Freelance writers are independent agents who write for a wide range of publications and media. It’s absolutely one of the best things about being a freelance writer — our freedom to write about the topics we love and leave behind boring assignments or difficult clients. But our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness, because that very independence can also make it difficult to sustain a continuous inflow of writing projects and cash.
This blog is about the writer website, and why every freelance writer needs one to advertise our services, showcase our writing expertise, support client proposals, and maintain an online presence for our writing business. Let’s go.
1. Advertise your writing services
Your writer website is one of the best places to advertise all your writing services. Create a separate page for each service (eg, web content writing, copywriting, technical writing), prime them with key search terms, and get yourself indexed by Google as a freelance writer. It’s really quite a thrill when you secure your first writing client who found you on an organic Google search. Yes it does happen — it took me about 14 months.
A website give you unlimited scope to list every writing service you provide, and a detailed description of what it is, and how it works. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Blogging (business blogs, guest posts, non-profit/community services)
- Website copy (company descriptions, information pages, bios)
- Copywriting (sales copy, brochures, advertising campaigns, case studies)
- Magazine and newspaper articles (print media, online journals, eZines)
- Email marketing (newsletters, direct sales copy, landing pages)
- Public Relations (press releases, speeches, media kits)
- Social media and Linkedin (profiles, posts, news feed updates)
- Business writing (researched reports, white pages, business plans)
- Business communication (letters, memos, staff intranets)
- Crowdfunding and campaigning (non-profits, startups, activist organisations)
- Scriptwriting (video scripts, vlogs, radio advertising)
- Technical Writing (HR policies, WHS documentation, product manuals, operating procedures)
- Ghostwriting (books, zines, blogs)
- Resumes and CVs (job applications, Linkedin profiles, cover letters)
Your possible list of writing services really is endless — there is so much writing to be done. That said I suggest you specialise in a few niche areas based on your professional background, education, and personal interests.
2. Showcase your writing expertise
Once you’ve setup your services pages you’ll want to create a series of portfolio and bio pages that showcase your professional experience and writing expertise.
Your writing portfolio is a collection of your best written work. From your portfolio a client will be able to immediately experience your writing style, your expertise as a storyteller, and the type of clients you work with. You build the portfolio collection over time, and it should reflect your personal interests as well as your talents.
When you’re just starting out your writing portfolio might include all of your recent projects, but as you complete more assignments you’ll begin to remove older pieces and replace them with newer and better work. Your writer website will allow you to continually update your portfolio or even make it private so only potential clients who have a password can view the contents.
On your website you should have a professional bio to give potential clients and idea of what it might be like to work with you. A professional bio describes your background, professional experience, and usually highlights key achievements or high profile clients. You can even include a few personal interests, as long as it contributes to your professional narrative.
A professional bio will normally be included on the ‘About‘ page on your writer website (it’s a web standard really). And be sure to include some recent photos of yourself on your ‘About’ page — look directly at the camera and smile. Clients are people too, and will appreciate a photo of you looking like the real person they will be working with.
Many online publications, blogs, magazines, and newspapers will display a writer’s byline somewhere in the article. The byline is a couple of sentences (or even just a short phrase) which tells the reader who wrote the article. If you have a WordPress website you might display your own writer’s byline using Gravatar or in the User Profile section.
3. Support your client proposal
Having a link to your writer website in your byline or email signature adds to your credibility when corresponding with clients and prospects. You can refer leads to your website from your business card, Linkedin feed, or at face-to-face networking events. Here’s a few extras to build into your website:
- Testimonials – have your clients write a short testimonial and ask them if you can use either a photograph or company logo. I often scroll testimonials inside my services pages.
- Work methods or FAQs – you might want to have a page on your website for FAQs/Work Methods. This will answer any questions a potential client may have about confidentiality, payment terms, and intellectual property.
- Pricing – some freelance writers display their rates on their website, others don’t. If you prefer to keep your fees private, create a ‘Pricing’ page that contains a pricing request form.
As a professional writer I like the idea of having a website with plenty of text. And it’s not that I necessarily think that a prospective client is going to read all of it, it’s more about creating the perception that I can actually write. Plus Google and the search engines love well written text.
4. Reinforce your relevancy
We all know that feeling when we arrive at a shopping mall that has been let run down and half the shops are empty. Don’t let your website deteriorate by letting it sit around for years without an update. People do notice if your last blog post was dated 3 years earlier (oh, and so does Google).
Demonstrate to your clients that your writing skills are relevant in today’s market and you have a handle on contemporary business issues. You might do this by regular blogging or creating a series of white papers (eBooks) that are helpful to clients.
REMEMBER: having a free eBook available for your website visitors to download is a way of providing useful information, AND demonstrating your expertise in putting together a white paper.
You are really only limited by your imagination as your writer website has the scope for unlimited pages, images, videos, and personal stories. You can begin selling your own books and courses — how about a merchandising line? Link to your social media profiles? Or build an email list by publishing your own eZine?
But most of all having an up-to-date and useful website will help you confidently answer the question … What do you do? with … I’m a freelance writer, I specialise in xxxxx writing — you can connect with me on my website, http://www.yournamehere.com every time.