Un-Branding the Blog

(read all the way to the end…there is a surprise for you!)

I’ve seen a lot of “rebranding the blog” type posts lately–how to’s on making your blog more “professional”, how to bring in income, etc. There are some very good tips, as well (the ones that have helped me are in bold:

– know your basic coding
– have a memorable title and tag line
– make sure your tag line fits into your mission statement
– make sure you have a mission statement
– use the same theme (colors, fonts, styles) throughout all your social media platforms and graphics
– have a professional do your blog design
– have the same “user name” across all social media platforms
– join communities of the same mission and be a participant
– join affiliates and have ads, sponsor other blogs, join ad campaigns
– find your niche and add a new, fresh, unique view to it
– have high-quality photos, and HAVE photos or graphics

It could go on and on. A few of my close blogging friends have decided to rebrand their blogs for several reasons:

– they’ve found their niche and love it
– they want to dramatically grow their blog
– they’ve opened up a shop or starter business
– they want their primary income to come from their blog

For reasons 1&3, I say, “Fantastic! I wholeheartedly wish you luck and I’m truly excited for you!”
For reasons 2&4, I say, “…Good luck….”

Time and time again, I’ve been caught in the terrible web of statistics and growth. I’ve suffered blogger envy more times I care to admit (especially with those who have been blogging for less than a year and already have hundreds of viewers). I’ve even fallen into the trap of sometimes losing my voice and writing solely for my audience. I had forgotten who I was and the beautiful prose I wrote the first year or two I had this blog.

This month, for my New Year’s Monthly Goal, I wanted to work on my blog. And, I did a lot. I redid my entire Pinterest account, creating new boards and reorganizing them, updating links, etc.  I learned how to schedule posts across social media and I created a pin-it button. I’ve gotten ahead of my posts–not because I’m trying to “brand” my blog, but because I’ve been so inspired to write lately! I’ve joined a lot of facebook groups to share my blog, and I’ve followed new blogs.

But, I’ve realized through this month of learning more about my blog, I don’t want to “rebrand” my blog. Yes, I may not grow as quickly as others, but I have already gained 20 new followers in just this month! That’s 1/6 of my following (quick–do the math!). Because I have been better at being true to myself. I’ve participated in communities more. And, that’s what I want to do. So…

I am henceforth “un-branding” my blog. And I invite you, too, as well. This past year, simplifying has been a huge fad–living a simpler life, decluttering, being more “at home” in your sphere. That is what I want with the blog, and I have seen many people start to lean that way. Therefore, here are some tips on how to “un-brand” your blog.

Let's all join together and get a little more personal and back to our roots. Let's "un-brand' our blogs. Here is 6 reasons how.

1) Don’t worry about having a niche and a mission statement
My friend, Amberly, at A Prioritized Marriage, is one of my friends who just rebranded because she found her true niche–marriage and relationships. She says she never runs out of things to say and always has the perfect mix of information and personal life. However, I’d never be able to limit myself to a single (or 2 or 3) subjects. I blog about: teaching, books, recipes, marriage, family, motherhood, my daily-average life, blogging, and really anything else that comes to my mind. I don’t have a niche and I won’t ever have a niche. That’s why we have “lifestyle” bloggers. As for a mission statement, I don’t have one because I don’t really have a mission on my blog. I water-mark photos I worked hard on, and any money I gain from blogging is put back into blogging. So, I don’t see a reason to have one.

2) More personal stuff and less information
I’ve seen plenty of articles that say the opposite: “to brand your blog, you need to have more information and less personal stuff”. Yes, that way, your blog becomes click fodder, but, is it really even a blog anymore or a self-help site? Blog is short for web log. A log is a type of daily account. Or in other words, a journal. And yes, sometimes it’s nice to know “5 ways to improve your photography” or “3 ideas for fashion posts” or “7 things I wish I knew when I started blogging”, but it gets old, fast. I want to know more about you and not want to have to rely on the About page only! I want to share who I am as well. A lot of my family and old friends reads my blog because it is a way for them to keep in touch with me. It’s a great communication device, if you stay personal and let your readers into your life!

3) Don’t separate your personal and blogger social media accounts
I know many bloggers who have done this and suggest it, but again, we aren’t “rebranding” our blogs. We are “unbranding.” This also goes along with the previous reason–be more personal. I write a lot about my family, so why not show pictures of my family on my one and only Instagram account?

4) Just practice your skills in graphics and photography, don’t stress about it all being main-streamed
It took a lot for me to justify saving up for a year and buying a DSLR for Christmas because they are such big purchases. But, my husband was supportive. I wanted better quality pictures. Not only for the blog, but also for posterity. So, I got one and I love it. I haven’t done anything but the automatic setting yet. I have some great looking pictures, and some terrible ones. Now, I’m not saying use terrible pictures on your blog, because well, why would you want terrible, blurry pictures even for you? I’ve also been working on new graphics for each post. I used to be the ad designer for my high school’s newspaper and have since, lost the talent for graphic design. I, personally, want to improve my own skills in these two aspects, but if they don’t look as nice as others, well, that’s because I’m not a photographer or a graphics design major and I’m ok with that.

5) Don’t be a sell-out
The hardest thing I hear from bigger bloggers is the balance of sponsored posts and personal posts. I know bloggers who grasp at every chance to be paid for a post or do a review. I’ve done product reviews, myself, after receiving free products, but I’ve only done ones I’ve wanted. It isn’t a lot, but it’s definitely helped my family–we’ve gotten protein shakes, dresses, baby clothes, cavity fillings, massages, and rugs, just to name a few. I’ve only been paid once for a post, and that was just enough to go to a Blogger Sleepover with a few of my friends. I hate going to blogs and seeing Google Ads or Affiliate Ads all over their sidebars and sub-bars. It just looks too cluttered! But, that doesn’t mean don’t have any sponsored or paid posts. Just last week, I saw a blogger I follow open an Etsy shop with super cute personal mugs. I asked her if I could have one with my blog’s name on it to review. I doubted she’d agree as I only have 120 followers, but she did! And yes, I’m going to Instagram the crap out of it to advertise my blog. But guess what. I’ll have a cute mug to drink out of and a closer friend for helping her shop. And, I still will be doing paid sponsor spots, because like I said, all money I earn (as little as it may be), goes back into blogging.

6) Be true to yourself, write for yourself, and have fun
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve lost myself in the blogosphere. I lost my passion for experimenting with the written word, which was the original reason I started a blog all the way back in 2009. The most important reason to write is yourself. So, ignore the stats (as hard as that may be). Ignore the most popular kinds of posts, the dimes a dozen posts. Write what you want to write and have fun doing so.

And now, because y’all have been such great readers and commentators and friends, I want to celebrate YOU! So, I have three prizes up for grabs for three different winners!

1st place: $20 Paypal
2nd place: The Novella In-Post Banner Ad for the month of February 
3rd place: The Tall Tale 250×250 Top Side Ad for the month of February
(more info on the ads here)


a Rafflecopter giveaway



What other tips do you have to “un-brand” your blog?

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Hannah

    This might just be my favorite post of yours, Tayler! It was informational, interesting, and inspiring! Congrats on the 20 new followers!

  • Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  • jsanck15

    I LOVE this! πŸ™‚

  • Taylor Yates

    Loved this post so much!! I think that branding your blog is extremely important if you want to run it as a business, and still important in a lot of ways for growth, but it IS easy to forget WHY you're blogging in the midst of all of that. I like the idea of making sure to add lots of personal stuff. I know it's against what everyone "says you should do," but I love making personal connections with my readers.

    Taylor
    acupoftay.com

  • Such a great post!!!!!!! I am often discouraged because I don't have a niche… hooray for being completely random and still enjoying blogging! πŸ™‚

  • Thank you!

  • I definitely think that's how you actually gain friends through blogging, by getting to know them and not how to be a better blogger through them.

  • I feel that if you write good content and you like what you are writing, that is good enough. If you have plenty to say, I don't see why you need to limit yourself to a niche.

  • Christine Hawkins

    This was very helpful! I do think you made some extremely valid points, and for me being so new I will definitely be keeping these in mind.Thanks for posting!

  • Kara Schwieterman

    I just finished with the rebranding.. it was a lot of work, but I am so glad that I did it! For sure something to think long and hard about before you just jump right into it!

  • I'm kind of doing that now! I'm writing more personal posts and less structured ones. I think it's important because it shows your readers who they're following πŸ™‚

  • Beth

    THIS. All of it. I used to follow a lot of blogs, but now I trimmed it back to only a select few – the ones who actually blogged! Not the ones who have sponsored post after sponsored post. I get that they need to make a little extra money, but if all they do is sell to me, they've lost my interest and why I followed them in the first place.

  • I'm glad I could help! It's interesting. I've been blogging for 6 years now but I still consider myself a "novice" blogger and I'm ok with that.

  • Great post! I am learning to blog for myself even though I think it would be the bees knees to make money from my blog. maybe one day!

  • I definitely believe it is a major choice that takes a lot of thinking with it.

  • Exactly. That's how blogs first started, anyway!

  • These are some really good tips!

  • It's definitely super hard. I mean, if you want to grow your blog, you definitely have to network. But, I find myself skipping a lot of posts because they are your dime-a-dozen and not personal anymore. I don't really KNOW some the bloggers I follow like I do others who aren't worried about their SEO score or the amount of page views they have in a day.

  • I get so excited when I make $5 a month from the blog! It's pocket change, but it's still exciting. But, I have a part-time job and my husband has a full-time job, and we have no debt, so I don't really care that I'm not making money from the blog.

  • Thanks, Ashley!

  • I totally agree with you about niches. I have way too many interests to put myself in a little box like that! I have a hard time with too much personal stuff, because you never know who might be looking at your blog. I just worry about endangering / exploiting my family. Maybe I've seen one too many episodes of Catfish or To Catch a Predator? Overall, I think it is important to not lose sight of why you're blogging in the first place. It's your space and you can do with it what you wish!

  • I'm way too lazy to have separate accounts. I post what I like, if you like it too…great!

  • Such great tips, Tayler! I love how you've decided to go against the grain–it's so refreshing!

  • This is so great! Do what you love and love what you do. I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates ads. Thanks for the great tips and letting me know I'm not alone in some of my thoughts on blogging.

  • I feel like it's definitely too easy to get caught up in the business of blogging–the stats, the SEO, the followers. Thanks for encouraging us to focus on why we started blogging in the first place!

  • I love the idea of un-branding. Blogging should be fun, not stressful!

  • ha love it! I agree with the below comment, blogging should be fun not stressful. Do what you like. Post what you like. My goal this year was to blog less.

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE X100000000! While I love numbers (because I'm all about how many people I can reach with my story), someone needed to say this! For most of us we are not running a business with our blogs… we sharing our heartbeats and our lives. The posts with catchy titles that you think would go viral are the ones that never do… I've coming to find that my readers want hear of my suffering, victories, embarrassments, and lessons. Thanks for the great reminder Tayler! {For the record… I'm so excited about you doing a mug review!!!! AND I love hanging around the Morrell Tale πŸ™‚

  • It seems that you have "kind of" a niche. A lot of your posts are about books/reading or blogging. I think it IS ok to limit to a few topics…but then again, I wouldn't be able to do that…you could GENERALLY group my blogs posts into a few topics…..but not all

  • Honestly, that's part of it for me–too much work logging in and out!

  • Thanks! I'm kind of exciting…it's rejuvenating.

  • I feel that although you are growing a lot, you are still writing about what you love (especially with the whole Date your husband series)

  • EXACTLY! And, I've been so inspired this month with what to write because I decided I'm going to write what I want to write.

  • Wow. That's the opposite of me. Because of this declaration, I've had more to say because I'm not worrying about what keywords to use or what's popular to read.

  • Thank you so much! I really want to get back to the basics of blogging. I even remember blogs being super personal even just two summers ago!

  • I loved this post!! πŸ™‚ I think it's a balance and each person has to decide for themselves what that means to them. I love having a specific niche and because I've chosen to use my blog to further my career in Family Life Education in the future and reach a lot more couples than I could just in my community, I knew that I had to focus more and do what I just did. A lot of people just blog as a journal, to share their thoughts, etc. and that's totally fine, but I agree, limiting and branding yourself would make that really difficult.
    I also loved your point about more personal and less information. One thing that I've tried to do on my blog is still keep it as personal as possible. I try to have a personal story or something to go behind every post I write. I want my blogging to benefit me as much as anyone else and it is still a journal of sorts for me. The marriage blogs that I really love relate things to their marriage and to themselves, not just to the world in general without sharing anything about who they are.
    #5 I love though because even when you're trying to make your blog into a business and get some sort of income from it, your followers aren't going to love you if you stretch every single sponsored opportunity that comes your way into a post that will fit your blog. I've had a lot of fun throwing sponsored content into my posts and working with different companies, but I will only do that if I have a great idea that fits the brand and image that I've chosen to portray on my blog. I have one that I did that I'd already committed to before I finalized my rebranding and really struggled to make it fit my blog's purpose, so I feel like it sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of some of my other content, but it was unavoidable πŸ™‚
    LOVED this post. Sorry I wrote a novel!

  • Honestly, my blog is fairly un-branded. I don't have a specific niche. I write whatever I'm thinking (recipes, fashion, personal posts, books, etc). Those are the blogs I enjoy the most!

  • Olivia

    YES YES YES. I love the idea of unbranding! (Although I'm not sure I branded in the first place….) There is so much competition and focus on views and ads in the blog world that it can be hard to find bloggers who are true to themselves.

  • I love this! I think there is so much pressure to be successful, and really, it should just be about enjoying blogging, not matter how 'successful' it may be. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  • I think you are one of the very few that have a good balance of personality and "branding" within a niche, which is why I mentioned you as an example. And, I think your tag line really broadens it "marriage through ALL stages of life."

  • Same here! I wish more of them still existed!

  • And when you do find them, you become a reader for life!

  • It's always a challenge not to get caught up in that competitive snare of being "successful" and more so than that blogger, etc. Hopefully with this declaration, I won't get caught up a lot anymore.

  • Kristin

    Love it. I'm going through something similar. I've been blogging for the last year but not regularly. It wasn't until recently that I found my favorite topics. I'm currently trying to acquire followers and link all of my social media accounts together. I do believe in writing for yourself because those are often the most successful posts you write. Good luck to you!

  • I have been blogging for years and only got really "serious" in the past 6 months. I could not agree more with your words and this post. Especially #2. I read blogs to get to know the writers, the authors not for them to constantly hit me with their "tips" their top 5 this and top 5 that. It does get old, fast!! I don't get asked to do sponsored posts… I get sent a lot of books to review, but that's it. So google ads is kind of a must for me as far as trying to make a tiny bit of pocket money for blogging, I hope mind don't look cluttering like you mentioned!! I can't wait to see the mug with your blog name, but a great idea!

  • Thanks! Like I said at the beginning, there is definitely some really good advice, but you should pick and chose so you don't lose yourself blogging.

  • I think books are totally worth it! I love books!

  • Desiree @ Macke Monologues

    Like you, I became caught up (several times) in the statistics game. Why couldn't I gain more followers? Why wasn't anyone commenting? Then I started down a few different paths, trying to decide in which direction I wanted my blog to go and grow. It wasn't until I kind of threw in the white flag to the whole numbers game and started writing for me and my family. In doing so, I gained new, true followers. Many of whom I can honestly say are actual friends.
    Keep writing for you!

  • You've got so many great thoughts here Tayler! It can be so easy to lose sight and focus of why you're really doing what you're doing. Bottom line if you are going to blog, you had better love what you're talking about and believe in it.
    Thank you for keeping your actual personality alive and well in your posts!
    -Abby http://abbyflynn.com

  • I'm glad you'll be focusing more on being yourself on your blog, not a product, if that makes sense. πŸ™‚ When you are more comfortable, your writing shows that. When your are less confident in yourself, your writing shows that. I'm excited to see you relax and have more fun with your blog again! (I hope that all makes sense… Not trying to offend at all, just observing and am happy for you!)

  • Eryn Ivey

    Great post! I am currently reading "do this and do that." I have decided to take a step back and appreciate why I started to blog: for my friends and family.

  • I love your take on this, because it is so true and what I am truly focusing on with my blog!

  • I love that last comment. Don't sell out. I know that if I was to add a ton of sponsors to my blog and also start doing lots of reviews I'd get a whole lot more viewers, but I always have to remind myself that isn't the purpose behind my blog. So good!

  • Thank you for this post! I'm so sick of the notion of branding in blogging. I mean, for some blogs, it makes perfect sense. But for most, it completely and totally goes against the reason most of us started blogging in the first place.

  • I'm with you on this one. I don't want my blog to look like everyone else's. I don't talk about everything everyone else does. I also hate doing Pin-Posts and Lists Posts, for the most part. I like to talk about whatever I want to talk about. And I don't see why my blog has to have a "purpose" other than for my own writing. I like this unbranding thing!

  • I love this post – some great points here! Ive been blogging for a while and am still happy to blog what I want and when I want!

  • I've seen you on that journey a little even in just the past two years. I'm glad you found your balance!

  • And don't forget, for yourself!

  • I'm glad to see so many people are starting to do a reversal and go back to their blogging roots

  • I know that too well. I've definitely lost some of my talent for writing in the past few years because of that.

  • Exactly. I mean, having more viewers is definitely great, awesome, and fun, but don't lose sight of the intent of your blog!

  • And because it works for some, like businesses (graphic designers, Etsy shops, health coaches), it makes it hard for the rest of us to keep up.

  • Thanks! The more people are positively responding makes me feel that I am going in the right direction!

  • I'm glad that you haven't lost yourself yet!

  • Thank you Tayler–that means a lot to me!

  • Aisha Leuthardt

    This is really great advice. I have not yet found my niche but one thing that I try to stay true to is writing personal posts- almost like they are to myself- in hopes that people will relate to them or it will help someone in some way.

  • I love that you are doing your own thing and by the looks of it, it's totally working for you! I love your writing style and honestly, as long as you're happy with your blog, then who cares about anybody else! Fabulous post!

  • I love those reasons. I guess that is a secret wish of all bloggers–that what we write, whether personal or information, helps another.

  • Thank you so much! I've actually struggled with my writing style lately. I took creative writing all through out high school and college and lately, I've been feeling I've lost some of that talent in writing. So, I worked really hard on this post. Not necessarily for views and comments, but to reinvigorate my writing abilities (and to declare this to myself)

  • Completely with you on this … I'm so tired of reading posts on what you should/must do as a blogger that I have a series of drafts that I need to proofread and schedule on breaking the so called blogging rules. I've been around the blogging world over a decade and done the non-niche route and was inconsistent more often than not. Granted, I love travel and photography, thus that's what I now write about more than just about myself (since my daily life is boring for the most part and the 'interesting' stuff that I wish I could write about I'm not allowed to share on the web). I also ignore what others write on those two topics when brainstorming and instead ask the people I interact with in my daily life for what they'd want to learn/read more about when visiting my blog.
    I say write about what you love/are passionate about, don't spend oodles of money you don't have to be what the 'experts' say you need to in order to be successful, and enjoy it!

  • I'd love to read your posts on breaking the blogger rules! Would you send me a link of your blog?

  • You're awesome! I'm very much like you in that I do what I want to do and, while some advice out there is great, much of it doesn't fit me. I live and blog on my own terms. Great example to set!

  • I'm all over this! I honestly don't think I ever really branded my blog, but I don't think I ever will. My niche is just…Me after all. I just want to write whatever I feel like writing without all the pressure of whether or not it will be popular. And a lot of the time, the ones that I just sort of wing it on are typically the more popular posts…

  • Celeste

    Love this post! I've only been blogging for 6 months, but I've already gone through big time blogger burn out, blog comparing, etc, etc. I've decided it's not really worth it to me to try to put myself out there, work super hard and grow my blog huge. I've researched enough to know what that would entail, and eh, I'd rather not. It's a hard thing to remember though, when I read things like "how to make a ton of money off your blog in a year!!" Then I'm like "yeah I can do it!!" But then I'm like, oh yeah, I don't want to spend all my time blogging and self-promoting. I'd rather just ENJOY my time blogging instead of feeling all this pressure to update my social media accounts everyday asking questions that nobody answers πŸ˜‰

  • Exactly! I mean, I once tried to design my own blog and I liked it for a while, then started to not like it because I realized it looked amateur. But, @Elizabeth T is a great designer if you're ever interested!

  • That's very lucky that you just wing popular posts! How cool!

  • That's the thing…many people considering blogging their 2nd "full-time" job. I'd rather not. It's a hobby.

  • Love it! When I first started blogging (I am in year 6.5) I went to a blogging conference where someone on a panel said something very wise that I never forgot: OWN it! You own your blog and you decide what's best for you and those readers who stick around are the ones that you care about because they care about you!

  • I love that piece of advice!

  • This is SUCH an interesting post. I'm going into brand strategy professionally, so I haven't actually considered the idea of UN-branding ANYTHING! Majorly interesting points you bring up here, Tayler. I'm off to think…

    cominguprosestheblog.com

  • This post is the only one online so far (http://www.routebliss.com/2015/01/my-thoughts-on-the-evolution-of-blogging/) … the list was a bit long, so I've broken it up into a series of posts that I'll share throughout the spring πŸ™‚

  • this is great! so much like my post πŸ˜‰ great minds think alike πŸ˜‰

  • I know, right?!?

  • Hannah Diane

    This is wonderful! Love this!!