.blog, New and Improved

It’s time for a new look for .blog. Since our launch in November 2016, we’ve kept our branding focused on a style that speaks to the fun and communicative nature of our community: bloggers.

As .blog grew, and our mindset grew along with it, we decided it was time for a branding revamp. Our logo offers a more simple and sleek look, aligned with the overall design and vision of our parent company, Automattic. This more streamlined style brings your focus to our favorite keyword: blog.

In the process of redesigning the .blog logo, we reimagined the .blog website. We’ve introduced a variety of new features, including:

  • A .blog domain availability checker, so you can easily see if the .blog domain you’d like is available to register.
  • True to our bread and butter, we’ve highlighted our blog to be front and center on our site.
  • Our homepage now highlights sites included in our dotblogger program, so you can see all of the influencers and bloggers we’re proud to call members of the .blog family.

The new look is courtesy of Chris Runnells and Kjell Reigstad of the Automattic design team, the folks behind design.blog.

We’re excited to launch this new look and feel it is an excellent representation of our focus for the year to come. Straightforward, streamlined, and, as always, putting bloggers first.

If you’re interested in learning more about the team of designers behind the new look, check out design.blog. For our partners, you can find the new design guidelines under the Marketing tab.

new dotblogger: omg.blog

An online entertainment blog with a twist, !! omg blog !! has been in the blogging game since 2003. Geared towards the 18 and up crowd, !! omg blog !! offers celebrity news, daily laughs, and an original Q&A series, all from an LGBT perspective.

They recently made the switch over to omg.blog and we’re excited to welcome them into the dotblogger family. We had an opportunity to chat with their founder to hear his perspective on blogging and why they made the switch to .blog. Continue reading “new dotblogger: omg.blog”

Coming to a Conference Near You

As any seasoned domain industry veteran knows, we’re entering conference season once again. That’s why the .blog team will be dividing and conquering in the next two weeks to attend both CloudFest in Rust, Germany and ICANN61 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Paolo Belcastro, the Knock Knock WHOIS There team lead, and Don Ruiz, our Head of Business Development, will be heading to Rust to connect with our registrar partners and promote our new marketing programs to both current, and new, participants. We appreciate opportunities like CloudFest to connect with our registrar channel in person, where we can catch up on everyone’s latest projects, collaborate, and enjoy the exciting atmosphere brainstorming at a conference like CloudFest can bring.

Erica Varlese, our policy and compliance officer, will instead be heading to San Juan, Puerto Rico to attend ICANN’s first public meeting of the year. We’ve attended each meeting since ICANN57 in Hyderabad, India and appreciate the value these conferences bring for staying up-to-date and participating in policy discussions within the ICANN community. Like many others, we’re very eager to see what comes of the conversations around the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) during this first ICANN conference of the year.

While we make our way around the globe to connect with other registries, registrars, and end users, we look forward to seeing what projects and policies we build from these discussions. As always, if you’ll be in attendance as well, drop us a note or come find us if you’d like to meet up!

Featured image via CloudFest.

Higher Awareness for new TLDs

KKWT is teaming up with Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, to bring a higher awareness and usage of new TLDs through the launch of 26 new websites using .blog domains, thanks to their Global Head, Computational Design and Inclusion, John Maeda, and his unprecedented ability to bring people together to create!

Many of these sites, which represent some of the most popular verticals in the blogging space, were designed by high school students, Automattic’s talented designers, and members of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) to help tackle the diversity problem within the technology and design fields.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 12.30.18 PM

Several sites also incorporate illustrations by artist Tony Ruth and definitions by lexicographer Erin McKean.

  • For artists, Automattic will be launching art.blog, movie.blog, music.blog, photo.blog, poetry.blog, and video.blog.
  • For those passionate about business, finance, and politics, you can now choose from business.blog, finance.blog, law.blog, news.blog, politics.blog, and water.blog.
  • Wanting to show off your passion for your hobby? Fear not, we’ve got you covered too with car.blog, game.blog, fashion.blog, food.blog, and travel.blog.
  • For the lifestyle and fitness-minded, take your pick from family.blog, fitness.blog, health.blog, home.blog, and school.blog.
  • Coders and scientists can unite with code.blog, science.blog, and tech.blog, as well.

Through each of these websites, users can now get free sub-domains that speak to what they do, who they are, or who they aspire to become. So Aunt Mindy, the lawyer, can get mindy.law.blog; Julio, the personal trainer, can get julio.fitness.blog; Katarina, the aspiring photographer, can get kat.photo.blog. The choices are endless. Impressive, right? We think so.

The ability to get online easier is critical to making the web a better place and plays a significant role helping Automattic strive towards their mission of democratizing publishing to the web. For KKWT and other registries offering new top-level domains (TLDs) like .blog, having Automattic offer free sub-domains creates an unprecedented awareness opportunity that will help change the way people view and use new TLDs.

.blog: Measuring Success

It is sometimes difficult to measure the success of a new TLD. Is it registrations, revenue, usage, or renewal rates? For .blog is it the number of posts, blogging activity, or something less obvious like awareness for all new TLDs? Well, maybe it is a combination of all of these things.

We recently completed our first full year offering .blog and things are certainly moving in the right direction. We are pleased to announce that .blog is exceeding our expectations in many areas. With lofty goals, our strategy focuses on usage, uptake, and renewal rates.

The following graphic highlights these important .blog statistics.

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Solid growth, usage, renewal, and paid attachment rates should yield increased revenue, longer-term customers, and higher customer satisfaction for our channel of domain resellers and are great indicators of the potential of .blog as we continue offering it to the world.

Hmm…What Shall I Blog About?

For many people — including me — this is the time of year to spend time with family, raising glasses and loosening our belts. It is also a time when many of us reflect on the past 12 months, making promises to ourselves and others for the upcoming year.

One thing many people vow is to write more and share their experiences through blogging. This proclamation is often immediately followed by a blank stare: “now, what do I write about?”

To help you get inspired, we did some digging to find out what bloggers actually blog about. For this initial study, we asked Automattic’s Data Team to find out what .blog users actually write about. They collected all the tags and categories people use on posts, choosing 5 random posts per blog to study —  here’s a word cloud of the top 2000 words in their analysis:

dotblog_tags

While life, travel, love, family, food, writing, and health dominate, look at the fine print: there are blogs about anything and everything, from wildlife to makeup to religion to film. Finding a topic to blog about can be as simple as making a list of the things you’re most passionate about.

It’s time to stop making excuses and get down to it. You’ll be surprised how blogging will not only fulfill a resolution, but enrich your life!

Happy 1st Birthday .blog!

A big week in the history of Knock Knock WHOIS There: it’s our birthday! A year ago, .blog domains became available to anyone. With the help of our registrar partners, we’ve already registered over 130,000 .blogs — and more than 60% of them are used by bloggers as the primary domain for their blogs!

pexels-photo-428124

Last year, we celebrated the launch of .blog with a memorable party at ICANN57 in Hyderbad, India. While the majority of the week was focused on business and policy, we cherish the relationships built and memories created on that eventful night. (If you missed out on the action, check out our recap and photos from the event.)

Since last year’s launch, we’ve helped more than 80,000 bloggers get set up with their own .blog domains. That includes dotbloggers like Tim Ferriss (tim.blog), author of The Four-Hour Work Week and host of the most popular podcast on iTunes, The Tim Ferriss Show; Om Malik (om.blog), one of the most influential voices on the internet; and professional photographers like Emily Polar (emilypolar.blog) and Kirsten Alana (kirstenalana.blog). It also includes organizational blogs from a range of corporations, non-profits, and governments, from fashion retailer simplybeusa.blog to California’s Department of Consumer Affairs (thedcapage.blog), to travel sites like triplog.blog.

A big part of the .blog vision is democratizing publishing on the web. Bloggers have completely changed the way we understand writing and consume information. Blogs give everyone the opportunity to share their stories and raise their voices.

As Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com and our parent company, has said, “It’s almost like if 500 years ago, everyone in the world had their own printing press. They could publish as much as they want. That is the opportunity we have today.”

The beauty of .blog is that it’s accessible to everyone, from corporations to professional authors to individual hobbyists and every writer in between. We’re grateful for each and every single .blog domain and all the partners and end users who built .blog into what it is today. Thank you for all the ways you share!

 

Building Your .blog

You have an idea. You have a .blog domain. You even have a few blog posts written and ready to go. But what will you use to publish them? Registering your domain is is an important step — but it’s not the only step. Choosing which blogging platform to use is the second most important decision you’ll make.

Your “platform” is the software or service you use to publish your content online. In the early days of blogging — and website-building in general — most sites were hard-coded: every page had its own HTML file, and the HTML had to be changed manually for any new content or updates. Later, people created content management systems like Joomla and WordPress to automate much of the behind-the-scenes part of website-building and simplify the process of publishing on the web. Today, knowing how to code is no longer a prerequisite to blogging. Instead, with online services and software, it’s possible to sign up for an account and create a blog — sometimes even within minutes. The software does the heavy lifting, taking care of the bulk of the code required to create a website online. With that out of the way, all that’s left is to write and create your content with the tools your platform offers.

There are quite a few blogging services and platforms around today. While so many choices means there’s definitely a blogging platform that will fit your needs, it can be difficult to know where to start. Ask yourself these questions to decide which option is best for you:

What’s my budget?

Blogging platforms and software can range from absolutely free — like the open source project, WordPress.org — to paid models with dozens of custom features and services. When considering blogging platforms, keep your budget in mind and think about what you’re willing and able to invest.

If you’re just getting started, a free service like Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress.com is a great option; you can get a simple site up fast, and focus on your content immediately. However, if you’d like a little more control over how your site looks and what it does, you may want to consider software that you can install on your own hosting provider — rather than hosting all of your content with the service itself — like WordPress.org.

Keep in mind: if you decide to self-host your content, there may be some additional costs, like monthly hosting fees and labor costs if you decide to hire a designer or developer to take your site to another level.

What’s the support like?

Free products and open source software are great resources for your site, but each one will have a different level of support available. If you set up your own hosting to install the open source WordPress software, your primary resource for assistance will be the volunteers at the WordPress.org support forums.

While many forums and online resources are filled with just as many experts as a business with a fully-fledged support team, some people prefer the security of a dedicated support team. If you’re new to building websites and would like a more hands-on approach to creating your site, a managed hosting plan may be up your alley. Managed hosting is when your hosting provider installs the platform for you, takes care of any needed updates or backups, but also allows for more flexibility than most free blogging platforms. A brief Google search — i.e. for “managed WordPress hosting” or “managed hosting for blogs” — will uncover companies and services in your area, using different platforms at a different budget levels. Managed hosting means you’ll more than likely have direct access to a support team who can help with any questions.

How flexible is the software?

All blogging platforms will allow you to create a blog feed where you can publish your posts and share new content with your audience. However, there are a variety of other features you may want. Keep your site goals in mind when picking a platform so you’re sure it can accommodate your needs.

For example, is your blog a standalone, or will it be part of a larger website? Do you want to tie it in with your other social media platforms? Will you be selling anything or do you need a way to collect email addresses from visitors for your newsletter?

With a list of features in mind, that will help you wade through all of the options out there to ensure that you don’t begin building your site on a platform only to find out later that it won’t work for you.

How much control do I need?

For the vast majority of new bloggers, an out-of-the-box blogging platform is all they need. However, if you’re a company that needs specific, additional features on your site — a search option if you’re a real estate agent, or a secure contact form if you’re a doctor — you may need some custom features.

Using an open source software like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla gives you the freedom to edit and adjust the code as needed. With shared hosting providers, like Tumblr or WordPress.com, there’s often a limit to how much custom code you can add (shared hosts need these limits to ensure the security of other bloggers on their platform). Generally speaking, self-hosting your site, through providers like Bluehost, A Small Orange, or SiteGround will allow this type of customization.

Can I change my mind later on?

Over time, the purpose and needs of your site might change. If you decide to switch to a different domain, different hosting provider, or even a different blogging platform, it’s helpful to know in advance what your options are. Many people keep their blogs in the same place for years and years, but others may need to shake things up.

Before settling on a platform, do a quick search to see if there any importers and exporters that exist, or if the platform offers any information on moving your content. While many platforms have a way for you to take your work with you, some don’t. Knowing that you can package up your content and bring it with you anywhere keeps you empowered and in control of your site.

There are many platforms out there — but don’t let analysis paralysis stop you! A little advance planning will equip you to make an informed choice that will carry you through the early days of your blog to decades into the future.

Finding a Great Domain Name

Are you ready to launch a website or blog? You have an important decision: finding the perfect domain name. We’re here to give you a few tips and tricks to land a domain that’s just right.

For instance, did you know there are hundreds of domain extensions available today? There’s a whole world beyond .com — .club, .online, .live, .lawyer, .company, etc. Finding a good (and still available) .com domain can be challenging, but your perfect domain name might not end in .com! Whether you’re starting a blog, work in healthcare, own a small business, or have a photography studio, domain extensions like .blog, .health, .company, and .photography are available to give you a unique, specific, and memorable domain.

Now that you know about all the options available, you’ve got to buy a domain, and that means finding the right domain reseller. A domain reseller is where you buy your domain name, and you’ll want one that supports a variety of domain extensions. Most will, but do a bit of research before settling on a reseller; your domain is central to your online identity, so invest a little time to find a reseller you trust. Are they reputable? Do they offer a variety of domain extensions? How is their support? Do they have good domain management tools? Location or price may be an important factor to you, too.

Your reseller should also have a domain search and suggestion tool that lets you both search for domains and gives you a list of alternatives. If they only have an availability check that does not suggest other domains, head to another reseller — it’s important for you to be able to see the wide variety of options available to you so you can choose the best domain for you.

Not all domain search and suggestion tools are created equal, so we recommend trying a few different searches. As you do, keep in mind these simple rules:

  • Keep it simple
  • Make it easy to spell
  • Keep it short
  • Make it memorable
  • Make it relevant to you and your brand or online identity
  • Do not use misspellings, hyphens, or numbers

Begin by searching for full domains that match your brand or online activity, like bestvideogames.blog or jills.plumbing. There may be available domains with extensions that you never knew existed. Jot down the available domains that appeal to you.

Next, try a few keyword searches that describe your online activity or brand, like “best video games” or “Jill’s plumbing.” You might want to include a location if you are a business catering to a specific area — searching for “Jill’s plumbing New York” may lead you to jillsplumbing.nyc. Each search you try will result in different suggestions and availability. Do this several times, and you’ll come up with a few choices you never even thought of.

Now that you have a few options for your new domain name, there is one last step before you register it. Do some research to ensure the name you selected is not legally copyrighted, trademarked, or being used by someone else — there just might be another Jill’s plumbing company in New York. A quick Google search should do the trick. Spending time up front helps prevent any costly and time consuming legal entanglements.

With a little extra effort and awareness, you’ll be able to find the domain that perfectly matches your business, idea, blog, or identity — one you’d be proud to send your friends.

.blog at the Grand Meetup

When someone asks where Knock Knock WHOIS There is based, the answer is complicated. Our team ranges across North and South America and Europe — you can find someone from KKWT online and at work at almost any hour of the day. How’s that? KKWT, like Automattic — our parent company and the company behind WordPress.com — is fully remote, meaning we work from anywhere and everywhere. Continue reading “.blog at the Grand Meetup”