Today’s rant: the danger of a branded blog.
Should You Name Your Blog After Yourself?
There are four types of blogs:
- Personal blog
- Business blog
- Niche blog
- Affiliate blog
Several online gurus, like Adam Enfroy, preach that your blog should be www.yourname.com. Naming your domain like your birth certificate is supposed to inspire you to own and claim this website as your own and never accept anything less than six-figure success!
And for some people, I suppose that works.
For anyone bent on building a website portfolio, I think it’s short-sighted. I see a lot of people commenting on forums, “I just bought the domain www.myname.com, but I’m not sure what to write about! Help with picking a niche?”
As an entrepreneur, remember that every business ends in one of three ways:
- You keep growing the business until you die.
- You watch in despair as it ebbs and crashes, leaving you nothing (hopefully not in bankruptcy).
- You sell it.
Since you only have three options (and only two good ones), shouldn’t you always have a Plan B for an exit strategy?
The Challenge of Buying a Branded Blog
I’ve been itching to buy another website. I keep a master list of all halfway-decent blogs or websites I encounter in my main niche. I use this list to generate content ideas, track my competition, do keyword research, feel out the market, etc.
I also shortlist a few websites I’m interested in buying. Recently, I sent out a few feelers, and I’ve even made a few website offers.
One offer was accepted.
I then modified my offer, and the modified offer was turned down.
The blogger in question had a 3-year-old site in the international travel niche with a smattering of content in the nomadic living and RV space. COVID-19 had bloodied up the site pretty well, so it wasn’t making more than chump change.
It also ticked off many of the boxes I look for when purchasing a site: short-form blog content, easy site navigation, AdSense monetization, 90+ percent organic US-based traffic, etc.
(To be clear – I hate AdSense. But I love to see it on someone else’s website, because I know I can 2x the revenue just by switching ad networks.)
So I made an offer for the site (a pretty generous one of 50x current monthly earnings!) and she accepted.
But then, as I was preparing my final site purchasing contract, I kept running into a snag.
This blogger had gone all-out to create an online brand. Let’s use a code name; let’s say the personal brand moniker was “The Wayward Wanderer.”
(Turns out, that IS an actual brand, but don’t let that distract you).
Anyway, this brand was EVERYWHERE! The blogger hadn’t just created a WordPress blog; she had created:
- Pinterest account and boards
- Etsy shop (x2)
- Shopify shop
- Instagram (x2)
- Facebook page
- Amazon store
- And a few more!
Apparently, she hadn’t read my post on getting off the social media hamster wheel.
She had manufactured an online universe built around this brand name. And all sections were interconnected. Most of the blog posts, for instance, had embedded Pinterest pins (branded, too) and links to her Etsy and Amazon stores.
And the blog itself was OBVIOUSLY a personal blog. Not just “this blog is maintained by Daisy D.” I mean that her personal life, habits, and opinions were interwoven throughout the content.
Do you see my problem yet?
The original blogger was a female, mom, and international traveler.
I am none of those things.
So my mind kept cycling through three purchasing options:
- Purchase ONLY the website and rebrand everything! Get rid of all the external links to her content.
- Purchase ONLY the website as an extension of her brand and develop my own content.
- Purchase EVERYTHING – every single account associated with the brand, and take it over completely.
There were real challenges with each choice.
- The site wasn’t making much money. Originally, I figured I could rebrand with a new About/Contact page, redesigned sidebar, fancy new logo, and call it good. But the effort required to fully rebrand the site – including all the embedded Pinterest pins – which have made no sense considering the low revenue.
- Option number two is stupid. NEVER develop content for someone else’s brand. That’s for the sheeple, not entrepreneurs.
- #3 was the offer I finally made. I offered to buy every single online account she owned under “The Wayward Wanderer” handle. To be honest, I didn’t even want half the accounts! I would have immediately killed the IG accounts and put the Facebook account into carbonite.
As I said, she declined the offer. She had digital products in her Etsy stores worth selling, and she wasn’t looking to start over from scratch. She’ll likely abandon the website.
Now, what can we learn from this?
We should NOT assume that personal blogging = bad blogging.
Case in point: This blog! I am Andy. I run this blog. I write for this blog. No one else would probably ever purchase FLUB, and that is by design.
(The end game for this blog is to become an online learning resource for bloggers and online entrepreneurs who wish to follow my framework. Without me, there is no framework, and therefore no FLUB. Now you know my entire chess game is to one day have you pay me money for my success. Cool, isn’t it?)
Translation: My public status as the author of FLUB increases the future value of this site. That’s the theory, anyway.
(As of this writing, FLUB gets, like, 4-5 visitors a month. And half are from India (sorry if this content doesn’t translate well, by the way). But that’s why I write under my personal name. I don’t do that with any other site!)
When Should I Create a Personal Blog?
My rule-of-thumb is that if your authorship doesn’t lend significant, eternal value to the site, don’t make it a personal blog!
- Writing about how you paid off debt and retired at 28? Make it personal! I read Mr. Money Mustache, for instance, precisely because I know I’m learning someone else’s financial framework.
- Writing a niche site about hot tub repair? Don’t make it personal! No one cares about your hot tub!
Going back to the idea of four different blogs, what I’m slicing and dicing is the difference between a personal blog and a niche blog.
By default, your blog should be a niche blog. You should present yourself as the website owner, not its mother. A pet can have different owners; a child can’t have different mothers.
IMHO, there are only two reasons to ever build a personal blog with the intention to make money:
- You are selling a unique framework for success
- You are inviting your readers to live through you vicariously
Even if you are an expert in your niche, you can still write and package content in such a way that your charisma and expertise shine through but your face doesn’t!
To go back to “The Wayward Wander” … if she had packaged her travel blog content as Top 10 listicles or “How to Pack for a Family Trip to Japan!”, rather than composing journal entries about her own experience, her site – her entire brand! – would have been transferrable.
Particularly if you write in the travel, adventure, health, fitness, or financial niches, I think you should carefully consider how easily you could sell off your blog.
If someone else (with adequate research and experience) can’t recreate your content, then you only have one path to success: grow the blog until you die.
P.S. Want to know if my advice in this post aged well? Read “Don’t Name Your Blog After Yourself! – the Remix.“)