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Why I Rebranded My Site and What You Can Learn From It

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rebranded-siteIf you’re a regular reader you probably saw it immediately: I changed the design and layout of the site.

It’s a perfectly normal thing change your site after a while, you might

  • simply become bored with the old design, or
  • want to take the site into a new direction

For me it was a fundamental focus on my strategy going forward and I want to use this post to explain you both why I for the first time in the history of this site, paid a professional designer to help me out, but also what you can learn from my re-design and re-branding.

I’ve always told people who wanted a professional looking website or blog to simply go with a predesigned premium WordPress theme and then go to a place like fiverr.com to get a logo done for $5.

That way you can have a professionally looking website in no time.

So why is it that I’m now spending thousands of dollars and months on a new website? Don’t I take my own advice?

Well sure I do. This blog has been online for almost five years now (first post went online June 27th 2009), and for all this time I’ve been using free or premium WordPress themes.

In the old days…

smashing-themeIt all began with the Smashing Theme a free theme from Smashing Magazine.

At the time I found it beautiful to look at, which was pretty much my main reason for selecting it (plus it was free :)).


thrilling-themeI fairly quickly moved on to another free theme, the Thrilling Theme from Cody McKibben.

This time around I wanted a cleaner and also more simple look. I also loved the idea that I could put a picture of myself in the header showing the person behind the blog.

Stepping it up with a new domain

Up until this point, my domain name had been My4Hours.com with the obvious reference to Timothy Ferriss’ awesome book The 4 Hour Workweek.

What originally started out as a blog where I documented my experiments with living the four hour workweek, turned into a more general blog about running lifestyle businesses. And building your own brand is hard when your domain name is tied together with someone else’s. So it was time to loose the “My4Hours.com” domain.

If you want to know all the reasons for the change, you can read more about it in “What the F… is going on with this blog“.

So I made the move to my current domain RetireMyAss.com in June 2012, almost two years ago.

With the move, I also introduced a new design.

canvasThis time it was a premium theme from WooThemes. Basically a pretty modified version of their Canvas Theme.

The good thing about Canvas is that it’s so easy to modify and tweak. So what might look like a super simple theme, can actually be changed into something completely different. That and I really like the administration panel that WooThemes has shipped with Canvas.

But besides the base theme, I did all the graphics myself. And let me just quickly say that I’m in no way a designer!

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

So my “design” was mainly stealing bits and pieces from other sites and blogs and putting them together on mine. I can’t remember if I ever told him, however I stole a background image that Pat Flynn used on his old site and changed a dark red color to blue and threw it on my own site.

This is basically what people in the music industry calls “sampling” 🙂. Taking bits and pieces and putting them together to something new (however these days you need permission to use the samples, in the old days everyone just stole form everyone :)).

I was also very inspired by Chris Ducker’s front page and pretty much implemented the same structure (although I didn’t actually stole any of his graphic elements).

He was nice enough to take it as a compliment when I told him on twitter :).

So WHY rebrand

So why did I change from something that was working and end up paying a designer thousands of dollars to create something new for me?

Well I already mentioned it in the title of this post: BRANDING.

Instead of being a blog written by a person, I wanted to become a person with a blog

A website always have a goal

This is important!

How often do you go to a website and end up wondering what the website is trying to have you do?

I’ve seen this again and again. People (and specially companies) put up a website but only do it because “all the others did it”.

They forget to sit down and think about what they want to get from the website. Simply put the goal or “why” of the website.

So what is the goal of Retire My Ass?

In the beginning my blog was a place to write about my journey, what worked and what didn’t. However last year I published a book and also released a private training program for those who wanted my help for building a lifestyle business.

While these products have their own websites, I still needed to be able to have these products under a common brand.

So while my main objective is still helping people to quit their 9-5 and build a lifestyle business that supports their desired lifestyle, my website goal is to:

  • Get more of you visitors to subscribe to my newsletter list, and
  • Brand myself more as an authority on building a lifestyle business

In this progress I also wanted to share more of who I am, hoping that you will find it easier to resonate with my message (that we should all work less and live more :)).

But do you need to pay a designer for this?

No – not really. I usually have that rule that any money I spend, should be an investment of some sort. My blog has never been a source of revenue for me (I have a few affiliate links here and there, but not much and I’m certainly not making much money on them), so investing thousands of dollars in something that I would not get back has not resonated well with the business person in me.

However, I do run a six figure business so I should be able to spend a few thousands dollars in my personal online brand.

And with my new look, I now also have a place for you find out more about how I can help you get the lifestyle you want.

So what do you think of the new site? Do you like it?
(or did you find a link that didn’t work somewhere?)

ALSO: Be sure to watch my new introduction video I did from our house in Thailand. It’s a short video where I explain what to expect from the site.

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12 Responses to Why I Rebranded My Site and What You Can Learn From It

  1. Nicko says:

    Great one, thanks.

    • Nicko says:

      I see thrilling heroics have “rebranded” using a free theme now.(http://alxmedia.se/themes/anew/)

      • rasmus says:

        Hi Nicko

        Thank you for your comments 🙂

        Absolutely, I don’t think that Cody has used his own theme in a while, however it was still a very good starting point for me that I used for a long time.

        So I certainly salute Cody for putting it out there for free (although you can now donate in order to download the theme if you like).

        /Rasmus

  2. Mohamed Taqi says:

    Great Article, Congratulations for the new Brand and Theme … 🙂

  3. George says:

    Good post, Rasmus. Makes sense what you wrote about your rebranding efforts. There is a spelling erros, no big deal in this sentence.
    “That way you can have a professionally looking website in know time.”
    It should be “no time.”
    Also, I have noticed that you are using coschedule. Do you recommend it? How is it working for you?

    • rasmus says:

      Hey George,

      Good to hear from you and thank you for pointing my spelling error out, sometimes it goes a bit fast :).

      I did in fact install coschedule but ended up not using it. I guess I’m not that much of a planner when it comes to my blog 😉

      However I am using their free “click to tweet” plugin. It’s working fine and it’s an easy way to let visitors share the my blog posts.

      /Rasmus

  4. Hey Rasmus,

    What kind of social plugin are you using for your WordPress site? The one that shows “Flares” on it? I want that too 🙂

    Cheers,
    Robert

  5. Hi Rasmus,

    I really love that design. Do you also provide web design/development services. I like the canvas WordPress theme, but I think I’m not that good in tweaking it 🙂

    Either way let me know
    Mike

    • rasmus says:

      Hi Mike

      I don’t currently provide any web design services, but shoot me an email through my contact form and I can hook you up with the designer who did my site.

      /Rasmus

  6. Sujit says:

    Great post. I was also thinking about rebranding my website.

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