A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Freelance Writer Website

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Freelance Writer Website

Freelance writing is a highly competitive field. Cultivating your own professional website will give you an edge in two ways:

  • Helping new customers find you
  • Impressing clients you find elsewhere

A professional website says you’re taking your business seriously, and people appreciate that in a freelancer.

The good news is that you can create a professional website on a shoestring budget, with humble technical skills.

Let’s see how.

Building the base

The easiest, cheapest option for a professional website is using the WordPress platform.

Luckily, The Write Life has provided a detailed, step-by-step guide on putting together a blog using WordPress.

But wait, aren’t we talking about a website here, not a blog?

What’s the difference, anyway?

First, anything displayed on the internet is a website. Blogs are displayed on the internet, hence, blogs are also websites. The difference is that a blog focuses on releasing a routine stream of new content, commonly displayed from newest backwards. A general website’s focus is more on static content.

WordPress allows you to do both, so The Write Life’s guide to installing WordPress will serve as a good base for a professional freelance writer website. Go ahead and follow it.

Your website theme

A WordPress theme is the design layer that you apply to your content. It often dictates not only design, but also the layout of the page.

When it comes to selecting your website look-and-feel, don’t hesitate to invest in a good-looking, professional theme.

Choose a theme that matches the services you offer. For example, if you ghostwrite Science Fiction or Fantasy for a living, choose a theme that resonates with those genres. For most forms of nonfiction writing, choose something classic and elegant. Beware overcrowded or noisy themes — they will only distract your potential clients instead of impressing them.

A final caveat: Always, always make sure the theme you choose is responsive (fits mobile as well as desktop). Google penalizes websites that do not load well on a mobile, and you want your website to gain the highest Google rank possible.

The basic pages

Once you have WordPress installed, you can use it to add pages. Here are the common pages you’ll need.

1. Services

I recommend creating a separate page for every service you offer.

Why? Because different services have different target audiences, and you want to appeal to each target audience in its own words. It will also make it easier for people to find you on search engines.

2. Portfolio

If you have some writing examples that you own the digital rights to, include them here. Alternatively, link to your articles on various websites.

If all your work is ghostwritten, and you can’t claim it as yours, consider writing a sample article, story or copy to demonstrate your abilities.

3. Testimonials

Make a page for all the positive feedback you’ve received from clients.

If possible, quote with a full name and even an image to give each testimonial credibility. Always ask your satisfied clients for testimonials; there’s no such thing as too many.

4. About

People need to connect with you on a personal level. This is where it happens. List your credentials and what makes you a great writer, but entwine it with a humorous voice and include some irrelevant personal bit.

5. Pricing

There’s a huge controversy about whether or not to include pricing.

I’m in favor of doing it. Why?

Because it prevents the usual frustration that comes with not finding prices, and it gives potential clients some idea of what you’ll charge. That way, those who can’t afford you will not contact you and waste your time.

6. Contact

Allow people to contact you by form, by email and even by phone. Not hiding behind an internet facade gives you more credibility and makes you more approachable. Different clients prefer different contact options.

7. Front page

In a blog, this page would feature your latest posts. In a website, something different is needed. This is the place to give your potential client a taste of all the other pages, and links to read more. On the front page you’ll also want to include a signup form for your newsletter, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

A note about your website content: Make it shine. This is the first impression potential clients will have of your writing, and if the website is written sloppily or unattractively, it won’t matter how much your portfolio shines. Bring your most engaging language to the table. And don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your services and skills.

Mailing list and lead magnet

Every business needs a mailing list, yours included. A mailing list (aka a newsletter) allows you to get in touch with all your clients at once, to keep them engaged with the business, and to spur them to hire you again and again.

Now comes the lead magnet’s turn. A lead magnet is a little gift you deliver to people who sign up to your mailing list. It encourages people to sign up. As a freelance writer, you can offer something along the lines of “Eleven Most Common Writing Mistakes,” “The Three Core Principles of Copywriting,” and so on.

Choose something that connects well with your flagship service.

Ready to go!

Now all you have to do is promote your website on every platform available to you. May it bring you a lot of business and repeat clients!

Share your proud website in the comments!

Filed Under: Freelancing
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13 comments

  • Thanks for this useful article, Tal. I have shared it with writers, editors and proofreaders – everyone needs a great website!

    • Tal Valante says:

      So true! Thanks for sharing! Your website looks great, by the way, I love the logo and your values and the glowing feedback. I would consider adding a mailing list to encourage repeat clients. Or is there one and I’ve missed it?

  • Matt Barton says:

    Good advice – hopefully my website isn’t too far off the mark!

    • Tal Valante says:

      Thanks for reading, Matt! I like the simplicity of your website, but I would consider adding some graphics to make it more interesting. Also, don’t be shy! Speak out on what makes you stand out from the competition. (On another note, the contents of the “Work” page confused me–I wasn’t sure what I was looking at, there. Maybe add an intro to explain?)

  • These are great tips! Especially concerning the mailing list and “lead magnet.”

    • Tal Valante says:

      Thanks for reading, Gabrielle! I love your website, it has so much character! What was missing for me was a service-related call to action on the front page. You encourage your visitors to read articles, but that’s not what you really want them to do, is it? Speak up! Ask them to review your services and contact you.

  • Great advice, Tal! I recently built my site on Squarespace. I’m still fine tuning a few things and definitely need to add a mailing list functionality. I’m torn on the pricing debate since my quotes for web copy projects can vary greatly depending on scope — and I don’t want to give the impression it will cost less than I can actually afford to do it for. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on how to handle 🙂

    • Tal Valante says:

      Thanks for reading, Erika! Your website looks professional, and I love the headline on your Services page–very powerful.

      About pricing: you could always say that simple web copy projects start at X cents/dollars per word. Clearly explain what “simple” means, and that more complex projects are priced at a higher rate.

      Another approach is to charge by the hour instead of by the word. Then, if a project is complex, it would simply take you more time, hence a higher fee.

      Hope that helps!

  • Farheen Gani says:

    Hi Tal,
    I recently built my website on WordPress, but it seems like a lot of work getting it found by prospective clients. Any tips on that?

    • Tal Valante says:

      I would consider creating a page for each service, to increase your SEO visibility.

      Try this guide: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo

      Or see my website (click my name) for examples.

      Also, if you can afford it, try paid promotion to get the traffic going. Got for long-tail expressions. You can always price your services to offset the advertising costs.

      Best of luck!

  • Jackson Munyua says:

    Thankz Valante, your article is worth light-shining towards any soul that believes in the the power of the word, now that I am a fresh fiction writer yet to be published how can I start a early blog onsetting and due procedures towards acquiring a state of the art audience platform. I have already penned down my first 52000 word fiction manuscript awaiting publication. My second work will be a crime thriller fiction which is under setting. I will warmly embrace your due help.

    All regards.

    • Tal Valante says:

      Hello Jackson,

      Congratulations on joining the world of fiction authors!

      Depending on your schedule, I would recommend one of the following:

      – If you need a website right away, contact me and I can consult you about choosing a cost-effective website builder.

      – If you need a website by the end of this year, check out this product that I’m developing: http://www.readershippro.com . It should be perfect for your needs, and I plan to launch it by the end of 2017.

      Hope that helps! Do get in touch if you have specific questions.

      Cheers,
      Tal

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