How to create a marketable freelancer website

Ready to embrace a new freelance career? Or already work for yourself and love to find more clients? Here’s how to create a marketable freelancer website.

If you’re a freelancer today you need every edge you can get against the competition. There are more freelancers joining the gig economy every day, and this is good news for those looking to shed the ties of their 9-5 grind.

As of 2017, 29% of freelancers consider their own business their sole source of income. And this percentage is only growing.

If you’re hoping to grow your freelance business into your full-time income, you need to get serious with your marketing and branding. This all starts with a quality, marketable website that positions you as the go-to expert in your field. In this guide, we’ll break down what makes a freelance website a hit as well as tips for getting started.

The basics of building a website

Before we dive into the different things you need to include on your freelancer website, let’s talk about how to get started in the first place. First, you’ll need to decide if you want to create a self-hosted or free website.

If you want to be taken seriously (and you do!) you should opt for the self-hosted website. This means you’ll pay a hosting service for your own space, usually a shared hosting plan, and this will cost a few dollars a month. This guide to how to start your first blog explains this in more detail.

You’ll also need a domain name. This will be a URL with a .com or other extension that users will use to find your space on the web.

This can be the name of your business, your name, or even a slew of keywords related to your field. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you might choose marketingcopywritingexpert.com as your URL since that’s a keyword your target audience is likely to search for.

No matter what you choose, make sure it’s something that will grow with you. Keep it professional. Avoid numbers or anything that’s challenging to remember. When in doubt, your name is always a professional choice.

How to build your website

Now that you’ve decided between a free or self-hosted website and you have a domain name picked out, it’s time to start building.

Luckily, this is the fun part. The most common options are Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix. They all have their own pros and cons:

  • Squarespace – this drag-and-drop and all-in-one hosting option is a good option if you want to handle the design aspects on your own. However, it’s also the most pricey.
  • WordPress – WordPress is the most widely used and recommended content management platform. It’s free to use, and it comes with one-click installation from many web hosts. You can also find endless free and paid themes for getting the design you’re dreaming of.
  • Wix – Wix is another drag-and-drop website builder, though it’s a bit more limiting. While an easy platform to use, it’s hard to export your content from Wix if you ever choose to leave.

From there, once you’ve decided on a page builder, it’s time to get to work. While both Squarespace and Wix make it simple to design your own website to your taste, you’ll have to put in a little more work with WordPress. You can find WordPress themes here for free or for a small fee, and they’re all customisable.

Does the design of your freelancer website matter? According to statistics, yes. Approximately 38% of people will stop engaging with your website if the layout or content is unattractive.

That doesn’t mean you need to invest in an expensive graphic designer, but it does mean that it’s worth taking your time to get the design right.

The anatomy of a freelancer website

Your website should be set up at this point, and now it’s time to add content. Many freelancers make the mistake of treating their website as a personal resume. Remember, that’s what your profile on LinkedIn or Upwork are for. Your clients already can find your resume or work experience.

Your website should be an extension of those things. It’s a way to demonstrate your authority, skills, and professionalism.

That’s why it’s not enough to slap up a page with your experience and your portfolio. You need to really convince your prospective clients to choose you rather than the competition, and that takes more know-how. Make sure your freelancer website includes all of the following:

  • Homepage – your homepage can either be your blog or you can address your prospective clients directly. What are their pain points? Who are you? What content should they look at first?
  • About – this is a chance to talk more about who you are and what you do. Remember to keep this focused on what you do for clients. It’s great to add some of your personality, but don’t share your entire life story. Once again, direct your clients to your best content.
  • Projects/Portfolio – there is a place for sharing your best work on your website, but it doesn’t need the entire focus. Great work speaks for itself. Share some links to your most impressive work, and even include testimonials or other social proof.
  • Blog – yes, you need a blog. No matter your niche or industry, having a blog is a way to demonstrate your value and your worth to clients. More importantly, it’s free content marketing to attract these ideal clients to you at no cost. Think about questions or concerns your ideal clients are likely to have, and blog about these topics. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, you might blog about common design mistakes small businesses make.
  • Contact – finally, make sure it’s simple for your prospective clients to get in touch with you. You should have a content link located clearly from every page with a form and a professional email address.

Master the freelancer website

Your freelancer website is your virtual business card. It not only attracts your ideal client, but it speaks for itself. When you present yourself as a professional who knows what she’s doing, you don’t have to spend as much time searching for clients and negotiating higher pay. Your clients need to know your worth from the start, so make sure your website does just that.

It will take more time to configure your website and build your blog content, but this is time well spent investing in your business. You only have a few seconds to make an impact when someone clicks on your website. How will you make sure they stay long enough to want to hire you?

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Photo by Anete Lūsiņa