Friday, February 11, 2011

One Tip for Writers Starting a Blog

If you're a writer and considering taking the plunge into the blogging world, I have one piece of advice.

Photo by stephaniewatson

Use your author name in the URL and the title.

I know, we all want our blogs to stand out. We want the title to be clever--a good thing--and catchy--another good thing. But failing to include your author name in the URL and the title will cost you.

There are two reasons to use your author name in the URL and title of your blog.

1. From a platform perspective:

You're starting to build a web-presence to help you either get published or get readers. Will agents, editors, or readers Google an obscure title? No, they will Google your name. We want every online effort to reflect back to our author name. Let's make it easy for search engines to find us!

2. From a reader's perspective:

I follow hundreds of blogs, and I read them in Google Reader. The title of the blog shows up along with the title of the post. If your author name isn't in the title of your blog, it makes if very difficult for me to connect you as the author.

A few days ago, in the name of researching this post, I counted how many blogs I follow that feature a play on the word write in the title but no author name. Twenty-five! My memory for matching authors with blog names is very limited.

If I see Julie Musil: New Blog Post, I'm more likely to read it because I know and like Julie's posts. (If you don't follow Julie Musil, go on over to her blog. She's terrific!) Plus, I connect Julie's name to her Facebook profile and her tweets on Twitter. Whenever someone retweets or shares one of her posts on a social network, I see her name with the title of the post.

On the other hand, it's very hard to remember that Write Bucket is written by Susie Sunshine. Even if I adore Susie's posts, I'm less likely to read them because I've forgotten Write Bucket belongs to Susie. (I made up Write Bucket and Susie Sunshine--my apologies if this is an actual blog.) If her post is retweeted, I don't see Susie's name in the title of the post, making it less likely for me to click on it.

If you already have a blog, consider altering the title to include your author name. It won't affect old followers (any existing links to your site from other blogs will still show up under your old title), but new followers will have an easier time coming back. In Blogger, simply click on "Settings" and type in your new title, example--Susie Sunshine: Write Bucket.

If you follow many blogs, do you have a hard time remembering who the author is if the name isn't in the title? Does it affect your reading habits?

Have a fabulous weekend!


  1. It depends on the title of the blog. If it's a cute title I'll check it out. But I agree with you that putting your name up there helps. But, the bloggers I follow and comment on their post, I recognize their blog titles. I think the content and the title of the post is more important. :)

  2. This is all true, but it really depends on how it shows up in search engine. I'm lucky in that even though my blog url isn't my name, it still comes up if you search my name because my actual website (with my name in the url) links it. If you're not set up for that kind of thing, though, then yeah, I say def have your name in the url.

  3. Best advice ever! I messed up with I did mine and so now I know people have to google my name to find me and I hate to start over!

  4. Wow, this seems familiar! ;)

    Were we just discussing this yesterday?

    Completely agree. Am considering making the URL change for thoughts that move.

    ~ Wendy

  5. Good points Jill! I changed my name of my blog to match my URL. But noticed the search engines don't catch it. I'm learning how to build a web-site and hope to attach my blogs to a new place by the end of the year. I'll think about using my name but it isn't as pretty sounding as yours!

  6. I totally agree. I have my dashboard with the blogs I follow, and I have memorized some blog names, but really prefer to check by the name I know. Some blog names are so similar, I forget which blog is which!

  7. This is good to consider. I am actually going to be moving my blog to a different site pretty soon and I have been debating whether to rename it... Thanks for the advice!

  8. My name's not in my blog title, but when you google my name, Whole Latte Life does show up. My name is in the url though. I do recognize bloggers from their blog titles, especially if they're some of my regular stops. Usually their blog content makes the connection for me, title to name.

  9. I've really been struggling with this. I know that it's smart for marketing. It's just not how I approach my writing. I don't think of it as a career. I don't think of it as coming from me or of myself as the product.

    I would love to have your advice. Should I change Moonboat Cafe? How could I do that so it works?

  10. Great thoughts, Jill. I totally agree. I have quite a few blogs I read (most with some form of "write" in the title) and quite honestly could not tell you who owns the blog. I'm definitely going to do this!

  11. I wish now that I'd used my name for my blog. Though if someone googles my name my blog comes to the top.

    I have a feeling that in the near future when I get everything set up for my new website, I'll be changing the blog to match.

  12. Good morning!

    Laura: I used to be able to match the title of the blog with the reader, but the more I follow, the more I struggle with it!

    Jessica: I agree. Blogger and Wordpress make it easy to redirect your blogger to a domain name, and new bloggers would be smart to take advantage of it. I'm redesigning my website later this year and plan on redirecting my blogger URL to my website. Great tip!

    Terri: Anyone who has been blogging a while and has their author name connected to their blog will still show up in search engines regardless of the URL. But new bloggers will have to put more effort in to get their name in SEO, so every little thing helps!

    Wendy: Have you considered purchasing a domain name and redirecting your blog to it? It would solve all your problems and your readers wouldn't even notice. Easy and only about 10 bucks!

    Lynn: Pretty sounding isn't important--unique is. A name is almost always more unique than a title. Good luck!

    Kelly: I have the same problem. It wasn't bad when I followed less than a hundred blogs, but it's difficult now.

    Angela: You wouldn't even have to rename it--just add your name to the title. "Angela C: Title" Good luck!

    Joanne: Yes, and you've been blogging for a long time so search engines have made the connection over and over with your name and blog. And I envy you your memory!

    Cassandra: If you have no intention of getting published, you have more freedom to do what you'd like. But I still think it's a good idea to have your name in the title, because it will draw more readers to you. Your blog is like a breath of aromatherapy! One easy way to change your title would be this, "Cassandra Frear: Moonboat Cafe."

    Jenna: Same here. I wish that wasn't the case, but honestly, it is. I can't mentally keep track of that many similarly named blog titles!

    Thank you so much for stopping by!

  13. Erica: I'm researching how to redirect my blog to a subdirectory of my website's url. It's better for SEO and will directly link to my website when people stop by. I came across an interesting article about this yesterday. I'll try to e-mail it to you soon.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  14. How ironic. I just came over to your blog because it stood out in my list of blogs as having an author name. I knew whose blog I was clicking on and didn't have to stretch my poor brain muscles. My problem is that when I started blogging, my husband didn't want me to use my real name. Later, I started an author site that uses my name in the url, But my blog gets more traffic. I'll have to add my full name there.

  15. Hey Jill! These are good points - unfortunately I started my blog before I knew all this! Do you know if there's a painless way to change these things?

  16. Thanks. This is a brilliant idea. I've thought about this, but was afraid it would wipe out my followers. Going to change it right now... At least on Blogger. My other blogs are fine.

    Lynnette Labelle

  17. I have to save the link for my favorites as So-and-So's Blog or there's no way I'll remember.

  18. I have trouble remembering whose blog belongs to whom so I like the idea of using names as titles--just for the ease of it. But as far as from the platform standpoint I think it's a great idea and it makes sense to give these kinds of things some thought before starting a blog.

  19. YES! I actually changed some of my favorite blogs in my Google Reader to reflect a person's name one night while watching TV. It made my life so much easier. But it would have been helpful had everyone done that to begin with. (For the record, my Blog Title didn't start out my name, although my url has always been my name.) i have no idea how my blog showed up in Readers b/f I retitled it.

  20. Great advice - and one ABSOLUTE MUST is "Women, get your own email"!

    If your name is Joyce Smith, but industry people are getting a response from Bill Smith, it looks unprofessional, inappropriate, and as if you aren't computer savvy enough to handle your own email--not to mention the fact that we're worried we're so sleep deprived and rushed that we actually emailed the wrong person.

    Editors and agents are NOT going to want to go through your husband every time they want to connect with you.

    One thing I've NEVER seen is a man using his wife's email. Why do so many women do this? I can't understand it.

  21. This is EXCELLENT advice. I still laugh when I think of what my blog was originally titled, and thank GOD that I didn't put the title in the url. Phew! Brain throw up is NOT a brand I wanna build, if ya know what I mean. :)

  22. When I started, I was afraid people might know too much about me. I guess I was a bit paranoid. Now, I am used to my title. I will think through what you said. You have some very good points to consider.

  23. Jill: You bring up a good point. Our spouses might not be comfortable with us using our real names. In that case, it's vital to pin down a PEN NAME before starting a platform. (I'm so glad we connected through Twitter, by the way!)

    Heidi: Yes. There are painless ways to change these things. In regards to your URL--you can purchase a domain name and have blogger redirected to your new URL. Your blog won't be affected except that your new URL will have your name in it. Also, you can change the title of your blog at any time (in Blogger) by going to Settings and typing in a new title.

    Lynette: Good idea! Good luck!

    Suzanne: Oh good! I'm glad I'm not the only one!!

    Cindy: Yes, it's smart to think long term when starting a blog--I agree!

    Heather: Smart idea! I might have to try that. It would make life easier!

    Jennifer T: Absolutely! And with all the free e-mail services, there's really no reason not to have a dedicated e-mail just for you. Good point!

    Katie: That's right! But you know I loved your blog from the beginning. It certainly didn't hurt you, and now you have a fab brand going!

    Nancy: I hear you. Privacy is a concern, but we can control certain information and the rest we just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  24. This is really so helpful at such an appropriate time - last night I was pondering starting a blog with my pen name rather than the obscure, yet clever, domain name I have owned for over 10 years.

  25. Here, here! I heartily agree. On Google reader I found a way to change what I call a person's blog, so on some of my favorites I went in and called it their name instead of their official blog title.

  26. Anonymous: Before you start a new blog, consider redirecting your current blog to a custom domain name. Or you could keep your obscure URL and just give it the blog an overhaul by putting your author name in the title and header, and making sure you type in your author name into the tags section of each post. Search engines will find you, regardless of your URL. I'd hate to see you lose the readership you've built up and when you change blog url's (instead of redirecting your blog's URL to a custom domain), you risk losing readers.

    Georgiana; This is such a clevel idea. This would help my brain on SO many levels!

    Thank you so much for stopping by!

  27. I don't know if it affects the blogs I read, but per your advice, I'm going to change the title of my blog right now, since it helps others! Thanks! :)

  28. Very helpful. Thanks for the tips Jill.

  29. Jill, thanks so much for the kind mention and the link back. I appreciate it!

    You make such excellent points. For me, it was dumb luck because I didn't realize other writers named their blogs something clever. Now I'm thankful for that lack of cleverness.

    I do have trouble connecting real names with different blog names. And then you add in Twitter, which sometimes has another name. The photo sometimes helps, but the easier we make it on readers, the better.

  30. What you say is true, and my URL is my first name, but by the time the URL is my name, my email is my name at myname, --and on and on. *!* get sick of my name. Others are likely to get just as tired of it/me.

  31. Thanks for the excellent advice, I'm emailing your posts to my friends and ditto what Julie said above. When I started I didn't know I was supposed to name my blog something fance so I stuck it with my name, now I'm glad I did!

  32. Thanks for the excellent advice, I'm emailing your posts to my friends and ditto what Julie said above. When I started I didn't know I was supposed to name my blog something fance so I stuck it with my name, now I'm glad I did!

  33. Jill:
    When I named my blog, I wanted to bring attention to a writing ministry, hence the name Quiet Spirit. When I respond to a comment via e-mail the information gives my real name. At the end of my email is a link to my blog with the Quiet Spirit Is this confusing?

  34. Hi Jill -

    My name is in the URL, but the blog is Christian Writer/Reader Connection. I also use my name as a tag to posts.

    Susan :)

  35. Jill! I was so thrilled to read this! My blog is called . . . Nina Badzin. I literally could not come up with anything better, then I realized--hey--my name is my "brand." I'm promoting ME. I'm glad you think it's the right thing to do. :) Seriously, I wasn't sure. (I'm still a Newbie. Started in mid-November)

  36. Great advice! I set up my personal blog with my name as the URL, but it took me far too long and several blog name changes before I wised up and used my name as the blog name--for the reasons you said.

  37. Angie: Thanks!

    Lauren: It also helps orientate the reader that you're the author of the blog. Win-win!

    Ellie: You're welcome!

    Julie: I think you have a natural instinct for promoting your author name!

    Texanne: Too funny! Actually, I don't get sick of seeing the same name over and over. Take the example of Elana Johnson--when I see her tweets or blog posts, I want to check out what she's saying because she comes across very warmly. We may get sick of our own name, but other people don't!

    Nas Dean: Thank you! And your instincts led you right!

    Quiet Spirit: It's not confusing. However, it will help to feature your author name on your blog when you decide to query your devotions.

    Susan JR: Yep! Good. Adding your author name to tags gets your name to search engines. Nice job!

    Nina: You got it! You're promoting YOU. Exactly!

    Keli: Ha! I love your blog!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  38. Ha ha! I should probably change mine, as I started it before I really understood all of that, but I do like it and I tend to be oh so stubborn!

    And Yay, Julie!!! :D

  39. I read this the day you posted it and have been fretting about it ever since. I have an awful lot of name. I have the sort of name that ran off the end of all those official forms we had to bubble in when in school. I did get my domain in my name - but cannot seem to bring myself to name my blog after myself as well -- despite agreeing with your logic. Those blogs in my blogroll which are clearly writers' blogs -- and which most clearly identify themselves as belonging to so-and-so -- get the most attention.

    Still fretting. We'll see where I end up.


I love to hear from you!