Why I rebranded and relocated my site

Why I rebranded and relocated my site

Late last year I wrote about my goals for 2012. Some were ambitious or beyond my reach, but one of them was practical: I wanted to change the business name that I operated under and migrate my existing content to a different domain. Well, a few months (and a bunch of agonizing and head-scratching) later, here we are. My new – and, I hope, permanent – online home is now here at www.christinavasilevski.com.

However, I want to talk about the old website (www.105creations.com, which now redirects here), and my old company name, 105 Creations. I want to discuss why I used that name, why I chose to rename everything, and what the process has been like.

The beginning – WordPress.com

In late 2009, I decided that I wanted to broaden my career opportunities and become a freelance writer and editor in addition to working my day job. I started up a blog hosted on WordPress.com and read books and websites on how to start a freelance business.

I soon decided that to be taken really seriously, only a self-hosted WordPress site on a domain of my own would do. Of course, such a website would need a business name to accompany it.

The middle – 105 Creations

I thought for a while about what to name this new business. I wanted it to sound both unique and professional. I thought about words that would sound nice when appended by the word “Communications.” I also wanted to tie the business name to my own personal name, but couldn’t figure out how.

A friend of mine suggested that “Creations” was a better word to use in my business name than “Communications” and after some thought, I agreed – “Creations” covered more bases and opened up the possibility of doing more than working with text. With this in mind, my fiance and I were tossing ideas back and forth about what to do with “C” and “V”. At one point he noted that “V” meant “5” in Roman numerals.

I grabbed onto that idea once I remembered that “C” was also a Roman numeral – the one for “100.” My business name now seemed obvious, and fitting of my interest in Roman history. “CV” was meant to be “105” and I now had my new name: “105 Creations.” With a business name in hand, I set to work on making myself look professional:

  • I joined the WCDR and the EAC in order to start networking.
  • I bought a domain and hosting package.
  • I exported all of my WordPress.com entries and moved them to the new site, in the process finding out that I liked fiddling with WordPress.
  • I bought Artisteer so I could design custom themes for myself and for others – thus justifying to myself the utility of “Creations” over “Communications.”
  • I registered my business with both the federal government (which was free), and the province (which cost $60).
  • I bought Adobe Creative Suite 4 with the help of a student discount courtesy of Ryerson.
  • I paid a local graphic designer to make a logo.
  • I purchased an ad in a community newsletter.
  • I opened a business bank account.
  • I bought business cards.
  • I started up a Facebook page.

In short, I spent so much money and effort trying to look professional that I didn’t actually focus on finding paying clients.

I tried to connect with people and got a few gigs, but I encountered one consistent issue: People who saw my business card had no idea what on Earth “105 Creations” meant. At first, I didn’t care because I was flush with optimism. However, as I explained to more and more people the significance of the name, the response was almost universally flat. No one congratulated me on my cleverness. Instead, the conversation went more like this:

“What does ‘105 Creations’ mean?”
“Take a look at my name.”
“Huh?”
“Well, what does ‘105’ look like in Roman numerals?”
“I don’t get it.”
“My initials are ‘CV’. What’ does ‘CV’ mean in Roman numerals?”
“…Oh. OK.”

Things became even more frustrating once I discovered how easily my domain name could be misread when I had to write the URL down by hand: “1,” “0,” and “5,” could look like both letters and numbers. Argh!

I continued writing blog posts and attempting to build a client base, but doubt crept in: Was my business name in fact an impediment? I had to explain to people that Christina Vasilevski and “105 Creations” were effectively the same thing, what I did, and why the name mattered. I wasn’t making it easy for people to understand what the point was.

The part in which I came to my senses, and in which I also babble about domain names

I started to realize I was going about things all wrong when I took a closer look at who I was interacting with on social media. They were all individuals, and what these individuals knew wasn’t an abstract-sounding company name, but me, an actual person. Clearly, it made more sense (and was better for SEO) in the long-term to ditch the number and go with my real name.

After I made my decision, I did some research. I looked at the people in my RSS feed whose websites were similar to what I wanted my new one to be like. I then made a survey of what their names were and how their domain names reflected their personal names.

I tallied up about 50 domains in total and looked at the results, including domain length. A surprising portion of the domain names didn’t match up with the names of the people themselves, but they were still in the minority. The most common URL type was www.firstnamelastname.com.

This gave me pause. My first name and last name together are quite long – 19 characters – while the average character count for a full name among the URLs I tallied was 11.3. Other URLs followed the format of www.lastname.com, but www.vasilevski.com was already registered by a domain squatter. I thought about my options and came up with 3 choices:

  1. www.vasilevski.net
  2. www.cvasilevski.com (to match my username on Twitter)
  3. www.christinavasilevski.com

I asked people’s opinions via Facebook, email, Twitter, and in-person conversation. More people voted for option 2 than I anticipated, stating that matching the URL with my Twitter handle was a smart idea. However, after consulting some of my coworkers who were very knowledgeable in SEO, I settled on using my full name, character count be damned. I then registered the new URL and took care of of all the duties that entailed: Installing WordPress, setting up a new email account, and migrating all of my existing blog posts from 2009 onwards.

Beyond this, there were several other loose ends to tie up. I called the CRA to inform them that “105 Creations” had undergone a name change. I had to re-register my business with the provincial government, which cost me another $60. I then had to take the new provincial registration to my bank to update the information on my account there.

So what’s the point?

When I started out as a freelancer, all of the resources I consulted discussed the importance of figuring out your niche ahead of time and building your online profile correctly from the get-go. Based on my own experience, the value for doing so can’t be overestimated.

However, I haven’t noticed anyone talking about how to fix things once you’ve taken a bad idea and run with it – only how to recognize, and run with, the good ones. I wish someone had pulled me aside a long time ago and told me that what I considered clever didn’t matter to anyone else – that it would even be a hindrance.

Undoing the mistakes and wiping the slate has been expensive and time-consuming. But I also wanted to explain what I did and what I’ve learned.