TL;DR — I started a company called Matthew’s Design Co. with a new brand and marketing website which I’ll be using to continue growing my business and serving my clients. I’ll move all client-specific content such as my portfolio, services, contact form, etc to the new website. That website is now live at https://madebymatthews.com
This website (mattolpinski.com) will has become a personal website + destination just for freelancers. It will be entirely focused on my newsletter, freelance products and resources, my articles, and my Slack community, The Freelance Institute. It will get has gotten a fresh new redesign too!
After a tremendous amount of thought and consideration, I feel this will be the best way for me to continue growing so I can serve more clients and more freelancers.
Background & Context
During the last 10 years, my freelancing career as a UI + UX designer has been growing steadily. I’ve worked with startups, SMB’s, and even world-class brands such as Marriott International, DHL, Facebook, Bloomberg, and American Express.
My website (old.mattolpinski.com) has consistently gained popularity among clients. Each year I get dozens of excellent project opportunities from great clients, most of which I’ve had to decline for lack of availability.
It’s also gained popularity among freelancers. I have a huge archive of helpful articles, products, and a newsletter with over 1,500 subscribers.
My website ranks extremely high (first page) of Google for searches like “freelance UX designer NY” or “freelance ui designer new york”. This will become relevant in a minute.
In recent years, my website has become crowded, attempting to serve both clients and freelancers (two entirely different audiences).
In 2018, I formed an S-Corp called Matthew’s Design Co. in an effort to continue growing and serving more clients (in addition to legal protection and tax benefits).
Now that I had a “real” business in place, I was left with a dilemma: what will become of my website? How should I represent this new business online?
Answering that question was NOT easy. I put a lot of thought into what the best path forward would be. Here are some of the options I considered:
The easiest option was to keep everything as-is. I can run my freelance business as an S-Corp on paper and leave my website untouched. This would be ideal for SEO, but not ideal for client perception and growth.
I felt strongly that a new business website would help shift client perception from hiring an individual to hiring a business. The result would, theoretically, be bigger projects and more growth opportunities.
In order to take on more projects each year, I need to increase my business’s capacity for work, which meant expanding to a small team and hiring trusted subcontractors.
Option A was good for my freelance audience, but not for my business.
Another option was to rebrand mattolpinski.com as a business. But there were a few obvious problems with that. First, the domain name (mattolpinski.com) wouldn’t match the company name (Matthew’s Design Co).
More importantly, the 20,000+ freelancers finding my website organically each year wouldn’t be engaging with a person anymore, they’d be engaging with a business (which is not what they want to do).
However, the benefit would be that my incredible SEO rankings wouldn’t be at risk. I could rework the website largely keeping my ranking intact, which is how I’m able to earn a living as a freelancer right now (clients finding me organically on Google).
Option B was good for me, but not for my freelance audience.
The last option was to build an entirely new website for the business with a new brand at a new domain (matthewsdesign.co or something similar).
That would mean I could keep my current website (mattolpinski.com) untouched until the new website gained traction and it’d have a completely fresh start.
Eventually, it would free up mattolpinski.com to become focused entirely on freelancing. It would become a personal destination website for freelancers, not a portfolio/newsletter/product hybrid.
There was still some SEO risk. Would clients find my new website? How long will it take to start pushing my existing client audience to the new website? How would I go about doing that?
Despite the risks, I felt that in the long run, Option C was going to be the best solution and that I’d figure out how to make the transition along the way.
I’m thrilled to share that over the 2019 holiday season, I designed and built a new website for my business Matthew’s Design Co. complete with a new logo and brand.
My full first name is Matthew, so the company name intends to bring a hand-crafted “mom-and-pop shop” voice to a web design company. It establishes my business professionally, but in a way that’s approachable, friendly, and memorable. This works especially well because the business is already so successful.
All the obvious domains were taken, so I had to get creative and ended up successfully bidding on one that I liked (it wasn’t cheap, but I think it was well-worth the investment).
Now for the moment I’m sure most of you readers have been waiting for: What will become of mattolpinski.com?
What’s the vision? How will the transition look? How long will it take?
Update: The transition is now complete and you’re reading this article on my newly designed website!
Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t written a new article or sent a new newsletter email recently. This transition combined with an already-busy 2019 is the reason. None of this is easy and it’s all new for me.
My intention is to slowly remove all the client-focused content from this website now that the new business website is live. That means my client articles, services page, work (case study) pages, and contact page will no longer exist here since they aren’t important for freelancers.
I’m planning to make my newsletter, products, and articles the entire focus rather than add-on pages to a portfolio website. I also want to offer new services just for freelancers such as paid portfolio reviews and maybe even launch a new course. I’d love to completely rework my newsletter so you’re only getting the most relevant advice.
Of course, I’ll still make a point of calling out my design business for anyone who wants to see my work (especially any of my clients from the last 10 years visiting this website). I might even include a small gallery of work examples, but it won’t be a primary focus.
My next immediate step after writing this article is putting a banner on the website for a few months to help drive client traffic to my new business website. I’ll try to integrate this as seamlessly as possible so it doesn’t bother the many freelancers who visit this website, but I do need to make it obvious, so please bear with me.
Then, I’ll start removing some content pages starting with the client articles on my blog (which barely get seen anyway). I’ll simply move the best ones over to the new website.
The next step is redesigning mattolpinski.com. That will help me understand what I’m building toward and I’ll finish the transition by launching an entirely new website design here.
I expect all of this to be completely done by the end of 2020, if not sooner. It will be challenging growing a new business beyond myself and also finding time to redesign this website (plus personal and family time, etc).
How will you stay relevant to freelancers if you’re transitioning into a company?
I follow many freelancers who grew their business quickly and transitioned from a freelancer to an agency. The problem was that I didn’t grow quickly with them and their advice started becoming irrelevant. Eventually, I wasn’t learning anything from them anymore, which was disappointing.
Here’s where I’m at right now: even though I’m starting a new company, this is all new territory for me. It will take me years to get good at running a company, assuming it continues to grow. I wouldn’t feel comfortable blogging about it right away.
Freelancing, on the other hand, I’ve come to understand quite well (and the proof is in my new company). I’d consider it an area of expertise at this point, which is why I’ll continue doing everything I can to help freelancers find their own path to success.
So, don’t worry. I plan on becoming more relevant to you as a freelancer, not less relevant.
Thank you to all my readers for your patience, understanding, support, and encouragement. I hope this article helps clarify what’s been happening lately and gives you some valuable insight to my own business journey.
I’m looking forward to all the exciting changes 2020 will bring.
About Matt Olpinski
Matt runs his own web design and development company Matthew’s Design Co. and teachers thousands of freelancers how to succeed through his personal blog and newsletter.