“Without a website, there is hardly any other way for a client to understand who you are,” says Bree Brouwer, a freelance writer based in Phoenix, Ariz. “If you don’t have a website, they won’t think you’re professional.”
Talk to most any freelance writer, and you’ll hear that same refrain: You need a website. With that in mind, we spoke to some successful freelance writers about how to ensure that your site looks professional, communicates who you are as a writer, and attracts clients.
Make sure you have a clean, simple design
You’re a writer, not a graphic designer. Your site doesn’t need to have flash, complicated graphics, or a bunch of different color schemes. It exists to showcase your words; make sure that your text is clear and readable. “Keep it really simple and clean so [potential clients] can tell what you do,” says Carol Tice of writing resources website Make a Living Writing. “You don’t need a search bar or 10 different social media buttons.”
[Shameless Editor’s Note: Contently’s writer portfolios are beautiful and incredibly easy to create.]
Set up a descriptive homepage
When a potential client visits your website, the first page they are directed to — the homepage — should inform them about exactly who you are, what you do, and what you can do for them. To accomplish this, you need to include your niche and/or where you’re located, says Tice.
John Soares, who runs Productive Writers.com, advises: “The homepage needs to have a good, clear picture of the writer, and make it very clear what the site is about. If you’re a freelance writer, you’d say, ‘This is my freelance writing site and I’m a specialist in these areas.’”
Create a professional and personal “About” page
Freelancer Jane Friedman, who started Scratch Magazine, a publication about writing and money, says that your “About” page should tell a story about the kind of work you do. She recommends including two bios: one that’s 100 words, and another that’s more detailed. That way, visitors have the option to learn more about you if they’re interested.
The bottom of the “About” page (and every page) should have a link that potential clients can click on and use to easily contact you. “That way, no matter where I am on your site, if I get the urge to email you, I can do it immediately,” says Tice.
Incorporate social proof
Your site should contain social proof, “whether it’s testimonials, blurbs or reviews of your work, media mentions, or places you’ve been interviewed,” says Friedman. These items serve to legitimize you and show that you can be trusted with your assignments. The social proof can be placed on the homepage, your “About” page, or your “Hire Me” page.
Only blog if necessary
One mistake that a lot of writers make is thinking that they have to blog on their websites. Tice says that if you’re interested in getting freelance blogging gigs, do it. Otherwise, it’s unnecessary.
Under no circumstances should your blog appear on your homepage. If you don’t post often, your site will look like it isn’t up to date. This will cause visitors to leave, and you won’t accomplish the one goal that your site was created to achieve: To make you money. Simply put, Tice says that a blog on your homepage “doesn’t sell.”
Your website should be distinctive “and not look like everybody else’s website,” says Soares. To make it stand out from others, include your own logo, colors, and style. Also, be sure to keep it consistent with your personal brand.
Brouwer purposely chose teal as one of the standout colors on her website so that it aligned with her brand and matched up with the presentation of her business cards. “Try to figure out a way to set yourself apart, visually, on your site,” she says. “It’s likely someone will be remember you.”