Freelance Writer Websites: Do You Really Need One?
Let’s talk about freelance writer websites. Mainly—do you actually need one?
Well, my friend, if you don’t think you can invest yourself in the scrolling that this article requires, I’ll offer you the short answer right here (how accommodating, right?): Yes, I highly recommend that you create a website for your freelance writing business—even if it’s just a simple one.Creating a website is a smart move for your #freelancewriting business. Here's why: Click To Tweet
Why Do You Need a Freelance Writer Website?
I get it—you’re probably telling yourself all of the same things I did when I was making the futile attempt to convince myself that a website just wasn’t for me.
I’m not a web developer, I’m a writer. I have a LinkedIn profile where clients can find me. I can just use one of those online portfolio sites like Contently or something for sharing my work.
Oh, yes, I’ve been there before. But, here’s the thing: As big of a pain as you might think it is to set up a website for your freelance business (I promise, it’s not nearly as hard as you’re making it out to be!), it will be worth its weight in gold. Here are a few of the many, many, many reasons why:
1. A website matters to your clients.
I have an embarrassing confession to make: When I was just dipping my toes into the freelance waters, I used to send a resume (yes, a real resume) to potential freelance clients. I promise I’m blushing and cringing over here.
What was the big deal with that? First and foremost, it’s not the norm. Clients don’t really care about what your degree is or what extracurriculars you participated in. They want to see your writing samples—and that’s pretty much it.
This is why a website is so helpful. You can think of it like your digital resume. Clients won’t only see your published work there, but they can also see your face (there’s nothing like being a little personable in the anonymous world of the internet!) and find out more about you as a person—if they’re interested in doing so.
Plus, when so much of freelance writing is done online these days (as opposed to for print publications), being able to show that you have an online presence carries a lot of weight.
Have questions about getting your own website up and running? I have answers!
2. A website showcases your (very best) work.
As opposed to a platform like Contently (which I still think is great, by the way!) that pulls all of your work from all over the web, a personal website allows you to turn the spotlight on the written work that you’re most proud of—you know, the stuff that you want to put directly in front of clients’ eyeballs.
3. A website works (even when you don’t).
I had assumed that any website I created would sit there and collect cobwebs. Who would stumble upon it or bother scrolling through it?
I couldn’t have been more wrong. People who find me on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn almost always click through to my website to take a look around. There have been quite a few clients and gigs I’ve landed through people who have stumbled upon my website and then reached out using the contact form.
In short, your website is always up and running—working hard on promoting you—even when you’re fast asleep!
4. A website gives you an opportunity to publish work.
For all of you newbie freelance writers that feel discouraged by the fact that you don’t have any published samples to share with prospective clients, it’s time to create your own opportunity.
By setting up your own website, you can also establish your own blog (like the one I have right here!). That provides the perfect outlet to not only get your creative juices flowing, but also write some pieces that you can showcase if you’re short on other published work.
Best Practices for Freelance Writer Websites
Alright, so hopefully I’ve convinced you of the many benefits of having a website for your freelance writing business. But, that likely leads you to another question: What makes for a good freelance writer website?
I’m by no means a website pro (seriously, that’s why I pay people to help me with things like that!), but there are a few basic tips that I think you should be sure to implement.
1. Show Some Personality
Of course, clients have landed on your website to take a gander at your work. However, they’re also there to find out a little bit more about you. So, with that in mind, don’t be afraid to open up and give people more of a peek into who you are as a person.
That all starts with a solid “About Me” page (Melyssa Griffin has an awesome resource to help take some of the pain out of that process). As much as you want to tout your skills, experience, and accomplishments (and, you should!), make sure to also include some more personal elements about who you are outside of your professional life.
There are plenty of other fun things you could incorporate—whether it’s quirky photos or even a video message. One of my favorite aspects of my own “About” page on my website is this timeline. Granted, it needs a little updating at this point, but I think it’s still a fun way to let my website visitors gain a little more insight into where I come from and what makes me tick:
2. Highlight Your Best Work
Here’s the thing: When clients Google you to see what published work you’ve already put out there, you don’t have a ton of control over what they see first. While I might rather have them land on my in-depth analysis about what exactly it means to find “meaning” at work, that article about toxic in-laws might just have better SEO and land at the top of their search results.
This is why it’s so important to showcase the work you’re most proud of on your website. When you direct clients to that space, you can rest assured that they’re seeing the work that you think best represents you and your capabilities.
Exactly what you choose to include there is up to you, but I recommend pulling together an assortment of pieces so that you have some variety. This doesn’t mean that they need to cover different topics (hey, most of my portfolio covers my niche: career and self-development advice), but your pieces can vary in terms of things like:
- Length: It’s great to have some short-form and some long-form.
- Complexity: Is one a research-backed and interview-intensive piece while another is a lighter read?
- Voice: It’s smart to showcase your versatility by including some pieces that maybe have a more conversational voice while others are more formal or corporate.
- Outlet: This is tougher if you have limited samples. But, at this point, I try to include pieces from a variety of the places I’ve been published, rather than from one publication or blog.
The important thing is to take the time to sift through your samples and pull out the ones that you most want your clients’ eyeballs to land on.
3. Make Your Contact Information Obvious
Remember how we talked about the fact that your website is always working, even when you’re not? Well, that doesn’t work out too well if you don’t make it easy to contact you.
I recommend including a designated “Contact” button right in the main navigation of your website so it’s blatantly obvious how interested prospects can get in touch with you. I think it’s also smart to include several calls to action to reach out to you—especially on your home page.
Personally, I have three of them directly on the home page of my site. I have these two at the top:
And then this one at the bottom:
If you feel comfortable listing your phone number or email address directly on your website, go ahead and do so. I used to have my email listed. But, after getting spammed by PR agencies who wanted me to feature their clients or products, I had to take it down and switch to a contact form instead.
Do what feels best for you, but just make sure it’s both brainless and painless to get in touch with you!
4. Link to Your Social Accounts
While your website should share a little bit about your personality, it doesn’t hurt to give interested people some other places they can go to learn more about you—mainly your social accounts.
Whether you’re crazy about Twitter or always posting on Instagram, link to the social accounts that you’re OK promoting publicly (for example, I never send people I don’t know to my Facebook page, but I’m more than happy to connect on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest). Your social media accounts are a great place for people to go and keep up with what you’re doing in real-time!
5. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
The idea of needing to launch your own freelance writer website can be intimidating. But, I think it’s important to note that it doesn’t need to be anything overly complex—particularly when you’re just getting started.
Using a platform like Squarespace or something similar can help you get up and running with a functional, professional-looking website—without you needing to tear your hair out when trying to figure out a bunch of different HTML, for example.
In fact, I recommend starting small. Just get something up that shares who you are and what you do—you can always build from there.
Don’t forget to grab this free resource to get even more of your freelance writer website questions answered!
Ready, Set, Go…
It’s tempting to come up with a million different reasons why you don’t need a website to promote your career as a freelance writer (trust me, I’ve been there and done that). But, creating a website to showcase your personality and share your best work is a great opportunity to actively market yourself and grow your business.
So, take a deep breath, find a platform that works for you, and just get started. I promise—it’s worth it!