On October 7th, BlogMutt Becomes Verblio

What’s changing, what’s staying the same, and what’s happening to Buddy the dog in our rebrand

But first, a look at rebranding through the eyes of a five-year-old…

Kenzie, 5-year-old. Me, head of marketing — BlogMutt/Verblio

My most visceral experience with our new name (Verblio) has been telling my 5-year-old, Kenzie, that we were going to change the name of the place I worked. She’d seen the new logo up on my computer screen and asked what it was. I did my best to explain rebranding to a five-year-old and her only question was, “will Buddy still be on your computer and t-shirts?” Buddy is the BlogMutt mascot.

Portrait of the Mascot as a Young Dog

 

Knowing this wasn’t going to be good, I tried to couch it with something like, “well, not as much, but Buddy will still be around.”

Kenzie started to cry. Literally, tears. It was kind of heartbreaking. I showed her the adult size small BlogMutt t-shirt hanging in her closet and this was somewhat comforting. We talked about the fact that the new Verblio logo included her two favorite colors, pink and purple, and then she changed the subject. “Can I make some stickers?” (Stickers are what she calls emojis in Slack. She gets to create a few stickers when she wakes up to find me on my computer.)

These were the stickers she chose:

And then she said, “Daddy, the verblyo* sticker looks pretty with the hearts.”

*Don’t worry, digital branding nerds (like me. 👋), we bought verblyo.com, as well as verbleo.com, vurblio.com, and vrblio.com, and redirected all of them to verblio.com.

Rewind two years to the Fall of 2016 – Steve [our CEO] calls me one evening. I’d just left my previous job and was trying to figure out what to do.  

It was a long journey from that call to Verblio’s very own Slack sticker, with a new name to consider each day.

Select Contenders (in descending order of absurdity):  

•  Savage Content
•  RaveWriters
•  Twinkle Type
•  BlogBoss
•  Co-lab

Finally, after hundreds of La Croixs and several off-site branding exercises, VERBLIO emerged. So active! So bouncy! So literal yet abstract! We loved it, and with that, our new bouncing baby brand name was born.

If you haven’t switched to a new browser tab yet, but you’re thinking about it, resist the click. Yes, this post is looooooong (← Google joke) but you can skip around:

•  Quick FAQs
•  The Rebrandifesto
•  What’s new inside the platform – expanded content options and agency features
•  A look at our overhauled user experience
•  What’s new beyond the platform – custom solutions, new Pro Services & strategy help
•  What’s staying the same
•  New Video product
•  Collector’s swag
•  For BlogMutt writers
•  Fun with taglines
•  Exquisite content for an ever-changing algorithm
•  Sweet team photo


Quick FAQs

Most of what you need to know, in short snippets:

What’s new about Verblio in 3 bullet points or less:
•  We create all types of content, from blogs to ebooks to website copy, to power modern digital marketing & SEO.
•  Speaking of digital, we believe this content marketing thing is here to stay but will be ever-evolving. See below on exquisite content / ever-changing algorithm. Today, you need long-form, video, a foundation in blogging, authentic content, and more.
•  
Bullet point #2, above, is our North Star. Every day we show up to make the platform better at serving our clients’ content marketing needs, both businesses and marketing agencies, alike.

When’s the launch date?
We’re going to push the big, figurative, 301 redirect button sometime on October 7th. The new website will be live, the app will be prettier, new content types will be available. We already have cool t-shirts.  

What’s the new name again?
Verblio.

Logo takes from the team:

“It looks like a bloated hippo.” – Wade, CTO & Co-Founder

“The pink and purple together reminds me of 80s shorts.” – Steve, CEO

“It looks like a venn diagram. I love a good venn diagram.” – Annika, copywriter

Original Venn Diagram by Annika

 

Did you get bought by some giant soul-crushing corporation?
No.

Are you cat people now?
Pet preferences are diverse and deeply personal, much like the content created by Verblio writers.

Is this going to make BlogMutt suck for long-time customers?
We sure hope not. We’re building Verblio on the same fundamental principles as we built BlogMutt—that quality writing from quality writers matters. Our mission hasn’t changed. We’re laser-focused on creating high-quality content to power content marketing.

Wait, I liked Buddy the dog.
He’s no bloated hippo Venn diagram, but we like Buddy too. He’ll live on in the Verblio platform, in easter-eggy fashion and new party colors:

Portrait of the Former Mascot in Verblio Palette

When you spot him, shoot us a note (hello@verblio.com). You’ll get treats.

Do I have to go to a new place on the internet to access my account?
Yep. verblio.com. (Actually, I’d prefer if you went directly to app.verblio.com when logging in so as not to mess with our digital analytics :))

But do check out the new front-end site too. You can see our splash page now at verblio.com, and the whole deal on October 8th. (The splash page is written in rhyming verse, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

What if I forget?
Fear not. Our best engineers will 301-redirect blogmutt.com to verblio.com.

•   You *will* have to re-enter your username/password on the new site.
•   There *will* be a clear reset process for the many of you who’ve forgotten your password.
•   Our support team will also be standing by for questions → support@verblio.com / @blogmutt.com

I bet you’re raising prices.
We did, way back in January of this year (more here, if you like). And, we might need to again in the future. But, our goal then was to support the creation of high-quality content by paying our writers fairly, while charging a reasonable price to our clients. That’s still our goal. We also committed to raise prices no more than 1x/year.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get back to why we’re even doing this…

The BlogMutt Rebrandifesto:

who we are, where we’ve been, why it matters

Rebranding is an emotional idea, and not just for 5-year-olds. For more than eight years, BlogMutt has been a bootstrapped success story in the Boulder startup community—our founders Scott and Wade began the company in 2011 and we’ve steadily built it to a multimillion-dollar revenue company serving over 1,500 businesses every month.

The reasons the team was able to do that are many; Scott and Wade’s ability to will a business to life. Scott’s passion and experience as a journalist-turned-entrepreneur. Wade’s ability to single-handedly architect and code the early versions of a complex marketplace business. The team’s hard work and creativity. And our many writers’ amazing work for businesses all over the globe.

I firmly believe that the BlogMutt brand, and its trusty mascot Buddy* are a reason too, and a big one. The BlogMutt brand was designed to be friendly and authentic to the company and to the people who worked there, and the word “Mutt” conveyed 2 important principles that remain with us today:

1.  Eliminate vetting by “pedigree” (flashy headshots & portfolios/resumes) and let our writers’ work speak for itself.
2.  Represent the melting pot of ideas and expertise created by bringing together 3,000 professional writers from myriad professional backgrounds and every corner of the U.S.


Buddy was fashioned after Co-Founder Scott’s dog of the same name—his dopple-wagger, if you will.

 

Plus there’s the whole “Blog” part of BlogMutt, which, for a long time, was very descriptive of what we did.

If BlogMutt was so great, why the change to Verblio?

First, there are only 3 things we hear when we say BlogMutt:

1.  “Wait, what did you say?”
2.  “Awwwwwww” (actually, this only happens when we’re wearing a BlogMutt t-shirt or showing something with Buddy on it to a dog lover)
3.  Some variant of, “huh, ok, I get it, kinda…?”

Second, to quote our new Verblio splash page:

BlogMutt was a great name to grow this company to where it is, but as we continue to evolve and expand, it’s become more limiting than enabling.

It makes people assume we only write blog posts, when in fact, we’ve been creating many more types of content for many different clients for a long time. With the rebrand, we’re making it official (and easier, we hope).

And, while there is a (large, depending on who you talk to) contingent of folks who think the BlogMutt name is endearing, there’s another that finds it unfitting of the quality of work we produce or disparaging to our writers. (The BlogMutt blog used to be called The Hydrant. True story.)

So even if the old brand is close to some hearts, and even if the new name continues to inspire a few ‘huh?’s, as a company, we’re aligned around this change, and dissent will not be tolerated we’re excited about becoming Verblio.

What’s new inside the platform:

We’ve been working super hard to improve the platform that will relaunch as Verblio on October 8th, all with the goal of helping our clients produce the best possible content.

What that means:

More content types, formally.
Starting October 8th, you’ll see a new drop-down when you request content from our writers.

You’ll also be able to work with our support team (and then directly in the platform) to request more specialty content— product descriptions, product category pages, local landing pages, content pillars & clusters, and more.

The introduction of slide-show videos [in beta]
We can create 30-60 second teaser or summary videos from written content you purchase from Verblio. More below.

New platform features for agencies.
It takes a lot to manage multiple pieces of content for multiple clients across diverse industries or hyper-focused in one. Demanding clients. Clients who hate passive voice and typos. We’re here for you, agency people.

In the last 3 months, we’ve introduced multiple agency-forward features like writer deadlines and improvements to our white-label content sharing/approval feature.

Keep your editorial calendars on track with deadlines.

Allow clients to give a quick thumbs up/down or leave feedback for you in the white label platform.


An overhaul of our user experience.

If you’ve been with BlogMutt for a while, we don’t need to tell you this, but our app experience needed some work. It worked well when we had just our 250-word 1x/week model, but not so much as we expanded to support modern content marketing. And that work is hard for a bootstrapped company.

But that’s an excuse, so we’ve been doing something about it. We hired a full-time designer & UI/UX expert and are committed to making user experience a focus moving forward. We’ve got some fancy software that shows us when users don’t understand what features are meant to do. We’ve devoted a big chunk of our product roadmap to creating something that’s more powerful, and hopefully, more fun to use.

Behold, the new Requests Manager page:

Goodbye, dear orange and brown interface. We will miss you not at all.

And the new request creator:



Ideas/complaints/etc? hello@verblio.com

What’s new beyond the platform

Custom solutions for large agencies & franchises.
In the past year, we’ve partnered with some of our larger agency clients to build some really cool customized solutions. Just one example—we worked with a large legal SEO agency to create a brand-new offering that allows them to produce hundreds of pieces of content per month for their clients, all of which has been reviewed and edited by a licensed attorney. Turns out when you have a diverse pool of great writers, you can build a team of subject matter experts in a huge variety of industries.

Want to brainstorm how we could do more for your agency? Need a customized pool of legal, tech, insurance, dental, real estate, or medical writers? sales@verblio.com

More writers who get digital.
As a company founded by a journalist, we’ve always taken good writing seriously. We don’t have 1 star, 2 star and 3 star writers, we have writers that pass our high standards and that’s it. But, solid writing is just one piece of the puzzle. Writers who understand how to write for digital, and the principles of SEO and content marketing will take your content further.

Over the past year, we’ve put a lot of thought into this. There’s no degree for it, but we like HubSpot’s certification programs—namely the Inbound marketing certification and the content marketing certification.

We’ve had our internal team take them and have been working with our writers to make certifications a formal part of the leveling-up process within our system. Expect a larger announcement on this later this year.

Strategy and execution help, there when you need it.
For obvious reasons, one of our favorite quotes from HubSpot’s big Inbound conference last year was, “content creation is the hardest part of inbound.” But, even if we’re wearing that badge like one of those annoying Ironman-finisher bumper stickers, there’s lots more to do than just create the content.

Which is why you can:

•  Get 10 blog topics from an Inbound-certified content strategist for $49
•  Have those same strategists manage the Verblio platform for you
•  Get help with publishing, on-page SEO optimization, and stock photos

And more.

It’s content creation, plus help with the other parts of content marketing you don’t have the time or energy to do yourself.

A continued focus on long-form content.
At the beginning of 2018, we introduced a 2,000-word product, thinking it’d be utilized by a few early adopters. We were quite promptly shocked how quickly it’s become a sizeable chunk of what we write.

Long-form is undeniably powerful — comprehensive blog posts, ebooks, pillar pages and more can superpower your content strategy. So we’re continuing to focus on improving the content we can create at the longer end of the spectrum.

What’s staying the same?

The platform mechanics & how it works.
You’ll still use our Requests Manager to brief our writers.  They’ll still find you and write on spec. You’ll still request edits for free. If you don’t like a piece, just decline it and tell the writer why, you’ll still get another piece for free. You’ll still build relationships with writers by preferring, and get better content over time through transparent feedback.

Writers find you, not the other way round.
We fundamentally believe the Craigslist/Upwork/[insert competitor here] model of ‘choose a star rating/price point → comb through resumes/profiles → try to discern whether a given writer can write for your business or clients’ is wrong. It’s not only a pain in the ass for you, but it doesn’t allow writers to focus on actually writing. So, our writers find you. They write for customers only when they believe they can do great work. You’re freed from buying a writer’s time. Instead, you buy a writer’s product.

Our team, and our focus on co-creation.
This isn’t a downsizing or a hail-mary attempt at changing how we do business. Over the past two years, we’ve dramatically increased our investment in customer support, and we’re continuing to do so. Content marketing is hard, and we believe that by being available & helpful to our customers, we can help co-create really powerful content–something that can’t be done by using a faceless software platform/marketplace.

Relentless support for our writers.
If our writers aren’t succeeding, neither are our customers. When we raised prices in January, it enabled long-overdue pay increases for our writers, and to build more tools to help writers and customers produce better content together. Plus, our writers are an amazingly talented group of people with a darn cool and shockingly diverse set of professional and personal backgrounds. Serving them is one of the things we’re most proud of.


Approachable, affordable creation for small business.
Whether you’re a small business or an agency that serves small businesses, content creation can be hard, and content marketing can be daunting. Small businesses built BlogMutt, and we’re doubling down on our commitment to keeping high-quality content creation approachable and affordable.

What’s with the new video product?

Video is a BFD in content marketing these days. Like BFR big deal. We could throw a lot of stats at you (and probably will in future marketing campaigns) but the long and short of it is people like watching videos online. Attention spans are shrinking, and video can help get your written content found and introduce it to a new audience.

Starting October 8th, you’ll be able to turn any piece of content you purchase from us into a short, slideshow-like video.

In 2016, Brian Halligan, the CEO of HubSpot, stood on stage at a giant content marketing conference and said that video should be 50% of the content that marketers create.

Only he didn’t say how videos should be created. And there’s been little industry consensus on just what types of video that goal should include. A $10,000 professionally-produced brand piece or a selfie-style vlog of you in front of a conference banner? We believe our solution hits a middle ground by multiplying your existing content at a relatively low price-point. You take advantage of the popularity of video without paying a fortune for it.

We believe so strongly in video that we’ve built social videos into our platform and are considering more substantive investments in video in the near future as well.  We’re using a combination of AI and a new video team to turn written content into slide-show style videos.

Here’s an example, and here’s the blog post it was created from:

 

They’re perfect for teasing content on social media and driving more diverse eyeballs to your brand and site. Not into Social media? Get a summary video instead to embed directly in your content. You’ll capture people who hate reading, show you can play in the modern marketing ring, and build credibility for your business. And, the technology helps us keep the cost down to a point that marketers can use video on a frequent basis.

Starting October 8th, look for an option to add a teaser or summary video at a special beta price when you purchase content in the Verblio platform. We’d love your feedback & ideas during this beta testing period—hello@verblio.com.

Can I at least get a BlogMutt t-shirt before you run out?

Meet Kali. And Ollie.



I guarantee Kali is a bigger BlogMutt and Buddy fan than you. She’s our Marketing Manager and resident rebrand therapist, so if you need to commiserate, trade dog puns, or want a limited edition BlogMutt t-shirt from our secret stockpile, send her a note—kali@blogmutt.com (For nostalgia’s sake, our CTO confirmed it’ll indefinitely forward to her new @verblio.com address).

I’m a BlogMutt writer. What about me?

First of all, a huge thank you. It’s because of all your hard work, skillful writing, and truly amazing and inspiring professional backgrounds that we are where we are today, and we’re excited to have you join us on the next wave of this journey.

Second, we just want to let you know that you won’t need to learn a new system overnight. Our app will be getting a big facelift, but the basic mechanics will stay the same. We’ll be sure to let you know about any big changes as they come (just like we always do).

Finally, Molly wrote a whole post just for you with a preview of what’s coming next and some simple steps you can take to prepare. You can also join in the Verblio conversation on the forum or shoot us an email at writers@verblio.com with questions or concerns.  

We end where we began: Slack

Stay with me through some short Slack exchanges with Annika (Annika’s our copywriter for verblio.com. I’d asked for a tagline for business cards.):

After threats of creative violence and a break, we got more:

Total freedom is important in the creative process, so while the Colorado-centric “dank content” got a laugh, the second-to-last one really hit home for us.

And so,

What I think is so cool about this statement requires breaking it in half, like a glow stick:

Exquisite content …
There are a few ways to define “exquisite”. One is “intensely felt”, which nicely sums up what we hope our writers do for our clients’ businesses.

Another is, “highly sensitive or discriminating”. What I find so fascinating about a marketplace solution for content is that we have writers who are adored by one client and flatly rejected by others. Content is unique. Discriminating taste is deeply personal.

… for an ever-changing algorithm.
Yeah, there’s the obvious reference to Google’s algorithm. But for me, it goes deeper than that. Having been obsessed with content marketing & SEO since 2012, it’s not just Google I’ve seen changing—it’s the way people consume content. How brands build trust. How agencies win & keep clients. And so when we say algorithm, I think that speaks to the larger system.

At Verblio, it’s our mission to help businesses, marketers, and the digital agencies that serve them create the content that powers modern digital marketing.

And to look great posing on rocks.

The staff of Verblio on Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at Chautauqua Park in Boulder

Whether you’re a longtime client, or just joining us, we’re deeply grateful you’re here, and we’re excited to co-create content that powers your digital marketing well into the future.

Welcome to Verblio.

Questions? Comments? hello@verblio.com—we’ll read and respond to every one.

Paul Zalewski

Paul runs marketing at Verblio and is a self-proclaimed digital marketing and SEO nerd. When he's not helping sad, empty blogs find Verblio content, he enjoys writing and spending time with his wife and two daughters. His prerequisite I-live-in-Colorado activity is snowboarding.

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