Confession: I started my ﬁrst blog after a night of binge drinking and googling “blog.” Evidenced by starting on Typepad, I had no idea the scope of the sport. Any blog I had stumbled on accidentally was by way of Google. It wasn’t until following the link from my ﬁrst commenter and poking around her blogroll that I discovered I wasn’t a special snowﬂake. Everyone and their mother, it seemed, had a blog. As the blogging community unfolded in front of me, I organically formed a tribe with a few fellow newbies. The difference between us, though, was they were really eager to improve. I continued to write like no one was reading and gave no study to best practices or the basic principles of SEO.
Checking Google Analytics was Scary
I had no goals when I started blogging. I was at least a year in the ﬁrst time I checked Google Analytics. I was shocked at the heinous terms which landed people on my posts. Thankfully my site received minimal Google trafﬁc because I didn’t want the person who searched for “girl child vagina” looking at pictures of my kids. After, I learned a little about SEO with the goal of keeping freaks away from my blog. Still, I was pretty lousy at the whole process and didn’t rank for any intentional search terms.
Bloggy Burn Out
It took about two years for my original tribe to disband. Some went on to great things and others faded away completely. I was still in the middle spinning my wheels and I really started to question the point of it all. I either needed to invest real effort into growing or quit the time suck. Last winter I connected with Vanita Cyril of The Strategic Mama. After taking her Google Luv course, I committed to optimizing my blog. I made SEO my full time job for weeks and committed to updating years worth of posts. After sweat, tears, and countless hours it finally occurred to me the content of my posts weren’t conducive to optimization. If I was going to be successful, I needed to narrow my focus. Yes, the niche word.
Finding My Niche
Analyzing the posts I had written over the past year, the answer wasn’t immediately clear. Health, nutrition, and ﬁtness are a big part of my life, but I rarely wrote about them because they didn’t resonate with my Funny or Snot audience. I had a lot to say on the topic, but I knew I couldn’t do it within the framework of my established blog.
Starting Over: A Blog Rebranding Story
Deciding to start a new blog was huge. Funny or Snot had been part of my identity for over 3 years. With the encouragement of my friend and mentor, Vanita, I made the leap and started a healthy lifestyle blog focused on women my age. Starting a new blog the right way was hard work. I put a lot of thought into the layout, design, and category structure. Since the topics I would be writing about were easily searchable, SEO was my primary focus. The process was grueling, but I am so pleased with the results. My new blog, Facing 40, launched at the end of June. By the end of July my numbers, due to Google trafﬁc, weren’t far behind my established blog of 3 years. By the end of August my Alexa ranking was higher.
Things to Consider When Rebranding
Hard work and patience are crucial for the long, tedious process of rebranding when your previous brand is well established.
Social Media Accounts
All of my social media accounts and memberships to blogging communities (including Sverve) were based on my old blog with my old numbers. Converting and updating accounts is a huge time commitment.
Targeting a new audience and building a new community doesn’t happen overnight. I may not have had huge numbers on my ﬁrst blog, but I did have a core group of engaged readers. Though I am pleased with the preliminary trafﬁc of my new blog, I have a long way to go in regards to engagement.
Make New Friends but Keep the Old
Getting started in a new niche means a lot of reaching out and making contact with new people at the risk of neglecting current relationships. I credit my best blogging buddies for helping me build an audience so quickly even though most are not in the healthy lifestyle niche. I make a concentrated effort to remember I get by with a little help from a lot of friends. Rebranding and starting over is intimidating. It takes planning, hard work, and creating measurable goals. With the help of a great mentor and support system, I am already reaping the beneﬁts of such an arduous process.
Poppy Marler is a writer, mother of 3 and ﬁtness enthusiast. Her latest project, Facing 40, is a healthy lifestyle blog devoted to fun, ﬁt, and ﬁerce women straddling 40. She might be a mid-pack runner, a back of the pack swimmer, and a reluctant triathlete, but she is ﬁtter at 40 than she was at 20. When not hiding in the back of Zumba class, you can ﬁnd her on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.