Rebranding: Why I Left 100,000+ Page Views

I used to trot around the internet under a different name.  I didn't realize I was a brand.  

According to the dictionary, a brand is:

  1. A type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.
  2. An identifying mark burned on livestock or (especially formerly) criminals or slaves with a branding iron.

Ummmm... First of all, that is terrible.

Second of all, if I ever hope to survive the online world and launch some new songs, I better figure what kind of brand I am.

Enter Rebranding

Rebranding.  It can be a major pain.  But it's also an opportunity to improve.

Many companies don't go through it unless absolutely necessary.  Even if they evolve, change, conduct 180s, eject founders, and move from one industry to another, sunken-cost fallacies keep many devoted to their old image.

Why?  Because it takes years to cultivate attention on a focal point.  It's not easy to buy people's attention again in a different way.  Also, the desire to appear consistent competes with the overall chance of failing while trying something new.

Even so, there are numerous reasons to go through the rebranding process.  Some of these reasons are forces beyond the founder's control.  Other reasons are deeply personal, involve unexpected competition, derive from the need to dodge bad juju, or simply arise from the desire for a fresh start.

Explain Me to Me in One Sentence

I'm in the "fresh start" with "unavoidable-lingering-baggage" category.

As a musician and a writer, I will forever be the aging face of my brand.  How I embody the role of being the face of the brand changes with time though....

Bird girl.  She was a good idea while she lasted.

Shut Her Down!

I recently closed down the domain name of my previous website.  Since the site was finally gaining traction in Google, I was advised by a full-time blogger friend to consider this move very carefully.

Meaning... for years... I froze.

Over one hundred thousand page views may not seem like much to some, but for me, it was a nice accomplishment as an independent artist pumping virtually zero time into my website. 

Not all of the traffic came from people looking for the porn star with my name either.  (This was how I first learned about analytics.)

"Porn stars hijack plenty of people's names," I told myself.  "It's nothing to be offended by."

But I couldn't get over it.  I didn't like the idea of young guitar students searching for my music and finding HER.  I didn't like hearing about HER when people introduced me on stage either.

I wondered if I should write under her name, launch the history songs in her name, work with what she had established, etc.

Then I realized I was so disconnected from the whole thing I couldn't tell when I was talking in third-person... so I should probably just START. SOMETHING. ELSE.

Explain Me to Me... Again

Michelle has written in two distinct phases throughout her dedicated career as a singer-songwriter. 

Phase 1: Mental Health

In the first phase, she focused on the mind, mental health, and the big questions of youth.  After sorting through a lot of emotional content (and writing over 100 songs in a stream-of-consciousness style) she took a three-year break.

At age 28, she decided she wasn't done being a singer-songwriter.

Phase 2: History 

She discovered her second phase of stylistic songwriting (writing as characters from history) while studying bibliotherapy for her master's thesis.  Writing this way helped Michelle clarify her subject matter, connect with audiences, and enjoy the writing process.

However, her songs are not recorded yet.  Her social media presence is designed to take you through the recording and marketing process if you are interested.

A brief sample of her new music can be found here.

The titles to her new songs are long because they represent fictitious news headlines from the past.  Her first round of songs is based on the lives of inventors.

Each history song looks for a core psychological event (giving up, protecting oneself, love, making friends, a role model's significance, trying, etc.) and then revolves around a true story in history.  Each song is based on a real event and real people from the past.

Michelle looks forward to taking you with her on her personal finance journey of recording these songs and showing them to the online world.

Perks to Rebranding

So far, I've been happy with the decision to rebrand, even though starting all over again is difficult without the irrational gutsiness of my youth. 

As a nice kick in the pants from my former self, I didn't keep track of fan emails from the ten years I pounded the pavement touring.

I'm trying to twist this into an opportunity to launch exclusively online in semi-anonymity as an artist willing to talk about the taboo topic of money.

Why?  Because she can.

Have you rebranded or considered rebranding?  Why? I'd love to hear about your experience below.

DISCLAIMER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU NEED PSYCHOLOGICAL OR FINANCIAL ADVICE PLEASE SEEK A PROFESSIONAL FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.

8 Replies to “Rebranding: Why I Left 100,000+ Page Views”

  1. I enjoyed this refreshingly honest post on rebranding, especially after my own rebrand on my site. I feel like I still have some unfinished ends in my own rebranding that I need to figure out what to do with as well..but I’m getting there 🙂

    1. I think I heard you talking about that on Twitter! I’m so excited for you and intrigued to watch you grow and change.

      I have to tell you, the phrase “I like to dabble” has been coming to my mind a lot this past month… and I immediately think of you. I want to dabble in podcasting, dabble in blogging, dabble in local events, dabble online. I really like your concise message about trying things out.

  2. holy siouxsie sioux! that was an awesome look that needs revival. i’m not sure if i have a brand except as a half-bright smart-a$$. we tried a two pronged approach for mrs. smidlap’s art, though. she didn’t want to lose the fine art crowd for the more serious abstracts but those drawings and more representational stuff is easier to sell. i think she tries to keep them sort of 2 brands for strangers.

  3. Always enjoy the tie-ins from Mrs. Smidlap’s artistic experiences.

    It makes sense that the fine art crowd may not overlap with the abstract art crowd. I imagine she displays them as two different sets (which is wise). I never thought about rebranding for the physical arts, but that makes perfect sense!

  4. I thought about rebranding to Perfecting Imperfection when I felt like my blog was moving away from PF and into a more life-centered site. So glad I didn’t now because I’ve redoubled my PF efforts. The new name would have worked too but I’m glad I stuck it out with my first name. In the end I just decided it would lose me too many people and I’d have to gain awareness of my brand all over again (and the recognition I had gotten if had to scrabble pretty hard for). So I stuck with my blog as-is. Which is good because it’s back to being very PF-centric again.

  5. Hello Abigail! Thanks for stopping by with your experience. I think it’s interesting how many rebrands are going on right now (and “almost but not quite” rebranding). I never realized bloggers thought about branding so much! It makes sense though because niche writing is what makes the blog world go round.

    When I talked about it here, I was thinking mostly about my music, but rebranding is true for this blog too as I evolve and get to know myself more as a blogger. I’m finding that I write more about small business ownership and entrepreneurship than I talk about finance. Hmmmm…

    I can see how the PF content comes and goes on your site. I like your name and I’m glad you stuck it out. Either name would have been cool though.

  6. Speaking from the perspective of someone who just happened upon your site a few weeks ago and fell in love with it, I would have to say the re-branding is going quite well. =D

    We’ve gone back and forth about the “branding” issue also. We’ve grown our fitness/adventure community under an entirely other “brand” but we aren’t really ready or interested in giving that up. I’m sure a lot of marketing experts would advise against it, but for us we’re just here to have fun and be part of a community, and we don’t necessarily feel we need to have our brand totally *on point* for that!

    1. Thanks for stopping by the blog again Elise! I have become such a fan of you in this short time as well. You are certainly doing something right! You are killing it on Instagram with that following! Holy smokes!

      I think we all are multi-dimensional people. It’s certainly OK to show this. You are your partner are an inspiration. The running pics are ultra-beautiful by the way. You have certainly built something to aspire to.

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