Making the decision to step away from the brand name I’d developed over eight long years was not an easy one. It’d been on my mind for many months and I knew that the alias I’d been using since I started my blogging journey no longer reflected who I was, but the thought of giving all that up and moving on to something new was intimidating. As someone who tends to just ‘get on with it’ and impulsively decides to make a big life change, it was an unexpected experience to spend months mulling it over and wondering what impact it would have on my digital presence – and in turn my income. But alas, a couple of weeks ago that’s what happened!
I switched everything over and dropped London Beauty Queen in favour of HayleyHall.UK and I couldn’t have been happier with how it’s been received; everyone has been so supportive and the industry has been surprisingly interested (the number of interviews and questions I answered in those first few days was unbelievable!) in the changes that I’ve made. I guess as one of the ‘original’ blogging crew and one of few who have re-branded, it’s more of a big deal than I ever anticipated; so many of you have been in touch to say that you’ve wanted to do the same for such a length of time but have been overwhelmed and confused about the logistics of it all, and many have requested I share my experience. So here we have it – the logistics of re-branding and how I changed it up from LBQ to HH in the space of 24 hours.
FIND A NEW NAME THAT REFLECTS WHO YOU ARE
If you’re considering making a switch from an identity you’ve hung on to for a long period of time, you want to change to one that will remain with you for even longer. When blogging first became popular we all picked silly or random names because we didn’t anticipate it taking off or becoming our online identity for such a long period of time; as I said in my post here, I would’ve never chosen LBQ if I knew where writing about lip gloss and cleansing balms would take me! If you want to switch it up, the easiest identity to take on is your own: your name says it all and keeps it open to anything you want to write about, as well as future-proofing you from any unknown adventures you may undertake in the years to come. If that doesn’t work, then choose something you’d be happy with in ten years that isn’t related to a trend or a moment in time (nor does it limit you in terms of topic.) Hayley Hall was a name I was proud to have, it sounded cool and there wasn’t really anyone else out there using it – so we were go!
BUY YOURSELF A NEW DOMAIN
Once you’re settled on a new name, the first step is to check what URLs are available. All of the domain name suppliers offer a free checking service, so you can see what’s available alongside all of the other variants – although HayleyHall.com wasn’t available (it’s being used by an actress, so it’s easy to spot that you’re not where you’re supposed to be if you type it in by mistake,) the .uk and .co.uk were, which was good enough for me. (Always do a look about to check if there’s a conflict or a minor mistake in typing won’t send potential readers off somewhere dodgy!) It’s worth buying up multiple domain names and having them all direct to the same place, not only for an increased presence online but to ensure there’s less of a chance of a reader ending up somewhere they shouldn’t.
MAKE SURE ALL YOUR USERNAMES ARE AVAILABLE
This was the most difficult part of the process for me and something you really do need to consider. Once you’ve got your new identity it’s paramount that you check the social media handles are available – because you don’t want to end up as Becky123 if you’re trying to build a strong brand. The simplest way to do this is set up a ‘test’ account using a different email that you can change the username of without much of a fuss; this will also come in handy later on in the process… I went through about ten different variants before I found something that was available on all of my channels, but when I tried to make the switch I found out that @HayleyHallUK had been suspended by Twitter so I couldn’t claim it – disaster! (It’s so annoying when there are inactive or unused accounts but platforms don’t release them to you.) Knowing Twitter and Instagram were the most important channels for me, and are often linked together, I found a variant that was available on both @HayleyHall_UK and stuck with it before I changed my mind. (FYI on my other channels there’s no underscore, but nothing is perfect.) I claimed these with my ‘test’ account and left them lingering until I was ready to press the button.
GET ALL YOUR NEW DETAILS READY
It’s the little things that take up the time, so if you can plan in advance and ensure you have all your relevant bios, profile pictures and any changed copy ready and waiting it will save you a lot of hassle. Identify exactly what you need to change and write a list of the priorities, so you can tick them off in turn and minimise any disruption. Start with your domain, move on to social handles, then focus on ensuring all the links and information on your homepage / about me section is up to date; then you can afford to play around and identify any bits and pieces that you need to change later.
GIVE YOURSELF A 24 HOUR WINDOW
Rather than trying to do everything super quickly, or dragging it out over a few days, give yourself a 24 hour window in which you’ll change everything over and re-launch. Mondays are always a good idea as they tend to be pretty quiet; as everyone is focused on starting a new week, so this buys you a bit of time and starts a new chapter afresh too. During my changeover I started first thing on a Monday morning and was finished by early afternoon, meaning I still had time during my working day to write a blog post announcing the new name. It doesn’t take as long as you think, but the most complex thing is definitely the domain name: this took me a few hours to get right and for the new URL to pull through, so it’s worth giving yourself time to concentrate and plenty of opportunity to be patient.
In terms of the actual change in domain name, it requires just a few copy-pastes and for you to update your site info – but you need to know what you’re doing. Depending upon your platform there are lots of handy guides to walk you through it, as well as your domain name provider having a ‘how to’ that can help smooth the process. If you’re really nervous, you can always call out for support on Twitter; I’ve had great help from people that actually know what they’re doing, for a minimal fee. In a nutshell I’ve replaced my old URL with the new one, so essentially the main identity is HayleyHall.UK; additionally, I bought a few other variations that direct to the main URL. As for londonbeautyqueen.com, I took away its blog ownership and instead made it redirect to the new domain name so I don’t lose out on any traffic or strength of presence. You don’t ever have to give up your old name if you don’t want to.
Once that was sorted I released my chosen social names from my ‘test’ accounts and immediately switched them over to my proper ones, then reclaiming @LBQblog on my test accounts so nobody else could nab them. It’s important to not let them linger and potentially be claimed by someone else – just add a message saying you’re no longer using the account and where you can be found instead.
DON’T FORGET TO ANNOUNCE IT
The most important bit? Making a song and dance about this new phase in your online journey! Write a blog post, announce it across your social media platforms and share it with friends and family. Let the industry bods know too and ask them to put it in their e-blasts to brands and PRs (Diary Directory and Fashion Beauty Monitor are great for this.) Tell your main contacts, pop out a newsletter to your database if you have one, update your email signature and keep the buzz going. Celebrate your hard work!
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Although it’s logistically pretty straight forward, there are a few things to consider when re-branding your blog or online presence. You may temporarily see a dip in engagement as it takes a while for followers to realise that lovely new username is you; don’t worry if your Instagram takes a hit, or that your Twitter mentions go down, because that’s absolutely to be expected. (Don’t worry – they’re sure to pick up again within a week or two.) It’s also worth nothing that with a new URL comes a new DA score, and the fact you have to work from zero and build up again; if you’ve redirected your old URL it will retain its score and this will eventually spill over into the new one, so just make brands aware of this if they query it. Again, if you redirect then all your existing URLs and links into site will still work properly – but you may have to tell Google that your site has a new owner. It’s also work checking as many links on your site as you can to ensure they still direct to where you want them to; categories, page links and graphics will need updating, so spend some time playing around in both the short and long term. (I guarantee you’ll spot something that needs updating weeks later!)
So that’s it. Those are the logistics of re-branding and how I re-launched my site over a 24 hour period.
Thank you again for all your support in the last few weeks, and for your support in the coming months too. I’m really pleased how well HayleyHall.UK has been recieved and I can’t wait to see how this new phase of my blogging journey unfolds.
I hope my own experience will help you if you’re thinking about taking the leap too.
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