It’s finally here – the new look Bridges and Balloons. As much as I loved the old site, it had had its day. It was slow as a sloth and as I’d insisted on building it myself, it was frankly a bit of a mess (code and I are not good friends). I wanted something cleaner, easier to use, quicker, and above all, something that encapsulated what Bridges and Balloons is all about. Here is the end result, and I’m so excited to share it with you!
If you’re reading this on email, head over to the website and you can see the new site design. I have a new logo, logo stamp, plus a whole new website design. I hope you love it as much as I do.
In this post, I’m sharing the process and what it all means for the future of Bridges and Balloons.
The new brand
It was Clare at Ink and Honey who did the big work of re-branding Bridges and Balloons. I had originally asked Hannah of Further Bound, who did the old site, but she’s on maternity leave, so she recommended Clare instead. Clare’s work is beautiful, so I knew I was in good hands from the start and I’m completely delighted with what she came up with.
What’s Bridges and Balloons about?
Over the years, I’ve really struggled to define what Bridges and Balloons is about. When I started, I didn’t have a direction or clear niche in mind. I wrote lots of travel tips, as well as whimsical, inspirational pieces and tales of my own personal journey.
Despite being told at every travel blogging event I went to that having a niche was key, I determinedly carried on writing whatever I fancied. And it served me well up to a point. I know lots of you love those posts, I love writing them, and it helped get this site to where it is today.
But I also need Bridges and Balloons to function as a business. It started as a passion project when time was abundant and costs were low, but over the years, it became much more than that and I slowly realised it could be a professional job. It took a while to work out how to do that in a way that suited me, but I think I’m finally getting there – retaining the character and authenticity of the site while also making it work as a business.
A niche at last!
In recent years, I’ve naturally found myself honing in on more specific topics. I’m an obsessive travel planner, so I share detailed itineraries of all our trips, and these have become some of the most popular and useful posts on this site. I also write city guides, filled with all the things we love about the places we visit.
What unites these posts is the style of the things we feature. We look for everything creative and beautiful about a destination – be that unique coffee shops, spectacular views, hip hotels or amazing pieces of street art. It turns out many of you have a similar taste to us, so our guides are good shortcuts to finding the things you love. It turns out Bridges and Balloons does have a niche after all.
Creating a brand for Bridges and Balloons
Clare helped me define that niche and created a logo and branding based upon it. She even came up with an answer to the question, what is Bridges and Balloons about?
She said: “The role of Bridges and Balloons is that of a travel insider, providing the reader with access to curated travel experiences that are aspirational, unique and hand–picked for their creativity, beauty and authenticity.”
Now I just have to remember that next time someone asks me (I tend to be like a deer in the headlights when faced with that question)!
How to find stuff on Bridges and Balloons
I’ve narrowed down the categories, so we now have: itineraries, road trips, city guides, special stays (best AirBnBs, hip boutique hotels and glamping), and family travel. And you can also search by destination (have a look at the new map on the destinations page).
Is this the end of personal posts?
Although I now have a clear idea of what Bridges and Balloons specialises in, that doesn’t mean I won’t be going off-piste every now and then and posting personal stories, thoughts and more whimsical travel pieces.
Although I have less time to spend on these nowadays (I still freelance and being a mum is full-on!), writing that style of post is something I enjoy, so I’ll still carve out the time when inspiration strikes.
Plus I’d like to share some more behind-the-scenes stories about things like what family travel is really like, and how I’m balancing blogging, freelancing, parenting and the rest of life (if you’re interested?).
That type of story still fits with my “niche” as I think it’s always good to know a little more about the person behind the blog.
I also share bits of my life on Instagram, so that’s another good place to find me.
Who did it all?
I instantly fell in love with all of Elizabeth’s themes (check out her website), but they’re made for a platform called ShowIt and I was keen to stick with WordPress.
Thanks to Steve and my personal SEO guru, Shannon O’Donnell, we came up with a solution. I paid Elizabeth to license her design, and then Steve recreated it using WordPress and a lightweight theme called GeneratePress. We also adapted the theme a bit to match the brand, with design help from Clare.
All of this was no mean feat. The whole thing had me close to tears on several occasions as we tried to find a theme I liked and that was fast-loading (it is so hard to find this holy combination!). But we got there in the end!
Let me know what you think!
So welcome to the new look Bridges and Balloons. I’d love to hear what you think!