As a freelance writer, one of the best tools you have in your arsenal is a website that markets your services and talents to prospective clients — provided it’s done properly.
However, a freelance writing website can also be one of your biggest challenges.
Even though writers usually have no problem writing about the benefits of their clients’ products and services, they often find it challenging to talk about themselves and the services they offer.
Even so, putting together a credible and convincing web presence for yourself is well worth it for the following reasons. It …
- Is an excellent way to demonstrate your professionalism, and boosts your credibility as a writer.
- Makes it easy to get your samples in front of prospective clients.
- Reinforces your brand and creates a positive image of your writing abilities.
- Saves you time by answering key questions your client might have about your services and what your client can expect when working with you.
- Advertises your track record and accomplishments.
- Builds the level of trust your clients place in you and familiarizes them with your business style.
- Gets you in front of potentially millions of prospects. Many of the businesses that hire freelancers find those professionals online. So, you want to make sure your site has maximum visibility with the search engines for keywords related to your niche and services you offer.
To get you started, I’ve put together a blueprint you can use when planning and writing content for your own freelance writing website. A well-rounded freelance writing website has a home page, an About Me page, a list of the services you offer, and an area that shows off your experience.
Today, I’m going to show you what to put into each section and share a few extras that will really make your website shine. Then next week, I’ll show you how to use your website to attract prospects and turn them into clients. And, we’ll also look at strategies you can use to build long-term relationships that will keep your clients coming back to you again and again.
So, let’s get started.
Before you begin developing content for your website, there are few things you should do first.
- Define the type of businesses you are targeting. If you have a writing niche, this should be reasonably easy to do. If you don’t currently have a niche, it’s advisable to select one before you start your site. Create an image of your ideal client. Are they local, national, or international? Are they a small, medium, or large-sized business? What industry or industries are they in?
- Map out what services you are going to offer your clients. Make a list of the services you plan to offer to your prospects and clients. Do you plan to offer only one type of writing service such as sales letters or white papers? Or will you offer multiple services such as emails, landing pages, blog posts, and press releases? Once you decide, list the benefits that each service delivers to your clients.
- Make a list of the add-ons you offer. By add-ons I mean things like your guarantee, your re-write policy, and whether you provide marketing advice and expertise in addition to copy. Do you provide layout suggestions? Project management? Do you have expertise when it comes to running A/B split tests?
- Define your USP. What distinguishes your service from your competitors? Why should somebody do business with you and not the next guy? It’s vitally important to come up with a strong USP that instantly hooks potential clients into your message and tips their decision in your favor. It’s a good idea to make your USP the overriding theme that runs through your website copy.
The priority of your freelance writing website is to convey the benefits of doing business with you.
Your whole freelance writing website’s purpose is to convey to your prospect the benefits of doing business with you. But, there are four things in particular that you should focus on because they will do the most to convert prospects into clients.
- Come up with a strong tagline. A tagline is a simple sentence that conveys to potential clients the big promise you offer. Think of your elevator speech — that 10-second sentence you use when someone asks what you do. Often you can tweak that into a strong tagline. Remember, you want to relay a strong, clear benefit. For example, Mindy Tyson McHorse’s tagline is “Powerful copy that builds business and changes lives.” That’s a big benefit in just a few words. Nick Usborne uses “Articles, programs, and coaching for freelance online writers.” If you’re a freelance web writer and you read that, you know immediately that what’s on that site is relevant to you and may be valuable.
- Write an effective home page. The home page of your site should state concisely how your clients benefit from hiring you. Talk about your writing specialty (your niche), your work objectives, and the results you deliver to your clients.
- Put together a strong About Me page. This is your opportunity to let your prospects and clients start to get to know you. Talk about your writing experience, your success stories, and any relevant interests or hobbies you have.
- List the services you offer. Using a separate page for each service, talk about the services you offer and list the benefits for each. Whenever you can, work in why you specifically are the one person who can deliver the results your client is looking for.
Highlight your experience.
This is your chance to show the world what you’ve done in the past, so they get a good idea what you’re capable of in the future.
- Samples of your work. Choose the work you are most proud of. Add your name and your contact information to the header, convert it to a PDF, and then add it to your site. Generally, three examples (I wouldn’t go higher than five) of each type of writing (sales letters, autoresponder emails, blog posts, etc.) will suffice. It’s advisable to add a couple of lines introducing each work sample: what it was for, the results it produced, and your client’s reaction to its success (if possible). If you’re just starting out and don’t have work samples, there are a number of things you can do. You can write your own articles and publish them online. Turn a practice writing assignment or a spec assignment into a sample. Write a blog post, home page, or landing page for a local company for free and then use it as a sample.
- Your client list. A list of the clients you’ve worked with will do three things for you. First, it shows that you are indeed a working freelance web writer. Second, if you have any big-name clients on your list, that’s an instant credibility builder. Third, it will help your prospects see what kinds of clients you work for, which can help to prequalify them. It’s polite to get permission from your clients before listing them on your website. The only down side of this is that competing writers may use your client list as their target list in their efforts to drum up new business for themselves. But, if you have a good relationship with your client, this shouldn’t be a problem.
- A list of your writing credits. If you have a long string of writing credits, list them to your site. It shows your prospect that you are a prolific and serious writer.
- Links to online articles you’ve written. If you’ve written articles for websites, include links to them. Be sure to regularly check these links to make sure they are still valid. When your client sees your byline listed on a third party site, it can’t help but boost your credibility.
- Links to books you’ve written. If you’ve written a book or e-book, include a link to the site or sites that sell it along with a paragraph or two about it.
- Your past employers. If it’s relevant to your freelance work, include a list of your past employers complete with what you did and the successes you experienced.
- Your education and career training. If you have impressive education credentials, be sure to list them along with any programs or courses you’ve taken over the years that enhance your reputation as an expert.
- Any organizations you’re a member of. If you’re a member of the Professional Writers’ Alliance, Wealthy Web Writer, or any other relevant organization or membership site, be sure to list them (along with any logos they make available for display on your site).
Share what others have said about you and your work.
Client testimonials and case studies are other things you should add to your freelance writing website if you have them available.
- Testimonials. A good testimonial is specific, focuses on one benefit, is believable, and targets your potential client. Throughout your writing career, you should always be looking for opportunities to get testimonials from people you work with or have done work for. To make it easier for the person you’re asking for a testimonial from, offer to write the testimonial yourself and then submit it to them for their approval. If you’re just starting out and don’t have any testimonials, you could offer to do something for free for a business in exchange for a glowing testimonial. Another option would be to ask past employers or any writer friends you may know if they’d be willing to provide you with a testimonial.
- Case studies. A case study essentially tells the story of a problem a business had, the solution you provided, and the resulting success that occurred because of the solution. Writing up a case study involving an experience you had with one of your clients is a great way to show a prospective client the impact you will potentially have on their business.
Including these elements will create the foundation for a successful freelance writing website — one you can proudly refer people to and add to over time. Your website will grow into one of your strongest marketing tools. Stay tuned for next week when I show you how to use your website to effectively market your services.
Additional reading to help you build the best freelance website possible.
For help coming up with a strong elevator speech, click here for Rebecca’s article “Tell Your Elevator Speech.”
For help coming up with a strong tagline, check out Christina Gillick’s article “Crafting Powerful Taglines For Yourself And Your Clients.”
For help on putting together a strong About Me page, check out Susanna Perkin’s article “Roving Report: Tackling the Dreaded ‘About Me’ Page.”
For help creating a good samples strategy, click here for Kristina Stiffler’s article “You Don’t Have to Be an A-List Copywriter to Have a Great Portfolio.”
For more information about testimonials, click here for Michael Masterson’s article “Using Testimonials for Maximum Effect.”
For a step-by-step procedure on how to create your own case studies, click here to read Cindy Cyr’s article “Who Needs Samples? Creating Mini-Stories to Land as Many Clients as You Need.”