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Before re-branding my blog, I was constantly experiencing massive creative ruts, in which I dreaded writing my next blog post or became frustrated by the (lack of) direction my blog was going in. I tried for months to combat it, yet I kept hitting wall after wall. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, my blog was no longer a fun activity that I looked forward to or discussed with pride; instead, it became an assignment, just another item to check off my to-do list.
If there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that this is not what blogging is about. Blogging is supposed to be about creative fulfillment, positive energy, and pursuing something you love. But for me, before re-branding, this obviously wasn’t the case; this is why re-branding was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. It gave me the opportunity to pursue a topic that I loved, build my blog in the direction I wanted it to go in, and help me fall in love with blogging all over again.
But it was far from easy.
Re-branding is a lot of work. First, there’s topic of what a re-brand is and what actually qualifies. But along with your content re-brand, there’s also a visual re-brand that contributes to the overall “vision” of your blog and how people will remember it.
However, these don’t tell us the step-by-step process of actually re-branding. Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone actually understands the process until they undergo it themselves. That’s why I have created the ultimate step-by-step to re-branding your blog that will help guide you along on everything you need to do in an attempt to not forget anything. To help simplify everything, I have divided this list into 3 different sections:
- Part 1: The Initial Steps of Preparing Your Blog for a Re-Brand (this post)
- Part 2: The Technical Aspects of Re-Branding Your Blog
- Part 3: The Last Steps of Re-Branding Your Blog
This post is primarily concerns preparing your blog for the re-brand, ensuring that you have everything prepared for when you begin doing the technical aspects of re-branding (such as setting up re-directs, installing a new theme, etc.). Having everything ready ahead of time ensures a short down-time for your blog, as well as making sure that the transition is as seamless as possible.
If you are more interested in the technical aspects of re-branding your blog, that part of the ultimate blog re-brand guide will go live next week.
Until then, here are the steps you should undertake to make sure that your blog is fully ready for re-branding
1. Identify Your New Niche
As I’ve stated before, there is a huge difference between a re-brand and a re-design, no matter how much the visual element of your brand contributes to your blog. A re-brand should focus primarily on a change of your site’s content (a.k.a. your “niche”). It can be an expansion on your current niche, such as from writing about college to writing about college and grad school, or it can be a narrowing of topics, such as going from talking about U.S.A. travel to Texas travel.
However, it can also be a change in your niche entirely, such as how I went from writing about college to writing about travel and blogging.
To identify your new niche, here are some key questions to ask yourself:
- What is it that I don’t like about my current niche?
- Dissatisfaction with one’s current niche is usually where the desire to re-brand comes from. However, it’s important to first identify exactly what it is that you don’t like about your current niche. Is it an over-saturated market? Then maybe first try narrowing down your niche to something more unique. Is it too narrow of a niche to write about? Try broadening it. Do you get tired of writing about the same topics? Try expanding your niche(s) to include something else, rather than abandon it entirely.
- My reasoning behind this is that many people can become too quick to abandon their niche without identifying what it is that made them leave it in the first place and then they run into the same problem again with their second niche.
- If you decide to switch niches, try making the transition to the new one to test out what it’s like before fully dedicating yourself to it. For example, during my first re-brand I went from writing about college to writing about college and travel. Later on, when I realized that writing about college still wasn’t working for me and continued to be the source of my creative ruts, I abandoned that niche entirely, and fully switched over to writing about travel and blogging. Not only did this make the transition between niches better, but it also allowed me to begin adopting a new audience and slowly phase out the old one.
- Have I received critique?
- Before fully abandoning your current niche to transition to a new one, ask for some critique on how you’re doing or what you could do better. This could be anything from asking your friends or family for their opinions to doing a reader survey or series of polls on social media. Feedback can make a world of difference to see where some of your blog’s hidden problems are, which may be invisible to you, but are easily seen by others.
- What do I enjoy talking or writing about?
- This is one of those awful questions that makes our minds instantly go blank as soon as we try to think about it. So instead, let me re-phrase it: what are some of your favorite activities? Hobbies? Things you’re best known for? Whether it’s traveling to local parks on your days off, knitting scarves in the craziest of patterns, or canning the best fruit preserves in town, the things you love doing may just be the niche you’ve been asking for.
- Write down these activities. Ask your friends and family for feedback. Begin writing out blog post ideas that talk about all the things you love doing, then organize these into common topics and categories. Once you’ve done this, find the overarching theme for all these topics and categories: Congratulations, you’ve just found yourself your new niche.
- Can I create a list of 10-15 idea posts for my new niche?
- When I was re-branding my blog, I had included a few niches/sections of my blog that–in the long run–never had any blog posts in it. These were my forgotten niches, ones that I had put on my site when branding and re-branding (the first time) but never actually wrote about in the long run. Why? Well, not only were they not a primary topic of interest, but I simply couldn’t think of anything to write about that would fit under that category.
- When undertaking a new niche, stop and write down 10 to 15 blog post ideas that will fall under this new niche. If you’re already struggling to do this, it may be a sign that you need to re-think about being in this niche.
- Is there a way to narrow down my new niche?
- Although being broad can help with having a large number of topics to write about, it can also harm your blog, as it will be harder to stand out among the crowd. It’s easy to say “interior design blog” but how many can say “interior design blog focused on 100% sustainability and LEED certified designs and materials”? A topic like this would help this blog stand out among the crowd. So before deciding on your niche, begin considering how you can narrow it down to make it unique to you.
- Is the new niche something I can continue with long-term?
- The blogging world is constantly fluctuating, just like our niches. However, we want our niche to be something sustainable over a long-term. So when re-branding, consider whether your new niche is something that can be talked about for years to come. For example, college blogging is great, but it’s usually something you can only do for a few years when actually in college. Although it’s fine to talk about it after college, you will gradually lose your expertise as the college and education fields change with a new generation.
- While this isn’t necessarily something that should drive you away, it is something that you should be cautious of and plan for in the long run, as you may need to plan to re-brand again.
Once you have answered these questions and decided on your new niche, it’s time to move on to the 2nd step of your blog re-brand.
2. Decide on Your New URL and Website Name (if needed)
Although not always necessary, a new website name and URL is the perfect way to show dedication to re-branding your blog. It indicates that you’ve (1) Re-branded, and (2) Have new content on your site, as well as clarifying the new focus of your website’s content. For example, a blogger whose website is called “Emma’s European Adventure” and writes about traveling around Europe may decide to switch to a niche in cooking. Obviously, the website name and URL no longer fits, and Emma would need to change it.
However, it can also be an opportunity to switch to something that feels more fitting or unique to you.
My website was originally called “Letters From Sunshine”, which I choose it because I compared blogging to writing a letter (which I actually did in that format for the first 3 cringey posts) and I thought of my personality as happy, much like sunshine. However, I quickly outgrew this within a few months, so when I re-branded the first time, I changed it to “Forever Charlotte Nicole”. Although this was much better, I still wasn’t in love with it. In fact, it was chosen much more out of the desperation to change it from the original name and incorporate my name somehow, which everyone was encouraging at the time.
Over a year later, during my 2nd re-brand, I then changed it again to This Girl Knows It, a blog name I am actually satisfied with and has made a world of difference in my blog. Additionally, the name itself is very widespread, meaning that it can relate to just about anything, even if I decide to re-brand again in the future. (Which hopefully will never happen, but just in case, my blog’s name is ready for it. 😅 ).
How to Decide on a New Name for Your Blog
There are dozens of blog posts dedicated to this topic alone, most of them providing the same vague content that does nothing to really help the aspiring blogger/re-branding blogger come up with a new blog name. If anything, it sometimes makes it harder.
Although I can’t make a new blog name magically for you (I wish it were that easy), these are some questions to ask yourself that should help you along the way:
- What is your blog’s re-branded niche?
- Although a very basic question, it’s certainly an important factor to consider. Why? So you can begin considering synonyms to help spark some inspiration.
- For example, if you’re a travel blogger, create a list of terms like this:
- Using this list of key words, you could incorporate them into a blog name, or find them as a spark of interest to come up with a new idea.
- How to you/your blog want to be remembered?
- This is similar to the first question, but instead of asking about the content of the blog, I’m asking about the personality of the blog.
- For example, here’s a list of personality characteristics:
- This is another list that can help spark some ideas. For example, I knew that I wanted my blog and I to be remembered as knowledgeable and informative. This then sparked my idea of naming my blog This Girl Knows It, implying that I am knowledgeable about the topics I write about. See the connection?
- What are some blog names you like and why do you like them?
- When I’m stuck for ideas, I’ll sometimes turn to others for inspiration. By analyzing what others have done, it gives me the opportunity to critique what I’m doing, as well as see how I would do something differently by drawing from my own experiences. In this case, you could look at some of your favorite blogger’s website names and ask yourself why you like those blog names. Whether it’s because it’s simple or complex, includes their name or not, you can see just what you like about each of them and how you can include those elements into your own website name. This may not help you come up with a name, but it can certainly give you an idea of what you should be looking for.
- Look for inspiration in some of your favorite lyrics and quotes.
- Ideas rarely happen out of the blue. Oftentimes they are inspired by a memory, quote, song lyric, event, or something similar. That’s why I encourage looking at some of your favorite lyrics and quotes for similar inspiration to see how they inspire you. Maybe create a list of some key words, themes, or overarching ideas that you feel drawn to. Then, combined with the tactics above, you can use it to create your blog’s new name.
3. Decide to Switch Hosting (if needed)
Re-branding is your golden opportunity to tear your site apart and re-build it to become the blog you always dreamed it could be. So if you’re changing your niche, blog name, etc., then why not switch your hosting, too?
Now let me just clarify, you should only switch hosting if you are having continuous trouble with your service. Around the same time as my 1st re-brand, I finally threw in the towel with Bluehost and switched my site’s hosting over to Siteground. I was having continuous trouble with Bluehost as my site and the server kept going down, even though I was receiving very few pageviews at this point. In fact, there’d be mornings where I’d wake up to multiple emails about my site crashing throughout the night, even though there’d barely be any people on it. If my site could hardly handle a handful of people (try saying that 10x fast), then how did I expect my site to be able more people as it continued to grow?
Thankfully, I used re-branding as my opportunity to switch hosting over to Siteground and I haven’t had my site go down once since then. They are 100% reliable (unlike Bluehost), so I highly recommend them if you’re considering switching your hosting provider. To check them out, just click here.
4. Determine Your Re-Branded Blog’s Color Scheme
The visual elements of your re-brand are tremendously important factors. I discuss this in great detail in the previous post of my blog re-brand series. Essentially, however, your blog’s re-brand is an opportunity to re-envision your blog’s visual brand, not just the content (niche) brand. I recommend having 1 key color followed by 3-5 complimentary colors that can be used throughout your blog’s theme, logo, etc. How to determine these colors, as well as a my recommendation for a color scheme generator to help spark some ideas, are discussed more in this post.
5. Decide on a New Blog Theme
Although not a necessary step of a blog re-brand, utilizing a new website theme on your site does make the statement that you’ve changed direction, as it is perhaps the biggest visual element on your website. After all, it’s not only one that will be seen, but one that will be interacted with by site visitor’s as they come to your blog.
There are several elements that should be taken into consideration when choosing a new theme, including your new niche. The niche determines that types of content you want the new site theme to focus on. For example, with my travel niche there’s a huge focus on photography, which is why I’ve chosen a theme that has this focus.
I have more information on how to choose a new blog theme by clicking here. I found my website’s theme on Creative Market, which is my one-stop shop for all my blogging needs. The site is easy to browse, find and save items of interest, and they even give out 6 free items a week, ranging anywhere from fonts to photos to website themes themselves!!!
To check out Creative Market, just click here.
6. Purchase Your New URL
After deciding on your blog’s new name, it’s time to purchase the URL. I recommend using a .com address as it’s the most memorable and common web extension on the internet today. To purchase your new URL, just go to your hosting service’s website and it should be under an “Add Services” page, or something similar.
Be prepared to make a slight variation on your blog’s new URL name, just in case the one you want is already taken. However, I don’t recommend changing the extension so you could still have the same website name (such as from .com to .co or .us.com), as this can quickly become confusing. Plus, returning site visitors who are typing in your web address are most likely going to be thinking in terms of “.com” and will likely end up at the wrong website.
7. Create Your New Logo
Once you’ve made your website’s new name official, it’s time to begin creating your new logo. You can either go through a professional service or you can make one yourself. I recommend sketching out some ideas on paper first (as I know getting away from the computer helps me plan my ideas better) and then working on either a free service like Canva or a paid service like Photoshop to create your new logo. I talk more about blog logo’s in my visual re-brand post, but here are some basic elements you’ll want to consider:
- Font: It should come as no surprise that fonts carry their own characteristics. Which ones speak to you and your brand?
- Color: The colors in your logo should coordinate with the colors you determined in step 4. What are they?
- Graphics: The use of pictures in a logo can be very beneficial, and help a logo stand apart from the crowd. However, it’s easy for them to become overwhelming or overused. Should you choose to use graphics in your logo, which ones will you choose and how will they coordinate with the rest of the logo?
- Size: Sizing is extremely important when it comes to a logo. Personally, I prefer logo’s that are more horizontal than vertical. The one thing you don’t want to do is have an over-sized logo on your website, as it can look careless or unprofessional.
- Personality: Logos, like fonts, colors, and graphics, can carry a personality themselves. When looking at your logo as a whole, what characteristics does it convey?
- Visual Weight: With the logo being a center of focus on your website, it’s visual weight not only establishes an even weight across the logo itself, but across the entire website. When creating your logo, make sure that the logo’s visual elements are equally distributed across the space.
8. Notify Your Blog’s Followers of the Upcoming Re-Brand
The last step of preparing your blog for the re-brand is notifying your followers of the upcoming changes. This should be done on all of your social media accounts, your newsletter, and (if possible) on your blog as well; some ideas for doing this is through a blog post or a pop-up box on your website notifying site visitors of the upcoming change. This is a courteous measure, especially if you’re changing your website name, so that they’re not confused and unfollow thinking that they’ve been directed to the wrong website.
Re-branding your blog is a lot of steps. In fact, I can count at least 25. However, the challenge is more than manageable. In next week’s post, I will be talking about the technical aspects of re-branding your blog, including URL re-directs, blog theme set-up, Google Analytics, and so much more.
Until then, let me know what you think of the 1st part of this guide so far, and how you’re incorporating these steps in preparing your blog for it’s re-brand.