Remember how fun it was when you first started your blog?
Writing great posts was effortless, and connecting with your audience was a pleasure.
In a classic scene in the movie Drop Dead Fred, Phoebe Cates and her imaginary friend Fred build a colossal mud pie on the dining room table.
They revel in the messy joy of creation and the fact that it’s going to infuriate her mother (aka the “Mega Beast”).
Starting a blog is like making that massive mud pie. It’s a major undertaking, yes, but an exciting one. Everything is fun and interesting. Your creativity is soaring and you predict your blog will astound and awe the online world.
Unfortunately, we creative people get bored easily and sometimes that new-blog luster wears off. Time passes, and you get sick of writing about that topic you used to love.
You move on, and now you want to write about something totally different. So what do you do about your old blog?
Well, you have three options:
- Take down the old blog and start over with something new
- Sell the old blog to someone who will give it the love and attention you once did
- Reposition and revive the old blog
If you’ve put years of work into a blog, you may want to give option three some serious consideration. You can leverage that existing content and your site quality to build something new and amazing.
Your content legacy
If you’ve been online for a long time, you have a content legacy attached to your name.
Google knows what you’ve been up to. The content you have posted to your blog is part of your online history.
Completely erasing your content legacy and starting over is daunting. When faced with this problem, people often can’t decide what to do, so they do nothing at all and let the blog languish.
That was my approach for quite a while. People who do a Google search on my name probably think I have some sort of multiple personality disorder.
I used to write a lot of articles about how to use computers. Until I couldn’t stand it anymore.
My most popular computer-related site, Computor Companion, was a multi-author site I started as an archive for a print magazine that I published starting in 1999.
Although we stopped printing the magazine in 2001, we continued to publish online issues of the magazine through 2009. Needless to say, after publishing for 10 years, the site was large. With hundreds of articles and millions of visitors, Computor Companion was a content Mega Beast.
In fact, even after completely ignoring the site for more than two years, I still get feedback on the articles almost daily and remain in contact with many of the authors.
I never could let Computor Companion go. So many memories and online friendships are associated with it, I couldn’t part with the site.
Up until recently, I couldn’t figure out what to do with it either. After the Google Panda update, the traffic started falling off because Google noticed that the site hadn’t been updated in a while.
Clearly, I needed to do something.
Tear it apart and build it back up
In Drop Dead Fred, during the last moments of that mud pie scene, Fred breaks open a Jack in the Box toy and plops Jack’s head on top of the messy creation.
He says, “You see, when something’s not working right, the best thing is to tear it apart to make it better.”
If you want to reposition an existing blog, that’s what you have to do too. You tear it apart and build it back up.
That’s exactly what I did to relaunch Computor Companion.
Find a new angle
Determining a workable way to reposition your blog is arguably the hardest step. You can salvage most of the content if you don’t opt to go in a completely different direction. (If you absolutely can’t stand the topic at all, refer to Option 1 above and just start a new blog.)
The idea of repositioning Computor Companion had been on my mind for months before I finally arrived at a new slant that would work. I kept dwelling on the old tagline, which was “How to use computers effectively.” But the idea of doing technical writing or editing was unappealing at best. (Read: not going to happen.)
To arrive at the new direction, I looked at the readers’ problems differently. Most of my clients and many Computor Companion readers have used the information for business purposes. Then the new tagline hit me: Smart Ideas and Advice to Grow Your Business with Technology.
I could write (and edit) articles about small business. Almost everyone uses computers in business, so the existing articles could still work within the new framework. But the software focus could be deemphasized in future content.
To find a new angle for your blog, ask yourself: What problems — other than my central topic — does my content solve for readers?
Set new goals
Coming up with a new idea is great, but implementation can be challenging. If you’re going to go to all the work of revamping a blog, you should think about why you want to do it.
Think about your goals for the site and whether all the work will be worth it. In our case, our goals were to:
- Expand our content marketing into a different area
- Make money from advertising initially and products in the future
- Capture leads from people interested in small business issues
Our goals affected how we redesigned and rebranded the site. Think about what you want your blog to do for your business before you embark on any changes.
Update the design
Obviously, a site that hadn’t been updated since 2009 needed some design attention. I didn’t want to completely throw away the old design, so the site will keep a similar color scheme.
Redesigning the site was relatively simple. For a blog, you can easily replace the theme to totally change the look. It’s amazing what a few color changes and a new header can do.
In our case, I created a new logo that is reminiscent of the old site/magazine. We also added more white space and I rewrote all the static pages (About, Home, etc.) to reflect the new direction. I came up with an idea for an autoresponder and we added sign-up forms to capture email addresses.
Reorganize the content
Our next trick was to recategorize all the existing content, so it would make sense going forward. In the prior incarnation, the site focused on how to use software, so that’s how the articles were organized.
Now, with a small business focus, the articles are categorized into subject areas like Getting Clients, Developing Your Business, and Productivity. We deleted a few articles entirely and imported a few articles from another old site we were shutting down. At this point, some of the categories don’t have many articles, but there’s a lot of room for growth.
The key to setting up categories is to think about how you want people to find the content. We had the technical expertise to dig into the databases and reassign categories. If you don’t have a resident geek, you may need to resign yourself to some rather tedious work reorganizing your content.
Once we had the new site design in place and the autoresponder set up, we launched. When you launch a blog, it’s easy to get mired down in perfectionism, but the problem is worse when you’re retrofitting an existing site.
You’ll undoubtedly have to compromise on a few issues. In our case, some articles aren’t perfectly categorized and there are a couple of articles we probably should have deleted, but didn’t because of the author.
At this point, Computor Companion isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than it was. We have a new platform for great content that I can enjoy writing and editing going forward.
The best part is that I have a site that’s no longer dragging me down. The prospect of adding new articles doesn’t scare or depress me.
As Fred would say, “I’m not afraid of the Mega Beast!”
How about you?
Ever take a blog or a website all the way to the ground and build it back up again? Ever think about doing it with your current site?
Let us know in the comments.
About the Author: Susan Daffron, aka The Book Consultant owns a book and software publishing company. In addition to relaunching ComputorCompanion.com and teaching aspiring authors about book publishing, she is putting on the Self-Publishers Online Conference May 8-10. Use the special “friend of Copyblogger” code CB12 when you register to get a discount.