It took me nearly 10 years of freelancing to figure it out, but I finally identified the single greatest stumbling block that would-be freelance writers face:
Just think about it — many of us, when getting started, have no idea how to make a website that promotes our freelance writing services and there’s a mountain of decisions to make, plus a steep learning curve facing us. Even with a great tutorial about how to start a blog, it’s tough to get it all sorted out.
Why is creating a writer website so challenging?
Here’s how it often plays out.
You want a website but you don’t know how to choose a domain name. Should it be your name? A business name? Something cute and clever? And you’re hesitant to do anything else for your fledgling business until you’ve picked out the greatest business name of all time.
Once you move past the name debate and settle on a good option, there’s all the tech to fret over. Talk about intimidating!
In fact, intimidation is the name of the game, and it goes a lot deeper than just figuring out how to create a website. For many would-be writers, website costs are the first real business expense you incur. You are paying real money to invest in this business…and putting some skin in the game, no matter how small, makes it real.
What do humans do when they’re facing something new and scary? We avoid.
Enter: Website analysis paralysis. We overplay the significance of every detail to make this procrastination “valid” and then feel justified in delaying the real work of freelance writing (which is, of course, the actual hard part).
I’ve seen this cycle play out many dozens if not hundreds of times over the past 10 years, first among my colleagues and then with my students.
Here’s an easy solution: Create a one-page website
Finally, I found a workaround.
What I’ve been recommending lately — with good results — is what I call the one-page website.
It’s a simple, elegant solution for freelance service providers who don’t have the budget or bandwidth to put together a robust site (the way we’re “supposed to”) but still want something more custom than some of the writing portfolio websites for writers on the market.
The one-pager is exactly as it sounds: a website that has one page.
It can be as stripped-down as a simple landing page or as robust as a multi-section scroll-fest (also known as parallax style).
No matter what, everything you need is right there on the front page.
The beauty of the one-page website is that it delivers all the necessary information while removing the “pressure” of building and then filling multiple pages of content. For serious beginners who want to do their website “the right way” but find the tech parts too intimidating, the idea of leaning on a one-page theme and writing just a couple of paragraphs is welcome relief.
Curious? Let me show you how it works.
What should a one-page website for freelance writers include?
The one-pager distills all the critical information your clients need and presents it in a small, tidy package. This includes:
- Your name
- Your experience
- The service(s) you offer
- Samples of your writing
- Testimonials and social proof
- How to reach you
- Great photo of you (highly recommended, but not required)
That’s it! Certainly there’s more you could include if you wanted, but those are the essentials.
Could you come up with a sentence or two for each of these sections? Way faster than writing an entire site’s worth of content? Yep, I thought so.
How to build a one-page website
The most challenging part of putting together a one-page website is finding the template you want to use.
I use WordPress and always have, so my go-to for a one-pager is WordPress templates. Many WordPress themes, including free themes, come with built-in one-page templates. A few I’ve heard others recommend are Uncode, OceanWP, Astra (the free Happy Paws theme is a great place to start) and Clear-Fix.
The easiest way to get started on WordPress is through BlueHost. When you buy hosting from this company, it costs just $2.95/month, and they’ll throw in the domain of your choice. Then you can add WordPress to that site with a one-click install. (If this sounds confusing, here’s a guide to starting a blog that walks you through it.)
If you need inspiration, The Muse has an interesting collection of one-page websites. Some are extremely simple and look like landing pages; others are more complex and design-focused.
As you review examples and consider themes and templates, look more at layouts than specific details like colors and images. See where photos are placed on these templates, and think about what photos you’d want there instead.
Also keep in mind how you want to approach testimonials; some themes have a whole section devoted to them, and others have section breaks built in throughout the page that might be a good place to park a review or two.
Building a website from scratch takes some time, especially if you’ve never done it before. If you find yourself spending more than a week or two on it, however, you might be veering into “overcomplication” territory.
Lean into the one-page website to streamline the process and get your site built quickly, so you can get onto the part where you build your rock-solid freelance writing business.
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Photo via GuadiLab / Shutterstock