6 Key Elements Every Freelance Writer’s Website Must Have
You know you’ve arrived as a freelancer when clients begin to find you on their own through your website or online writing portfolio. If that hasn’t happened for you yet, it may be because you are missing one or more of these key elements in your freelance writer’s website strategy.
Before you write me a hateful comment, I do realize there are successful writers out there that don’t have any of these things. Through ten years of promoting myself, and talking with other writers, these are simply rules of thumb I have gathered to make the most out of one of your most expensive—but influential—marketing assets.
1. A memorable domain name
First things, first. You need a custom domain name.
Iamafreelancewriter.somecrappyblogsite.com won’t cut it if you want to be taken seriously.
My personal advice is that you incorporate your own name. This allows you to brand yourself and helps potential clients and readers to find you. Many freelancers also include a keyword or two, such as “freelance writer” or just “writer” or “author.” This will also support your work when the scope or focus changes.
- If you choose not to use your name, choose something that explains what you do. “Iwriteyourblog.com” would be better than “rosesandteardrops.com.”
- If you haven’t established a name for yourself consider keeping it short, Mike instead of Michael, for example, is easier to remember and type.
- If possible, choose a dot com name. It can effect finding your site as most people will naturally add the dot com suffix.
2. Keyword optimized content
If you don’t know anything about search engine optimization, you should do some research. Here is a great place to get the basics. Among other things, search engines work off of keywords. When someone searches for a freelance writer, Google looks for sites that contain content with that keyword.
- Add a blog and other content about freelance writing, content marketing, ghost blogging, or whatever service you want to promote.
- Don’t assume what the keywords should be. Use a tool like Keywords Everywhere to find out which keywords are most searched for best results.
- Adding content regularly, through articles, or blog posts is best. Search engines like to see that a site is regularly updated.
3. A loading time under 4 seconds
Sites that take longer than 4 seconds to load the landing page lose 25 percent of readers, according to Kissmetrics. Using a content management system, or CMS such as WordPress can help. If you have the money, hire a web designer to build your site for you and insist on speed being a key element in its operation.
- Keep your landing page simple, for easier loading. Avoid complicated animations and other slow loading elements.
- Optimize all images and video content throughout your site to speed things up. Optimization creates smaller file sizes for faster loading.
- Test your site regularly, particularly after making changes to gauge loading times. Be sure to test for mobile users as well.
4. A hook
Depending on your site layout, this can be a header, a great headline, or a compelling question. You have about 8 seconds to capture your audience before they move on to the next site. Use your copywriting skills to grab their attention, hold it and bring them to your conclusion.
- Offer to solve a pain point for the audience. People buy solutions.
- Create a need that you are best situated to fill.
- Tell a compelling story that parallels your audience’s experience.
5. A clear call to action
You’re in this to get clients and readers. You want them to read your work, buy your books or hire you to write for them. Whatever your freelance writer’s website is designed to do, make sure you ask visitors to do it, clearly and concisely. A lot of talented writers don’t get as much work as they could because they are afraid asking to be hired is not artistic, or that it’s too commercial. Without it, your potential clients have no compelling reason to contact you.
- Design your site to lead up to your call to action, or CTA. Make it clear exactly what you want them to do.
- Choose one action and ask for it. If you have more options, place them behind your initial CTA. “Get more information” might lead to several choices, for example.
- Don’t hide your CTA buttons. “Buy now,” “Download,” “Sign up,” whatever your CTA link text is, put it in clear sight and use your text and images to point to it.
6. A contact button
Not everyone who is interested in working with you may fit neatly into a service, or product you are selling. Provide a contact button for visitors that want to reach out to you, and make it clearly accessible. Consider adding both “contact” and “buy” buttons at the top of your landing page, somewhere in the middle, and at the bottom of the page.
- Design your contact button to lead to an email address, at least. If you want potential clients to call, or text, add that information as well.
- Be sure to make contact simple. Capture a name and email, but keep it simple. The more information you ask for initially, the fewer visitors will contact you.
- If you use a contact form, be sure to include an email address where visitors can contact you directly, in case their request or information doesn’t fit your contact form.
When putting together all of these elements, remember, simple and elegant is best. Choose a limited color pallet, use no more than three fonts for your text and keep all imaging and branding consistent. By giving your site a polished, modern look (even with rustic elements if that’s what you want), you’ll go a long way to giving visitors confidence in your ability to help them communicate their own marketing messages and stories.
For an easy-to-follow guide for creating your own writer’s website or online writing portfolio, check out this article.