The Elements Of Your Professional Freelance Website

elements of professional freelance website

Building a professional website is an involved and time-consuming process but an occupational hazard of freelancing. If you don’t have one up and marketing for you yet, it’s time to buckle down and design. Many writers are already familiar with WordPress so thank goodness for that.

This post is part of a series to get you inspired about building or redecorating your professional website. You might also be interested in this intro, while here we’ll be looking at site elements and pages.

If you’re not familiar with WordPress, either use WordPress dot com to get familiar or start designing your site by choosing a web hosting service. Many include your domain and are set up for simple one-click WordPress installation.

Do You Need Reasons?

I’m not going to go into the why, as in why you need a professional website. If you’re marketing your services online, you need somewhere to direct job inquiries. Period. It’s a sales tool that sells you and your writing ability to clients and editors. But speaking of clients and editors, remember your audience (who will be visiting your site/hiring you) or who you want your audience to be.

That’s right: you can slant your skills to pitch yourself as a specialty or niche writer. It’s a great way to find yourself doing more of the work you love and prefer.

 

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Static Elements

Your theme is going to mold the design of your site if you don’t intentionally choose a design that highlights the information you want to feature. It will also determine, in part, the look and branding of your professional services.

Your headshot or a photograph, for example, should be displayed on your professional site but can also carry over to social media and your bio pic for other publications and blogs.

Choose a theme that not only matches the level of professionalism of your clients, but includes the visual and text elements that will best display your work. If you have amazing images that you take to accompany your guest, contributor and blog posts, you can highlight these (and that service to potential clients) with a visual design.

 There are elements to include, page structure to determine and your organization needs to be streamlined into a simple, effective design.

Home Page

No matter what you rename this page, it’s essentially your first impression to many editors and clients. If you’re driving traffic to your site through links in your emails and LOIs, it’s your second impression but it also means that the editor or client clicking through is interested and hoping for an impressive website. How convenient that you’ve hand-crafted the site yourself. 🙂

Your name and contact info should be in either the footer or the main header so that it appears on every page.

Now there are a million ways to design your home page but certain elements are either popular or universal. One big difference is that some popular writer sites are now designed as one landing page with a contact form serving as the call to action. Using a landing page style doesn’t mean you have to limit your site to one page, but many elements of landing pages seem to be working for writers as well and why not? Your site is essentially selling you and your services. Any of these elements can also serve as separate pages, sidebar features or can be sprinkled:

Testimonials

Collect snippets of praise from your clients, editors and LinkedIn connections and display them with plenty of white space and a headshot of the person quoted. (Get permission.) Testimonials provide social proof and are a great way to break up the content on your other pages. You can also feature them in your sidebar. (Kristi Hines has a great sidebar. We’ll look at her site and other amazing examples in the next post.) Editors see how pleased other clients are with your work and assume you must be talented if so many people are singing your praises.

Logos

Curate images of the company and publication logos you’ve worked with to display on your home page, in your sidebar or on another page. These reinforce social proof and break up the design of the page. Look at your collection as well. What logos do you want to see there? What would look good to clients? There’s your current pitch list. Don’t underestimate the power of images. Speaking of…

Awards

Many contests and Top #s bestow their winners with an image file to display on their own stuff. These images are like the golden boughs you see on movie covers. If you have only one or two, display them in a sidebar or as a text box within text-heavy content.

Professional Affiliations

Are you a member of a professional organization? Becoming one and promoting your affiliation not only shows that you’re a career writer and not a hobbyist but the membership (depending on the type of organization) usually comes with some type of service, newsletter, discounts and inclusive promotions, access to health insurance, savings plans and even tax advice.

Many organizations host or participate in conferences, giving you more opportunity to network and develop your career.

You might consider joining your chamber of commerce if you want to work with local small businesses. Many need website content, newsletters, sales tools and brochures. I’ve always dreamed of writing, designing and photographing food for menus.

 

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Page Design

What you decide to feature on your website is up to you. Some writers include a blog on their site and this can be great for building professional expert-status, but the decision is up to you. Keep in mind that you’ll have to update that blog regularly so that when clients click on it the first blog post isn’t months or a year old.

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No matter how you present the information, there are key elements that most sites include:

Experience/Resume – This can be the story of your resume if you use an about page or a standard resume with visual elements.

Clips/Links – Incorporate links to your online work. If you have print credits, you can mention them, display the publication logo, insert images of the piece or create a slideshow of print features.

Rates – While I don’t normally recommend displaying rates online, I did see an instance where quoting a price could be a good idea. Michelle Nickolaisen includes a Services & Pricing page that highlights her blog post pricing expectations with a minimum $200 rate and her social reach, which is included in the price.

Training/Accomplishments – This can also include the awards I mentioned earlier as well as any technical training or certifications. I found a creative example back at Kristi Hine’s website: about halfway down this page check out her fun writing facts (just above the contact form). What a great way to present your experience! If you scroll down you’ll also see her training certificates in the sidebar.

Contact/Work With Me – Your contact form is the call to action of your professional site. You can include contact forms within any page but should also include it in your main menu where visitors can easily find it.

Expectations – Copywriters and marketers might find it useful to include contractual expectations on their sites. This can include payment guidelines, projected timelines, turnaround time expectations, office hours or current reach and statistics.

Your visitor should know immediately what you’re offering when your website opens. Give your site a goal to avoid vague writing. Remember what your audience is looking for.

How have you creatively incorporated these elements into your website? Awesome page titles? I’ll admit, I need to add some visual elements to my own site. Is there anything I’m missing that you’ve found or used yourself?

Or better yet, share your site with us in the Writer’s Group!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1725127627748105/?ref=bookmarks

 

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I spent years working low-paying jobs. I’ve been a cashier. A line cook. I unloaded trucks. These days I support myself and my children with my writing. It’s a new and exciting life – and I want the same for you!

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