As you may have noticed… I changed my brand a while back from “make money with niche sites” to Niche Site U. This was primarily due to a domain penalty of some sort that I was unaware of that was affecting my search engine traffic and rankings in the SERP’s. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to brands, or changing them, but I thought it would be a good topic. I want to share with you an interview I did with Justin Cooke from Empire Flippers (formerly AdSense Flippers) regarding the process of their brand change. Hope you enjoy.
What made you guys decide to switch your brand?
We started our first brand (AdSense Flippers) as a side-gig – we never planned on this becoming a major focus or direction for our business. Over time, we realized we were spending more and more time with that side of the company and it started to take off.
We began with talking about the niche AdSense sites we were creating, but soon realized there was demand for so much more. As we opened up more about our business including our strategies for creating internal processes, building teams of people in the Philippines, etc. our readers and listeners responded positively, asking us questions that were beyond the scope of what we’d originally intended.
Empire Flippers is a much better way to describe what we’re doing today and where we plan to go tomorrow. We want to help others create, build, buy, and sell their websites as they create their own online empires. We do this by transparently sharing our own experiences at empire building, offering products and services that help our audience, and allowing others the opportunity to buy and sell websites right along with us.
What was your biggest fear prior to switching your brand, and did it come true?
I knew that a portion of our audience was interested in this new direction, but I was worried that we’d lose those that were really focused on niche AdSense sites. What if they didn’t like the new direction? What if we lost our audience and our relevance?
I was also worried that some of what we were getting into was beyond the scope of what we’d discussed before and outside of my comfort zone. Sure, it’s easy to talk about tips and tactics around building smaller niche sites, but how about more complicated topics like building and scaling offshore teams? What about due diligence on a $50K site purchase?
We definitely ran across a few speedbumps on the brand switch but, luckily, neither of these two issues were a problem. We did end up losing some audience, but the new audience we gained after the transition was more aligned with where we were going and, ultimately, strengthened our brand and business.
I think it’s good to get outside your comfort zone a bit when it comes to creating content. Some of our best blog posts and podcast episodes came about on subjects that were a bit uncomfortable or that had us worried about what others would think, how it might come across, etc. There’s a fear that comes with being transparent about your business and we let that fear inspire content ideas, simply because it’s been a successful strategy for us in the past.
Has changing your brand been worthwhile?
Changing the brand and focus of our business opened up new profit streams in 2013 that weren’t available previously. Our products/services and brokered sites have helped us grow from around $420K in 2012 to nearly $600K in 2013, as shared in our Monthly Business Reports.
The funny thing is that growth was hardly expected. We knew that the transition might be messy, so our goal for the year was to simply match what we’d done the year before. Most of the second half of 2013 has been focusing on building our back-end services out even further so that we can grow significantly through 2014.
Were there any unexpected hiccups due to changing your brand?
The guy we were working with during the transition gave us some bad news. The week before we were set to launch, he let us know that he had accepted a new position and was starting on the same day we were going live. Ouch!
There were some serious technical issues during the transition – some of which persist today. I think that, ultimately, the readers and listeners who really appreciate our content have put up with the errors, mistakes, etc. and are more interested in what we’re putting out than the crappy aspects of our site like navigation, poorly done responsive design, etc.
Can you give a few tips for someone considering changing their brand?
Have a very clear picture as to where you want to go with the site, new brand, etc. Take your reader and customer feedback on-board, but understand that you’re the only one who can make the decision as to where you’re taking your business.
Try a few things that scare you. If you’re looking to level up…reach a bit. Shoot for something bigger and greater than you think is possible. We’ve done quite a few iterations in our business, but I think that myopic view has held us back from greater opportunities had we taken a broader view. Learn from our mistakes!
Are you happy with your brand name? Respond in the comments below!