He Calls Me By Name: A Fresh Perspective on Personal Branding

A Fresh Perspective on Personal Branding“Hi there! I’m Gretchen.”

It’s how I introduced myself the first year I attended Allume. But no one recognized my name.

Until they saw my blog address scrawled on my nametag.

“Oh, you’re the little pink house!”

Well, actually, I am not the little pink house. That’s what I called my blog, because that was the color of our house when we got married.

But I smiled and said yes. In the sea of vaguely familiar faces, I was just glad to find someone who knew me–even if it wasn’t by name.

It didn’t take long before my Allume roomie Trina Holden started trying to convince me to rebrand as myself. And, despite several objections I had to the idea of rebranding, I began to consider the idea.

If you’ve wondered whether personal branding is right for you, perhaps you’ve asked these same questions, too.

Why would I use my name?

When I began to consider embracing my personal identity online, the verses about how Jesus calls His sheep by name kept echoing through my head. As I thought about the importance God placed on names throughout Scripture, I realized the significance of embracing my name as my brand. If names are that important to God, then wouldn’t He be glorified by my use of the name He impressed upon my parents’ hearts as my own?

“My name is not only known to Him—it is precious to Him. He is not only acquainted with but passionately interested in the details that make up my life. Nothing is too unpleasant a task for His ministering hand. He cares for me every bit as tenderly as I do my flock of seven [sheep]—every bit and a universe’s worth of more. And when I follow Him, my joy is second only to His.”
-Lanier Ivester in “He Calls Them By Name” on Kindred Grace

Our names are important to God.

With God we’re not a number, we’re a name He chose before we were born. In Biblical times, some parents were able to name their child without the help of today’s gender-revealing sonogram because God told them what they were having and what the child’s name would be (think Isaac, Solomon, John, and Jesus). Branding with my own name was simply an acknowledgement of His creation of me as a unique individual. (Click to Tweet that.)

“I chose personal branding because God’ vision for my words and my life is constantly evolving – by not choosing a ‘niche’ specific name, I have the freedom to grow my brand in any direction without starting fresh every time. Also, it has helped people identify me with my writing and my passions when we meet in real life – they put a literal ‘face’ to my online ‘name.'”
-Crystal Stine

Is using my name prideful?

It felt strange, almost prideful, to think about using my own name for my blog domain. And yet, I wondered if it was even more pretentious to bestow a “brand” upon my blog. Anything I could think of either lacked originality or would be as outdated as my “little pink house” within five years. Branding as myself was the simple answer. I sign my name on every email I write. I put my name in the return address of every letter I mail. Why should my blog be any different?

“When I started blogging in 2003, it seemed an obvious choice to connect my online presence with my name, like people would be meeting me online. I never thought of it as ‘branding’ nor did I think I was pointing a big finger at me rather than God. I felt that the online me was pretty similar to the real-life me, and that felt genuine. Sometimes I write blatantly about God just like I sometimes talk blatantly about God, and sometimes I talk and write about iron skillets. That’s Ann Kroeker, online or off.”
-Ann Kroeker

God’s Writers Have Used Personal Branding for Centuries

Biblical authors like Paul needed no explanation or certification except, “I, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” There was nothing trendy about Paul: his tagline was the same as all the others. He was honest, straightforward, and humble. Paul’s name was what set him apart from the other apostles. And two thousand years later, we still know their books by their names. It’s not pride to let your work be associated with your name, it’s simply practical. (Click to Tweet that!)

“I am growing in my understanding of God’s vision for my life. Following Him is a day-by-day, walk by faith and that is as true in my personal life and family as it is in my ministry in this online space. In addition to a writing ministry, God has opened doors for speaking and teaching. Using a name specific domain erases some of the limits I tend to put on myself and allows me to follow whichever direction God leads.”
-Erika Dawson

Is now the time to rebrand using my name?

It was overwhelming to think about the rebranding process, but I knew it was time–and that it was easier to do it sooner than later. My first blogging conference signified a new season in both my blogging and my business, and my rebranding represented that change. Why shouldn’t my blog become a true extension of myself in name as well as in content?

“From a business perspective, it makes sense for the name on my book cover to match the name on my blog. For me, the move to personal branding was one way to be a good steward of my word-ministry. For years, my name was attached, as a byline, to news stories in many metro newspapers. Now, it’s attached to the Good News.”
-Jennifer Dukes Lee

God often changed people’s names to signify a new season or calling.

In the Bible, God changed people’s names to signify a change in direction, a new phase in their walk with Him. Sarai became Sarah at God’s command, her new name representing the coming fruit of her womb. Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi changed her name to Mara to signify a season of mourning. Jacob became Israel when God revealed that He would be the father of a nation God would call His own. Changing my blog domain to my own name became a memorial stone on my blogging journey.

Rebranding can actually be a very natural part of taking the next step in what He’s called you to online. And, if done correctly it can actually strengthen your presence and impact online. Introducing yourself by name brings an authenticity to your online presence, and authenticity is a hot commodity.” (Click to Tweet that.)
-Trina Holden

Find out why @GretLouise @TrinaHolden and @AmandaMedlin_ chose personal branding!

Gretchen Louise:
“I wanted the freedom to just by myself online, whether interacting with clients or connecting with readers. Now that I’ve rebranded I don’t have to fit my posts to my blog’s brand or theme–my blog is a representation of me and everything I’m interested in, an extension of myself in name as well as content.”

Trina Holden:
“We are here to build relationship. We need to introduce ourselves the same way we do in real life—by announcing our name. I know this can sound a bit egotistical, but really, it’s not. You’re simply removing barriers and making it easy for people to find you and talk to you. It’s a favor to your friends and anyone you meet online to be consistent in your online identities. Having a solid brand is as simple as just being yourself wherever you go.” (from “The Best Personal Branding Advice I Ever Got Or Gave“)

Amanda Medlin:
“As a blogger, I struggled to find my niche. Although I loved my blog’s name, I sometimes felt trapped by it, as though I could only blog about natural living and natural parenting. Those are both very much a part of who I am, but just a part. When I chose to rebrand using my name I finally felt the freedom to blog from the season of life I found myself in, rather than trying to keep up with a specific theme or genre.”

Beginning Branding Tips

  • Choosing a domain name is a long-term decision. Use something you’ll still want to be known by in five or ten years. (If you’re single and hoping to be married, this may mean using your middle name rather than a last name.)
  • It’s a lot of work to change your domain name, but it’s easy to change the name or tagline on your website. Just because your blog address is yourname.com doesn’t mean you can’t use a different title or tagline for your blog!
  • There is no one size fits all branding advice. But it’s easier to start with your name than change to it later. As Trina says, “using your name will help you when and if the Lord calls you to opportunities beyond your blog.” (Click to Tweet that.)
  • Click here for more personal branding tips and resources.

“As an author, I have plans for many series and many books. I want my brand to extend past one book or one series and encompass anything I might write. It seemed easier to use my name as a umbrella to cover anywhere my imagination may take me!”
-Vicki V. Lucas

I rebranded in 2012 as Gretchen Louise, choosing just my first and middle names because it took Trina two years to learn how to spell my last name, let alone pronounce it. I changed my blog domain and redirected my old domain to my new one, changed my social media usernames (creating new accounts as necessary), and set up a new email address. It was a long process, but it was worth it to feel like I could truly be myself on my blog. And because I used my name this time, I don’t have to worry about rebranding again!

I’ve come to wholeheartedly embrace personal branding, and encourage my clients and anyone looking to solidify their brand to consider the practical simplicity of going by their God-given name. (Click to Tweet that.)

How about you–have you embraced personal branding?

I’d love to hear why!

Sincerely,
Gretchen Louise

Graphics and editorial input by Trina Holden.

Gretchen Louise

Gretchen Louise is a farmer’s wife and mommy to three curly-haired children. When she’s not working in the family business, hanging out laundry, or washing dishes, she writes in CSS, HTML, PHP—and English. You'll also find her blogging about inner beauty and outward adornment at Adornabelle, as well as managing the community over at Kindred Grace.

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  • GABRIELLE DAIGLE

    This is so interesting to me! My blog has always been MamaGab because my name is Gabby and it’s a mom blog. I’ve recently contemplated changing the name to something more abstract, as many bloggers do. My non-blogging sister convinced me that she loves that my name is tied in with my blog, even in such a small way. It makes it more me. :) And after reading your post, now I have to contemplate if MamaGab is enough or if I should go all out with a personal re-branding. Thanks for giving me a lot to think about!

    • http://beautifulinhistime.com/ APRILLE {BEAUTIFULINHISTIME.CO

      I love your blog name – because it has a bit of personal branding but it’s completely your name. You can walk into a room and it’s easier for people to associate your name with your site! I think that’s awesome!

      • GABRIELLE DAIGLE

        Thanks, Aprille!! That’s encouraging to hear from YOU, someone who knows me, at least in the blogosphere.

    • GINGER HARRINGTON

      I love the name MamaGab:)

      • GABRIELLE DAIGLE

        Aw, thanks, Ginger! I’m glad to hear it–sometimes I feel silly saying it, or is that just how it is when you’re the girl who does this weird thing called blogging that no one else seems to really understand? :)

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Gabrielle, I think that in many ways you’ve already embraced personal branding by using MamaGab! My friend @MamaKautz was just saying that she would love to be known as Mama to everyone someday: “I would love to be known as Mama to everybody someday. I picture myself sitting on the porch with my sweet tea telling stories with my grandkids at my feet.”

      As a personal blog, I think MamaGab could be timeless. Of course, if writing a book or using your site as a business was on your radar for someday, changing to your name might seem more professional. Tsh Oxenreider apparently has moments she wishes she’d not used Simple Mom as her brand (http://simplemom.net/state-of-the-blog/), but she also has a contributor blog now which makes it so much different than a personal blog. It all depends on the brand/image you want to portray.

      • GABRIELLE DAIGLE

        That’s very true; thanks for your insight. It’s great to hear from others on this idea and how I should apply it, although as you put it, perhaps I did it without even fully understanding the concept of personal branding.

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  • http://www.amandaconquers.com/ AMANDA CONQUERS

    I am just going through a domain change to my name… or at least the name I use online. The process of changing it is a small nightmare, but I am so excited to have something simple and identifiable and usable everywhere. Since my husband is a cop I feel very much so like I need to keep some level of anonymity so I chose a “last” name that represents how God sees me and who He made me to be. It’s still a little awkward to use it in introductions like at allume and I worry I could be perceived as prideful, but I love it and the message of hope behind it. Also, the grammar nerd in me loves that it’s a verb and that I can use it to start a sentence like “Amanda Conquers her messy house”… or how about “Amanda Conquers the domain change?!”lol

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Love this, Amanda! In your case using a pen last name is definitely a wise idea. And I’ve always thought your chosen last name quite valiant, not to mention memorable. :)

      • http://www.amandaconquers.com/ AMANDA CONQUERS

        Thanks for the words of affirmation, Gretchen!
        Seriously, you are such a gift to this community and I’m sure all you are apart of.

  • http://beautifulinhistime.com/ APRILLE {BEAUTIFULINHISTIME.CO

    Gretchen I’ve been reading a lot of posts on personal branding – fascinating stuff. I love my domain name and don’t want to change it (right now – sorry, call me stubborn, but I think that there’s a lot about my domain that’s timeless, niche-less, and can easily evolve with me and my life, I actually wrote a whole post about that at one point) but have taken a lot of the other advice to heart and have made a lot of tiny changes on both my site and my social media pages – making sure all of my pictures match, making sure my first name is visible on everything, changing my “about me” page to “about Aprille” – little stuff like that, ya know? So thanks for posting this (and your series on your blog) – because there is definitely a lot of things about personal branding that make a LOT of sense to me!

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      I agree, Aprille–you definitely have a very timeless domain/tagline with “Beautiful in His Time”. I think you can also embrace personal branding while still having your tagline as your domain name, too, which is what it sounds like you’re doing. Yay for little changes and getting everything consistent! :)

  • MELANIEAMOORE

    I’ve struggled with this too! My site is “Only a Breath” (after the psalm that life is only a breath…) but would like to use MY name too :) However, my name (Melanie Moore) is very common and every domain I can think of is taken. Even my middle name is taken.
    Do you have any suggestions for this type situation? I would love your guidance since you’ve been through the process!
    Blessings,
    Melanie / OnlyABreath / NeedANewName ;)

    • http://crystalstine.me/ CRYSTAL

      pssst….melaniemoore.me is available ;)

      • MELANIEAMOORE

        Hmmm…… should I???? :)

        • http://crystalstine.me/ CRYSTAL

          totally your call :) just thought i’d let you know (you have to purchase through godaddy for the .me)

          • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

            Oh, I love the .me domain names–talk about the absolute in a statement of personal branding! And hey, if it works for incourage.me, then it should work for the rest of us, right? ;)

        • http://joyfulmothering.net CHRISTIN

          Yes, you should! At least secure it (it’s only about $15) so no one else takes it!

  • CARA

    I loved reading this! I’ve been thinking about branding and setting up a new website, and this article has given me a lot to think about. I was wanting to do something along the lines of ‘SimplyCleo’, because I thought it was a versatile name and also reflected me… but now I’m reconsidering. My first name is Cara, ‘Leo’ is the first three letters of my middle name, and Cleo is the name of my great-grandmother. I was considering ‘Cleo’ as an online presence nickname for myself, but maybe that’s not the best idea… hmm… still thinking!

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      It’s definitely a brainstorming process, isn’t it?!

  • http://alwaysalleluia.com/ KRIS CAMEALY

    Gretchen, I loved this so much. I wrestled with feeling prideful when I transitioned from “Always Alleluia” to kriscamealy.com. Ultimately, the transition was made because God is calling me to new places and spaces and I felt (especially after publishing my book) that it was okay to be recognized by my name, and helpful for my readers to be able to find me. It still feels awkward at times, but I am working on owning it in the sense that God has called me by name to serve Him in this way, and so I go willingly and boldly, only by His strength.

    Thanks for such a great post!

    • http://crystalstine.me/ CRYSTAL

      Kris, our conversation about your blog name change is what I thought of when I gave Gretchen my quote :)

      • http://alwaysalleluia.com/ KRIS CAMEALY

        I remember that conversation well, sweet friend. What a gift you are ;)

    • MELANIEAMOORE

      I really love that you changed — it helped me to put a name with your beautiful face! :)

      • http://alwaysalleluia.com/ KRIS CAMEALY

        Awe, thanks for that encouragement, Melanie!!

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Love this: “God has called me by name to serve Him in this way, and so I go willingly and boldly, only by His strength.” Amen, amen!

  • http://joyfulmothering.net CHRISTIN

    This is soooo tough for me. I am thinking I want to merge my Joyful Mothering with ChristinSlade.com. Have a redirect so they both go to the same place. But I am finding myself wanting to write beyond motherhood and am feeling a little trapped by my name–although I love it! Ohhh decisions, decisions.

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      You could always merge them both into the new ChristinSlade.com and keep your tagline Joyful Mothering. But it’s definitely a long-term decision and takes some thought!

  • SHANNON COE

    This was such a great post, Gretchen. I had thought about making visual changes on my blog until I can make a proper change. I was leaning towards Shannon Coe, A Life Arranged By God…making my name now be my tag line. Thank you for sharing all this information and I love the Allume photo booth picture!

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Thank you, Shannon! A transitional tagline definitely makes it easier. That’s what I did with “post cards from the little pink house” until I could settle on “connoisseur of words & code” (which took me about a year!).

  • GINGER HARRINGTON

    My blog title is Ginger’s Corner: Where the Spiritual Meets the Practical, but I am glad that I somehow made the choice to get my name, Ginger Harrington and the domain. I wish I had realized how important this is for writers when I created my FB fan page, which I did as Ginger’s Corner rather than as my full FB name. I don’t think I can change that now, but it would have been better to have my name–author page. But before being published, I felt like a fake to put myself out there as an author. Oh, this crazy process of feeling our way! Thanks for a great post today. Hope I get to connect with you at Allume:)

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      You actually can change your Facebook page name and URL, but just once! Check out the details here: https://www.facebook.com/help/271607792873806 I’d definitely go with just “Ginger Harrington” as the name of your page, as Author or whatever else you put in your page description will show when people search for you. The username may be harder to get exactly what you want, but something like GingerHarringtonWriter or GingerHarringtonAuthor is always an option when you can’t get just GingerHarrington for a username.

      Thanks for commenting! Wish I was going to be at Allume to connect, but I’ll sure be stalking the Twitter feed. :)

  • TRICIA GOYER

    As an author, speaker, blogger, radio host it’s easy for me to direct people to TriciaGoyer.com … I also bought the domain TrishaGoyer.com and I have it redirect to my site, since I have a unique spelling to my name. Great post!

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Great idea, Tricia!

  • MEI AU

    I totally agree with this post but my struggle is I have a name that no one can pronounce or spell. My Twitter name is @MeiLingAu which includes my middle name because @MeiAu was already taken. When I originally signed up for Twitter, it never crossed my mind that I might blog/write/speak. So now as I am in the process of setting up a blog, I’m not sure it would be a good idea to go with my name because people would know how to spell it

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      MeiLing, I think your name is beautiful, and really not that hard to spell. (It looks like it’s even available as a .com… :))

      • MEI AU

        Thank you, Gretchen. You are very kind. The problem is my first name “Mei” is pronounced May so I think it messes up people if I have to spell it all the time. Maybe all of this anxiety stems from the first day of school roll call and inevitably the teacher butchers both my first and last name and the entire class chuckles.The ironic thing is that “Mei” is a very common name in China, probably equivalent to “Jane”. It just sounds exotic here in the USA:)

        • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

          And see, that’s how I was pronouncing Mei mentally as I read your comments. :)

          I think that even though your name may be harder to pronounce or spell for some, at least it is short, and easily memorable once you’ve seen it in print a few times. That’s the advantage of online–you usually see a domain name or Twitter handle first, rather than just having to hear it and remember it.

  • HEIDI KLEINE

    Thank you so much for this Gretchen. I’ve been feeling like maybe I had made a mistake by using my name as my brand HeidiKleineCoaching.com. I worried that people might find it hard to spell or would understand what my mission is better if it was part of the address. I love the idea that God knows us each by name and believe that my call is to share my own story. Thanks for confiriming that I should share it under my own name.
    Blessings, Heidi

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Thank you for commenting, Heidi! (Incidentally, I was almost named Heidi…but my parents decided I was a Gretchen instead. :))

  • http://www.raisingtherosses.com/ ZOHARY ROSS

    Gretchen! It is because of you that I am zoharyross.com. I think it went something like me stressing over how I wanted to brand myself, you saying something like “but you have such a nice/interesting name, have you thought of branding yourself as you?” Me “Duh”. Great post friend!

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Oh yes, I do seem to remember that. ;) You are practically the only person I know who can have just her first name as her Twitter handle! Yay for personal branding.

  • LARA SADOWSKI

    I absolutely love this post, Gretchen! I am in the middle of marinating and applying a rebranding process to both of my sites (laralsadowski.com and firstprizewriting.com), and your advice is right on target! Thank you for sharing your gifts with us! :-)

    Cannot wait to meet you at Allume! I will be a fellow “curly-haired” sister!!

    Blessings,
    Lara Sadowski <

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Hey Lara, wish I was going to be at Allume to keep an eye out for another curly-head! But I will be watching your rebranding with interest. Thanks so much for commenting!

      • LARA SADOWSKI

        We will miss you, Gretchen, but I will continue to follow you on your blog/site! Curly-haired sisters have to stick together!! And the Southern humidity only gives me more curl!! WOOT-WOOT! <

  • http://www.heartsonguard.com/ VANESSA

    Up until a month ago, I blogged under an alias. Being a military wife adds a whole new level of security and awareness that my husband and I had to consider when I began my blog. With his blessing I revealed my real first name and have loved the response and the taking off of the mask. If I ever went to my name, I’d most certainly need to go by first and middle (which is the name on my email as it is anyway). I may have to look at this – though people tell me they love my blog title. Rebranding would be a huge step! Love this article, though… gives me a lot to think about!

    • http://www.heartsonguard.com/ VANESSA

      Though my first/middle combo is unavailable ;) So looks like I’m staying as Hearts On Guard…

      • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

        Have you considered trying @crystalstine:disqus ‘s suggestion of different domain extensions like .me?

        Beautiful website, by the way! (And thank you for your service to our country as a military wife!)

  • http://www.domesticblissdiaries.com/ ALANA @ SPARROW + GRACE

    Okay, I love the idea of my name being my brand and other commenters have already answered the my-name-is-so-common-that-the-domain-isn’t-available problem {hello, .me!}. BUT… I have stared and stopped so many blogs. I finally have “settled” into an online domain, yet in the past {almost} two-and-a-half years, I’ve changed the name at least three times! My blog’s name is “Sparrow + Grace”, but I do have my name on my sidebar, at the bottom of each post, and I always sign comments on other blogs as “Alana @ Sparrow + Grace”. Is this “good enough”? Or, in a situation like mine {where I worry that people will think, “here she goes again…”}, what do you recommend? Change to my name anyway, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned here, or stick with my current name?

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      It sounds like personal branding would be just perfect for you, because you could call your blog by whatever tagline or title fits this moment in your life, but people could always find you at the exact same domain and social media names. :) I wouldn’t worry about what people will think–especially if you explain that you’re embracing personal branding to give you more freedom to just be yourself and call your blog whatever you want whenever you want. :) Even if you don’t do it right now, I’d take steps to get your domain name and Twitter handle so that when you’re ready to make the change (before a conference or before the new year, etc.) you have the usernames you need. :)

  • http://www.kmlogan.com/ KM LOGAN

    I went from Lessons from Ivy to KMlogan.com it made perfect sense.

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      I love the simplicity of personal branding!

  • KACEY

    You’re so full of wisdom and good tips when it comes to social media and blogging. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Aww, thank you, Kacey!

  • KIM@ONEREBELHEART

    I’ve done some groundwork by snapping up my name in wordpress and blogger, and I’ll probably go ahead and “gift” myself my name as a .me since I just had a birthday. My problem is that even when I have the domain name I don’t know what to do with it! I can definitely see switching my blog on wordpress over to my name with my old blog name as the tagline, but how would I go about redirecting traffic from my old blog to my new one? (says the non-techy girl)

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Is your blog currently on Blogger or WordPress? WordPress.com won’t redirect for free but you can create a landing page on your old WordPress.com page saying “I’ve moved to here”. Blogger will automatically redirect. And of course, if you own the domains, you can control where they go. Here are a few more tips that may help: gretchenlouise.com/5-details-not-to-miss-when-you-move-from-blogspot-to-wordpress/

  • PEG FLINT

    Oh my goodness – I can’t believe how timely this article is for me. My website is “pegspeaks.com” but God has been working with me on the mission statement for my website and I am wanting to nurture women in their walks with God – so I was trying to come up with all sorts of names and so frustrated. I was afraid it was proudful of me to have that website name.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Thank you, Peg! I’m so glad it was an encouragement to you.

  • ROSANN

    Gretchen, thank you for this timely post. This is exactly what I’m in the process of doing. Now that I have a few books under my belt I want to rebrand from ChristianSuperMom.com and UnEmployedFaith.com to just my name RosannCunningham.com. I’m finding I’m stretched too thin trying to write two completely different niches on two different sites. I feel God pushing me to just be at one place, branded in my name, where I can write whatever He places on my heart without worrying if it fits or not. I already have the new domain and I’m in the process of designing the site with an anticipated launch date of Jan 2014. My question is…what’s the best strategy for transitioning from two sites to one new one. I also have almost 5,000 fans between two FB pages. I use aWeber for ChristianSupermom but not for UnEmployedFaith (no reason, just laziness! Lol!) and plan to use it on RosannCunningham.com. Do I just leave the old sites active but without any new posts? I thought about throwing together a free eBook download of the content on those sites as a free gift to subscribe to the new one. But is that sort of a lame thing to do? Lol! Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated! :-)

    • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

      Hi Rosann! Do you want the old content on the new site? If so, I would import both old sites into the new one. Then you can redirect both feeds and all traffic to the new site–no broken links, no subscriptions lost. You could merge all your email subscribers into the Aweber sccount (or get MailChimp–it is free!).
      And you would want to submit a name change request on whichever Facebook page has more fans, then change the page URL to match your domain too if possible. Finally, submit a page merge request and Facebook will merge the smaller page’s fans into the larger one. You will lose only the posts on the FB page with less fans.
      Make sense? If you need more help with all this, let me know. :)

      • ROSANN

        I’m on a self-hosted WordPress site for all of them. Does WordPress allow the content to be imported elsewhere? If so, I think that would certainly be ideal, particularly if someone clicks on an older link in the search engines and are redirected to the new site. That’s awesome news about FB! Now, is it best to pick a day and switch everything at once to be effective that day or just take it one step at a time, one account at a time, one site at a time, etc…? Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate your time and feedback! :)

        • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

          Are all three sites on separate Cpanels or all the same? It can all be done within a week’s time easily (there are lots of steps and things to double check before you remove the old sites and set up redirects) but you will likely want to wait until your new site is ready for the public eye before you start importing and redirecting your old posts there.
          The export/import itself is straightforward, but you will want to be sure to bring all your images with you before the redirects are in place, either by moving your uploads folder or with a plugin like Import External Images.
          Then you will need to set up wildcard redirects for your old domains, either in cpanel or htaccess, so that everything is seamless.

          • ROSANN

            I’m pretty sure they’re all on the same cpanels. My techy husband set everything up for me, so I’m sure he’ll be doing most of the techy work to redirect stuff. Lol! Good to know about the images! Thank you! I’m printing this off so I can refer to it when the time comes. I also found your step-by-step rebranding post that I printed off. Good stuff! :)

          • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

            I am glad you have some technical help! :) When I am back at my computer I will send you a few more links that deal with htaccess and the moving/merging process. I will look forward to seeing it all take shape!

          • ROSANN

            Awesome! Thank you so much! :) I’m getting excited now. Maybe I’ll have to move up the launch date. Lol!

          • http://gretchenlouise.com/ GRETCHEN LOUISE

            It’s exciting to rebrand and relaunch, isn’t it?!

            This post is more about moving from Blogger to WordPress, but the same principles of importing the images apply: http://gretchenlouise.com/5-details-not-to-miss-when-you-move-from-blogspot-to-wordpress/

            And if you need details on the htaccess redirects, let me know. As long as it is a wildcard redirect (post to post and link to link rather than post to main page or link to main page), the feeds should all redirect beautifully.

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  • KATIE STANLEY

    Gretchen, I just realized that I used to read your blog here and there when you “The Little Pink House”! :)