You’re woken in the middle of the night with a cold gust of wind on your feet and a loud rhythmical chu-chug as the train runs over the rail joints. You look up to find the window of your speeding night train open and blowing bits of paper around the carriage, you force the window shut and reach for your tatty battered looking travel journal. Pages and pages of notes, reviews, receipts and crucial tips for backpacking remote destinations on a shoestring. Once you reach civilisation again you can whip out the laptop and update your blog with your adventures, insight and knowledge. After all, there’s a ton of people out there searching for a useful resource and a personality to follow that’s done pretty much what they’re planning. They’re searching for a bit of adventure and you’re the person who’s done it and knows how it’s done. You start off full of enthusiasm and excitement at starting your new blog, after all you are an expert in backpacking and traveling on a shoestring, you know that you love to travel this way and you want to write all day, every day about it. You want to help people with all the knowledge you’ve gained, the insight you’ve picked up… they don’t need to trawl through pages and pages of Google looking the cheapest hostel or street food market in Nepal because your blog’s got it covered!
Times are changing
That was ten years ago, you’re no longer used to roughing it in a cheap hostel/hotel and the closet thing you’ve been to street food is the chilli chicken ramen from Wagamamas, life’s changed since the early days of blogging, you’ve changed and the world’s changed. To keep writing the same things in the same way on your blog would be madness… and for one, your hearts not in it anymore. How can you write about a topic that you no longer live and breathe? It’s been ten years since you were experiencing all the travel you wrote about, now you have other priorities and new interests. And that’s ok. It’s good to evolve, to refocus, even rebrand or start a new venture. As a blogger the most important thing is to never lose that passion for what you’re doing.
Over the years I’ve seen blogs change, from being solo independent traveler to family travel blogger, from budget travellers to luxury weekend travellers. When we start out, we don’t really think about five/ten years into the future, I mean who’d have thought you’d still be blogging after all that time? Well I didn’t. My own backpacking blog changed over the years from a diary based journal format into a magazine format, over the years it’s morphed from backpacking into adventure travel. Thankfully my domain name was so general that didn’t condemn me to a blogging life of just writing about backpacking! Now I’m preparing for a new focus, a new project and new direction… learning to surf all over the world (https://www.surfandunwind.com).
So what do you do with your blog when you suddenly realise things have changed and it’s time for a change?
If you’re lucky you may only need to refocus the content of your blog without taking a sledge hammer to it and demolishing the lot. If your branding, logo, style and content still fits with the direction you want to go in you may only have to make a shift in editorial focus rather than renaming, deleting, redirecting and dealing with the whole technical nightmare of a full rebrand.
Jodie from Alajode did just that when she realised that blogging about fashion wasn’t what she wanted to focus on. She deleted older less relevant posts and moved on to concentrate on travel.
“I guess it’s kind of lucky that I chose a ‘fashion-y but not restricted to fashion’ blog name after all, but deep down I think part of me knew that my heart didn’t belong to fashion.
I’ve spent the day deleting most of my old posts on Alajode, keeping only a few personal favourites that I believe still represent who I am.” – Jodie, Alajode
Maybe you’ve got a domain name that still works (for example it’s not www.fashion-guru-123.com when you want to be writing about travel), then you could just get a new logo, update the fonts, colours and style to represent the direction you’re going. Like refocusing your blog but removing any more obvious elements of the topic you’ve left behind, like a backpacker in your logo when you’re focusing on luxury 5 star hotels and spars. You’d also want to look at the style of the blog to make sure it looked luxury rather than budget for example.
Kristabel Plummer from I Want You To Know wrote an insightful article about redesigning including some useful tips for creating a style guide for your blog.
Sometimes the time is right, your focus is in a completely new direction, perhaps your backpacking domain no longer works for what you want to do. Although some people will tell you rebranding with a new domain is a bad idea, I’d argue that it’s a great idea as long as it’s not on a whim and you’re in it for the long run. Despite what some articles may say, your new domain won’t be a starting completely fresh because redirects (if done correctly) from your old domain will ensure the majority of authority and trust built up over the years will be passed on to your new domain.
Macca Sherifi went through the full rebranding process because his original blog didn’t align to what he was now doing. Instead of working on the blog with two other bloggers, he rebranded, redirected, got a new domain and went out on his own. This made complete sense because the original site incorporated two people in its name and domain name, ‘A Brit and a Broad’.
“the life I’m trying to build isn’t the same as Brianna’s or Brian’s, so after three years of working together we’ve all decided it best that I carry on my journey with the site and make it my own.” – Macca Sherifi, An Adventurous World
Jayne Gorman from Girl Tweets World also found that eventually she had to do the full domain change and rebrand. Her main conclusion was – “In short, wish I’d done it sooner!”.
“After 4.5 years of being known as 40 Countries Before I’m 30, I (inevitably) outgrew that name and had to relaunch under a title that didn’t have an age limit.”
Sometimes your focus changes so much that a new project may be born, perhaps it doesn’t fit with your existing blog and there’s no way of shoehorning it in without distracting from your blogs purpose. Itcan make more sense to have multiple blogs on the go if you can handle the workload.
Wind down the blog
Although I wouldn’t recommend this one, plenty of bloggers have over the years outgrown their blogs and left them behind… even very successful ones. Blogs take a lot of time, energy and commitment and if yours is stressing you out because of the pressure of not publishing frequently then maybe it’s a good time for a break or to even say goodbye for good. The time investment in a blog could be distracting you from another passion you could be successfully pursuing in life.
Being in tune with your life
Blogging can be a struggle if what your writing about ultimately isn’t in tune with who you are and where your life is at. This can have a huge influence on your decision to rebrand and refocus in the long run. Elizabeth Dhokia from Rosalilium wrote a post about realising she needed to figure out the focus of the blog and how it was in tune with her life.
“Right now though I am feel the need for an audit. A life and blog audit.”
“Because as experience has taught me, when I am in tune with my own sensibilities I resonate more effectively with my audience.”
For me the best blogs are the ones that are truly lived and written with purpose, sometimes to do that you need to reassess whether you, your focus and passions in life are aligned with those of your blog. If you’re struggling to find the passion or trying to write about things that just no longer fit with who you are and what you do or want to do, it could be time to make the change.
Totally agree, as bloggers, we grow with our blog and just as things change in real life, friends, relationships, jobs and focus, blogs need to change too. When I first started I wrote very general pieces, now I’m far more of an expert on my topic, my pieces tend to be more in-depth and personal because I have an informed opinion and more experience, rather than being an observer. We should probably assess our blogs as a formal process, like a work appraisal, though the thought of going through the 4000 posts I’ve published in the last 6 years does fill me with dread!
Thanks for the comment Janine. 4000 posts might take some time to go through!
You have to enjoy what you are writing about. A change can be good. I changed the focus of a website that was more of a directory to a personal blog a couple of years ago. Kept the same domain name and removed old posts and started with a new logo and fresh look, and had fun doing it.