As a freelance writer, your website can go a long way towards attracting clients in your target market. But is yours currently doing that? Or is it costing you work?
When I look to hire a service provider for anything (whether for my business or personal needs), I like to check out their website first to learn more about them, what they're offering, and what it's going to cost me. If their website doesn't tell me what I want to know, I move on and find another whose site does.
For writers, here are some of the most important things I've looked for as a buyer / client in the past (generally when hiring for someone else):
Rates: I consider rates absolutely essential. I know many writers disagree, and that's okay. Why do I think they're important? Because there are far too many writers on the Web offering similar-sounding services at drastically different rates. I want to see how a writer values their time, whether or not those rates are within my (or my client's) budget, and if those rates are commesurate with their experience and credentials. The argument I hear frequently is that the writer likes negotiate rates with unique quotes for each clients. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. That said, if they can't provide so much as a basic rate range, it concerns me as a buyer because it says to me that they don't have a solid plan. Why hire a contractor to plan out your content, your designs, or anything else, if they can't plan their own business? I rarely consider any kind of contractor if they don't have at least vague rates available on their site.
Services: I'm always looking at other writers' websites--it makes sense to see what your colleagues and competitors are doing periodically. I'm always shocked at how little writers often provide service details. Some offer only a short bullet-point list of the types of writing they do, and others don't say more than what general type of writer they are (business writer, Web writer, copywriter, etc.). Your website is your public face, browseable by pretty much any prospective client that may be looking to hire you. If you can't tell them there what precisely you can do, and why they should consider you over the competition, they probably shouldn't.
Contact Information: Yes, I know it's obvious. Most writers do remember to include it. However, I see a lot of service providers making it rather difficult to contact them. As a prospective buyer, I want to see more than a basic online form. Give me an email address if you predominantly work online (it's one thing to worry about spam, but you shouldn't let that stand in the way of you and potential business - spam is rather effectively blocked these days). Give me a phone number instead of asking me to leave mine in some quote submission form if you prefer communicating over the phone (don't ask for personal information that you aren't willing to offer yourself first). Give me a mailing address (if you accept checks, you really should have this on your site for customers to refer to at any time without asking you - get a PO box if needs be).
These things are common sense, but they make a huge difference between appealing to buyers and driving them away. Is your site sending clients to the competition? Spend some time "spring cleaning" your website over the next few weeks - add more service information, make sure you have a consistent marketing message, and make any changes that might increase your conversions from visitors to buyers.
Do you want to know some other good things to include on your site? Here are some ideas:
- Your portfolio
- An "About" page detailing information about your career and credentials
- A past / current client list (you can pick highlights rather than listing them all)
- Testimonials from clients if you have them
Share your thoughts on these ideas or other suggestions for what to include in an effective freelance writer's website in the comments.
For More on This Topic:
- Do You Need an Online Writing Portfolio?
- You're a Writer - You Need a Website or Better Yet, Your Own Blog
- 5 Ways to Get More Exposure to Your Portfolio Site
- 5 Tips for a Better Online Portfolio