Hello lovely readers, and I apologize for the fairly unannounced absence and name change. I hinted at it in last Sunday’s post, but then things rather suddenly started happening.
I support chatted my host to see if it was possible to change the blog name, and they were like “Oh yeah, no problem, just buy the new domain and everything will be cool in 4 to 24 hours.” So I decided to finally go for it.
But, as you may have noticed from my website’s weird behavior this past week, it took rather a lot longer than that. A whole week in total. Luckily, things have finally gotten up to speed, but there were some scary moments, especially when it looked like two YEARS of my photos had disappeared!
After a rather stressful week of talking to tech support, I took a couple days away from the blog just in case anything suddenly decided to go wrong again.
Anyway, that’s the ‘what’ part of the change, now let’s move on to the ‘why’.
Honestly, I’d been thinking about making the change ever since I bought my own domain name and eliminated the “.wordpress.com” from the name. (I should have done it then.) I reconsidered it when I moved my blog to a self-hosted site this past fall. (Yep, I should have done it then.) Hola Yessica is cute and I think it’s kind of funny, but a lot of people just didn’t get it.
So it’s not like this came out of nowhere. It just took me a long, long time to finally get there.
I originally picked the name when I was doing a study abroad blog. I never, ever expected anyone except my closest friends and family to read it. Then somewhere along the line, I realized I quite enjoyed documenting my travels with photos and write-ups. Hola Yessica changed from something I posted on every few months to something I carefully planned out every week. If I’d known that it was going to become something more “serious”, I think I would have picked a different name from the start.
Meanwhile, I got frustrated seeing blogs landing on “Best Barcelona Blogs” lists that hardly ever updated and didn’t have much original content, while mine didn’t seem to get noticed as often. They also got invited to tons of cool events in the city. I knew that the name probably wasn’t helping – all those blogs had “Barcelona” in the title. Easy, simple, and to the point. It’s not that I think my blog is the best thing on the planet, or even the best Barcelona blog, but it certainly wasn’t any worse than a lot of those blogs.
And you know, when I was looking for interesting bloggers to follow, I didn’t end up clicking on stuff with titles like “Hola Yessica.” Nope, the sites I ended up on always made it clear that they were about travel, expat life, Spain, or Barcelona. If even I wouldn’t click on my own blog from the name, there was definitely an issue.
But this month, there was a real “duh” moment where I realized it was definitely time to change the name.
I went with the Barcelona Travel Bloggers Association to a tourism/travel conference, which meant explaining my blog to a lot of Spanish speakers. And every time I explained it, I was met with blank looks. I explained it was humorous in English, but people were still confused. This is how it went down most of the time:
“What’s your Twitter handle?” “@HolaYessica.” “I can’t find you.” “With a ‘Y.”‘ “But I thought your name was with a J on Facebook?”
Some people were more dismissive. Some thought I was just too stupid to spell my own name right, and I suspect some thought I’d originally wanted “Hola Jessica”, but it was already taken.
I mean, the joke is that Spanish people pronounce my name like “Yessica” instead of “Jessica”. And the reason they do that? It’s hard for many of them to hear the difference in how native English speakers pronounce the J. So imagine trying to explain that to someone…”It’s funny but you can’t hear it!” It’s challenging, to say the least! Most people aren’t interested in hearing you explain your blog name for five minutes (even if they pretend to be).
Other bloggers flashed their fancy blog business cards with obviously travel-oriented names, while I just felt kind of stupid. People were flat-out not interested as soon as they heard my blog’s name. It’s one thing not to get on “Best Barcelona Blog” lists (which is obviously nice), but it was totally different to see that people automatically decided not to work with me right from the start. We were getting stuck on the name.
The name might have been cute, but it felt like I was missing out on some great opportunities because it was written off immediately.
Once people go to my site, I hope they find content they enjoy. But if I can’t get people to the site in the first place, they’ll never see any of it. It felt like I was shooting myself in the foot.
Of course, I may have over-estimated how important the name was. We’ll have to wait and see. And I’m a little sad to let go of Hola Yessica.
However…I do think that Barcelona Blonde will be easier to explain and communicate to a wider audience. And that’s ultimately what I want to do with my blog – connect with a cool, wide audience of people who are just as enamored with travel as I am. If a little name change will help me get there, I’m all for it.
So, I hope you guys like the new name, and I’m excited to see how things go from here!
P.S. After the name change, I asked my parents for feedback. Here’s what my dad offered up:
“Er, Jess…and I can almost hear your mam telling me not to say this…but I liked Hola Yessica. The new name kind of sounds like, well, a porn site.”