Not very long ago, Maker Lex wasn’t Maker Lex at all. The story of this blog goes like this: In the beginning was Wondernote, and the Wondernote was. Until it got rebranded.
Of course, that’s the abridged version of the story, but the full version is begging to be told. So for those of you rolling your eyes or shaking your stick at me, yelling “just tell me how to rebrand my blog already, lady!” you can Click Here to Skip Ahead.
Otherwise, pull up a chair and let me give you the run-down of why I chose to rebrand my blog.
Why rebrand your blog?
Ten years ago I started my first blog on Blogger. No custom domain name or anything. In fact, I can’t even remember the name, because I can’t remember which of my blogs came first. That is to say: I’ve had A LOT of blogs over the years, but none of them stuck.
In 2012 I was in graphic design school, and that’s when the name Wondernote first came to me. In those days- full of hope & ambition to start my own freelancing business or successful stationery company- I was constantly brainstorming brand names. The blog I’d been writing at the time was called Wit & Wonder, but I needed a version of it that could be used to sell printable greeting cards on Etsy. Wondernote fit the bill perfectly.
Flash forward to graduation. Freelancing didn’t really pan out, and neither did any of my blogs or business ideas. All of it took the backseat when I joined the 9-to-5 workforce, and my blogs and Etsy shops and hopes and dreams lay dormant for many years.
But the creative part of me that wants to blog is always beckoning, and it reawakened in 2017 when it heard I could spend a cool one thousand doll-hairs on Elite Blog Academy and become the multi-million dollar blogger I was born to be. That was two years ago and I still work a 9-to-5, if you were wondering how that ‘s going… but stick with me, because I promise this story is about to come full-circle.
I set myself up on WordPress.org and chose Wondernote because I still loved the name, although I had to settle for wondernote-dot-org as my domain name. As luck would have it – the DOT COM wasn’t available. And then I began the grueling task of trying to make it past Unit 1 of EBA. Why is it grueling, you ask? Because I can never (and herein lies my biggest barrier in blogging) choose a damn niche.
A quick study in my many blog niches:
- Plum Elephant – personal blog
- Wonderknit – knitting blog
- Wit & Wonder – lifestyle blog
- Twinclectic – failed joint-lifestyle blog
- Honeysuckle Way – home decorating blog
- Fitness Wit – a fitness blog combined with my passion for writing
And that’s just a sampling. There are others I wouldn’t dare reveal to the internet (the irony). But you see the pattern, right? I’m indecisive AF when it comes to picking my blogging niche. Is blog without a niche, a niche? Asking for a friend.
How to Decide Your Blog Niche
To solve this problem, I’ve had to get really honest with myself about what my truest, most raw, unapologetic passions are. And the one theme that kept emerging was design. As a little girl, the first job I wanted to have when I grew up was fashion designer. I had (and still have) a portfolio full of little fashions I’d cut out of construction paper, and the process brought me so much joy. As an adult, I’m into many different types of design: graphic design, web design, knit design, and even home design.
Although they’re all design related, these topics don’t fit together into one nice, neat niche. At least not in the sense that EBA has taught me my blog content should. Discouraged, I moved on to other projects – like getting out of my comfort zone by starting a Youtube Channel called Lexie From Scratch, which was about starting and growing a Youtube Channel… from scratch. I did that for about a month, and then I had a breakthrough.
A Google Analytics report showed up in my inbox one day in October 2019. I was surprised to discover that Wondernote- which I’d put about a solid month of effort into before not logging in or posting for 6 whole months– had gotten nearly 200 views in September. I was intrigued.
I logged into my Google Analytics and found out the blog had gotten 200 views also in August, and slightly less in the previous months. And 80% of the traffic came from organic search. It isn’t a lot compared to bigger, more successful bloggers, but it was the confidence boost I needed to start blogging again!
But I still had just one problem..
The reason I’d given up on Wondernote was because I was totally uninspired by my niche, or lack thereof. It had turned into a graphic design-ish blog, but most of the articles I’d written were based on what successful (ie: money-making) bloggers said to do, and not on what I truly wanted to do.
But after some reflection- and also the culmination of years spent reading self-help books- I decided that whatever the heck I was gonna do- I needed to ENJOY it. I needed to feel authentic. I wanted to feel in-alignment. I wanted to quit focusing on the end goal and focus more on the enjoyment of that thing itself.
The name Maker Lex came to me almost immediately, and I decided I would rebrand to my weird pseudo-niche, which I dubbed “making” and start making/writing/blogging about the things I WANT, whether they fit perfectly together or not.
That includes graphic design, web design, branding, sometimes marketing, crafting, knitting, and DIY-ing. I believe that if I’m truly in alignment and enjoying what I do- eventually the money will follow. Otherwise, I’m going to forget about it and AT LEAST enjoy what I’m doing.
And finally, that brings me to the main point of this blog post, which is…
How to Rebrand Your Blog
*please note that this article is intended for WordPress.org users only
Rebranding isn’t as scary as you might think. But when I realized it had to be done, I had some questions.
- Is this something I can I do myself?
- How long will it take?
- What about my SEO?
- Google Analytics?
To answer my own questions (and hopefully yours, too):
- Yes, you can do most of it yourself, but for one of the final steps I had to get my web host- Siteground- involved. I chatted with customer service online and they were able to complete my request within minutes. DIY-ing this wasn’t without it’s frustrations, though. Read through everything before you start, including this article. If you don’t think you’re up to it, then you’ll probably want to pay someone to do it and save yourself the headache.
- It took me about 3 hours in total. I started in the morning but had to go to work, so I finished up when I got home. I hit a few snags along the way, but nothing set me back more than 10-30 minutes before I figured it out. A big chunk of this time was spent optimizing and updating my blog with my new logo, etc.
- A 301 redirect + letting Google know about the change will minimize any negative impact on SEO. The change is going to affect your SEO temporarily. However, with very little traffic and only about 20 posts total, I didn’t have a lot to lose in this sense.
Before You Start
- Make sure your new domain name is all set up with your web host before you begin. For me, this meant purchasing the domain name makerlex.com and adding it to my hosting plan.
- Don’t forget about social media! You’ll likely want to change your handles to match your new site name.
- Be ready to update your blog header, as well as all logos, profile pictures, etc. across all platforms as part of rebranding. Take inventory before you begin so you can make a plan to execute once the new site is ready.
Four Simple Steps to Rebrand/Change Your Blog Name
Now that you’re ready to begin your blog rebrand, here are the four things you need to do:
1. Move *Current/Old Domain* to *New Domain*
To move my site, I followed the directions from How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (without Losing SEO) by WPBeginner exactly. My best advice for following this tutorial is to read the article all the way through before you begin, and be prepared to trouble-shoot.
WPBeginner was a lifesaver when it came to DIY-ing my blog rebrand. I downloaded Filezilla for the FTP portion. Prior to this, I had no experience with FTP, but I learned as I went along. Even when I had an issue, I was able to solve it by reading the comments section, or by taking educated guesses based off other articles from WPBeginner.
2. Set up a Permanent 301 Redirect
When I got to Step 4 of the article- the 301 Redirect — and needed to modify my .htaccess file, I got a little confused. That’s when I contacted Siteground (my web host), and the customer service rep was able to finish the task for me within minutes.
I kinda wondered at this point if I could’ve just asked for their help from the beginning… Oh well!
3. Let Google Know for the sake of your SEO
Once my site was up and running on the new domain, I was so relieved that I nearly forgot to do this step. In fact, I didn’t complete it until a week later!
WP Beginner’s Article also covers the importance of notifying Google and how to do it, but it’s a little bit outdated. Luckily Google Search Console has great documentation you can follow. I followed the documentation specifically for Siteground and was able to DIY this in about ten minutes.
**Make sure you don’t forget this step since this is the way to guarantee there are little-to-no lasting effects on your SEO.
4. Re-optimize Your Site
It’s true that the majority of my time spent rebranding was on re-optimizing my site. Since I didn’t have a ton of posts to update, this only took a couple of hours. However, I realize that many of you might be coming from a place where you’ve been blogging for years. You could have a hundred or more posts to update, and that could feel overwhelming. But here’s my best advice: focus on your most popular posts first.
Take a deep breath and then take it one post at a time. Update the posts that bring the most traffic to your blog first. The rest will come in time, if you so choose.
Some of you may be launching a whole new site design with your move, but if you aren’t — just remember to update your logo on every page, etc. Invite a friend or follower to review your site and let you know of any broken links, or anything else you may have missed.
…And that’s a wrap!
Considering I’m not a pro, I’m proud of myself for accomplishing this.. I know you can do it, too! And just remember if you get confused that there are professionals who can handle this for you. And never hesitate to reach out to your web host– they will be your greatest ally and source of help/information if you hit a snag.
Congratulations on your rebrand!