Close
Close

Renaming eMomsatHome to SparkPlugging [Interview]

Renaming-Sparkplugging

Regular readers of ProBlogger will be familiar with Wendy Piersall from eMomsatHome.com. I’ve watched Wendy establish a presence with her own first blog and then in more recent times expand it into a small blog network of 7 blogs.

A few weeks ago she emailed me to talk about the rebranding and naming of her blog network. I’ve been fortunate enough to see a little of her journey of grappling with this new process and am really happy to be able to officially announce that eMomsatHome.com is now….((insert drum roll here))….

Sparkplugging

As I post this Wendy and her team are rolling it all out (still a few little touches still to go – these things take a little time to transition).

Wendy asked me if I’d like the scoop of announcing the new name and I suggested that we take it a step further and that she allow me to ask her a few questions about the process of switching names. She agreed and here’s my mini interview with Wendy.

Why did you feel the need to change your brand’s name?

Since I started eMoms at Home initially as a hobby site, I didn’t really think of the long-term consequences of naming a site that excludes half of the human race. I started noticing it as a problem very early on, about 5 months after I started. I had a lot of dads and non-parents frequenting the site. But I also had people say things like, “Oh, I didn’t pay attention to your site because I thought it was only for moms”.

I thought that I could build up the brand enough to overcome the initial limitations, but recently at the SXSW conference, it just became painfully clear that we had completely outgrown our name. People flat out told me they would never have read our site based on our name – even though they admitted that they had an active interest in our content. I could now see that ‘eMoms at Home’ was actively holding us back from further growth.

Can you talk us through how you went about making this change?

Understanding our Audience
Quite honestly it was an extraordinarily difficult process. At first I came up with several names around ‘parents’, and when I asked for input from our readers, the feedback was fascinating. Many of them weren’t parents, and even those that were parents didn’t want to come to a ‘parenting site’ for their business information. I hadn’t expected that at all. And it made the naming process 100% more difficult as I realized this wasn’t just a naming issue, but the site needed to entirely reposition itself to truly serve our readers needs.

So I took a step back from our site being a site for parents in business – which was not easy for me personally, because I’m very proud of the work we have done to help working parents. But in order to really serve our readers, I realized that we needed to position ourselves as a resource for people who use the internet and technology to create flexible work for themselves – both parents and non parents.

Domain Research Hell
I hadn’t looked to purchase a domain name of this magnitude of importance for 2 years. It was astonishing to see just how much the domain squatting industry has been built up in that time. I found hundreds of potential names, yet all were taken and had made for AdSense sites on them. I think I spent over 100 hours on domain research and brainstorming.

Another factor is that our audience, while extremely experienced in business, doesn’t really have a standard ‘label’. They don’t really consider themselves ‘home business owners’ nor do they consider themselves ‘true entrepreneurs’. They are a vastly diverse group of amazing people that kind of fall in between those two stereotypes, and call themselves things like “author, blogger, consultant, freelancer, moonlighter, marketers, or tech geeks”. I couldn’t really choose one one of those names, because any of them would be too limiting.

More below the screen caps…

Sparkplugging

Finding the Right Metaphor
So the quest for something brandable and metaphorical began, and it was excruciating. I emailed nearly every marketer I knew asking for help and advice, including you, Toby Bloomberg, Susan Payton, and Marla Tabaka, my business coach. PickyDomains offered their help, and I also found WordLab, a free naming forum. All were extremely helpful – none came up with the right name.

Finally, after probably 10,000 page views on Thesaurus.com, I came upon the word Sparkplug used as an adjective, “A person who makes things happen”. Immediately I knew I had found my metaphor. At that point, I just had to find a good domain with some version of that word in it. That took another week, and I had to stalk a few domain owners to try and get them to sell their domains. In the end, I was able to purchase our domain from the owner who was going to let it expire in about 60 days. And we are now Sparkplugging – Thinking Big in the New Work at Home Generation.

Now that you’ve made the decision to make the change, can you tell us about your plans to transition from the old brand and name to the new one?

I already had plans in place to add new blogs to my blog network in March. The naming process delayed that project, and all of us were happy to get that name picked so that we could get back to doing what we do best – blogging.

I pestered Aaron Wall and my Twitter followers quite a bit for information on how to manage creating accurate 301 server redirects, because even my very experienced developer had never moved a site of our size to a new domain. I’m pretty confident we’ll be fine, but I do anticipate taking a hit in traffic from Google for a while.

An unexpected casualty of this process was that I didn’t know what to do with my own blog on the network with this new name. I never liked that my blog was the same name as the site – I thought it was confusing. But in order to continue to be the ‘flagship’ blog of my own network, I realized I couldn’t be focused so much on Moms anymore, which again was difficult for me personally. I really was only able to be OK with that decision by adding a blog to the network specific to work at home moms, because helping moms start a business is just so near and dear to my heart. I found the perfect person to do that, Kelly McCausey. She’s a very well known WAHM and I was thrilled to get her involved. And my own blog will be named Sparkplug CEO and shift focus a bit to be more entrepreneurial, especially because I’m thinking of doing some much bigger things with the site under our new name.

So right when we change, we’ll be launching the first two of ten new blogs we’re adding to the network, The Home Office Organizer & Believer in Balance. Then to keep up our momentum (and keep people coming back!), we’ll be launching 2 more blogs a week for the following 4 weeks. Of course, we’ll do things like contests, press releases, and hit our word of mouth efforts heavily as well. Plus we’ll put a huge focus on rebuilding links to the new domain. Giving up our Technorati rank is admittedly a blow, but obviously what’s best for the company comes before anything like that.

Honestly, I feel like I am in very uncharted territory. I know that The Mining Company changed their name once upon a time to About.com, but I haven’t seen any large blogs do anything like this. So as much as I can prepare for it, I know full well that I’m going to be totally learning-as-we-go. Many people in the blogging community have offered to help spread the word and I really don’t think that we could pull something like this off without the support of our readers and peers. Overall this has been both a rewarding and humbling experience – and I couldn’t be more grateful for my authors, my friends, and my colleagues who have helped us grow to this point, and who will be there for us as we change.

Ultimately it’s really an honor to be a resource for our community, as I’m sure you well know, Darren. :)

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Congrats to Wendy! The new site looks great. I’m excited for her. Only good things to come.

    And Darren, thanks for posting the interview. Interesting stuff.

  2. Darren,
    I enjoy the information that Wendy has to offer and would read her sites no matter what they were called. But I am happy that she has found a new domain after a long search. An important aspect of blogging is knowing your audience and Wendy seems to have that covered. Good luck to Wendy – and Darren, thanks for the breaking news!

  3. Simple Mom says:

    Great interview, Wendy and Darren! She did a great job building up anticipation on her site, so I was looking forward to seeing the launch today. I’m excited for her!

  4. Congrats to Wendy and the team.

    The name … Hmmm? It’ll take getting used to.

  5. What a great name!

    It has a dynamic sound to it. I’m really looking forward to this!

    Best of luck Wendy!

  6. Ben says:

    Good article since I’m in the process of changing one of my blogs into a landing page for all my blogs. Not exactly the same thing, but many of the same problems and things to consider.

    BTW, the new graphic is quite eye appealing and I wish you continue success in this adventure.

  7. Ryan McLean says:

    Well done,
    This is a great article
    It is awesome to see ordinary people doing it well online.
    I am fairly new and this is a great encouragement
    GO WENDY

  8. Like the new name. Big props to building anticipation on various (social) media channels, it worked (well for me anyway)!

    I can definitely see the potential of the new site and new name, as compared to eMomsatHome. Good luck on building the new brand (but you’ll do an excellent job).

  9. Very nice, Wendy. I feel for you – we went through much the same when we changed our look, brand and domain name in February. Haven’t looked back since!

    Sparkplug’s a cool word. Very.

  10. Thinkjayant says:

    Wendy congrats. If you like critics, then here are my suggestions.

    1. Sparkplugging – it refers to a continous tense. no stats to suggest but they generally words expressing continous tense dont do well compare to noncontinous ones. But this can be an exception.

    2. “Thinking big in the new work at home generation” the tagline needs a bit of tinkering. Maybe more catchy line or more SEO friendly (read powerful keywords)

    3. Instead of showing spakplug meaning, rather put a link near the top stating “Find out how we discover the name” and write a mini post on it. Reason, its distracting and taking away your header space, there by decreasing its recall value.

    4. Try for a logo related to your site description and Brand name. I would suggest you creat a logo with a bulb, a lighting spark and a home into it. Just a suggestion. Dont kill me. I personally liked the smiley in you logo.

    5. Let bygones be bygones. You might think you could have landed with a better name with greater degree of association. But since the rebranding has already been done, suggest trying to link it with your blog environment.

    I myself have gone through great pain deciding on my own blog name, and the one which i decided, is totally different from what i had choosen. Actually i am curently drafting a post focusing on the importance of blog environment. It would take some time though before i finalize.

    Please take this with a pinch of salt and blame my marketing subject during MBA and thank that i didnt do a major in it… he he…

    I just wrote what came ot my mind in 5 minutes of my office break. Feel free to ask any questions to me at “thinkjayant {at} gmail {dot} com”. I would be happy to answer on something which interests me.

  11. Kelly says:

    Thanks for breaking the news on your blog! I’m geeked about the new SparkPlugging site :)

    Congrats Wendy!!

  12. Andy Roberts says:

    What is it they are plugging again, sparks?

  13. Having been pigeonholed as a mommyblogger for years, I avoided Wendy’s site thinking it was ‘another mom site.’ Now that I see this change, I’m more apt to check it out. Great job Wendy – I’m on my way!

  14. Good luck, Wendy! I have to admit, like others, I’d heard of “e Moms at Home” before and thought “Oh, it’s not for me” becaus I’m not a mother …

    Sparkplugging has a bouncy sharpness to it (as well as a techy, modern, younger feel), and though it might take a bit of getting used to, I’d agree it’s definitely much more brandable.

    Ali

  15. Lori says:

    Wow! That is quite a change for sure but, no doubt, a GREAT one. I am proud of you Wendy and inspired by your drive to secure what you and your network is all about. Well done both to of you Darren & Wendy.

  16. CompuWorld says:

    wow

    the most surprising thing in that Interview was that she viewd some 1000 pages of the online dictionary to get to the right word…

    huh!!

    great interview…just what I wanted to learn to change the name

    and I learned one more thing..about.com was something else before :)

  17. Congrats, Wendy! I have to admit at first, I had visions of mechanics working under a car but then I thought– I can see the day when we’re at a conference and asking people, “Are you SparkPlugging?” instead of asking if they’re working at home. :)

  18. Congratulations, what a superb use of Thesaurus for finding your new domain name! May lots of wonderful success be sent in your direction; I’ll be certain to post about it on my Virtual Coach mom blog too.

    Enjoy,

    Barbara

  19. Wendy, I agree that Sparkplugging is a great site name. I too spent many hours, several years ago, going through the same exercise of trying to create just the right name and brand for my blog – Sparkplug.

    I totally agree that the domain name squatters have made it nearly impossible to acquire a dynamic brand these days.

    Good luck with your site, it looks great.

  20. Great name! Like all great trademarks, it’s fundamentally a random word that has a bit of connection to what it means — easy to remember, easy to spell (assume you’re redirecting the domain w/ one “g”).

    Going from a blog to a company is going to be an issue for many of the top up-and-coming bloggers.

    My behind-the-scenes blog is called Chronicles of a Mompreneur (yes I own that domain too) but is hosted at elizabethpottsweinstein.com — one of the reasons is because I may outgrow the name of the blog and it makes it much easier to switch, no 301 directs necessary. Course, does not address the problem of if/when I want that blog to turn into a company, versus a blog. My current plan is to run my companies under different brands/domains … but it’s hard to know what will become the “big hit.”

    Congrats!

    Elizabeth

  21. BW says:

    Hi

    Wendy, you need to view the site in IE6. There is a lot of the home page content missing – well on my IE6 on a windows XP.

    Basically no text in the 4 boxes in the main content area and the bottom 3 boxes are also missing.

    Good luck with the new branding

  22. sami says:

    good artilce man..keep it up mate! AUSSIES GO!

  23. I think Sparkplugging is a great name. Wish I had thought of it.

    It is always a challenge not to be too specific and thus leave people out when choosing a name.

  24. Wendy – that is a GREAT NAME – although I read your old blog often – and I am a grandmother at work!

    We will be watching you.

    Good lluck!

  25. Wendy – that is a GREAT NAME – although I read your old blog often – and I am a grandmother at work!

    We will be watching you.

    Good luck!

  26. Busy Mom says:

    Way to go, Wendy!!

  27. Missy says:

    Very brave of you to make such BIG changes. Perfect example of the quote, “big rewards await those who take big risks”.

    I found an article on the network a few weeks ago, and quite enjoyed it. Felt also abit alienated as i am not a mom, and don’t plan to be.

    Love the new name, direction, change, growth, ideas, etc. All of it. Targeting the new work at home generation fits to a tee, as technology is creating a revolution amongst those who want more flexibility and options when it comes to their “work”.

    Big Congrats 2 You!

  28. Congrats Wendy. Wendy is one of the best persons and “sparkplugs” I have met — ever. Best of luck with the new branding, Wendy.

    The journey from “Dot Com” to “Dot Inc” continues ..

  29. Congrats Wendy Love the site and the new name looks great!

  30. Dr. Nicole says:

    It is a tough line to dance when you are trying to establish your niche while appealing to a wide audience…I write a lot towards women and have just hired a new doctor on to write for men’s health to balance it all out as men’s health is just not my passion or area of expertise. But I do have to say that working from home in your bathrobe watching Ellen is def where it is AT!!! Ha…gotta love bloggin, and thank you Darron for being such a strong resource, I never miss a blog even when I don’t take the minute to leave a comment. You are the best.

  31. Great interview Darren, it’s always interesting to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve been a reader of Wendy’s blog since I started reading your’s, in fact I think I found her through you. She’s an inspiration to all of us on the possibilities. :)

  32. George says:

    Excellent interview, very insightful. I love the new name, it will really allow Wendy to continue expanding the blog network and it is very easy to remember (although so was emomsathome).

    Congrats again Wendy. Look forward to keeping an eye on your new site.

  33. Darren, I love your readers as much as I love my own. :D

  34. Sandra Sims says:

    My first reaction was that it was surprise that they decided to change the name… then puzzlement at the name itself. However after hearing the tagline and explanation it makes sense.

    I would be interesting in hearing more about:

    “how to manage creating accurate 301 server redirects, because even my very experienced developer had never moved a site of our size to a new domain.”

    from Wendy or anyone else with experience with this.

  35. Ed Healy says:

    I’ve used Thesaurus.com many a time. A great resource when you’re trying to name something.

  36. Blog Bloke says:

    Been there and done that. By the way, where’s my interview Darren?