A freelancer gives her take on how to create an effective website…
What do I need on my website?
If you’re just starting out as a freelancer it can be difficult to know what to put on your website. It’s effectively your shop window, so not having one is going to make finding new clients rather difficult.
There are standard features that you can include even if you haven’t signed up a single client yet. Creating a website is time consuming but don’t underestimate its importance. Here’s what I learnt when I created my first website as a copywriter.
Why do I need a website?
The main point of a website is to convert website visitors into clients.
It should tell people what it is you do and how you can help them.
Although recommendations are really important when you’re a freelancer, having an online presence is vital. Whether we want to find somewhere to get our haircut or someone to do our bookkeeping or to walk our dog, the chances are we’ll look online. I really can’t imagine not having a website now to be honest!
‘About Us’ page
You might think that an ‘About Us’ page is a great opportunity to tell people what you studied at school and why your Saturday job stood you in good stead to run your own business. That might be an interesting story to you but a potential client is a lot more interested in finding out how you can help them.
So, the trick is to write about the benefits for them without just rejigging the copy from your home page. If you have professional qualifications or awards, this is the time to let them shine. On my ‘About Us’ page I’ve included the industries I gained my experience in as it shows where my writing expertise lies.
Don’t think the wording needs to be dull and boring though. Far from it, you need to inject some personality in there so people can relate to you.
Just remember to keep it short, know who your audience is and make sure it’s not just all about you.
If people are on your website but they can’t quickly find out what services or products you offer, the chances are they’ll look elsewhere.
As with the ‘About Us’ page, keep it short and avoid using jargon. Just think about how you would explain to a friend or family member what it is you do.
If you’re a freelance photographer for example, you might want to say that you offer family portrait sessions, wedding photography or that you specialise in taking photos of pets.
If you’re a virtual assistant, it might be good to say that you can arrange travel, manage diaries and undertake project research.
Examples of work
When I started on my freelancer journey, I didn’t have examples that I could use. A blank space or ‘coming soon’ message isn’t great so if you can, always try to find something to include.
If you’re a photographer for example, use some images you’ve taken for yourself. It doesn’t matter if a client hasn’t commissioned them. As long as you don’t lie and say they have, it will demonstrate your style and ability.
As a copywriter, it was particularly important for me to take time over my website and make sure the content was well written as it’s an example of my work.
If someone visits your website and likes what they see and read, you want to make it easy for them to get in touch with you.
A contact page in the menu is the least you should include.
Your contact page could include an email address, phone number and / or address. Alternatively, you could include a form which people can add their name and contact details to. I have this on my website and if someone completes the form, I get an email to let me know.
You could have a ‘Contact Me’ button at the bottom of other pages too and if you’re selling products online this can make the buying process even easier for people.
Once the basics are covered, you could consider the following additions to your website:-
Some people swear by them, others think blogs are a waste of time. The thing with a list of blogs is that each time you add new content it improves your position on Google and other search engines.
A well written blog can also show people that you’re the “go to” person on the issues affecting them. It also brings people to your website which is great.
Keeping a blog section up to date with regular content is time consuming. I admit that I don’t have a blog section yet and blame that on a lack of time!
So, if you want to add a blog section to your website, think carefully and consider getting someone else to write for you if you know writing isn’t your thing.
Some freelancers display prices on their website and others don’t. It’s up to you.
The advantage of including prices is that you won’t get enquiries from people who can’t afford you. The downside is that it leaves no room for manoeuvre.
Pricing can be complicated so I always find it’s better to find out about the scope of work first and then quote but that’s just me. If you can get an interested prospect on the phone to discuss a quote, you’ve got a better chance to sell yourself and sign the client up.
People will always be more likely to buy from someone they trust and testimonials give them an insight into how you are to work with and the quality of your work. I was lucky enough to get a great testimonial which I’ve proudly added to my website.
Create, work, review, repeat
A website isn’t something you can just forget about once you have made it live.
As your experience grows and you work with more clients, you can always add more content and edit what you’ve got.
There are lots of online website tools, such as Wix and WordPress, which let you edit and add to your site easily enough. If you work with a professional web developer and designer, they’ll be able to help you with changes to your website further down the line.
So to sum up, a website should tell people what it is you do, how you can help them and be easy to navigate. Use everyday language and avoid using jargon.
Don’t neglect your finances
As a freelancer, there will also be tax requirements and accounting processes to adhere to. A good accountant will work with you to make sure your business is running efficiently and help you to grow.