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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!