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Blake Reichenbach - Mar 1, 2020

Why We Re-Branded to Self-Himprovement

Surprise! If you're one of our regular readers, you probably noticed that things look a little different around here.

For the last two years, we've existed as BlakeWrites. As of today, (March 1st, 2020), we're officially rebranding to Self-Himprovement. Here's why.

Our Origins

Before I started BlakeWrites, I was freelancing full-time and most of my clients were in the men's fashion industry. I would often receive assignments to create content for a marketing persona that was very specific: the guy reading my content would be cisgender, muscular, affluent, and live in cities like New York City or Los Angeles. His sexuality was left ambiguous, but it was assumed that he was a sexual paramour. He had a high-status job and positive self-image. He was apolitical.

At the time that I was writing this content, I was making a monthly profit of about negative $25... I was losing money month over month and my savings was dwindling, so when I got a new assignment, I felt like I had to take it. A $50 payout for an article meant food for a week.

Still, it was draining to not only feel like I had to write this content that didn't resonate with me but also to feel like I was betraying my own community by creating content that reinforced the idea of a singular male experience. I spent my time writing content that underscored the same image of the "ideal man" that we've been seeing and reading about for decades at this point.

The more validation we give to this singular idea of masculinity, the more we push queer people, BIPOC, fat people, poor people, rural people, feminine people, and underemployed people to the margins. By defining "normal" with such a specific definition, we're implicitly also defining "abnormal." We create an in-crowd vs. out-crowd dichotomy of who gets to be top dog.

As men, we already occupy a place of privilege in society. When we leverage traits–many of which are just a byproduct of genetics or lineage rather than anything we've actually earned– to further establish who is at the top of the pyramid, the disparity between those at the top and those at the bottom gets even greater.

Writing within this industry, I craved a publication that didn't adhere to such rigid guidelines about who is valid or part of the in-crowd. I wanted to see my own experiences represented, and by extension, the experiences of my friends and the people in my community. I recognized that if I– as a tall, white, cisgender man–didn't feel like I had a seat at the table in the publications for which I wrote, then my trans friends, black friends, and nonbinary friends were likely feeling even more dejected.

Eventually, I gave up on freelancing entirely. I took a job as a customer support rep at a tech company because I needed a consistent income. It was gut-wrenching to feel like I couldn't write full-time since that was what I had always wanted to do, but it was a change that I needed at that time.

Once I got back on my feet, however, I realized that by taking an anything-to-get-a-paycheck-job at a tech company, I suddenly had a new opportunity that I hadn't expected. My employer makes a powerful platform for managing marketing, sales, customer service, and website development– a collection of tools that I could employ at my own discretion since being an employee meant having access to my own account with full access to our software.

For me, creating and starting new projects is something I adore, so within a few weeks of being in my new role, I started brainstorming projects that I could work on with all the new tools at my disposal.

It dawned on me that I spent my tenure as a freelancer wishing there was an inclusive publication for which I could write. And as a tech company employee, I had all the tools I needed to start a digital publication.

Putting those two ideas together, I used the domain that I had purchased as a part of a new hire project– blakewrites.com– to bring that publication to life.

Why it Was Time for a Brand Change

I wrote under the BlakeWrites brand for the last two years along with a small team of regular contributors. Together, we built the website up from scratch. We started as a publication that had a grand total of 0 monthly readers back in January of 2018. Now, we have several thousand monthly readers and are growing month-over-month.

As much as I liked having my name directly attached to the brand, there was always a nagging voice in the back of my mind reminding me that the brand name didn't really tell new readers anything about us. What did "BlakeWrites" actually mean? As a publication dedicated to reflecting the broader experiences of men than what's typically represented, our brand name didn't really say anything other than "hey, a guy named Blake often writes."

It was uninformative. Generic. Broad.

Plus, lets be honest, it's not a brand name that's going to attract sponsors and corporate partners, and your boy needs a little cash flow to offset content costs.

So, starting at the beginning of 2020, I set my mind to planning out what a new brand could look like. I wanted something that reflected our core values of feel good, look good, do good. I didn't want it to come across as something that took itself too seriously or preachy– I'm an irreverent dork who just happens to be particularly passionate about healthy communities.

Drawing upon my vast experience with data analysis (not to flex too hard, but that experience comes from one and a half undergraduate level courses), I turned to the numbers. Using analytics tools, I knew that "self-improvement" and "self-improvement for men" were two of the keywords people most commonly used on Google to find my site.

Given my fondness for a tongue-in-cheek pun, I ran with that keyword. After a few iterations, self-improvement got an extra letter and became Self-Himprovement

self-himprovement opaque logo

Where We're Going from Here

Over the course of 2020, I'm planning on continuing our growth. My ultimate goal is to build the traffic and revenue needed to bring on two more regular content contributors. I want more BIPOC and non-cis voices showcased on our platform, and I need more cash to be able to do that since I'm morally opposed unpaid labor.

We're also starting an exploration of the topic of shame– please consider contributing to our research by submitting the questionnaire here.

If you have other questions about our rebranding, please let us know by dropping your question in the comments below!

Written by Blake Reichenbach

He/ Him/ His pronouns. Blake is a writer, gym addict, dog dad, researcher, and general life enthusiast. He's passionate about helping others reach their goals and live happier, more fulfilling lives.

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