In our current post series about professional websites for freelance writers we've already talked about why you need a professional website and why that website would benefit from having a blog. Now let's get into some of the details by looking at the specific things your freelance writing website should include.
These are the pages and information prospects look for when they consider hiring you as a freelancer. To maintain a competitive edge, it's important to make things as easy on prospects and clients as possible. Remember, if you don't, someone else will. So make sure your website gives prospects what they want.
Let's start with the must-haves on any freelance writer's professional website.
5 Must-Haves for Your Freelance Writing Website
These are some of the most important elements of your freelance writing website:
1. Your Contact Information
Whether this is a separate contact page with a contact form or just your email address and phone number at the top of every page, prospects and clients want to know how to contact you. If they can't figure that out, they'll find someone else.
2. A List of Your Services
Clients need to know what services you actually offer. Simply saying you're a freelance writer is not enough. Does this have to be an exhaustive list? No. I suggest listing your most common services, but inviting prospects to contact you for quotes on related projects that might come up. Ideally you'll go beyond a simple service list and give the benefits of each service as well as a separate pitch and call to action.
3. Your Portfolio / Samples / Testimonials
Make sure you include something on your professional website that demonstrates your abilities and experience to potential clients. The most common ways to do this are through an online portfolio or by publishing testimonials.
With online portfolios, you can include samples in several ways. For example:
- If you write for the Web, you can usually link to samples directly.
- If you write for newspapers or magazines, you might just list your publication credits and mention that you can send .pdf copies as samples on request.
- If a client gives you permission, you might be able to publish a .pdf or image version of an article directly in your portfolio (so you don't potentially interfere with their search engine rankings by publishing duplicate content).
- If you're a ghostwriter, you might just publish descriptions of the projects and offer to send samples privately (if you have permission from the client to claim authorship -- check your contract terms and make sure you didn't sign a non-disclosure agreement that would prevent it).
Testimonials can be published alongside portfolio pieces, on their own separate page, or on some other area of your site (like a testimonial slider on your homepage). If you don't have testimonials from past clients yet, add them as soon as you get them. If you have a client base but never thought to ask for testimonials, now is as good a time as any.
4. An About Page
Buyers often want to know more about you, your business, and what you can do for them before they'll contact you with project details. You can give them that on an About page where you can talk about the benefits of working with a freelancer with your experience and credentials.
I suggest reading Write a Better About Page for Your Blog from the All Indie Writers archives. While the post originally targeted bloggers, most of the information is just as applicable to freelance writers.
5. A Professional Blog
I won't get into all of the details about why I consider a professional blog a necessity for freelance writers. I already did that. Suffice it to say, with solid goals and a good plan in place, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better or more versatile marketing tool.
Other Things to Include on Your Professional Website
I would consider the above to be adequate for a bare bones professional website with built-in marketing potential. But that doesn't mean you should stop there. Here are some other things you might consider adding:
- Your rates -- Personally, I also consider this a necessity, but it's frequently debated. Find out why I think it's so important to publish your freelance writing rates.
- FAQs -- I like to cover some basic questions and answers for prospects right on my site, including what my payment terms are and how many rounds of edit requests are included.
- Resources -- Something else I like to do is offer free resources that would be of interest to my prospects. It can draw people to your site who otherwise might never see it. And if they like what you have to offer, they're more likely to come back to you when they have a budget to hire someone. One of the best ways to bring in new clients is to educate them about what you do. Reports and white papers are great tools for this.
- Your photo -- This isn't really necessary, and some readers have brought up issues like racism and sexism as reasons they leave photos off their freelance writing websites. I think those decisions are understandable if you have concerns. But that said, including your photo lends a more personal touch, which can make it easier for prospects to connect with you. It can help for them to see that they're dealing with a person and not some faceless business trying to make a sale.
- An email sign-up form -- If you plan to use email marketing to stay in touch with prospects, make sure you have a sign-up form on your website. This might be on your contact page, home page, a separate subscription page, or even sitewide.
- A private client area -- If you want to go all out, you could incorporate a private client portal on your website (easy if you're using a platform like WordPress -- there are plenty of membership plugins that can handle this). This would allow your clients to log onto your website where they could find and download copies of contracts, project briefs, past assignments, or anything else relevant to your working relationship.
Can you think of other website elements that might benefit freelance writers? Share your ideas, or tell us about something special you do on your website, in the comments below.
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media -- a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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