It was more than a year and a half ago when I realized I needed to make a big change. After more than nine years in the ‘work at home mom’ niche, I had an empty nest and an increasingly awkward sense of self when I sat down to blog and podcast content for that niche.
When you love your niche the way I did (do!), you’re slow to notice that you may no longer fit in with the people you’re talking to. But that’s the key – when you realize you’re talking TO them, not WITH them. I realized I was having a bit of an identity crisis!
After much thought and consideration, I felt most authentic identifying myself as a solopreneur and decided to embrace that niche.
Solopreneurs are entrepreneurs who run a business on their own on purpose, light and tight. They don’t have plans to take on employees one day or grow into a big corporation. This sets them apart and means they need different resources than the typical entrepreneur who does dream of that sort of growth.
So in the summer of 2011 I made the big announcement, I was going to change everything up and rebrand from Work at Home Moms Talk Radio to Solo Smarts. Basically, I’d still be talking about building online businesses that can be done from home and interviewing the people who do it, just focusing on the online solopreneur (men and women) instead of moms.
When You Rebrand, You Worry.
How will my market respond? Will the moms I’ve been working with all of these years feel like I’m leaving them behind? Will they misinterpret my change as a message that I feel like I’ve outgrown them? I did not feel that at all.
Thankfully, I’ve always been transparent with my blog readers, podcast listeners and email subscribers. I was able to simply share my heart and the thought process I was going through. They knew my son was grown and out of the house. They knew I didn’t have the work at home mom lifestyle anymore.
Letting them in on everything in advance, I set out to change the name and look of my blog and podcast. Then I extended the change to my shopping cart and membership site. It was a lot of work. In spite of my efforts, there was some confusion in the months after as people who weren’t paying close attention noticed the changes and asked questions. I expected that and didn’t let concern me.
I was pleased to note that while I did lose about 15% of my mailing list over the next year, I actually experienced an increase in engagement with my subscribers. The subscribers who stayed loved the change and loved being on the inside, knowing what was coming and being able to watch it all take shape. I chose to believe that the moms who left my list did so because they really needed to learn from someone IN their situation. I wasn’t in it anymore so it wasn’t a rejection of me or my new brand, it was an embracing of themselves.
When A Rebrand Involves A Change in Gender Focus, You Worry.
My market was moms for so long and that meant I only talked to and worked with women. I never aimed even a tiny amount of my content to a co-ed crowd before. When I completed the rebrand to Solo Smarts I purposefully chose a man for my first podcast interview and continued to include men in my schedule. I loved it of course but I’ll admit it felt unnatural at first. I also intentionally avoided interviewing anyone focused on a mom niche. This meant turning down a lot of interview requests at first but that isn’t a forever thing. Work at home moms are usually solopreneurs and I still love the niche, so I’ll definitely be interviewing some great WAHMs in the future.
The reason behind leaving them out for awhile was to help me make a clean break. I wanted everything about my new brand to say this is for men and women and not all WAHM focused anymore.
I also turned down requests to be interviewed on WAHM focused blogs and podcasts. This was painful because I love any chance to get exposure but in light of the rebrand, it wouldn’t have been the right exposure.
I recently sought out my best guest blog content hosts and asked them to update my bio to include my new brand and update my link to Solo Smarts. They’re happy to do that. I’ve asked others to simply delete my content or remove my name if it’s not going to serve my new brand well. Again, they’re quick to cooperate and I appreciate that.
The wrinkle in the mix is my membership site. Mom Masterminds turned into Solo Masterminds but members wanted to keep it focused on women. I decided to embrace their wishes and only accept female members. The reason being that it has always been more than a business community, inviting men in would change the way we relate to one another. Every once in awhile a man will express some regret on this, but that’s OK. Everything else I do is non gender focused.
I’m Not Worried Anymore.
Eighteen months later, I believe I’ve accomplished my goals. It’s rare these days for someone to refer to me as being a ‘WAHM’. It’s unusual for someone to say that I’m the ‘mom business expert’. Opportunities to speak to a co-ed business crowd finally started coming in over this past year. I’ll be teaching on podcasting at a live event next month and I do believe the room will have as many men as women, that’s pretty exciting.
One of the things I did that really help to cement my new brand was to write a book. Solopreneurs are Smarter is a small book where I get to share what a solopreneur is and what makes them unique. If you’ve made a big branding change or plan to, I encourage you to think about a book. What you’ve published says a lot about who you are and who you want to reach!