Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Word Contessa - A Rebranding Story

People change. Passions change. So it's only natural that your brand evolves too as times goes on. I have been blogging for over 3 years at Say It with Books and I loved it.

Until I didn't.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you felt that your blog's theme/name/niche does not fit you anymore? That you have outgrown something that you previously loved?


In the months leading up to my third blogversary, I realized that I was simply not feeling it. This wasn't just a blogging slump. I considered spicing things up a bit and tried numerous things. I flirted with the idea of self-hosted WordPress which I tried and HATED (loved the bazillion plugins but it was not for me!). I soon realized that my issue was not going to be sorted by a simple font change or migrating to WordPress. After a good two months of going back and forth, I decided to rebrand my blog. It was incredibly liberating and motivating to rethink my content, my blogging voice, blog design and blog name.

Apart from the obvious name change and design overhaul, I have decided to clean up my categories to identify my ideal niche and to bring in topics that I like to write about.

  • Book Reviews: Pretty self-explanatory. I will be looking at switching up my review style a bit and I hope to also review more adult novels along with young adult fiction.
  • Book Talk: I like the idea of discussing the portrayal of real life in fiction so you'll be seeing more posts like my recent discussion Redefining Strong Women in YA Fiction.
  • Blog Talk: During the day I work in PR so I'd like to share my experience in blogging, social media, marketing and brand management along with some organizational tips.
  • Flash Fiction: I hope to sit my ass down and start working on my book this year so I'll be sharing some snippets, short fiction pieces as well as any anecdotes about this whole process.
  • Life: Everything non-blogging, non-writing, non-reading goes here! I hope to get to know my readers and fellow bloggers better this year so this category is the first step towards that.

Shoutout to some incredible people who helped me through this process:

  • Misaki at Three Words who helped with all my hosting + domain change queries! She was patient and brilliant during my (temporary) move to WordPress was super smooth despite me not liking the whole WordPress interface etc.
  • Adele, the super talented tumblr artist who created the gorgeous header artwork!
  • Hazel at Designs by Stay Bookish who helped with the blog layout and all my coding needs.
  • My real life besties + blogging besties + my mum who helped me throughout my blogging identity crisis, helped me pick color palettes and gave incredible feedback! Love y'all! :)



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Tell us a little about your background as a blog designer.

My humble beginnings as a designer started when I was twelve years old and desperately trying to make my very first blog look good. From then on, I’ve been customizing every other blog I had on my own. Come 2013, I started book blogging officially and had my very own self-hosted website on Wordpress. I loved designing it and started to learn how to code my own themes. A year after, I opened up my design shop!
There’s still much growth to come for Designs by Stay Bookish especially on the theme development front. Ashley of Nose Graze is a huge inspiration in improving this aspect. As for my design style, it’s evolved a lot since my startup but I always love to create bright, colourful, quirky blog designs.

What’s your design process like?

Like with how we began your new look for Word Contessa, I usually start with a color palette. Colors are such an important factor for a design and I like to make sure that a.) I use colors that my client like or b.) colors that go with the feel of the design.
On that note, it’s okay if clients don’t quite know what they like at first but it sure does help if I have some clue. Work is just so much more efficient when those who request commissions already have an idea of the design they want so we don’t have to go through so many mock-ups trying to figure it out.

What trends in blog design do you expect to see in 2016? 

I honestly wouldn’t know. I’m only well aware of current ones that I think will last for awhile longer, like brush fonts, hand drawn typography and illustrations, as well as bold, bright colors. I think watercolour designs won’t be as popular anymore this 2016 though. Any way, I’m excited to find out which designs will trend this year!

How important do you think design & aesthetic is for a blog?

As a blogger myself, I think blog design plays a huge factor for blogs. It’s really important in that pivotal first impression way (by that I mean you can scare off people if you use Comic Sans on your blog) but content will ultimately determine if readers will stick around for the long haul.

What advice do you have for aspiring blog designers?

Believe you have what it takes! 5 years ago, I would’ve laughed at anyone who told me I would one day run a part-time freelance business designing stuff on photoshop and messing around with code. Now, I get to work with amazing bloggers to create designs that not only they and their readers can love. It’s awesome.


Tell us a little about your background as an illustrator.

I started drawing on my own when I was younger, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken inspiration from everything around me. I draw from life all the time and I’ve been influenced by so many other artists, so right now I’m working on making my style more unique and original. I like using my art to express my opinions about a social topic but most of the time I draw just to de-stress.

What do love best about being an illustrator?

I love being able to use my drawings to be able to create scenes and characters for other people. It’s rewarding work, to finish a piece and be happy with it, and then have the commissioner be happy with it as well. It can get frustrating but overall it’s very gratifying.

I fell in love with Dell's artwork for cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!
What does the process of getting an artwork look like?

Usually people will approach me with a commission request after they’ve seen my prices and options through my blog. They will often have a description of what they want and specific things to include, which is all very helpful. Usually the more information I have, the better I can create exactly what they envision.

Could you describe the process behind creating the artwork for Word Contessa?

It was a bit drawn out. I usually draw characters without backgrounds, so having to include the background was a bit of a challenge. I really liked creating it though! I had a lot of frustrations with the color scheme where I just couldn’t envision it correctly, but after a good amount of time spent experimenting and thinking, I finally was able to work out something that I was quite happy with!

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Be original! Draw from life, that will probably help a lot with developing your own artistic voice. Experiment and play around with your art, don’t be afraid to try new things even if you think they won’t turn out good, and just practice practice practice!


What do you think of the rebrand? Do you think you'll be joining me in my new venture? Is there anything that you think I could improve on? Have you ever considered a rebrand?


  1. You made me come out of my hibernation to make a comment lol! But I really love the new blog layout and the design!! Congrats Nuz :) :)

    1. That was the plan all along, Sav! :D Super honored that you've made a comeback on my new blog, girl. Thank you so much for your continued support throughout the whole process!

  2. Love it!! This so you and so magical!

  3. I adore the new look. Everything looks beautiful! Congratulations on the rebranding!




    I'm so excited for this rebranding, and for all the awesome things in store for you! <3

  5. I can't get over how nice this design looks! I'm excited for you. I'm looking forward to all the book talk, of course, but I always love when bloggers talk about life, too. :)

  6. I love how clean this all looks, Nuzaifa, and the colors are definitely you. I also love that moodboard to infinity, and I'm so happy that you're happy with your blog design


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