Starting a website is definitely the first step in getting your freelance writing business up and running, but you may be wondering, "Where do I go from here?"
In other words, what do I need to think about when creating content, and what is customary to put on a freelance writing website?
Here are some suggestions that will help you get the ball rolling. Also, please note that the most important piece of advice is going to come last, so you have to keep reading to the end. It's worth it. I promise.
How do you start a website?
Before going too deep into what to put on your website, let’s quickly (and I mean quickly) cover how to start a website.
The short of starting a website goes like this...
Buy a domain name and hosting with Bluehost <--ATTENTION ONE AND ALL! This is an affiliate link, which means I get a payment if you buy your domain through this link, which is a way you can make money on your website too. I’m cool. I share my secrets.
Install WordPress with 1-click
Choose a theme/template
Start fleshing out your template with content
It used to be fairly difficult to start a WordPress website, but WordPress has grown leaps and bounds since its inception and now it’s a piece of cake. WordPress will guide you through the process step-by-step so I’ll spare you the details.
What are the top 3 things you need when starting a website?
Now that you know the basics of how to start a website, let’s talk about the three most important things you need to be successful.
1. Be yourself because you are the best you there is
Your freelance writing website is a representation of who you are as a businessperson. It’s also one of the first impressions you make on the interwebs.
You don't want to come across phony, so put some thought into what makes you...well...you. Then, design your website around the greatness that is you.
Of course, you want to be reasonable and still relate everything back to your career—writing.
That means even if you really love soccer, you probably don't want a soccer ball to be your logo. Relate everything back to who you are as a writer, and develop a tone that reflects your personality.
2. Showcase your strengths on your website
If you have specific expertise in a certain area or niche of writing, then showcase that on your website.
For example, if you have a law degree, this is highly valuable to potential law firm clients. Plus, you can make big bucks. Same-sies if you’re in the medical field or have any other speciality under your belt (marketing, sports, education, etc.)
Let people know what your niche is. Do this by posting a link to your resume, including some information about your expertise in your about page, and/or making sure your writing samples reflect your expertise.
3. Be professional (unless you don’t want to)
While it can be fun to develop a new brand online, make sure you keep it professional and don't get too wacky. Unless you want to. I’m not the boss of you. And, sometimes weird works.
Top 3 things to avoid when creating your website
Now that you know what you should do when starting a website, let’s talk about what to avoid.
1. Don't list your prices on your website
This may sound odd, but the freelance writing market fluctuates all of the time, and the prices you charge depends on the type of content you are writing.
For example, if you are writing a high end magazine article, you are going to charge a lot more than if you are writing product descriptions.
What do you do instead? Have a price list or lookbook on hand, and then negotiate based on your client, and the type of content they are asking you to write.
2. Avoid errors
Every writer is guilty of typos/errors. That's why editors exist. Even editors are guilty of making errors when they are writing. That's why there are editors for editors.
Typos happen in first drafts and sometimes in website posts. Just make sure they don't happen on your website content. Get a 2nd and 3rd pair of eyes if necessary.
3. Don't go on and on and on and on...(you get the point)
When creating a website, less really is more. You really only need the bare minimum to brand yourself as a freelance writer. Make sure you include just the right amount of information and that it's easy to access and read.
What is the right information?
I'm glad you asked.
There are many different approaches to developing great content for a freelance writing website or website. Consider a home page, about page, samples, resume, a blog, and connections to your social media accounts.
While every site will be different, I think the essentials are contact information, links to social media profiles, a website, and writing samples.
A word on writing samples
Clients will always ask for writing samples. Instead of sending a billion links over, it's nice to simply direct clients to your website, and let them do the browsing themselves.
On my website, I have a few samples from my areas of expertise including blogs, case studies, ebooks, website copy, etc. That way, clients can quickly click on the sample of the type of content they are looking for
And, the most important thing is...drum roll, please…
If you don't currently have any writing samples, that's okay. When I started professionally freelance writing, I hadn't done any serious writing for any companies.
I wasn't sure where to start, and then I got some great advice from the CEO of Richter 7 (my dad’s friend if I’m being totally honest).
He said that clients often want to see what you are capable of as a writer, rather than what you have done (this advice applies to graphic designers as well as freelance writers and copywriters). This means you can put spec work on your sample page and call it a day.
Clients primarily care that you can write, not that you have written. That means the world is your oyster. Feel free to get creative and write some fun samples, and as your portfolio grows, you can replace those specs (if you want to) with published work.
Onward, writers. You can do this! If you have any questions or want to online, please feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn.