As you probably know, I recently rebranded my blog. New name, new URL, new look—the works.
It took me about six months to pull the trigger on the change. There was a lot of hemming and hawing about whether I was just suffering from the Grass Is Greener Effect, whether I’d regret it, whether it would be worth all the hard work.
Finally, one day, I realized that I was subconsciously planning on it. When I thought about the future of my blog, I saw Blog 2.0.
So if I was definitely going to do it, why not just do it? The sooner the better, really.
I changed my blog because I changed as a blogger. The things I cared about and wanted to talk about shifted, as they do for a lot of bloggers, and I basically outgrew my original name.
I know this is a super common experience for bloggers, both as they find out more about who they are in the blogging world and as their lives shift. People who start out talking about running end up getting into CrossFit, people have babies and want to incorporate parenthood into their blog, etc. Maybe a super-specific name needs to get broader, or a super broad name needs to get narrower.
You can read more about why I wanted to change my name, and why I picked the name I did, here. But honestly, one of the biggest factors was that I just wasn’t proud of my name anymore. I was embarrassed to say it to people, for whatever reason.
What I really wanted was something I’d be proud to put on a T-shirt or a coffee mug. I know that sounds dumb, but it was actually very useful in helping me figure out if my new name idea was the right one.
Your blog name should be you, and it should feel good. (I loved this blogger’s perspective on what’s in a name.)
If it doesn’t feel good, change it!
—Make sure you’ve thought it through. I mean, obviously…but seriously. This is not something you want to be doing every other day.
Will you really be happy with a freshly branded blog? It’s kinda like the “don’t have a baby to fix your relationship” thing…if you just hate blogging, a rebrand isn’t necessarily going to fix that. You might get a little boost of inspiration, but it’s not going to change your life.
—Tell your readers what’s going on. A lot. I was super wary to blog about my plan because aggh! Commitment! But it’s important to start prepping your readers at least a few weeks in advance to: A) give them the heads up, B) get them excited/curious, and C) boost traffic. (Because why not, right?)
People are naturally very curious about blog rebrands, and they’ll be dying to see what you’ve been cooking up by the time you pull back the curtain.
—Try to get a good URL. One thing that bugged the crap out of me on my old blog was that the URL version of my blog name wasn’t available. Even though my blog’s official name was Healthy Nest, I had to use myhealthynest.com, which inevitably led everyone to think my blog was called My Healthy Nest. No no.
Obviously, short, memorable URLs like YourBlogName.com are the best, if you can manage them. This is a time when self hosting gets important (do it!!).
—Set up the new design on the new URL. A perk of doing a full rebrand, vs. just a new design, is that you can take your time setting it all up on the new URL without having to take down your old blog. Once you’re ready to go, all you have to do is redirect your old blog URL to your new one, and BAM–new site.
—Remember to update directories that list your blog. My blog is listed on sites like Healthy Living Blogs and PopSugar. In both cases, I had to get in touch with the site managers to get my name updated.
There are probably other places my old name is listed, like people’s blog rolls and–oh yeah–allllll over my old photos, a lot of which are on Pinterest. You can certainly go around and clean all that up, but that’s more work than I wanted to tackle.
—Go crazy about your rebrand on social media. I always click on tweets that mention “new look!” or whatever–I’m just curious. Everyone is. A rebrand is the perfect time to get ridiculous about your social media posting frequency.
Speaking of social media…
Updating social media
This is actually the part of the rebranding process I was most nervous about.
Mostly because it’s a lot of busywork, and who likes busywork?
I did a lot of research into how to pull off my name change on social media without losing followers. Let me do you a favor and cut to the bottom line: it’s not a big deal. At all.
That is–as long as the names you want are available. (I sorta took it personally that mine were wide open–no one wants this???)
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Twitter – so easy to update.
Some people do a little fancy finagling to keep their old account around, for tracking purposes and/or in case anyone goes looking for it (details here if you’re interested), but I just popped in and changed the name in my profile. 2 seconds later, it was done.
2. Instagram – also simple. Instant update in the profile.
I have seen people post an image explaining that their name is about to change. When Liz updated her name from Cave Girl Eats to Real Food Liz, she actually changed her Instagram name to a mashup name, something like cavegirleatsrealfoodliz (haha), to get people used to the idea that they were related.
3. Facebook – a little trickier and more time-consuming if you have over 200 followers. (If you have fewer, it’s simple and immediate.)
You can update your URL right away, but you have to contact the FB people to change your actual page name for you. The request itself is kind of a process, too–you have to fill out a form and sometimes even provide paperwork to prove that you really own the new name. (I skipped the paperwork part and just held my breath–luckily, they seemed to believe me.)
It took FB about a month to get to my request and actually make the change. Before they did, they automatically emailed an alert to all my fans, letting them know the change was coming (which I wouldn’t have even known about if my husband hadn’t told me).
I’ve heard that it can be even more painful to update your FB name if you have a lot of followers and/or a very short/high demand name. (If that’s you, just be ready to show a lot of proof that you have some legit claim to the name.)
You can also (supposedly) only change your page name ONCE EVER. So make sure you mean it!
4. Bloglovin – need to contact them to change your URL and move your followers over to the new blog.
This works opposite of Facebook–you can change your name immediately, but you’re stuck with your URL until someone at the company changes it for you. Luckily, in my experience, that process was totally quick and easy. The Bloglovin person got back to me quickly and made the change no problem. (Maybe that’ll be different in 5 years!)
It’s also really nice that they move your followers over for you, so you don’t have to ask everyone to re-follow you on BL.
5. G+/Pinterest – seems easy/instant.
I didn’t update either of these myself, since they’re under my real actual name instead of a blog name. But it looks like it’d just be a quick profile update. In the case of G+, I’ve heard that you can only change your name a few times (three maybe?) before you get locked down for good.
Oh, and don’t forget to update the social media icon links on your page!
—Don’t feel stupid wanting a rebrand. You should be able to feel proud of something you work so hard on. It’s not “just a name”–it’s a huge part of your online identity.
—Own the decision and don’t look back. Mourn your old name while you still have it, if you have to, but once you’ve switched, you need to be all in. Regrets are a waste of time and will just drive you nuts!
—Don’t worry about the work. I expected the whole thing to be far more painful than it was (although I’m VERY lucky to have a web designer husband to help me!). Just remember that it’s (hopefully) a one-time thing, and the right decision will make it all worth it.
Plus, having a blog is hard work in itself! And you got over that hurdle.
—Use the opportunity to reorganize and rewrite static pages. I still have some work to do on my pages, but I totally revamped my navigation bar and I’m much happier with it.
—Use the change to reinvigorate your blog. Like I said, a rebrand isn’t going to make unicorns start popping out of your screen. It might not bring gobs of new readers your way or make writing any easier than it was before.
BUT–it is kinda motivating. When you sit down and look at your pretty new blog, you’ll want to make it even better. And you’ll have just done all that “who am I??” thinking, so it’ll be time to actually start translating that onto the page.
P.S. If you’re pursuing a rebrand and need some help on the technical side, my husband is a freelance web designer and is willing to take on blogging clients (he’s very familiar with all this blogging biz now, thanks to all the stuff he’s been forced to do for my site!). Just shoot me a note on my contact form if you’re interested.
Is anyone else considering a rebrand right now?
If you’ve recently rebranded, what was your experience like?