What makes the difference between a successful writer website, and one that’s just . . . blah? If you’ve been surfing the web for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that there are sites you like, and sites you don’t.
You may even have noticed that some writer sites look old-fashioned, and some look modern. Some look professional, and some look, well, NOT. Have you ever wondered what those crucial differences are, and how they came to be?
One of the more important ingredients to success is a good writer website.
If you’re on this site, you’re interested in freelancing. One of the more important ingredients to freelance success is a good writer website. There are lots of articles on how to vamp up your site.
Here, I’d like to focus on what you shouldn’t do – because if you do, I can almost guarantee you prospective clients wont give your site a second glance.
Mistake #1: Clutter Your Site
A good-looking, professional site needs to be neat, clean, easy-to-read, and easy-to-navigate. If your prospects can’t find what they’re looking for with relative ease, they will give up and go somewhere else.
Try to make sure you have one page for each topic, with minimal overlap. Put links to these pages in the header, or on a sidebar – but NOT both, and NOT in every post on your home page.
Mistake #2: Make it Old-Fashioned
Personally, I like the old-fashioned look. It’s simpler, and somewhat nostalgic. I like how it makes me feel when I read through one of these sites.
However, a business isn’t just about nostalgia. Sure, nostalgia might get you some customers. But if you’re too old-fashioned, you’re also sending an additional message:
You’re not up-to-date. Not in writing style, not in research, not in business. You might have some good, old-fashioned advice, but . . . why would anyone want to hire you?
Mistake #3: Oversize Your Site
You know those sites with too-big picture headers that take up half the page? How annoying are those? Yeah, I thought so.
Headers are great. Pictures are terrific. And easy-to-read font? You bet.
But if you’ve made things too big, it makes your readers work harder, and they might start to wonder why you made it that way.
Teenagers like big, clunky jewelry. Babies like big, clunky, toys. But you’re a mature adult. Size it right, so that you’ll look like one.
Mistake #4: Use Bad Grammar and Spelling
If you can’t spell, and you can’t use spellcheck or grammar check, then you’re not professional, and not worth hiring. Period.
This may come off as harsh, but it’s true.
Don’t use capitals in the middle of a sentence, and don’t misuse commas and periods. There is no reason for anyone to have such horrid grammar and spelling, when there are editing tools to fix it.
What if English is not your primary language? There’s still no excuse – if you put the time and effort to learn English – make sure you’ve taken a refresher course before promoting your language-based services.
Also, don’t use ten exclamation marks, or even one, unless it actually makes sense to do so.
Mistake #5: Use Run-On Sentences
This one is right up there with bad grammar and spelling. You don’t need to call yourself, “E.E., sole proprietor and owner of S.L.S., Specializing in Human Rights, Paralegal, Landlord-Tenant, O.D.S.P, Judgement Enforcement and Small Claims Court in Ottawa.”
Or how about, “When you need professional paralegal services in Ottawa, and legal services on Human Rights cases in Ottawa, Small Claims court, and Landlord-Tenant services in Ottawa, Call S.L.S.!”
As you’ve just seen, run-on sentences can make you feel out of breath and confused. Don’t use them.
Mistake #6: Use Irrelevant Pictures
Pictures can make or break your writer site. Often, what attracts a reader’s eye is the imagery, and many times, a Google Image search will be what brings someone to your site.
Even if your reader found you by Googling, “New York Freelancers,” you don’t want to give them impression that you make decisions without thinking.
When you post an irrelevant picture, the message that you’re sending is, “Pictures help make me more Google-able, this looks nice, let’s use it.”
You want customers to have faith in your ability to make decisions and to produce quality work. Use images wisely.
Mistake #7: Use Unreliable Testimonials
Sometimes, in an effort to get testimonials, people turn to family members who may or may not have used their services. This just looks bad.
When I see a testimonial from someone with the same last name – or worse yet, someone who not only has the same last name, but also is a close connection on LinkedIn, I work hard not to gag.
Sure, we all know that your mommy was the first, and often only, customer of your Girl Scout cookies. But if she’s still among your biggest promoters in business, I start to worry that either you’re not professional, or your mother is super-involved in your life.
Either way, prospective clients won’t want to work with you. They want to know that you can keep their information confidential, and that you’re professional.
So, if your testimonials all sound alike, or all have your Facebook poll attached to them, you’re not professional, either.
What do you think? Am I being judgmental or reasonable? Do you have anything that you consider to be a site turn-off? Share your thoughts in the comments!