You’re going for it. You decided you’re going to rebrand yourself.
How will you go about it?
You have options. One is what I’ll call “Trial Run.” Next time, we’ll talk about “Integration.” Then “Slow Transition” followed by “Cold Turkey.” Only the second two represent a true pivot—a total change in direction, where you’re moving on and not going back.
Today let’s talk “Trial Run.” One way to find out if a total change is in order, is to give the new content a trial run.
Publish New Content on Website
Try dedicating one day a week or once a month to writing and publishing new content in the new voice on your existing website and other spaces while maintaining the old content.
Gauge reader response. How responsive are they and is it positive or negative?
See how you feel, too—decide if you like creating and sharing it as much as you thought you would.
Ways to Measure Reader Response
Back when I wrote about family and faith, I felt inspired to write regularly about food. This was in the early days of food blogging. In fact, a lot of the biggest names had not even launched their websites yet; food photography was far less formal or fancy than it is now, so it seemed like a reasonable idea.
I started a Friday feature focused on food and added one of those link-up tools bloggers use so others could write about food at their own websites and link their articles to mine.
Evidence Through Linkup and Comments
The response to my trial run confirmed a strong interest. Other bloggers loved linking up posts that had something to do with food and thanked me in the comments for creating it. Usually their posts included a recipe, but I didn’t insist.
When I launched Food on Fridays, I didn’t know if I would continue—it was an experiment. But the number of enthusiastic bloggers joining the linkup and the cheery comments from readers encouraged me to continue. I kept that up for years, posting about food every Friday, even when I was on vacation.
Evidence Through Social Media Shares
Also, when Pinterest became a thing, some of my recipes were pinned and shared numerous times. That, too, provided useful data further solidifying my decision to change up my existing brand a bit and add in food. It didn’t clash with my content and it brought in new readers.
Evidence Through Correspondence
Depending on what kind of experiment you’ll be conducting, people may hesitate leaving a public comment under that article. Those who feel they know you well may send you an email, instead. Some may offer a thought on a social media platform, when you share a link to your article there. All of this can help you decide if this is the direction you want to go.
Publish New Content on Social Media
You can distance the experiment from your existing content by sharing nuggets in a new style or tone on a social media platform.
Write about the new topic or in the new genre and publish it on Facebook—in fact, maybe you push it out on your personal profile instead of your professional page. See how your friends respond without committing your primary website to hosting that content right away.
It’s a low-risk approach that still gives you helpful input as you consider rebranding. I’ve seen friends post about cultural or political concerns in these spaces before they publish similar content on their blog. They get a chance to express their concerns and see if they want to completely switch. I’ve seen writers post in a different tone, as well, to see how friends respond with likes or comments.
Pitch Other Publishers
You can also pitch other publishers in hopes they will feature your new passion in another space altogether, like a magazine with a narrow niche that aligns with your new brand.
They’ll already have a built-in audience interested in the kinds of ideas or tone you’re leaning toward. See if those readers love your contribution. That can give you hope you’ll find new readers if you lose your existing base in the switch.
If you’re a big-name writer, follow J. K. Rowling’s lead and write under a pseudonym. It’s like starting over with no audience and no name recognition, but you can test interest in the world for this new you, and if it makes sense, you can reveal your identity later.
Outcomes of the Trial Run
With the trial run, you can experiment with the new brand before abandoning what you’ve built. You may find you can retain parts or all of your existing brand, continuing that content while folding in some of the new ideas and passion.
If, during this experimentation, you sense a high level of curiosity and interest from readers, you may find many of your existing fans tag along and give the new you a chance. They might thing, “Maybe I’ll like this new brand just as much or more as the old.”
Or you may discover your existing audience loves your new approach from the start. If a majority of readers enjoy what you’re saying and how you’re saying it, you’ll feel much better about the switch.
Finally, if only some people are responding favorably, you’ll have to decide what to do. If your desire for change is strong enough, you might pivot anyway. You’ll lose some people—maybe most. But thanks to the trial run, at least you’ll know that ahead of time and make a conscious choice.
As you give this new brand a trial run, your audience will appreciate not having the rug yanked out from under them. If you try out the new while maintaining the old, you can confirm the direction you want to go—even if, in the end, you abandon the new approach and simply stay the course, steady as she goes.
- Posts about Author Brand
- You Can Impact Readers Right Now Through Social Media (Ep 57)
- Now Is the Time to Start Building Your Platform (Ep 85)
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