How to Make a Freelance Writing Website
Do you need a writing website for your business?
What purpose could it serve that you don’t already have covered?
One step many people want to avoid is the drudgery of finding clients. You can type until your fingers bleed with nary a complaint, but as soon as it comes down to chasing leads, cold-emailing potential clients, or advertising your services on social media, you’d rather head back to Upwork to compete against dozens of other proposals for every job. However, if you can create a website that’s optimized enough that it shows up at the top of the results page when a business types “good (insert your niche) copywriter” into the Google search bar, the worst part of your job is now automated!
Having a business website has its other perks, such as allowing you to get a more personalized email address. It’s the small stuff that separates the wheat from the chaff, and seeing emails from (YourName)@(YourWebsite).com, rather than a generic Gmail account will make a difference. Acquiring clients is a foot race between you and your competitors; having your own personalized website email address is one of the small things you can do to pull into that half-step lead on the competition.
It represents that you are a business.
I have a strong dislike for displaying myself as a freelancer; I think of freelancers as people in transit, bouncing from job to job without a constant stream of income. When I picture freelancers, I see them working on small projects for entrepreneurs and startups, rather than working alongside industry leaders.
When an optician sets up a shop with no other doctors, she isn’t a freelance optician, she’s running an optometry business. When you set up a writing website, you shouldn’t identify yourself as a freelance writer. Rather, you should treat yourself as a writing business. In the same way that the optician hires assistants to handle the menial, day-to-day work, you hire designers to create new logos, editors to look at your work from a different angle, etc. And if you’re viewed as a business, you can find higher paying clients and charge higher rates!
There’s a psychological component to opening your website. Your potential customers have already taken the first step towards hiring you, now you can let your copywriting skills, aesthetic web design, and testimonials handle the rest. Everything they could possibly need to know about you is at their fingertips.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that you need a website – you do – here are some tips that you should know when you start creating it.
What to name your writing website?
The first question you should be addressing when it comes to naming your site is, “do I need to purchase a site with a .com top-level domain (TLD)?”. At one time, years ago in Google’s infancy, the answer was an uncompromising yes. Sites with any other TLD were penalized in Google’s search rankings. The times have changed now. Google doesn’t care what your TLD is. .net, .org, .nasa; it doesn’t matter. However, you should still try to find a suitable domain name that is available with the .com TLD as people are still more likely to remember your URL when compared to others.
Next, you need a URL. You need a niche at this point, as your name should be representative of what content you will be writing. In my case, I’m writing in the field of real estate, so I use the domain, restructuredwriting.com to show my commitment to the field. It’s clear that my business is writing, and the name has some bearing in the real estate niche. But be sure to keep it short and sweet to be more memorable.
Should your name be in the URL (ie. [yourname]writing.com)? I would argue that it shouldn’t, as you should be trying to be seen as a writer for a business, rather than as a freelance writer. And, if someday down the road you’ve turned the website into its own business with staff writers and a stable of clients, you may find yourself inclined to sell the domain which would be markedly more difficult with your name in the attached.
I’ll be creating more articles on website design where I’ll explore more in-depth in the site creation process, but if you’re interested in purchasing a domain name for future use, I recommend Namecheap. I bought my first site from them, and every one since. Their customer service has been great throughout our interactions.
*That’s an affiliate link, meaning I make a commission of 15% if you buy anything from them, but the price for you doesn’t change. Names tend to cost between $10-$15, so you won’t be contributing to me buying my second private jet anytime soon.
10% of this site’s revenue goes to bringing the internet to communities that are lacking (places where the wifi’s weak in other terms). As of June 2017, more than 3.6 billion people still do not have access to the internet. Developing countries that observe just a 10% increase in internet access add 1.2%-2.5% to their GDP.
Do you need a logo?
Representing yourself as an independent writing business rather than as a freelance writer means doing the little things that freelance writers often shirk. Creating a logo that’s representative of yourself as well as your niche is another step that you can take in differentiating yourself.
When a potential client has a variety of suitors, and they find your site, a logo may push them in your direction. Why? It’s a little step that shows them that you’re committed to paying attention to detail which is what they’re looking for in projects that they assign. No, creating a logo won’t radically change your business, but it won’t hurt your business either.
Where should you place your logo on your page?
According to the Nielson Norman Group:
- Average brand recall for logos placed on the left is almost double that of when the logos are placed on the right
- Left logos are considered more “unique” than those placed on the right.
- In their study, only 4% of users failed to navigate home in a single click when the logo was placed on the left. When the logo was placed in the center of the page, 24% of users failed to navigate home in a single click.
Accordingly, you should consider putting your logo in the top left corner of your website, as it helps with brand recall and site usability.
When designing your logo, here are a few stats from a few years ago that were compiled by the Logo Factory, regarding the logos of the world’s top 100 companies that you should be aware of:
- 95% use only one or two colors.
- Blue and red are the most popular colors, being used in 33% and 29% of their logos, respectively.
- Black and the grayscale are used in 28%
- 41% use text only.
- 93% are simple enough to be recognized at a smaller size.
In an interview with the BBC, Robert Jones, the professor of branding at the University of East Anglia, stated, “Your logo is how people recognize you, and it helps express how you’re different from your rivals – warmer, greener, stronger, and so on.”
What pages should you include on your website?
According to research from Dr. Chao Liu, the Faculty Research Associate at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, it’s imperative to communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds if you hope to gain several minutes of user attention. The longer they spend on your website, the higher the odds that you can convert them into new clients.
How do you go about snaring them?
Put copywriting to use. Use a variety of techniques to grab their attention, create a paragraph or two that inspire some interest, build up their desire, and finally call them to action with a button or link that sends them to your contact page.
If you’re not catering to small businesses, do not call yourself a freelancer. You’re a writer with [YourCompanyName].
Be sure to clarify your niche as much as possible without oversaturating the page. If a potential client sees that you’re a writer in the field of [YourNiche] with the proper experience and technical expertise that they’re looking for, rather than a generalist, your odds of closing the deal have increased exponentially.
The CopyHackers have a terrific case study on how they managed to boost the sales for one client by 108% by making minor changes to their homepage. They used an e-commerce one-pager website, meaning they have their entire site on the homepage which isn’t what we’re creating here, but there are lessons learned nonetheless.
The difficulty that arises with writing your ‘About’ page is that there are too many directions in which you can run with it. Do you mention your awards? First person or third person? Should you talk about your collection of taxidermy cats or is that too personal?
An About page helps to establish loyalty or a more personal bond between you and your potential client, as getting a glimpse into the history and inner workings of your company ease some of the unfamiliarity out of your relationship.
The first thing you should do is find a professional photo of yourself and post it in there. Right off the bat, having a photo of the human being behind the writing will give your clients a sense of familiarity with the person behind their commissioned pieces.
Base the personality of your writing on the type of clients that you’re creating for.
What do I mean by that?
Personality plays a role in differentiating yourself to customers. If you’re intending to write blog posts about how to push through modern parenting and your ‘About’ page has the technical terminology and personality of a Ph.D. student’s thesis on Exothermic Reactions of Boronic Particles in a Vacuum, you may not receive an abundance of offers. Create a website that has a healthy dose of your voice and personality, but make sure it’s suited towards the desires of your client-base.
What about writing in first person or third person?
I’ve actually found both to be a solid solution to this age-old problem. Rather than just one or the other, write a short blurb about yourself in the third person, and then finish off the bulk of the section in your first-person voice.
Don’t forget that despite this section being about you and your company on the surface, this page will still serve as a platform on which to sell your services. Rather than writing paragraphs on your history and awards, direct the narrative to how you can help your clients. The aim is to show that hiring you will benefit them in a tangible way.
After all is said and done, don’t leave them at the bottom of your About page with no direct action to hire you! You’ve just finished selling yourself to them, they’re ready to buy, give them a little nudge by implementing a call to action, and a “contact me now” link.
If your potential clients are still having doubts about your skills after reading through the rest of your site, this is where you close the deal. There is no better evidence than testimonials from current and former clients to the effect that their businesses have seen growth entirely due to your work.
This is also the perfect spot to show off social proof. The editor of America’s largest pet magazine gave you a sparkling review? Highlight it, bold the text, add a banner, make a cake with the review written in icing and post a photo of it dead square in the middle of your page. Be sure that everybody is noticing how great that well-known editor thinks you are. You’ve just gone from a nobody writer knocking on doors for work, to a top-tier dog food reviewer. With premier testimonials, you can start charging premier rates and working fewer hours.
People are fickle. If you don’t lead them by the hand through the process of hiring you, they’ll float away on the breeze that is the internet. Create your contact page as simplistically as possible. Create a contact form that instructs your potential clients to fill in their name, business, inquiry, and email so you can respond to them. If you’d like to have more manageable requests, you could throw in a drop-down bar to allow them to choose which of your services that they’re interested in (blog posts, long-form articles, extended contracts, etc.).
Why not post your email?
Just posting your email address adds an extra step that will turn some clients off of your services. They’d have to copy your email, open up another tab, load their page, compose a new message, and finally send it off. Have the contact page do the work for them. The more direct you can make the process, the higher your conversion rates.
Finally, don’t overthink it. The best step you can take is just starting. Buy the domain, create a bare-bones website and improve on it over time, or find a developer to build it for you. As long as you have some samples of your writing and a clear-cut niche, you’ll come out of the gate flying.