As a long-time (and semi-successful) blogger, one of the questions I get asked all the time in “real” life is how to start a blog. Since I am me, and terribly bossy, I of course have lots of opinions on the subject. Instead of sending the same email again and again, I thought I’d write this guide to the Five Steps to Starting a Blog for beginners.
OK, Five steps is maybe a misnomer. How to start a blog with Five overarching considerations and lots of subtopics, and by the way I’m skipping over a bunch so I think this will be a series is maybe a more accurate title. I’m not getting into blog monetization, or wordpress plugins, or the nitty gritty technical details. This is just the first steps to get you up and running. Since this got longer than I intended (like I said – lots of opinions!) I decided to break this up into five separate posts. This post will deal with things you should think about when naming your blog.
STEP ONE: Name your blog
Maybe you are a genius at this, and you already have the perfect name picked out, and not only are you a genius, but you are also the luckiest person in the world and the perfect name is not taken anywhere. Good luck with that. There are a few components to picking the name for your blog – finding a good name, and finding an available name.
Finding A Good Name
Naming a blog is an art, not a science. It’s important to know what you want to say – what you want your blog to be about – and find a clever or memorable way to describe this. It’s harder than you think. A few more questions to ask when you’re naming your blog:
Is my name easy to spell? Finding alternative spellings may help you with availability, but it’s going to make your blog hard to market (says the woman who named her blog Savour Fare. Don’t do that.) Other things to avoid are leaving off the letter g in an “ing”, or adding in special characters if you can avoid it. Names in the language you’re writing in are also a good bet. There are exceptions to every rule.
Is my name easy to say? Numbers can be great for alphabetized lists, but if you need to specify whether you’re using the numeral or the word, you may be in trouble (you may be able to get around this by purchasing both domains and having one direct to the other – for example both foodfiftytwo.com and food52.com point to the same page). When you tell people the name of your blog, you want them to be able to go back and type that in. Hyphens should be avoided whenever possible as well (again, savour-fare. Sigh.) A great website to check out for lots of thoughts on naming is GoodURLBadURL.
Is my name unique? NounAndNoun.com is a huge blogging cliche (unless you’re writing a blog parody site, in which case go buy nounandnoun.com right now! You’re welcome for the idea.) Adding “ista” to the end of anything has been done. Using “kitchen” and “gourmet” in food blogs, “mama” or “mommy” in mommy blogs, or “diva” in anything may not be the best bet. (Not that there’s inherently anything wrong with these, but you won’t stand out from the pack – many have gone before you.)
Is my name a frequently-searched phrase? If it is, that’s GREAT for driving blog traffic. But this isn’t essential. Your content will bring people to your blog even if the name is never searched.
Finding an Available Name
This is the tough part. I’d recommend coming up with several possibilities because these next steps can be a doozy.
Buy your URL. Once you’ve found the perfect name, buy the URL for the name. URL-squatting has become a huge business, so your first choice (or first three choices) may not be available. There are some ways around this – things like buying the .net instead of the .com, adding an article (like thedomesticfront.com) to your URL, or adding the word blog to the end of the URL. You can also look up who owns your preferred URL and make them an offer to buy the domain. Always keep in mind the spelling rule above when selecting your URL, though. You can search any URL registrar to find what’s available – I like searching on nameboy.com and whois.com, but I usually buy my URLs at Go Daddy or 1 and 1. 1 and 1 is especially great if you want to register a bunch of domains while you’re deciding, since the first year is only $1, but you can also change your registrar later if you want to, and godaddy frequently runs coupon codes for steep discounts. See also this list of domain registrars from Digital Trends. When you’re buying your URL, you may want to pay a little extra (or not, at 1 and 1) to make your domain private, since domain registrations are public, and if you’re using your home address, you may not want that information available.
Check whether your chosen name is trademarked. Once you’ve found a name and made sure the URL is available, you may want to take a few more steps. With my lawyer hat on (though THIS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE) you don’t want to start out infringing on someone else’s trademark. (Quick lesson – a trademark is basically legal protection for a name, and trademarks can only be registered in certain categories. For example, if there’s a board game called Domestic Front, chances are they’re registered in the games category, and I can start a website with impunity). You can have a common law trademark without registration, but I always check the registrations just in case. Here’s the website to search US trademark registrations.
Check how your name is being used elsewhere. This is where google is your friend. If your chosen name is googled, what comes up? Is it a site that would be competitive with yours? Has someone else given that name to their blog with a different URL? This will cause confusion. Confusion is what you want to avoid when you’re choosing a name (or doing anything, really.) It’s better to be unique. I also check blogspot.com and wordpress.com to see if people have started blogs with my name or any variations thereof. Since the web is no longer in its infancy you may find sites with the same name as yours – DO NOT PANIC. You could still use the site. domesticfront.blogspot.com is a blog. So is thedomesticfront.wordpress.com. But they haven’t been updated since 2008 and 2011 respectively, so I figured the opportunity for confusion was not that great. There’s also a website at domesticfront.com, but it appears to be broken.
Check availability on social media accounts. This is less important because you have some control over social media account naming even if your blog name is taken, and people frequently use their name instead of their blog name in their social media accounts. For example, I’m now KateCWheeler on Twitter, and KateTDF on Instagram and Pinterest (I was a little bit sorry about losing savour as a username on these platforms, but I was able to change my name without staring from scratch.) An exception to this is Facebook, where you’re really going to want your page name to have the same name as your blog, but again, you can add things like “blog” to the end if necessary. Plus, if it passes the google test, it’s likely to be available on Facebook as well.
To summarize, when you’re looking for a name for your blog, there are two main areas of concern – finding a good name, and finding an available name. A good blog name is easy to spell, easy to say, unique, and ideally a frequently-searched phrase. To find an available blog name, check for your URL (and buy it!), check US trademark registrations, check google, and check social media to make sure you can consistently use your name on all platforms without infringing on someone else’s rights or causing confusion.
Now you’ve got a name and a URL (and you registered those social media accounts, right?) what to do with them?
I am literally sitting here procrastinating because I should be cleaning out my refrigerator before doing my Friday shop and I don’t want to do either. Do you have any tasks that you put off consistently? I find that the more distasteful a task, the more likely I am to procrastinate on doing it (I also find that it’s never as bad as I’ve imagined it to be). So I’m tweaking the site and posting. (Have you updated your feed reader with the new name?) I also updated the Recipe Index. You’re welcome! Anyway, without further ado:
1. From the Archives:
If you’re back-to-school mornings are anywhere NEAR as crazy as ours, you should make a batch of these Oatmeal Breakfast Bars to keep in your freezer. It’s so great to have a healthy breakfast, ready-to-go, that can be eaten in the CAR. (So great in fact that I think I’ll add the ingredients to my shopping list).
2. But What if My Kids Won’t Eat Oatmeal?
My experience is that kids will eat anything with chocolate syrup on it, so if you’re really desperate you might try that. In the meantime, you should check out this great piece on 50 Ways to Get More Fruits and Veggies into your Child’s Day. (Disclosure: my friend Carol writes this blog, and you should really check it out. She reads all these scientific studies about family and parenting, and condenses them into easy-to-understand articles.)
3. Before it’s a Buzzfeed Article …
My father in law was visiting recently and it came out that he had never seen the Princess Bride. This had to be rectified immediately! I saw it in theaters for 9th birthday party, and I still love it TO THIS DAY. This great article previewing Westley’s new book gives some of the behind-the-scenes tales from filming, and it’s great. (P.S., if you haven’t read the book, you really should. It’s equally great.)
4. And Speaking of Books…
Facebook doesn’t just mine all our personal data to deliver you exceedingly creepy ads! Sometimes they use that data for education and entertainment. I don’t know if you saw that 10 Books that Stayed with me” Meme that was traveling around the ‘Book recently, but Facebook mined all our posts and published a list of the top 100 most frequently-cited books. I know a lot of mine were in that list. (You can see my list on my Facebook Page.)
5. For nerds
I don’t know if you’ve been following the kerfluffle about the problems with Ivy League education recently espoused by William Deresiewicz promoting his new book (not going to post a link to the article or the book because I think they’re not great). What is great is this critique of Deresiewicz posted by Harvard professor Steven Pinker in the New Republic. Even if you don’t care about the elite college system, it’s worth a read simply for its description of what an educated person should look like:
“A liberal education should make certain habits of rationality second nature. Educated people should be able to express complex ideas in clear writing and speech. They should appreciate that objective knowledge is a precious commodity, and know how to distinguish vetted fact from superstition, rumor, and unexamined conventional wisdom. They should know how to reason logically and statistically, avoiding the fallacies and biases to which the untutored human mind is vulnerable. They should think causally rather than magically, and know what it takes to distinguish causation from correlation and coincidence. They should be acutely aware of human fallibility, most notably their own, and appreciate that people who disagree with them are not stupid or evil. Accordingly, they should appreciate the value of trying to change minds by persuasion rather than intimidation or demagoguery. “
I LOVE this. I totally think that this is an ideal of thinking we should all aspire to.
What’s on your mind today? What tasks are you avoiding?
The cruelest month of the year is not April – it’s September. As soon as Labor Day passes, most of the U.S. puts away the flip flops and pulls out the boots, tweeting things like “It’s sweater weather!” and posting taunting pictures of hearty bowls of soup on their instagrams. Meanwhile, we have been suffering through triple digit temps and, to pile insult upon injury, humidity.
Maybe Eliot didn’t live in L.A.
Intellectually, I KNOW that September is the hottest month of the year here – that fall doesn’t even officially start until September 22, and doesn’t really start in Southern California until November. But that doesn’t stop me from being surprised, every year, by the sheer horror that is September in Los Angeles. 105 at my house, folks. 99 degrees at 9 pm. 95 at my office, and the air conditioning broke. I know that when I see my power bill this month I am going to cry. There was really nothing to do but hide in the house, shades drawn, A/C on full blast (which only cooled it to 80, sob), and do absolutely nothing that required any sort of exertion, whatsoever, except eating and drinking very cold things and reading the J. Peterman Catalog. (It goes without saying that I am being just a tad hyperbolic, and September in L.A. compares favorably to being in say, Mosul right now).
So this is it, rest of the world: you are used to Angelenos crowing about the weather, sitting smugly in 75 degrees when the rest of the country freezes their tootsies off in a polar vortex. But not now. This is the week when you can gloat.
Hey guys – I’m back with a pretty big announcement – Savour Fare is now the Domestic Front! Please update your bookmarks and links.
When I chose a name for this blog five and a half years ago, I knew nothing about naming things for the web. I liked the pun! I liked the English spelling of savoury! Hyphens are AOK. Now, several years later, the name that I once loved has become uncomfortable. First, the topics I want to write about have expanded far beyond the original pure food blog I envisioned (though don’t worry – there will still be plenty of food), so the references to Savouring Fare seemed restrictive. Second, even my closest friends can’t freaking remember how to spell my website’s name – how am I supposed to expect the rest of the world to do it?
Why the Domestic Front? I can’t get away from puns, it seems (daughter of two English professors – it’s in my blood!) Seriously – I have a day job where I go to work and solve big problems and offer very smart advice and draft very long documents – I’m not going to write about that. This is about the other front in my life – the family, the home, the kitchen, the library – life on the domestic front. Also, I think that as food websites have proliferated, the very pretty, perfectly styled, extremely curated food blog is everywhere. I wanted this to be a place where reality has a place, too. Where I can talk about how my kids wouldn’t touch a cute bento box with a ten foot pole, how house decorating projects take literally years, how yes, we eat delicious and beautiful organic food cooked from scratch, but sometimes we have fish sticks. Sometimes daily life does feel like a battle, and we must marshal our resources on the domestic front and fight the good fight.
The transition will (hopefully) happen over the next few weeks – the internal links have been updated, and I’m slowly making changes to social media accounts as well. In the meantime, thanks for sticking around through change and growth (and a summer vacation that ended up being a little longer than I intended.)
We have a zucchini plant in our garden this year. Just one, as we have learned from years past that zucchini quickly becomes overwhelming. Fried zucchini blossoms are one of our favorite summer treats, and one of the most cost-effective ways to get our hands on them is to plant our own zucchini plant.
Apparently, though, there is something mysterious in our soil because that one zucchini plant has grown to monstrous proportions. It’s the tomacco of zucchini plants – each leaf is the size of a cocktail table.
We are diligent about seeking out the zucchini and picking them when they’re either still flowers or at a reasonable size, and we’ve been eating a lot of zucchini fritters and zucchini bread this summer. However, occasionally one will escape our notice, hiding under a massive leaf, until one day we discover this Godzilla-zucchini, and have to figure out what to do with it. They’re more watery and less flavorful than the little ones, and the seeds are enormous, too.
Staring at these enormous zucchini this weekend, I was struck with inspiration. What do you do with any excess vegetables? Make soup. But since it is July, and it is going to be 101 degrees at my house tomorrow, chilled soup is the game.
Around these parts, it feels like the glory days of summer. The tomatoes are (finally) ripening! The Nuni has finished summer school and is now living out my nostalgic old-fashioned childhood summer dreams at day camp where she gets to swim and ride horses and do archery and build forts and generally have a grand old time. We have been working diligently at our summer bucket list (last weekend: farmer’s market and train ride. Next up: s’mores, and the obligatory weekend hammock time). Hard to believe we are back to school in a month!
1. From the archives:
Tomatoes are finally peaking at the farmer’s markets (and if you planted yours earlier than I did mine, in your garden), and now is the perfect time to capture that ripe goodness in a jar. Sweet tomato jam might sound weird, but the flavor is just wonderful – familiar and exotic all at once. This one tastes exactly like the one my great-grandma used to make.
Get a look at this amazing house (just purchased by Andy Samberg) in LA’s Beechwood Canyon featured on Curbed LA. Mary Astor and Charlie Chaplin once lived there, and it’s a Moorish fantasy, with ornate ceilings, Moroccan tile designs, stained glass, a door with carved camels on it(!) and a cave(!!) near the swimming pool. There also appear to be white subway tiles in the kitchen, if you’re worried about the hipster cred. I’ve been totally obsessed with Moroccan tile designs lately, so this is right up my alley and some serious eye candy.
If you haven’t read Bossypants by Tina Fey, you have to. Rebecca Traister (whom I have long loved) wrote a great piece on being a woman in a man’s world that’s worth a read, and makes excellent use of one of my favorite anecdotes from Bossypants.
I wear glasses almost every day (my job involves a lot of computer time, and if I wear my contacts, I’m crying uncle by 4 pm), and have to recommend these frames. First of all, Zenni is generally awesome -I buy prescription glasses from them all the time, but these, which I totally bought on a whim, get complimented EVERY SINGLE TIME I WEAR THEM. Seriously, I have gotten compliments on them from the other moms at daycare, my daughter’s teachers, my boss, the checkout guy at Trader Joe’s, my dental hygienist. And they only cost me $50, WITH LENSES.
I know the World Cup is over and nobody in the US cares about soccer anymore, but I, for one, have a newfound love of the sport. It’s so dramatic! Every time a player gets a scratch it’s a federal offense! It’s a lot like living with a seven year old, frankly. Anyway, NPR covered this phenomenon beautifully, and asked the question: What if we lived life as if we were in the World Cup?
When it comes to mothers, mine is (almost) always right.
When I was a little girl, I, being a child of the 80’s, wanted nothing more than crap for breakfast. I watched the beguiling commercials – Super Golden Crisp! Pop Tarts! Leggo my Eggo! – and I asked, nay, begged my mother to give me this super-sugary stuff of my dreams for breakfast. My mother, having come of age in the crunchy late 60’s and 70’s in California, wisely turned me down. I had to eat healthy breakfasts, which always included protein. Cream cheese, peanut butter, whole grain breads – on test days I always had eggs. Protein in the morning was her mantra. I, sulking, vowed that when I had children, I would buy Cocoa Krispies for breakfast!
Of course, my mother was right. One day she gave in to my pleading and let me have pancakes for breakfast (though it’s possible my father had a hand in this disaster). 2 hours later the school nurse called her – I felt awful – headache, stomachache, you name it. My mother crisply told the nurse to feed me some cheese and lo and behold! I felt better! Low blood sugar. (I wish I could say that from this day forward, I happily ate my eggs and turned my nose up at Lucky Charms, but, sadly, it took many years of collegiate hangovers and maturity before I submitted to her wisdom.)
Now I am a mother, and Karma is an ahole, because I have the same battles with my kids. Every morning (or every weekend mornings, because weekdays I have learned enough not to ask), the girl says “Please! Can we have pancakes? You never make pancakes!” and the boy, who worships his sister, pipes in with his little voice, shouting “Pancake! I wan’ Pancake!” and then adds, hopefully, “Frosting?” (Because cakes have frosting. I am clearly more relaxed about sugar than my mother was. Pancakes do not, however. I’m not THAT relaxed.) And I repeat back to them my mother’s mantra, and try to wangle some sausages into them and the whole thing, is frankly, exhausting.
It’s the summer solstice! The longest day of the year! The official first day of summer, which, by some magic, is also Midsummer. No matter how you slice it, today is the day when even your most pedantic friends can’t deny that summertime is here, and with it, summer cooking. We’ve already been going crazy with the stone fruit in our house (my children are fruit bats, and I keep finding half-gnawed nectarines in the oddest places) and last week I broke out the first official BLT.
Here’s a list of great The Domestic Front recipes to get you in the mood for cooking this summer!
I live 2 minutes away from where I grew up. This was a combination of happy chance and deliberate decision making – we knew we wanted the kind of beauty and community my hometown provided, and when we decided to buy a house, the first one we looked at happened to be here, in this neighborhood, 2 minutes away from my childhood home. What that means is that to some extent, my children are living my childhood – playing in the same park, reading in the same library, walking the same streets.
My childhood comes back the most vividly for, me, however, when I’m in the kitchen, with my daughter (who is truly my mini-me), making dinner from my mother’s recipes. Cooking together is a thread that links the generations of my family. One of our family’s favorites is meatloaf – the recipe is forgiving enough for little hands to help, and we can work together – chopping, mixing, shaping. I let her choose the McCormick spices we add (within reason), and she has pride of ownership when the meal comes out of the oven, “Daddy, I MADE UP this recipe.” The meatloaf becomes hers, as it has been mine, and my mother’s before me. When we gather outside to eat (because we are Californians, and we eat outside three quarters of the year), I hope that my children feel the strong sense of home that I felt, that brought me back here, to my home town, to my neighborhood, and to the family table. That is American Homemade to us.
Summertime! And the living is easy! And the drinking should be, too. This Trader Joe’s Cheap Wine Pick is one of my favorites, and has been a staple of my summertime tippling for several years.
Wine: Espiral Vinho Verde Region: Portugal Style: Crisp, refreshing white with effervescence Price: $4.49 a bottle
I first discovered Vinho Verde when I lived in New York, and it was one of my favorite wines for a New York summer. Nothing cut through those muggy days like a nice cold glass of vinho verde – super crisp and refreshing, with d just a few bubbles. When I moved back to LA, I was thrilled to find this great (cheap!) Trader Joe’s version for only $3.99! (Though I think the price has gone up this year to $4.49). Vinho verde originates in Portugal, and refers to a region and a style rather than a specific grape. Vinho verde wines are made with very young grapes (hence the nice acidity you will find in most vinho verdes) and have a slight sparkle to them (that wikipedia tells me originally came from malolactic fermentation, but is now usually a result of artificial carbonation.) It’s low in alcohol – the Espiral Vinho Verde is only 9% ABV – so it’s great to drink in hot weather without getting that sticky feeling you can get from too much of the hard stuff, and it’s a nice mixer for some of the lighter summer wine-based aperitifs, like a kir. It’s nice citrusy flavors pair well with a lot of summer food – fish, grilled chicken, tomatoes, pesto, pasta. Eminently quaffable!
Based in Los Angeles, the Domestic Front is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!