It’s easy to think about starting a newsletter.
You dream about the industry recognition you’ll get, the wave of paid subscribers whose monthly payments will be hockey-stick shaped—up and to the right, and all the clever things you will say about your area of expertise. But like most things, in practice, it’s a bit harder than that.
Probably one of the very first things someone looking to create a newsletter does is think about the name. On the one hand, a brand is what you make it, and “CostCo” or “Gatorade” aren’t inherently valuable words to build a brand on, but have been honed through marketing into something meaningful. On the other hand, you definitely want to give your brand and the domain name you build it on a bit more thought that the founders of Pen Island (penisland.com) gave theirs, for better or worse…
Strategy: Study Popular Newsletters
Might as well look at the naming conventions of popular newsletters to see what your options are.
The THE + KEYWORD Strategy.
There’s a lot of really high-quality, successful newsletter that use this tactic–and for good reason. You can only have ONE “The Something” name (and .com) to define a whole broad niche with the right keyword. Some popular newsletter publications using this strategy:
- The Athletic
- The Correspondent
- The Hustle
- The Ringer
- The Information
Most are pretty straightforward, and you can probably guess what kind of content you’re going to be receiving if you sign up. Because this is one of the best strategies to name your newsletter, you can go ahead and bet that whatever name you think up has the .com most likely registered.
Your best bet to find a THE + KEYWORD domain name is to check domain auction sites like:
Or marketplaces like:
…but it’s not gonna be cheap, so let’s keep brainstorming!
Obvious Industry Phrases
Right up front, you’re going to have the same kind of problem as before, as anything that’s obviously a good fit will definitely be taken. But let’s explore some newsletters that use this strategy well.
- Casual Spectator (sports terminology)
- Cleaning the Glass (basketball terminology)
- Input-Output (computing term)
If you had a coffee-focused newsletter you might name it “No Foam” or a gaming newsletter called “Mana” or “Hit Points.” Your best bet here is to Google “<industry> terminology” and then scroll through those definitions.
Another example: I saw a name expire the other day that would have made the most amazing football newsletter called “Wide Left” (wideleft.com). The domain name is currently for sale at under $1k — still a great deal.
All Alliteration Always
People just love to name things that begin with the same sound. Just something about the “pattern” of similar sounds lining up that makes our pattern-seeking brains happy, I guess?
Here’s a list of newsletters that use that alliteration action (!!!) to name their publications:
- Politico Playbook
- Tasting Table
- Lefsetz Letter
- Wait But Why
- Today in Tabs
- Convince and Convert
- Orbital Operations
Pretty self explanatory: just grab a related word or your name and find another word that goes with it. Then despair when the .com is taken.
Adding a “Publication” Medium or Frequency
This method is as old as the oldest newspaper and still being used by some very big publications. It is what says it is, basically. Watch:
- The Daily Beast
- The Daily Water Cooler
- Muck Rack Daily
- SaaS Weekly
- Startup Digest
- UX Design Weekly
- Smashing Magazine
- Exposure Weekly Selects
- Ann Friedman Weekly
- Austin Kleon Newsletter
- Weekend Briefing
Pretty obvious, just take an industry related word and add “Daily” or “Weekly” after it. Or find a word that sounds good like… “Bright” and add “magazine” or “newsletter” or “digest.” Or hell, just call it “<Your Name> Newsletter.”
Just Call it Something
“But don’t call it late for dinner.” — your dad, probably.
In the end, spending a year looking for the perfect name is waaaaay way less valuable than just naming the damn thing something and getting started honing your writing voice, your ideal reader, your monetization strategy.
The important thing here is to not over-think it.
Starting an Apple-focused daily newsletter? Call it “An Apple a Day.”
Starting a fancy chocolate bar newsletter (like I want to)? Call it “The Chocolatier.”
Starting a daily cannabis newsletter? Call it “Daily Cannabis.”
You get it, it’s not that hard! Just give it a name and get writing–that’s not the hard part of naming a newsletter. THIS is the hard part of naming a newsletter:
Why is Every Domain I Love Taken?!
When you finally hit that idea-jackpot and an energy-saving LED light bulb flashes briefly over your head, the very first thing you’ll do is run to GoDaddy, type in that amazing brand… and see that the .com was registered in 1998.
The .org and .net were taken several years later, but still a full decade before you thought of it. So what’s a prospective newsletter creator to do?
1. Embrace Alternative Domain Names
This is a trend I’ve seen get more and more popular, much to the chagrin of domain name investors.
Basically, in 2014 ICANN gave the OK for many new domain name endings to compete with .com, .net, .org, etc.
These new gTLDs (general top level domains) were a little bit general (like .xyz and .world) and a lot niche-specific (like .marketing, .sport, .music, .audio, etc).
One of my favorite examples of this is Heated World, a newsletter about climate change. The sign-up page (and content) can be found at https://heated.world.
Another popular newsletter built on a new gTLD is Proof of Work, found at https://proofofwork.news.
As more people start niche newsletters, I think this is a trend we’ll see have a steady rise. While startups that raise million dollar round after million dollar round can afford one or two word .coms, you just starting out on your newsletter are not likely to be able to acquire such domains, so finding a memorable new gTLD is a good solution (and, I would argue, it is not as critical to the success of your venture to have the definitive .com of your newsletter name, the same way it is for an Uber or a Calm to have theirs).
Here’s an example of a great new gTLD domain (that is available!) to illustrate this idea:
making.beer — adventures in DIY brewing
(I tried to find a lot more than this, but just randomly searching niches that I’m not an expert in is super time consuming. This will be a better strategy for someone that knows all the different terminology and different phrases).
My favorite place to find these alternative domains is at PorkBun.com.
2. Build a Newsletter on a Non-.com Domain
If you want to be a little less adventurous than trying a new gTLD, you can just search out more traditional .com alternatives to build your newsletter on. There are even more examples of newsletters using this strategy to build their digital homes upon. Here’s a list of examples:
As I mentioned previously, it’s less critical for your newsletter’s online address to be the industry-defining .com, because your website won’t define your publication, the emails you send to your list will (which is kind of the draw, tbh…).
So there you have it, a framework with many examples for thinking about what to name your newsletter, and how to find a really great and memorable online address for it. If you choose to sign up with a platform like Substack or Revue, you can call your newsletter whatever you want since you’ll end up with an address like YourNewsletter.substack.com or getrevue.co/profile/YourName.
Finally, if you are looking for some help naming your newsletter, or specific help finding/acquiring the perfect domain name–and you’re not already a member of Newsletter Crew, I’d encourage you to sign up. There are many members inside on the same journey, and it’s always nice to have an engaged community to throw around idea with. I’ll be in there, as well, with a thread dedicated to helping answer your specific domain-related questions.
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