In last week’s Wealthy Web Writer e-letter, I shared a blueprint you can use when developing content for your professional freelance writing website.
Just to recap, a professional website is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have. It builds your credibility, helps you make contacts, and gives you an automatic way to build and nurture relationships with both clients and prospects.
This week, as promised, I’m going to show you how to turn your website into a client magnet. Apply what you learn here, and your website will attract qualified prospects and start growing your relationship with them.
How to establish an ongoing relationship with your prospects and clients.
There’s really no secret when it comes to establishing ongoing relationships with your website visitors. The key is to offer them valuable information on a regular schedule. You can do this in several ways, but the following two strategies tend to produce the best results:
- Start up an e-letter (or e-newsletter) — Adding a subscription box to your site and then sending out an e-letter is one of the first strategies you should consider. This strategy does take time and won’t necessarily offer an immediate financial benefit. But over time, it can become a very powerful marketing vessel and even a way to generate extra income. At the very least, it’s a low-cost way to promote your writing ability.
To be successful, you must promote the benefits of your newsletter to potential clients every chance you get. For instance, if you’re talking to a potential client and he says he doesn’t have a current need for your services, but may need them in a couple of months, ask if you can add him to your subscriber list where he’ll receive free copywriting tips and techniques in each issue. Then, you’ll be at the forefront of his mind when his need for your services does arise.
- Write a blog — Like sending out an e-letter, maintaining a blog does take commitment, but consistent bloggers land more clients. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t start a blog until you have at least five entries and a firm commitment from yourself that you will be consistent about updating it. The good news is that if you plan to do both an e-letter and a blog, you can use the same content for both.
A blog doesn’t just help you build relationships with prospects. It can also help you attract traffic by adding SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value to your site.
Marketing your site.
Once you have your site up and running, the next step is to attract traffic. Here are a few quick and easy ways you can use to promote your site online.
Add your site URL to:
- Your email signature — Every email you send out should point back to your website. Also consider including your tagline and other contact information. Most email systems allow you to create a signature that is automatically added to the end of every message.
- Your message board signature — Whenever you post to forums or message boards, include a link to your site, provided the board rules allow it.
- Your tweets and other social media — Every time you add a new page to your site or your blog, let your followers know on Twitter. Make sure you include the benefits they’ll derive from going to your site and reading the new post or page. You can also share new posts on Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Your business card — Your offline marketing materials should promote your website, too.
- Your email address — When corresponding with clients or potential clients, use the email address related to your freelance writing website. In other words, don’t correspond using your gmail address or Internet Service Provider-related email address. Use an address that is based on your site’s domain name. (Note: If you use gmail, you can use gmail’s inbox to send and receive emails from your new freelance website email. Click on “Mail Settings” and then go to “Accounts and Import” to set it up.)
- Add social media links — With the popularity of social media, it makes sense to “social media-ize” your site. Add Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn links or widgets to your site (and any other social media sites you deem appropriate). Plus, be sure to add your site URL to your LinkedIn and Twitter pages.
- Write Guest Blogs — Writing guest blog posts for influential industry sites is an excellent way to attract traffic to your website.
- Use Proven SEO Strategies — Do keyword research and incorporate keywords into your title element, headline, meta description, and body copy.
Customer Convenience Pages.
Adding pages to your site that help your visitors learn more about you and how you work is an important way to build stronger relationships with your prospects and clients.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pages — This is where you can answer many of the common questions your prospects have about doing business with you. If your potential client reads this page first, she will have fewer questions concerning the basics of doing business with you. Some good questions to include are:
How do I go about hiring you?
What are your terms?
Will you co-ordinate your services with my other suppliers?
What kind of search engine rankings have you managed to get for other clients?
Do you charge extra for revisions?
What kind of results can I expect?
Do you do the work yourself or do you outsource?
I have a tight deadline. Can you start on my copywriting project right away?
What kind of turnaround can I expect?
I live in New York, and you’re in Missouri. Can we still work together?
What do your fees include?
How do I place an order with you?
What kind of assignments do you handle?
And so on …
- Links to other resources — To demonstrate how connected you are in the industry, add a list of related but non-competing vendors. For example, if you aren’t a graphic designer but know someone who is, you could add his link and contact info to your site. You could use it as an opportunity to discuss with him your interest in swapping leads with them down the road.
- An area for current and ongoing clients — If you do a lot of work for a specific client, you might want to setup a specific page on your site dedicated to them. You could use this area to explain your terms, house any contracts you have with your client, the assignments you’re working on (along with time frames), the work you’ve done for them in the past, and so on. It’s important to password protect this page. Plus, I recommend you add something like this only after you’ve got your site to the point where you’re happy with it marketing-wise.
A Few Final Tips.
At this point, you should feel confident about creating the content for your website and getting it out in front of the people who need your services. But, I have a few final bits of advice to share. The following are some tips I’ve put together to help make sure you come up with an effective and successful site:
- As mentioned last week, writers often find it difficult to write about themselves. To get around this, partner up with a fellow writer and write each other’s home and ‘About Me’ pages. (Hint: If you’re a Platinum member, connect with a fellow member on the forum for this purpose.) There’s a good chance you both will be able to accomplish the task quicker and more effectively.
- Avoid “Coming Soon” pages. They make your site look unfinished and unprofessional.
- Make a decision to use either the first person (I will do this for you) or third person (We will do this for you) voice and then stick with your choice. If you work alone, it probably makes sense and will be less confusing to your visitors if you write in the first person.
- It goes without saying, but you should strive to avoid grammatical or spelling errors on your site. Ask a friend to read through your site to see if they can spot any errors you may have missed. One typo could be enough to scare away a potentially lucrative prospect.
- It’s well worth the money to pay for a professionally-designed header and/or template for your site. Trying to adopt an off-the-shelf template to your site looks unprofessional and doing so will not likely attract too many good clients.
- Your goal is to have prospects contact you, so it’s important you make it as easy as possible for them. Make sure you give your prospect a way to contact you on every page.
- Study other websites by freelance writers. You can get a wealth of ideas on how to structure the navigation on your site, what FAQs to include and how best to answer them, how to write a powerful home page, and so on by checking out the sites of some of your fellow writers. Use their content as a reference, but always put things in your own words.
- Don’t just put your site up and ignore it. I made this mistake, which I plan to rectify soon. I was so relieved to get my site online, I just put it up and basically forgot about it. It’s important to recognize that your site is a work in progress and treat it accordingly.
A professional-looking website can be one of your best allies when marketing your writing services. If you take time to put together a solid site and continually fine-tune it, it can’t help but boost your yearly writing revenues.
For a step-by-step guide on how to optimize your website and generate traffic, click here to read Jen April Philips’s article “A Quick-Start SEO How-To Guide for Web Writers.”
For strategies to drive search traffic to your website, check out “Roving Report: Closely-Held Secrets to Promoting Your Business and Your Website Online,” by Susanna Perkins.
For John Torre’s tactics for increasing traffic to your website, click here.
For ideas on how you can dramatically increase traffic from the search engines, read Sid Smith’s article, “Use This Hidden Lead-Generation Device to WOW Your Web Clients.”
For a firsthand account of how Sid Smith attracted clients to his own website after going “live,” read “How to Attract Real, Live Visitors to Your New Website.”
For “20 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Blog,” by Holly Hanna, click here.
To learn how to drive free, high-quality, targeted traffic to your website from Natasha Vincent, eLearning Director for SBI (Site Build It), check out Susanna Perkins’s “Roving Report: Winning the Web.”