Matt Stephens

Creating a profitable coaching business from scratch

  • Brand strategy
  • Basic visual identity
  • Website design & development


View website

Matt Stephens is on a mission to help young men find direction and purpose in life. Through thought leadership and one-on-one consulting, he balances scale and depth for maximum impact.

In 2018, he teamed up with me to build his business from scratch.


When Matt reached out to me, he was dying to get his fitness and lifestyle coaching business off the ground.

His goals were ambitious and he had an interesting story, but it was obvious he needed help with staking out a clear direction.

And he felt lost in the digital landscape; Matt had attempted to create a website on his own in order to get started—a project which ultimately ended in frustration.

I wanted to work with Jon because I’d seen some of his previous work and had heard good things about him. It felt like Jon genuinely had my best interests in mind, and the experience he brought from working on other, similar project turned out to be really valuable.

— Matt Stephens, client

Step 1: Brand strategy

Brand strategy is the first step of all of my projects. It lays the foundation for everything we end up doing later on, and I have found it to be tremendously useful both for myself and for my clients.

This phase has a lot of benefits, but three “project-critical” things that it helps us reach clarity about are:

  1. Who we are trying to serve and what their needs are
  2. What we need to do or create (if anything)
  3. How those things need to look like and how we measure success

Through the brand strategy phase, we were able to define Matt’s brand attributes, figure out who he wants to serve,what their needs actually are, and how he can help fulfil them.

Then we ideated and prioritized ways that Matt’s fledgling venture can generate revenue and raise awareness. We designed what is now quickly becoming a profitable lifestyle business from scratch.

And the best part is, all of this was achieved collaboratively during a series of fun and fast-paced workshops—no stale questionnaires or frustrating guesswork required.

Slides from Matt's brand strategy

The strategy planning was my favorite part of the project. It was both fun and helped us stay on course with everything we did.

— Matt Stephens, client

Step 2: Brand identity

Based on the creative brief that we created during the brand strategy phase, a simple visual identity was created: a simple logotype, basic colour palette, typography treatment, and photography—all the things you need to launch.

Matt Stephens' logotype design
Color palette for Matt Stephens
Typography treatment for Matt Stephens

Step 3: Digital design (UX, UI)

We created a sitemap and wireframes (wireframes are a kind of barebones ‘blueprint’ of each page on the website); and then based on that, a content plan detailing what the web copy we needed and where it should go.

Once we had those things, scaffolding towards finished page designs went off without a hitch. Due to the way I structure my projects, revision requests almost never happen.

Two of the wireframe layouts that were created
The finished page designs of the same wireframes

Content woes...

Due to budgetary constraints, Matt was tasked with creating the content for the website (based on the content plan that was created in the previous phase).

This took longer than expected, mainly due to scheduling difficulties. It seemed like every time we thought we were almost there, fate had different plans: bodybuilding competitions (I forgot to mention—aside from being a really smart and caring guy, Matt is also a competitive bodybuilder!) and extra work duties kept slowing us down.

But, good things come to those who wait. We eventually got all of the content ready, which meant that we could move on to the next phase: development.

Side note: You learn something from every project. Our “content woes” led me to optimize the way I do projects in order to avoid speed bumps and frustrations. Read more about that here.

The website content plan developed for Matt Stephens

Step 4: Development (process, CMS)

Matt’s website is a custom build. It is not based on any templates, and everything is fully tailored to his unique needs.

Custom builds can often be very expensive. In order to make sure you’re not flushing money down the drain, you have to be careful about what technology you choose to build the website on.

Matt’s website was built on Jekyll, which is a static-site generator (I’ve written more about those here). Because of this, we were able to keep the build cost and the maintenance costs super lean, without sacrificing any quality or functionality.

In fact, Matt’s website performs better than the vast majority of comparable website on the Internet. Not only that. It is easier to maintain, and has a user-friendly content management system that enables Matt to update pages or publish new blog posts with ease.

Website page viewed on an iMac

Jon was the perfect mix between personable and professional. Going into this project, I had no idea how much work actually goes into the creation of a website and how important the strategy is before beginning.

He was able to see things through, and in the end I didn’t only get a solid website, but a beneficial business strategy as well as lots of valuable advice. Again, very enjoyable experience. Thanks for being so patient, Jon. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out now!

— Matt Stephens, client
Matt before working with me vs. after working with me


When Matt first contacted me, he didn’t have a business.

Now business is booming. He receives multiple qualified leads for coaching every week, and has already started working with clients.

His email list has grown from 0 to 400 (!) subscribers in about a month.

Most importantly, he is fully equipped to empower others. Matt is making the world a better place, one email, one blog post, one tweet, and one coaching session at a time.


Key stats: from 0 to 1 profitable businesses; 400 email subscribers in a month; 5/5 client satisfaction rating