The Suitcase Entrepreneur Has A New Home

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Build Your Online Business / 19 comments
Natalie Sisson with her Ipad

Well, I don’t personally have a new home, but my website does.  If you’re reading this post via email or RSS I recommend you come on over to the fully redesigned new look website!

I’m still living out of my suitcase and trekking the globe – otherwise I’d have to totally rebrand right?!

However this is one of the most exciting periods of my life. I’ve been wanting to redesign my entire brand, website and blog for several months and for several reasons.

In this post I want to let you know the reasons behind the rebrand, the process taken to make it happen and a short tour of what you can find and how best to use it.

Why Relaunch?

I knew it was time for a totally new look because you had told me so. Deep down I knew the previous design wasn’t cutting it. When I started to get emails, and messages saying:

“I really like your site and the information and value you provide, I’m just not sure exactly what it is that you are doing”

First rule of thumb is that when you only have 4 seconds to grab someone’s attention make sure they can sum up why they’ve landed on your site, why that matters and what they should do next.

This redesign was written down in my 2012 strategic plan way back in January. I initially had it pegged to launch in June, and let me tell you, websites always take twice as long as you think and cost more too. In this case I think it’s totally worth it. Plus biking 4,000 miles across Africa from March to May meant things were going to be delayed in terms of feedback obviously.

Secondly, I had most definitely outgrown the previous look and it didn’t really represent my vision for my brand. It was fine, and people liked it but it didn’t really say `Hey live a life of freedom and adventure while running your awesome business from anywhere!’.

Thirdly, I felt it was time to grow up. My business has so my online presence needed to as well. For a start I never had a home page. As with most bloggers, your primary desire is to get people to read your blog. But I realised although I provide 90% of what I do for free on my blog and through my podcast and videos, this was a business.

My business needed a home page that told people exactly where they landed and what the heck they could do.

While people come to read a blog post through tweets and seeing it on Facebook or LinkedIn, several people were just searching on keywords and arriving here, and not really knowing what it was that I did.

I came to realise that most people who know me admire me for what I do and want to learn from me about how I do what I do so that they can then do it for themselves.

So I decided to make it dead clear, simplify and at the same time put myself as the front of my own brand. That’s a scary thing to do. But I realised to wholly and fully own my identity as a Suitcase Entrepreneur.

That’s why you get to see me all over my site now, just in case who you forget who you’re dealing with ….

How did you go about relaunching

I obviously had a clear idea in my head of how my previous website was failing me. Not a clear enough call to action to get my weekly highflyer, too many navigation links that got confusing and  no obvious offering of what I do that can benefit you.

Once I had your feedback and mine combined I set out looking at several websites I really admired and what it was that I liked about them. Interestingly many of these sites had seen a recent design too and I’d seen them take their own journey of stepping up and owning it.

ThinkTraffic, MarieForleo, LKR and NerdFitness were definitely up there on the list. Plus I looked at several others. We all know how that feels once you start comparing yourself to others s- kind of depressing, so I immediately stopped that and pulled out my top 5 and then approached some web designers.

Choosing my website designer:

In the end I went with the lovely Leanne from Start Somewhere and this is my official HUGE THANK YOU for the amazing new design here on the Suitcase Entrepreneur. She had initially stepped up to design the Ride of My Life site for my big bike journey and fundraising campaign (which no longer looks like it did since this redesign so bear with me on rectifying that – although you can see it in this post).

New Suitcase Entrepreneur logo design

I was really impressed at that and had fun working with her. This time she was a star, having and a patience when dealing with me being offline (and biking) when she needed feedback on designs and sign off, and for understanding my vision for this site and my many tweaks and demands.

(Incidentally they’ve just relaunched their site and it’s looking fab so if you’re need of design work then I can highly recommend Leanne and her team. Just tell her I sent you!).

They also did a series of awesome new logos that will be featured on my new business cards and stickers from MOO Cards. Can’t wait to see them. I started putting them on my social media profiles like YouTube and my Facebook page. More to come.

Total investment = circa $5,000

Choosing my coding genius

My web design contract with Leanne was just for the design. So next up I needed to get someone to code the Photoshop files and make it come alive on WordPress.

I put out a job posting on Elance and within less than 2 hours I had 55 proposals ranging from $110 through to $500 which is actually really reasonable for the amount of work involved. In amongst all of those and scanning the ones that stood out most I found Charlie Asemota.

Based in Italy he’s a Web and UI Designers plus developer and he’s been a dream to deal with. We’ve dealt mainly by email and Skype Instant messages plus we had a Skype call when he was going to launch it live on my site. He had built a test site so we could go through how it was looking and what else needed doing.

Total investment = circa $300 (Charlie’s normal hourly rate is more but this was an Elance project)

Going Live

It went live on Saturday night EST and I naturally thought no-one would really notice but within minutes people from where I grew up (read Australia and New Zealand) were of course visiting my site to read my posts on a Sunday.

I don’t think there’s really anything more daunting and exciting then unleashing a new work of art to the world, and in this case it was nowhere near finished, there were several bugs and tweaks still to be made and Charlie (being in Europe) had stayed up late to get it launched but was not sleeping. So I knew major changes and questions couldn’t be answered until his morning.

I made this official announcement on Facebook and immediately got a slew of comments raving about it and someone even had a crush on the new design!

Then there were comments on Twitter, via email and everywhere. I think you know you’ve kind of hit a home run when so many people share their wonderful feedback with you.

Imagine if it had been shit!

Updating Everything Else

What you may not realise is that when you totally update your site it’s like everything else is out of date. I’ve spent a good few hours over the last week updating all my page and images and copy to better reflect my new site. I found several things were out of date.

Links to pages, images I was using, even in my newsletter I had incorrect links and reply emails.

It’s really been a great exercise in taking a good hard look at my total online presence and making sure it’s consistent, relevant and up to date.

I think it’s something all of us should do more regularly.

You may have noticed new photos on this site. Thanks to the lovely Lianne, we shot these in Cape Town as it was over a year and a half since my last photo shoot. Plus I wanted them to reflect the fact that I live outdoors and on the move and work from anywhere. You’ll see more of them popping up like they did in my new free manifesto designed by Janet.

In addition I reached out to Lauren to redesign my BYOB cover image to better reflect my new look site and also update the insides. Have you seen that gorgeous thing? (Thanks to those of you voted on final cover design on Facebook).

Total Investment = circa $1,200

In addition I’ve finally switched over from PC to Apple and invested in a 13 inch MAC Air, a new iPhone 4G and upgraded my software on my iPad first generation. This is all part of my strategy to step up and own my brand and keep up with my growing business.

So yes I’ve spent a fair amount of cashola recently, not to mention investing in this new addiction of mine – funding people’s dreams on Kickstarter and beyond.

Total Investment = circa $3,000

So why do all this? Oh yes let’s bring it back to the new look home you and I are hanging out on.

A Quick Tour Of The New Site

I hope, that if I’ve done a great job (along with Leanne and Charlie) that it should all be quite obvious what to do now you’re here. Here’s a few key pointers:

Brand New home page

This is designed to ensure you know what this site stands for – creating freedom in business an adventure in life, and to get you signed up to the Highflyer to get weekly online business building and travel hacking tips (two optin options at the top and bottom).

The video (changing soon) is to ensure you get to know me more personally so you can make up your mind whether you’re in the right place.

In addition you can figure out EXACTLY what I do and what to do next which I broke down into `Blog, Resources, Shop and Coaching‘ (how cute are these icons).

Finally there’s some social proof there to show I’m in fact not a loser and know my stuff!

The blog

It’s been designed to be easier to read, easier to share and with one call clear to action at the bottom of the post (designed by Charlie which I love). These are to learn more about my Build Your Online Business Guide, my Ultimate Toolkit for Entrepreneurs and my Business Design Coaching. I simple choose which one I want to feature and may add in more over time.

There are also related blog posts that are much more visually appealing and clickable as well as Disqus comments system which I’m already in love with. Once you sign in once using any number of online profiles you should stay logged in. It allows more more inter commenting, likes and replies too.

The navigation

I had too many pages on my site for you to know where to go next. Now it’s simple. Much more simple. The key things you need to know about are in the main navigation, the rest is in naturally progressive sublinks on each page. Take for example the Resources page – I’ve now listed the free resources you can find on this site from there.

The tools I use to run my business
The travel tools I recommend
My free manifesto
My podcast series
My social media workout book
And in a week or so a summary of the BEST articles on this site to get you started

What next Natalie?

Well as with any relaunch there are still things I’m tweaking, uncovering, changing and implementing  – like the sidebar for example, and this will be a constant work in progress so if you see anything strange let me know via the get in touch page or tweet me.

I have some grand plans brewing and an exciting initiative that I can’t wait to unleash to you very soon. Over the next week I’ll be sharing my thoughts and learnings from the World Domination Summit and giving away a ticket valued at $500 to next year’s summit so stay tuned and make sure you come back and visit often!

Let me know what you think of my new look home in the comments below and any feedback is welcomed!

  • Natalie – the site looks great! I have just recently decided to have a designer re-do my website to reflect my brand and to make it more professional. This was just the boost that I needed! Thanks for sharing the process. Out of curiosity, how long did it take from the time you approached your web designer until she actually completed the design?

    • Thanks! I guess all in all it was around 2 months. We could have done it sooner but I was offline a lot and so things got delayed. Plus I was a little flex on the deadline as I wanted it to be right. Can’t wait to see your new site

  • Natalie congratulations on your new site design, I love it! I like how much attention you and your team paid to making sure the details are on point. Plus the branding picture really hits home the message of being able to run one’s business from anywhere. Kudos!

    • Why thank you! Nothing like rolling around in a park in Cape Town to make you feel like a true nomad.

  • Natalie, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your new site! Thank you so much for this breakdown of the process, too, as it is such a great learning for me and also who has done such a great job for you.

  • Sarah Woods

    happy Launch day! you’ve nailed it, one of the best designs I’ve seen so far well done to you and your talented design team and clever coding team. looking forward to seeing it with the side bar in place. ( pssst- glad comic sans font is gone).

    • Yes amazing what happens when you view your website in different browsers. I had no idea the font looked completely different in Safari to Chrome. Always go with a popular base font.

  • Amreta


  • A perfect example of getting better everyday. Congratulations Natalie and thank you for providing such great links to your “new look” crew. Time to update myself.

    • Thanks so much Nicola. Glad you like it and my new look crew 🙂

  • It looks great Natalie – I loved your old site but I remember the first time I discovered you I was unsure of what you did – that’s a huge issue for many entrepreneurs who find themselves online.

    You are so right that you have seconds to explain what you’re all about – many sacrifice design for a simple, easy to understand message and you have proved here that you can do both!

    I find myself looking at so many sites these days trying to work out what’s next for my online home and it’s overwhelming and somewhat debilitating for the creative process but necessary to a point!

    Great stuff – looks amazing! Onwards and upwards!

    • You’re so right Ameena. It can be debilitating to just make the next step and get your site in action, or worse you end up with a completely complex and random design because you’ve asked too much of your designer and they’ve got confused as to which elements to even include. So do you know what I do now?? 🙂

  • It’s great, Natalie. Congrats to you and your team on a great re-design. C

  • WOW, it looks amazing, Natalie! So proud and excited for you. I didn’t know Leanne did the design – did I ever tell you I met up with her and Leah in BA, thanks to your introduction? It was so great catching up with you in Portland – can’t wait to see where we meet up next in the world! xo

    • Yes she does it all 🙂 I’m getting to meet them I hope in Amsterdam. So good to catch up with you in Portland too lovely lady.

  • Alexis Grant

    Love the new site! I’m about to re-brand, too, so you’ve given me some motivation 🙂 Nice clean look, easy to navigate!

    • Thanks Alexis. So glad you do. Always thought your site looked great especially your product pages.

  • I am a huge fan of and their business cards. It’s so easy to blow money unnecessarily on business cards if you’re not careful. Moo is easy, intuitive, and quick. I also love the Cape Town area. My profile picture is me feeding one of the goats at the Fairview Winery in Paarl.

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