Hello Everyone! As some of you may know, I did a complete overhaul of this blog in March 2016. New name. New theme. New social media accounts. Everything new. I know there are SO many bloggers out there that discover their blog just isn’t representing them accurately anymore and they want a change, but it’s scary… and it’s a lot of work. I’m here to tell you all about my experience and share some tips and tricks I learned along the way.
Rebranding Your Blog
Choosing A Name
I am going to assume that you have a name picked out for your rebrand already. However, once you have that name picked out, make sure the domain name available, and the user names are available for your social media accounts. (You can check your ideas here.) I had a name I just loved, but the domain was already taken, so I had to continue brainstorming. Many social media accounts also have a limited number of characters for user names, so make sure there’s something available to fit your new name.
If you are thinking about switching hosting providers, I would highly recommend switching before you do a rebranding of your blog. I made the mistake of switching hosts shortly after rebranding, and it was more work, and my redirect code broke in the process. I am going to do just a quick plug for the hosting company that I currently use: Siteground. This company is seriously amazing. Best customer service by far. My site has not once gone down since switching, and whenever I have needed help, someone is available, whether by phone or online, in less than a minute.
Choosing A Theme
Another thing to think about doing during your rebranding process is implementing a new theme. For the first year I was blogging, I used a free theme from WordPress, and I would recommend using a free theme for anyone that’s just starting out. However, after a year, I knew the format I wanted, and decided to buy a theme through Restored 316. Because I was already going to have a new blog name, I figured, why not create a whole new look.
Transferring Your Blog
Once you have your new domain, you are basically going to copy your current blog over to the new domain. I called my hosting company and they did this for me. I am terrible with computers and tech stuff, so I was extremely grateful that I didn’t have to figure this out on my own. I would highly recommend calling your hosting company first, to see if they can duplicate your blog onto your new site. Just for clarity, I still had my old blog up and running for all my readers to see, but I was working on my new blog behind-the-scenes until it was ready to launch. I implemented a “maintenance mode” plugin for the new site so people would not be able to see the blog until it was actually launched. From my understanding, because this was a copied blog vs. a new blog, I didn’t have the option to “launch the site” when I was ready. It was viewable to the public right away, which is why I used the plugin.
Just a reminder: Whatever content goes onto your old blog after the copy has been made will not magically appear on your new blog. You’ll need to publish posts on both blogs. New comments don’t appear either, so if you want the new comments over on the new site, you’ll have to copy them over.
Links On Your Blog
Now that you have a copy of your blog under your new domain, you are going to want to update your links. If you say something like, “I shared this picture on Instagram” with a link to your Instagram page, you need to change that link using your new Instagram user name. Make sense? I went through every single post and page, switching links to both my social media accounts and links directing to other posts on my blog (although I’m not sure that was necessary).
Another thing to keep in mind is your image urls. As mentioned above, once a copy is made of your blog, any new images are not magically uploaded to your media library, so you’ll need to upload them. I didn’t realize this. I had copied and pasted my whole post (with images), but once I launched the new site, all the images that I hadn’t uploaded to my media library, broke. This was only true for images that were not in my media library when my blog was copied over. However…
All your images are attached to a url, and that url is on your old site name. Once the redirect is in place, if you have clickable images, people may get a 404 error stating the page does not exist. Here’s the reason: If you don’t have that exact image url under your new domain name, and it is trying to redirect, it won’t find it. This was easily solved by implementing the “Remove Image Links” plugin. All links on images are removed unless you create the link yourself. Honestly, I think this is a great plugin whether you are rebranding or not, because if a person clicks on an image, the image opens in the same window. Often people don’t realize that in order to continue interacting with your blog, they need to click the back button. Most click the “X” and suddenly are off your site.
Once you have everything in place, you are going to need to set up a 301 redirect. Before I go any further, some hosting companies will tell you to “park” your old domain so you forego the 301 redirect, but the problem is that Google sees this as two duplicate blogs (and I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing). Setting up a 301 redirect tells Google that the old url has permanently moved over to your new site, and you don’t lose any of the rankings you already have with Google.
There are plenty of tutorials out there for setting up your own redirect, but when the time came and I was ready to do it… it didn’t work. Luckily one of my blogging friends has a wonderfully helpful, tech-savvy, husband that was willing to set up a redirect for me… at 11:00pm. Because he was able to enter my c-panel and create the appropriate code, my site redirects instantaneously. This is one spot I would recommend hiring someone to do for you if you are unfamiliar with coding.
Social Media Rebranding
Most of the time, people choose to update their user names on social media. Some social media sites make this extremely easy, and some (Facebook) do not. Along with updating your user name, remember to update your header images and website url.
Twitter is incredibly easy when it comes to switching your user name. You simply go to your settings tab…
and change your user name (maximum characters= 15)
Done. All your followers remain intact. All your content is there. Remember to update your profile as well with your new website.
Instagram is as easy as Twitter. Simply click on “Edit Profile”…
and change your user name (maximum characters= 30) and website.
Again, your history remains, and your followers are still there.
Pinterest is another fairly easy switch, BUT there are a few things you’ll want to do.
First, switch your user name. Go under “Edit Profile”
and change your user name (maximum characters= 15)
Still a little work to do. You also need to update your website url. Once this is in place, make sure you implement rich pins for your new site, and verify your new site.
For Bloglovin’ you’re going to want to change up your profile with your updated information.
I didn’t change my personal information on Bloglovin’ because most people aren’t following my personal account; they are following my blog. I added my new blog, and then notified Bloglovin’, via their support, that I was switching my url. Bloglovin’ switched my blog account over for me and my followers remained intact.
Facebook is, by far, the trickiest social media. Facebook only allows you to switch your user name once. If you have never changed it, you’re in luck. Simply go to your page settings
And change your user name
If you have already changed your user name once… get ready. Here’s what I did (because I had already used my name change). I started by creating a new page and I used the user name I eventually wanted. For awhile I would duplicate my posts (just from my blog) on both pages so Facebook would see that these are essentially “the same thing”. So I had one page called The Organized Life and one page called Lemons, Lavender, & Laundry. Here was the process I went through…
- I changed “The Organized Life” to “Lemons, Lavender, & Laundry: Formerly The Organized Life”. Facebook doesn’t want you to confuse your followers, so you need your old name mixed in with the new name.
- After a couple weeks, I change “Lemons, Lavender, & Laundry: Formerly The Organized Life” to “Lemons, Lavender, & Laundry 2”. This was done because in order to merge two pages, they have to have “almost” identical names. (I tried skipping this step and Facebook denied me.)
- I then requested the merge of “Lemons, Lavender, & Laundry 2” into the page I had created originally “Lemons, Lavender, & Laundry”.
When you merge, you will keep all your followers, but your old history is deleted. When you merge your pages make SURE you are merging onto the right page. If I remember correctly, Facebook wanted to merge into the page with the most followers (which wasn’t what I wanted), so I had to go through a “contact form” and explain which page I wanted to keep.
Affiliate & Influencer Programs
Remember to update all your information with any with you affiliate and influencer programs you are a part of as well.
One question I had when rebranding was, “What do I do about my analytics?” I didn’t want to lose my history because it provided such great information. I made sure to install the same code on my new blog as was on my old blog. I also updated the information in my Google Analytics and with Google Webmaster.
I use Mailchimp, so I went in and updated all my sign-up forms and templates and auto-emails. Once I believed I had it all in place, I walked through the whole subscribe/unsubscribe process to make sure everything was current for the new blog.
Cori George wrote an entire book on rebranding and she gives a lot of insight into whether rebranding is for you. She shares SO much more than I can tackle in this short post. You can purchase and download her book HERE.
I hope you find this post to be helpful as you begin the rebranding process. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
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