieve. It’s okay if your goals are different in a couple of years, but right now you can only operate based on what you know today. So, what would you like to do with your web space? Do you want to establish yourself as a fashion blogger, or do you want to be seen as more of a “personality” (which can encompass all kinds of things)?
When I started galadarling.com in 2006, it was pretty unusual to have your full name as a URL. I feel like back then, we were still coming out of that age in which we thought everyone online was a potential serial killer, & so most people used aliases. Most URLs were some kind of nonsense word or combination of words, so buying galadarling.com was an odd thing to do. I had changed my name that year (hilariously, you & I used to have the same one!), & I was so excited about it, so snapping up the name was a no-brainer! I was following the examples of Ben Brown who owned benbrown.com, & Ani Moller who had animoller.com. They were friends of mine, & I thought, ‘If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!’
iCiNG was such a random choice of name for the site. I don’t even really remember picking it. I have some extremely vague memories of sitting in my apartment, thinking, ‘This thing needs a name!’ & writing a list of possibilities on a piece of paper. I debated just calling it Gala Darling but decided against it, & I don’t know whether that affected things much.
I think iCiNG as a name was a bit of a lucky pick. Cupcakes were just becoming “cool” so it’s possible that I plugged into that tiny piece of cultural zeitgeist. It’s a hard thing to measure regardless!
You have to remember that when I started in 2006, I had no idea what I was doing! I actually wanted to start a magazine, but had no money & absolutely no experience! I thought I’d start a blog first to see what the reaction was, & if it was a success, I’d make the leap. Obviously, a magazine needs a name, so iCiNG is what I called it. I’ve had so much fun working online for the past four years that the idea of going into print has slipped to the backburner, but I suppose my point is that the name I chose was really lucky coincidence, & it has evolved as I became clearer about what I wanted to do with the project.
I changed the name of my site from iCiNG to Gala Darling a few months ago, when I was on the phone with Danielle LaPorte.
“How do you feel about the name of your blog?”, she asked.
“What, iCiNG?”, I asked. “I hate it!”
“GREAT!”, she replied. “Time to change it.”
I’ve never regretted doing that. While iCiNG was a fantastic name when I started out, I felt that I had moved past it & it no longer meant anything to me. Plus, why change your name to something fabulous (like Gala Darling) if you’re not going to use it?!
I’m so glad I decided to register my name as my URL. I think even if you’re not going to use it for web projects, it’s a great thing to own & it’s fantastic to have as an email address.
It’s pretty ideal to have your name as a URL & use that space to house your individual projects. Let’s say your name is Bonbon Deluxe. Bonbondeluxe.com could hold your blog, your professional portfolio, a photo project you’re doing & it could also have a page which contains all your “streams” — Flickr, Twitter, Last.fm, Facebook, what-have-you. If one of your projects becomes a bit of a beast (or a business) unto itself, you can always get a separate domain for it & host it over there, but I think at the start, you might as well centralise everything. It’s all an extension of you, after all.
Kris Atomic does this well. She’s very well-known for her blog, but if you go to the front page, you also see links to her various portfolios as well as an Etsy shop.
As you’re a writer, publisher & tarot reader, it’s worth considering that you are selling yourself. You want people to read your blog, buy your books or schedule a reading, & preferably all three at once! So create a little landing space for yourself & branch out from there.
Your fashion blog could easily be called, for example, Rabbit Heart (thanks, Florence & The Machine!) & be located at bonbondeluxe.com/rabbitheart.
While I’m sure it helps to have a “cute” name, I don’t think it’s essential. You’ll get some curious people who click your name on a blog-roll just because it sounds interesting, but I always think the best thing to do is make your content as good as possible. That is always the best way to grow your traffic & audience! You can have the raddest name on the planet, but if your website is rubbish, people won’t stick around. On the other hand, you can be one of three trillion Jane Smiths, & if your writing is compelling, people will flock to you.
Having a “cute” blog name is helpful but not essential;
It can take the pressure off you if you recognise that your web presence is something which is always in progress & that it’s okay to change & adapt as you grow;
Strong content is always the best way to grow your traffic & readership;
Start in one place & branch out as you need to.
I hope this answers your question!