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5 Signs It's Time to Update Your Professional Website

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on February 20, 2013 in Freelance Writing Business
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Your freelance writing website is an important tool that can attract new clients. It's how they find you when searching for writers. And it's where they go to learn more if they come across you via social media channels or after receiving a pitch from you. If that professional website isn't up to date or portrays a negative image, it could cost you great freelance writing jobs.

That's why it's important that you regularly review your freelance writing website and the copy it contains. I'm doing this now for my own site (ProBusinessWriter.com) -- updating old service pages, adding new ones, and making other edits where required.

Here are a few signs your freelance writing website might also be due for an update.

1. You've added new services (or cut some).

Clients won't know about your new writing services if you don't add them to your site. Many won't contact you to ask if you can handle project X or Y. They'll have a few writers in mind, they'll review websites and portfolios, and they'll narrow down their options. If it isn't clear you can satisfy their needs, you won't be one of them.

Update your professional website any time you add a new writing service (or complementary service like social media marketing for the blog posts you might write). But also don't forget to update your website if you stop offering a service. If you're no longer interested in writing annual reports, for example, pull all mentions of that service from your site.

2. You're making changes to business terms.

Similarly, you should update your website promptly if you change any business terms that would affect new clients. For example, you might make changes to your rates or payment policies.


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In my case, I'm changing the default rights I sell for most of my work. Rather than basing rates on a default of ghostwritten work and offering a discount for bylined options, bylined work is now the default and I charge a premium for ghostwriting requests. I'm also emphasizing first right sales, so I'm adding information about publication rights to my site.

3. Your website doesn't attract your ideal clients.

If your professional writing website isn't bringing in enough clients, or it attracts the wrong kind of client, you might want to make some updates. Something in your copy (or what you're offering) isn't working. Reevaluate your target market, their needs, and their budgets. Then adapt your website copy to better appeal to that group.

4. Your website ranks poorly in search engine results.

One of the most important jobs of your freelance writing website is to bring new prospects to you. And one of the best ways to do that is to have your site rank well in search engine results for targeted keywords. For example, I focus on ranking well for terms like "business writer." You would choose ones that apply to the kind of work you do.

If your website isn't appearing in the top ten results for a good number of your target keyword phrases, you need to work on that. Actually, I'd go so far to say that if you're site isn't ranking in the top three to five results you should give it another look and make changes. Make sure you're using the relevant keyword phrases in your copy, especially in headings. Make sure you're targeting keyword phrases that aren't over-saturated (it's very difficult to rank in those cases). And focus on building quality, relevant links back to your professional site.

5. It's been awhile.

Even if you don't notice any obvious problems with your professional writing website, give it a look if you haven't made any changes in awhile. Read everything aloud. Does it still work for you? Is it all still relevant? Is the writing style on your site still representative of the writing you do for clients? Could it use more dynamic content, like a company blog?

We don't always think to review our own websites. But if we let them sit too long unchanged, they can become stale. Poor designs can make them look dated. No dynamic content can make it more difficult to stay on top of search engine rankings. Old policies might be out of touch with what your clients really want today. You want your site to appeal to prospects long after it's created. So schedule in a review if you haven't done so in the past several months.

When was the last time you updated your freelance writing website? Do you think it's as strong today as the day it was created, or does it need work? If you're thinking about making changes, what changes do you plan to make? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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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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12 Comments

  1. Cathy Miller February 20, 2013 Reply

    Funny you should mention publication rights, Jenn. Just yesterday the topic came up in a monthly call for a writers’ forum. I never thought about putting that on mi site, but I added it to my “To Do” list for my ongoing update of my business site.

    One of the things I shared on the call was that there are so many bloggers/newbies, what-have-you, who do not understand about publication rights. This is a great blueprint for planning. Thanks for sharing it, Jenn.
    Cathy Miller recently posted…Spammy Guest Post Requests Have Mellow Blog Owners ScreamingMy Profile

    • Jennifer Mattern February 20, 2013 Reply

      In the past I’d give clients full rights. But sadly there’s a lot of confusion between full / exclusive publication rights and copyright transfers (helping hubby sort out that very issue in some of his own programming contracts now). In reality most clients only need first rights or exclusive online rights in my case. So I figured it was time to update things and start charging a bigger premium if they want more.

  2. John Soares February 20, 2013 Reply

    Jenn, I make improvements to my website on at least a monthly basis. Sometimes I’ll tweak headlines and headers of a blog post to try to improve SEO; other times I’ll change content in the sidebar.

    Most recently I changed my tagline to more accurately reflect what I talk about on my website.
    John Soares recently posted…How to Have a Successful Coauthoring RelationshipMy Profile

    • Jennifer Mattern February 20, 2013 Reply

      I’ve been doing a lot of tweaking on blogs through content audits for the last few months. But my business site took a backseat to it. You bring up a good point in that even the little things can make a difference.

  3. Sharon Hurley Hall February 20, 2013 Reply

    I’m in the middle of updating mine now, Jenn. I started with a new theme, added some service descriptions and rates, a mission/vision statement and made a few more tweaks. I must remember to add stuff about rights to my FAQ (I usually discuss it when I speak to clients).
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…Wrapping Up 2012: Q4 Blogging HighlightsMy Profile

    • Jennifer Mattern February 21, 2013 Reply

      It sounds like you have a lot of updates going on Sharon. :) Service descriptions are so important. I’m always shocked when I visit a freelancer’s site and they don’t actually explain what it is they’re offering. They just have a list — “I write x, y, and z.” That’s all well and good. But it doesn’t tell people why they need x, y, and z, or why they should hire you to do that work. Seems silly to me.

      • Sharon Hurley Hall February 21, 2013 Reply

        You’re right, Jenn. I recently realized that my site needed to evolve beyond outlining stuff I’ve done to being clearer about client benefits – the info is there but it’s not always obvious. That’s what I’m addressing now.
        Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…Wrapping Up 2012: Q4 Blogging HighlightsMy Profile

        • Jennifer Mattern February 21, 2013 Reply

          I think it’s something that’s easy to overlook because we understand what we’re offering. And we can figure if a client is thinking about hiring us, they must know what the services are and why they’d want them. I’m sure that’s one of the many things I’ve learned the hard way over the years. The more info you give prospects, the easier it is to convert them to clients. :)

  4. Amandah February 21, 2013 Reply

    Hi Jenn,

    Like John, I tweak my writer website on a monthly basis.

    I never thought about first-rights. I’ll research this.

    I WOULD LOVE to be able to create a web design from scratch, but I don’t have the patience to do so. The web code that’s involved in creating a website could be streamlined, but that’s my opinion.

    If anyone knows a of an awesome web designer, preferably one with a graphic design background, and who’s familiar with WordPress and the Genesis framework, have them email me. I would love to get my author website up and running, but I’m struggling with tweaking the template for some reason. I can’t get the nav bar to be the size it needs to be. ;)
    Amandah recently posted…Stop Wasting Time! Go from Ideas to Blog PostsMy Profile

    • Jennifer Mattern February 21, 2013 Reply

      Unfortunately I don’t use any web designers currently, and it’s been awhile so I’m less comfortable recommending the ones I worked with years ago. I’d start with the developer’s forum. You might be able to get a quick response there without having to vet and hire a designer. Things like that are generally quick fixes. :)

  5. writing service February 25, 2013 Reply

    Hello jenn
    I am going to lounge a business writing/blogging services.I need help/suggestion about it.
    Please just tell me what kind of content will be more effective for search engine/get more visitor?And what will be the best way to start for me.?

    • Jennifer Mattern February 25, 2013 Reply

      It sounds like you need to spend some time on business planning and market research to get started. You can’t just base it on what might attract search engine traffic. You have to choose a niche you can consistently write about, one that has a decent-sized market, one in a market that isn’t already over-saturated, and then you go from there. No one can simply give you a topic, tell you to write about it, and have you earn a ton of money. This blog is full of advice about getting started, so you can start reading the archives. Also check out the blogs we link to in our sidebar. Some of them also offer advice to freelancers that should give you a better idea of how you want to start.

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