Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Making a Freelance Website
Creating your own freelance website isn’t as difficult as you think.
When you choose to start a freelance writing business, there’s a lot to think about. What services will you offer? How will you promote your freelance business? Do you need a freelance website?
While there’s no clear-cut right or wrong way to begin your freelance career, making a website for your freelance services is one of the best things you can do.
Why do you need your own freelance website?
Building a website can be scary. Some freelancers with less tech knowledge often ask, do I really need a freelance website? A few years ago, maybe not. However, in the digital age of 2020, you absolutely need a freelance website to promote your services and grow your business.
With a freelance website, you’ll be able to:
- Promote your services to a wider audience
- Build a brand
- Impress clients with a professional site
A freelance site gives you everything you need to grow your business, which will be next to impossible if you are attempting to do it all without the internet on your side.
Can you make a freelance website for free?
The short answer is yes, you can create your own freelance website for free. Almost every single website-building platform (Wix, Wordpress, Squarespace, etc) has the option to build and share your website for no charge. There are a few caveats to this, though.
When you build a freelance website for free, you’re going to miss out on a lot of essential perks that these platforms offer you, like Google Adsense integration, widget makers, and more. The main reason I don’t like these free options is that it really limits your branding.
You won’t be able to choose your own domain, but instead, you’ll have a generic one from whatever site builder you’re using. You’ll also probably have that site’s information plastered all over your site, and the only way to get rid of it will be to pay.
So, do you need to pay for your freelance writing website?
If you just want to get started, then you should go for it. Using the free option will allow you to learn and grow your site before you commit to the fully purchased option. These subscriptions are only around 100–200 dollars, though, so if you can manage that, I highly recommend you splurge so you can get your own domain and access to awesome perks.
So now that you know why you need a website as a freelancer, let’s get to the trickier question: how do you build a freelance website? Most freelancers who aren’t tech-savvy look into getting their website designed for them, but this might not be the best choice for you.
Should you have someone design your freelance website for you?
There are a lot of web designers who make it their profession to design gorgeous websites for clients. The benefit of hiring a designer is that your site is going to look amazing and professional, and that will lead to more sales.
For the beginning freelancer, however, I say just build the site yourself. Web designers can charge upwards of $1,500 for one site alone, and that’s a lot of cash to shell out if you are just starting out. I’ve made all my websites myself and actually love the process, as I can tailor my site to exactly what I want, and I know how to edit every little thing.
Building a freelance website isn’t as difficult as it seems, either. Especially now that there are so many web-building platforms available, it only takes a few clicks to have your own little corner of the internet. If you are tech-savvy enough to read this blog post, you can make your own website.
I’ve built about five personal websites in my life and I learned so many things every single time I did it. I would call myself extremely well-versed in making websites now and have it just about down to a science. Here’s what I do when I’m creating a site:
Build your freelance website in 10 simple steps
1. Determine your goals.
Before you even think about getting your hands on a web builder or domain, you need to sit down and really put the time in to determine what your goals are with your freelance website.
- Why are you making a freelance website?
When I made my first website, it was for a class assignment. I had to make a portfolio to showcase my writing and promote myself as a writer.
For this, I kept my work and site clean, simple, and as easy to create and edit as possible. For my current site, Jsswrites, far more time and research went into building a site that would attract customers to my freelance writing services. Knowing why you want a freelance site will help you create the perfect site for your needs.
- What do you want the site to accomplish?
Not all freelance websites are created to accomplish the same thing. For example, my first site simply allowed me to have an online portfolio. For my current site, though, I wanted to get brand recognition, drive sales, and get hired. Therefore, there are many more tools and add-ons I used for my second site.
Write down what you want to accomplish from your site, whether it’s getting 100 readers on your blog, boosting your sales, or getting hired. This will set you up to research exactly what to include on your site to make it work for you.
2. Determine your target audience.
Once you’ve determined your niche (and even if you don’t have one yet!), it’s vital to figure out who your target audience is. This is something that every business needs, including you.
Picking a target audience sounds counterintuitive for the same reasons that picking a niche does. It involves taking a large pool of stuff, in this case, potential clients, and making it way smaller based on demographics and interests. Won’t this hurt your sales??
No! Selecting a target audience means you’ll be much more likely to get hired. Think of it this way; when your target audience is everyone, you’re throwing yourself into an ocean of strangers and hoping one will notice you.
What are the benefits to creating a target audience?
- You can get to know your potential customers.
- You’ll have more of a chance of getting noticed.
- You can be specific with the services you offer.
- You can directly appeal to this audience in all your marketing.
How to choose your target audience
First, know that you don’t have to pick just one target audience. For example, if you’re running a resume and cover letter writing business, you could decide to target seniors in college, since they would be applying for jobs. Or, you could target people on hiring sites like Indeed.
When it comes to picking your audiences, think about the services you offer. How do your services help people? Who needs the help your services provide? Who is your ideal client?
Design your dream client, including as much information and detail as possible, with special attention to age, interests, and how they get their media (online, TV, etc). This will help you discover who your target audience is.
How to integrate your target audience into your website design
Integrate your target audience on your freelance website wherever and whenever you can. All copy, graphics, and pages should be written with your audience in mind. This will help you attract the clients you want to work for to your site, and in turn, will help you get hired!
Where can you enhance your site to attract your target audience?
- Home page welcome message — Whatever text you have on your home page, tailor it to your target audience. You would welcome a 20-year-old visitor to your site way differently than a 70-year-old. Ensure you’re attracting the right audience from the start.
- “About me” section — this is where you should give insight to who your services are for and how they can help your target audience.
- Blog posts — treat your blog posts like the marketing materials they are. All blogs should be written with your target audience in mind and should appeal to them.
3. Look at other freelance websites to get inspiration.
I had no idea what I was doing when I began freelance writing, including what my website should look like. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to see what other successful freelancers are doing on their own sites.
Here are some of my favourite freelance writer websites (if you’re in a different freelancer field, all it takes is a quick Google search for sites in your field):
4. Choose a platform you understand.
I was obsessed with WordPress when I began freelance writing until I realized that there were other web-building services that worked way better for me. There are a ton of different platforms you can use for your website.
Which is best? Honestly, that’s up to you. WordPress is easy to use with pre-made templates, though customization isn’t as easy. Wix and Squarespace have awesome, fully-customizable templates, but may require more plug-ins.
It’s important to research all of these, and even look at the templates available. Your site is something you’ll have to spend hours of work and editing on, so you want to pick an operating system that’s easy enough for you to use and has all the services you need.
5. Buy a domain and create a brand.
Once you’ve decided which platform to use, you’ll need to choose a domain name. If you’re using a free service, you won’t be able to create your own domain, and you’ll end up with a generic one (like: generic domain.wix.com/mysite).
How to choose a domain name
If you can create a domain, make sure to choose a name that you can brand. You don’t want something incredibly long and difficult to type in, but you also don’t want something obscure and unrelated to your business.
For example, my site was originally Jordansafranski.com. I changed it to Jsswrites so that people could see right away that this is my writing site.
To create an effective domain name, first, make sure it’s available. I love using Godaddy to do this. To generate possible domain names, write down every single idea you have, ensuring that it relates to either you or your services.
Brand yourself by creating a logo
Once you have a domain, you want to create materials that will help direct people to your site. Turn your domain into a logo you can use and incorporate on your site, on social media, business cards, and more. You can see the Jsswrites logo at the top of every page of my site, so it creates a memorable experience for my visitors). This will allow you to build a brand, not just a landing page.
How do you create a logo?
Logo-making has never been easier. Just type logo-maker into Google and you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of services out there. My personal favourite, though, is Canva.
I’ve been using Canva for years and I can’t say enough great things about this program. Canva is a website that allows you to create stunning graphics for pretty much everything you’ll ever need, including logos, Pinterest graphics, social media posts, presentations, media kits, and more. Once you’ve created a logo, be sure to integrate it into your website and marketing efforts.
6. Design your site.
This step is, by far, the longest step of creating a website. The bright side? It’s SO FUN. I loved every step of designing my website, even when I was changing it for the thousandth time, and you will, too.
But where do you start? I know it probably feels overwhelming, but if you’re using a web-template, most of the hard work is done for you! In fact, you might be able to choose a template so close to what you want all you have to do is edit the text and be on your way. If this isn’t the case, though, here are the steps I take before I know my website is ready to go:
- Change all the sample content. Most web templates come with example posts, text, and more. You don’t want any of this leftover on your site because it looks sloppy and unprofessional. Go through and tailor the sample content to fit your website.
- Make your homepage stunning. This is the first impression you give your visitors; make it count! I would say I put in 10x more work for my home page than any other section of my website. Why? Because it dictates how everything else is going to look and flow. Play around with your home page and make it perfect before moving on to your other pages.
- Add a welcome message to the front page. Adding a welcome message to the top of the landing page of your site will get your visitors quickly acclimated to what your site offers and how it can help them. This saves them time and ensures they’ll stay on your site longer than if they had to hunt around to find what your website even is.
- Add a navigation menu to the website header. Most templates come with a navigation menu but double-check just to make sure. This menu will help your visitors navigate your site with one click, and it’s absolutely necessary for a good freelance website.
- Ensure every single link works correctly. I can’t tell you how many times I found broken links when I went through and copy edited all the content on my website. Go through and click every single link to ensure everything is working properly. It’s painstaking but so important.
- Add eye-catching graphics. You can put hours upon hours into creating a website with amazing written content, but you won’t ever get views if you don’t include stunning graphics as well.
Studies have proven that pictures are the best content to catch viewers attention and keep them engaged with your content. Make sure you hop onto Canva, or whichever design tool you use, and create beautiful pictures and graphics to make your site pop.
7. Integrate Google on your site.
Google has a whole toolbox of amazing services that can help your site, but only if you add them manually! Many freelancers make the mistake of thinking Google will find their sites just by existing, and this is NOT the case.
You’ll have to manually connect Google Analytics, Adsense, and any other tool you would like to use to your site. This was probably the most difficult part of the process of building my freelance website, but so worth it. I get so much more traffic now than I did without it.
Which Google tools should you use on your freelance site?
It’s up to you, really. Look into the services and see which ones you’d like to use. My favourite is analytics, which keeps detailed info on your visitors and web stats, and also has a keyword tool to help with your SEO.
Adsense is also a great tool for monetizing your website. If you have a blog or provide content for your audience, adding Adsense will allow you to incorporate ads to your blog that you’ll get passive money from.
8. Set up a blog.
I don’t care if you’ve never written a blog post in your life. YOU NEED A BLOG. It’s a necessity because it allows you to create content and market your expertise without making anyone purchase anything. It’s the best way to show your skills.
Once you’ve added a blog page to your website (through whichever site builder you’re using), start thinking of blog posts right away. You’ll want to have as many as possible so you can show off your skills, and if you market the posts right, it will bring traffic to your site. Remember to stay in your niche and keep your target audience in mind for every post!
9. Review formatting on all devices.
Last, but certainly not least, take a look at your website on at least three different devices. Many websites don’t format correctly and can end up looking different if you look at the site on a phone vs. on a laptop.
If you notice your website isn’t formatted, look into the specific site builder you’re using. I found help by typing in “formatting issues” to the Wix help forum and got a clear answer right away. It’s easy to format your site, and it will make you look much more professional on every device.
You’ve created your website. Now what?
It’s time to promote your website. All that hard work and time you put in is finally going to good use because you get to show your site off to the world. Don’t settle for simply telling your friends and family or making one merely post about it, though.
10. Promote your freelance website
- Share online. I made a Facebook page for my site and freelance business, but you don’t have to. Just make sure you make an eye-catching post on all your media accounts sharing your site and asking others to like and share.
Where should you share your site:
- Write SEO blog posts. Content marketing via blog posts is the number one way to grow awareness and gain followers. Using your Google Analytics account, check keywords related to your niche and write blog posts that will attract your target audience.
How to track and maintain your site
Your site is made, you’re writing blog posts on a consistent basis, and you promote periodically on social media. What more is there to do? Turns out, quite a lot.
You want to make sure your website is working for you. Consistently review your analytics, testing out different campaigns and seeing what works best to drive site traffic. Ensure all your links are still working, ads are running smoothly, and people are still able to easily access your site.
You’ll also have to keep up with your domain registration and web payments. Every year or two I have to re-sign an electronic document that verifies my domain, and other personal info. You’ll want to keep close track of all this info so you don’t lose your site.
This article was originally published by Jordan safranski on medium.