Changing your professional name as a freelancer
Finally! It’s taken a few months but it’s really exciting to able to unveil my new website, as well as fully embrace my new name!
Me and my husband got married in June 2022 (after having to move it 3 times thanks to a certain pandemic) so it’s been a both huge relief and joy to be able to enjoy our wedding as we intended it, and now to present to the world as Mrs Jo Loveridge.
It can be bit of a long process…
First of all don’t let anyone tell you that changing your name is a quick process! Not necassarily the legal changing of the name itself, but all the online stuff that will keep popping up over months, or maybe years. For some it may not be quite so long-winded, but for me as a freelancer who has been trading under my maiden name for 15 years, it was quite a daunting task. Some of the questions that I had to ask, and I’m still asking are:
- Will old clients and contacts be able to find me?
- How do I migrate my old website & email to my new one, and will I lose my SEO rankings I’ve spent years building?
- Will I confuse social media followers by changing my account names?
- How easy it is?
Changing your name online in steps
The jury is still out on this one as it’s not been long enough to judge the process fully, however I did start off slow doing the following steps, in this order:
- Change my name on my outgoing emails, but include your maiden name in brackets i.e. Jo (Eyre) Loveridge.
- Change my name on social media (including maiden name in brackets too), but not my username, as people often @ tag you and may get confused if your name is very different. I also kept my social media profile photo for as long as possible as people will recognise your avatar first.
- I let that sit for a couple of months before I started changing the actual usernames on things like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Github, etc.
- Then I looked at bringing in my new domain & email address.
Updating my website & email and maintaining my SEO rankings
I consulted with a couple of SEO specialists and based on advice, I decided to do the following:
- Set up my new domain and email address, and build my new website.
- Moved all my emails from my old email inbox into my new inbox, this way I had inbox 0 in my old inbox.
- Set up an autoresponder on my old email with the following message: “Thanks for your email. Please note that I have changed my primary email address to email@example.com. I will no longer being using X email adddress.”
- I also set up a holding page on my old domain, letting any visitors know about my name change and new website.
- All the other pages on my old site I set up as 301 redirects to my new site.
How easy is it?
I guess that depends on your method for legally changing your name (marriage or deedpoll), I can only give you my experience of changing your name via marriage certificate. It wasn’t a process I was overly familiar with prior to planning a marriage, so figured it would be helpful to others who may not know either.
Once you have your marriage certificate, you can use it to change your name on accounts & documents such as bank accounts, passport, driving licences, doctors, companies house, utility bills, etc. Sometimes you need to send an original copy of your certificate, other times you can send a photo or scan of your certificate.
Confused.com provides a helpful checklist of places to change your name.
Your passport you can continue to use until it expires with your old name, just make sure your passport details are what you use in travel documents.
The biggest task for me now is to change my name across all the online accounts I have created in my lifetime, I feel like I’m going to be finding those for a very long time, especially all the websites I’ve been working on over the years!
What are your tips?
I’m still learning as there’s quite a lot involved, so would love to hear any other tips for changing your name professionally online.