Stress Free Guide To Rebranding Your Website

As many of you - my long time readers know, I rebranded my blog a few months ago. I got a new name, new look/different platform, new email and also a new url. I've received a lot of questions and comments about this, especially on how to completely revamp a blog and also how to carry your audience along.

I won't lie, it was a tedious process because I did a few things at the same time. I moved my blog from  a self hosted WordPress site to Squarespace, changed the name and look for my blog (The Versatile Nigerian to Work Smart Nigeria) and also my domain name. I also got a new email address to match my domain name. A few downsides to relocating my blog was that I lost a bit of content and traffic. The best part is that it gave me an opportunity to start all over again and refocus my brand on what I wanted to do. If you are thinking of rebranding your blog or website, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Why are you rebranding?

For me, changing the name of my blog from The Versatile Nigerian (TVN) to Work Smart Nigeria allowed me to extend what I could do with this platform. When I started TVN, my goal was to create a space where I could talk about careers, social issues and life in general. Writing under the TVN moniker was a very rewarding experience. But after two years, I was ready to take on more challenges in the form of a side-hustle. Changing the name of the site to Work Smart Nigeria gave me the flexibility to keep writing about careers, while also offering design and virtual consultancy services to emerging entrepreneurs.

Maybe like me, you've grown as a blogger and you're ready to take your blogging or business to the next level. Or maybe you just hate the name of your blog or would prefer to change the focus of your blog. Whatever the reason, rebranding offers a clean slate.

How to rebrand

Decide to rebrand

Do not start the rebranding process until you are 100% sure that you can go through with it. If it maybe sounds like a good idea, but you aren't certain, hold off until you are convinced that this is the right direction for your blog or business. The rebranding process could easily be long and tedious, and also be confusing at times. Be intentional about your decision to rebrand

Decide on a name

What would you like to be called? In choosing a new name, think about your values and philosophy for your blog/website. What is your niche? Is the new name aligned with the image you'd like to project? How does the new name fit into your long term goals for your blog? Will you offer paid services or products on your blog at some point? Choose a name that will allow you to pivot and grow.

Design and blogging platform

Often times, rebranding your blog/website means a change in the presentation of your site. Take time to think through your platform (WordPress, Squarespace, Blogger, Wix, etc). Has the current platform met your needs? Do you need to change from one to another? How would your new design work on your platform of choice? For instance, it is no secret that WordPress.org (not to be confused with WordPress.com) offers the most flexibility in terms of customization. There's also an endless market for themes and plugins, as against Squarespace, Wix and blogger that have design limitations. On the other hand, Squarespace is easy to customize without complicated coding. Deciding on your platform and design is an important part of the rebranding process.

Content audit

Rebranding might include a content audit.  If you are changing the focus of your blog or business, chances are your older content may not be relevant or aligned with your new brand. Doing a content audit allows you to go through your content and delete those that don't fit into your new vision. Letting go of old content can be hard, but you can always create new ones. 

What you need to change

Brand Identity Collaterals

As a professional blogger, you probably have branding collaterals such as a logo, favicon, brand colors, etc. Depending on your level of investment in your blog or business, you'd need to change these identity elements to match your new identity

Buy and setup your new URL

When I changed the name of the site to Work Smart Nigeria, I bought a corresponding domain name and also an email address to match. This keeps the brand professional and consistent. Each blogging/website platforms have recommended vendors that you can buy a domain from - some popular ones include Hostgator, GoDaddy, Hostmonster, Bluehost, etc. Do your research on domain providers and how they work with your platform of choice.

Once you set up your new URL, remember to point your old web address to the new one. For instance, www.versatilenigerian.com will automatically redirect to www.worksmartng.com. In some cases, you might need domain mapping (which is way beyond my technical expertise). The bottom line is don't move to the new domain or site without a redirect in effect.

Update content on the new blog

This goes back to your blog audit. After deciding what content will be migrated to the new platform, make the transfer using whatever directions and tools your current platform provides. Note that there will be broken URL links, so take the time to go through your posts and update those links.

Do not delete the old blog until the new one is completely up and running. If possible leave the old blog and previous URL active for at least a year before completely taking them down.

Carry your audience along

Hopefully, you've kept your readers and subscribers in mind through out the process. Make sure you keep them updated on the rebranding process and how they can stay connected  through the transition period. It is good practice to have a "we have moved" page on the old blog or website once the rebranding process is completed, a redirect to the new URL and other means of subscribing to your new site.

Note that there is a high probability that you'd lose subscribers and even traffic to your  blog. This is not unusual and should not be a reason to not make the move. Just remember to keep your subscribers in the know and also update your information on Google Analytics ( I hope your blog/website is on Google Analytics)

Update your social media accounts

Once you've gone through all these steps, remember to update your social media account with the new name. Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Pinterest, all make it easy for you to change your username. Facebook might require a little more doing on your part - do your research.

If you've gone through all the steps listed above, you are ready to re-introduce your blog and new brand to the whole world. Here are a few ways to announce your new brand:

  • Write a blog post detailing the reason behind the change and the new features and share with your audience
  • Send an e-newsletter to your subscribers which could include your blog post and also images to show off your spanking new website
  • Share on your social media accounts

Well folks, there you have it, the stress free guide to rebranding your blog/website. I hope this gives you the confidence you need to follow through on your decision to rebrand and also makes the process easier. As always, I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have. Let me know what you think by commenting below. 

Professionally yours, 

WSN