Do you have a freelance writer website? If you just started creating one, it can be a confusing process.
You’re already pulling out your hair trying to figure this whole design thing out. On top of that, you have to decide what type of content to include. With so many things going on at once, it’s easy to forget something.
You don’t have to fret any longer! Below, we give a quick checklist detailing what you should include on your writer website as well as tips on how to develop those elements effectively.
Home Page Copy
It goes without saying that you need home page copy, but right now, writing effective home page content is what you need to focus on.
Here are a few things you should do:
- Focus on your client. Talk about how your services can solve prospects’ problems.
- Include a single call-to-action that will get clients to contact you. (It’s okay to include a few calls-to-action withing your content, but there should be a single prominent place to go next. A big “Contact Me” button works well, for example.)
- Keep it brief.
Here’s what you shouldn’t do:
- Talk about yourself as if your home page is an “about” page.
- Tell visitors to check out your pet project. (They may never get around to contacting you otherwise.)
Professional Head Shot
There are two common mistakes I see writers make with their photos:
- Their website lacks a photo of themselves completely.
- Their photos is blurry or just a bad shot.
Since you’re an individual–as opposed to a business entity with employees–it’s a good idea to have a photo of yourself somewhere on your website. It helps clients get a feel for who you are, it makes working with you feel more personal, and it helps brand your business.
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a professional photo session, though. (For years, I used a headshot that I took in my bathroom.) Just be sure you’re taking a photo with a decent camera instead of your web cam, and try to get a good background in the shot.
Once you have your photo, the question is where to place it. I always tell writers to put a photo on their home page, but depending on your theme and your copy, you might choose to place it in your sidebar or on your about page. At the very least, it’s worth putting a head shot on your about page so that when prospects want to learn more about you, they can put a face to your name.
Speaking of an about page, you should have one on your website. The biggest thing you should know is that this page isn’t about you.
But…isn’t the page called “About Me?”
That’s true, but the bigger truth is that people are selfish. Whenever you talk about yourself, prospects want to know why that matters. If possible, try to frame your experience and interests in a way that shows how it can benefit your clients. If you wouldn’t put it on your resume or it doesn’t show your personality and make a client want to hire you, it’s worth leaving out. (This isn’t an ultimatum, just a suggestion; in the end, do what works for you.)
Elna Cain of Innovative Ink wrote a fantastic about page on her website.
Instead of starting with something like, “Hi! I’m Elna, freelance writer,” she immediately makes it about her clients.
Are you running your own business alone? Do you find you don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done?
Then she goes into details about herself all while focusing on how she’s the person who can help solve that problem.
Maybe it’s time to get some help!
I’m Elna Cain, a freelance writer for hire. I add color to your content by making it:
My high-quality content is search-engine friendly and social media friendly and it helps businesses save time.
I’m not saying absolutely everything on your about page must be client-centered. I’ve seen a lot of writers who add a “fun facts” section at the end of their content (I also do this), and that tends to be a fun and effective way to put some more personality into your copy.
Your portfolio is what’s going to highlight your experience and prove to prospects that you have what it takes to work for them. With access to your portfolio, clients can see what your writing is like and use this to decide whether to hire you or not.
But if you don’t have experience yet, don’t fret!
You don’t have to have a portfolio to get hired, so just hold off on putting your portfolio page up if you don’t have any clips yet. However, once you do have those clips available, add them to your site! It will contribute to your professional appearance and likely drive more people to hire you.
Once you have clips, it’s a question of how to display them on your site. I most frequently see writers do it two ways:
- List the titles of your works and link to your article or file. This is perfectly effective, but it can also be aesthetically pleasing to include a related image and perhaps a brief synopsis.
- Use a portfolio-building tool like WEBPyshiology Portfolio. That’s is what I use, and I know of a lot of other writers who also use it.
Bonus tip: If you’re writing for print publications, you can upload your samples as PDF documents and then link to them on your portfolio page.
Your testimonials section is what’s going to give your prospects trust in your services. If you don’t have any testimonials from previous clients, it’s worth it to get testimonials from past employers or coworkers who can attest to your timeliness, work ethic, etc.
Quick tip: Have people leave a testimonial on your LinkedIn profile so that there’s social proof of the testimonial. Then there’s no question about if it’s legitimate or not.
Once you have a testimonial or two, create a testimonials tab that showcases these quotes. You can also place testimonials on your home page or in your sidebar. If you’re going to go that route, I’d suggest having both a sidebar widget and a testimonials tab since the tab will be easier to find when prospects are looking for it.
There are a ridiculous number of ways to showcase testimonials on your website. Just a few include:
- Creating a photo of the testimonial. Here’s an example from Kristi Hines.
- Using a testimonials-building plugin. I’m currently running with the Client Testimonials plugin for WordPress.
- Formatting the testimonials inside your post.
- Taking screen shots of your LinkedIn recommendations.
No matter how you do it, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Include a photo of the client whenever possible. It’s more aesthetically pleasing and adds to the credibility.
- Be sure to include the client’s title (such as CEO of CompanyX) in addition to his/her name.
- It’s okay to quote only part of the testimonial if the original is a bit long.
- Optional: Include a link to your client’s website or professional profile. Again, this adds to your credibility.
Obviously prospects need a way to hire contact you or you’ll never get hired!
Make it easy for people to contact you by putting your contact information in several places, including your sidebar and footer as well as a contact tab.
Again, do what works for you, but it’s best to have several avenues of communication available, not just a contact form. Just some options include:
- Contact form
- Email address
- Social media profiles
- Phone number
- Skype username
If one form of communication is better than the others, be sure to mention that on your site. “The best way to contact me is via email,” for example.
The elements mentioned above go on my “must-have” list, but there’s more that you can include on your site if you’d like.
A blog on your site does several things for you:
- It can aid in SEO and draw more visitors.
- It can help you reach your target audience via social media and other channels.
- It can show clients that your business and site are still active.
- Each blog post serves as its own portfolio clip.
If you choose to have a blog on your website, be sure that it’s professional, and try to focus it toward your target audience. For example, if you want to write for the finance industry, blog about finance since that will draw your target audience to your site.
How often do you have to update it? It doesn’t have to be a daily ordeal. I update my blog bimonthly, and that seems to work for SEO purposes. You can certainly update yours more often if that works for you.
Newsletter Subscription Form
Building an email list can be a good way to gather names of potential clients.
Some people will say that a newsletter subscription form is a must for any website, but I put this in the “optional” category because I don’t think stagnant sites really need a newsletter subscription form. I do think it’s a good choice if you have a blog, however, since your readers are always looking for more content.
If you’re going to have a newsletter subscription form, it’s a good idea to offer a free piece of content like a whitepaper or eBook to get people to opt-in. Again, you’ll want to target this toward your ideal client.
Rates & Services Tab
Not all writers list their rates on their website. I personally do for two main reasons:
- I almost always click away from business websites that don’t list rates. I don’t want my site to have the same effect.
- It keeps people with super tight budgets from contacting me and wasting both our time.
But I get it. Some people think rates will scare prospects off, and other people offer such a variety of services that it’s nearly impossible to list an approximate rate without talking with clients first.
So that’s really all up to you.
I’ve also seen writers include a services tab that digs more into the different type of writing they do. This is usually a good option if you offer more than one type of writing service as it gives clients a better idea of what you can do for them.
If you need more personalized advice on your website, leave us a comment with your site’s URL, and we’ll help you get to where you need to be.