Many times freelancers start off with a few gigs here and there and before they know it they have left their day jobs and are freelancing full time. And that’s great.
What isn’t so great is when you forget to build your own business – and in today’s day, that means building a website.
Having a website is as critical for freelancers as it is for big companies (and some may argue that it is even more important) but until now was difficult to create, time consuming and costly. Fortunately for freelancers, creating a website today is easier than ever! All you need is a little time and determination to get your site up and running.
If you think your freelance business does not need a dedicated website, think again. Websites are the best way for potential clients to see your past experience, gauge your professional style and see your skills for themselves.
Without a website, it will be much harder to establish validity as a professional in whatever domain you are operating. Since today’s day and age is increasingly digital based, lack of digital presence may even raise red flags in potential clients.
Having a website also increases your exposure to potential new clients and simplifies sharing with others your skill set, experience and services.
Now that you know you need a website, you may be overwhelmed and feel like you don’t know where to start – and that’s what we’re here to help you with!
The first thing you need to do to create a website for your freelance business is pick a domain name. Your domain is the name of your website and the way people will find your business. Pick a name that is short, memorable, and does not violate any copyrights.
In addition to buying a domain name, you have to subscribe to a hosting plan in order to set up your website. Think of hosting like rent for your website. Unless you plan on driving a lot of traffic to your site, most basic hosting plans should suit your freelance website needs.
Once you have your domain and hosting set up, you can already improve your freelance business by getting a custom email (firstname.lastname@example.org for example).
Today you don’t need to hire an expensive designer and developer to create a beautiful website for your freelance business. There are a range of website such as wix.com, weebly, squarespace and more that let you create a website with little to no programming or design knowledge.
These do-it-yourself website creation platforms incorporate intuitive drag and drop editors and pre-made templates that can be easily tweaked to suit your unique needs, making website creation simple. The disadvantage of such sites is the fact that if you want to move to another platform or stop paying them a monthly fee, you will have to create the website from scratch because it cannot be transferred.
If you want to create something a bit more personal and have more control over your site, you can purchase a template or have a designer create the website look and feel you want and get a developer to incorporate that on a ready-made content management system (CMS) such as WordPress. These sites offer more flexibility in terms of control and long-term flexibility and growth.
When deciding on a layout, be sure to find one that suits your industry (for example, having a photo based website for a content writer may not be the best way to showcase your skills). Be sure to brand your website so it has a look and feel that is uniquely your own. Think of all the relevant pages you may need beyond the homepage such as about, projects, service, contact and so on. Don’t forget to include a contact form on your website to capture new leads as well as your own contact information so users can call/email you directly.
Once you start working on the design of the website, it’s time to really focus on the content that will get your message across.
Be sure to have a user persona in mind when creating the website content and to make sure that the flow of information is cohesive throughout the entire site. This may be the time to seek out the help of other freelancers to help you with creating marketing oriented content and professional photos.
When creating your website, it is important to include your personal background and professional experience. If you have samples of work, such as websites created, articles written etc, be sure to place those in a clearly visible place on your site. Don’t forget to link to your business Facebook page, Instagram page and LinkedIn account.
After you have your site up and running, it’s time to start promoting it in order to gain traction, increase visitors and capture leads.
To advertise your site, chose a reputable ad management platform such as Google Ad’s or Facebook ad’s depending on your target audience. For example, if you are primarily B2B focused, your potential clients may be searching for you on google, however if your clients are predominantly individuals and not companies, Facebook might be the right advertising medium for you. Both platforms let you easily search for key terms your potential clients may be looking for, manage your budget and create ads with ease.
Whichever outlet you chose, always remember that promoting your freelance business online is a long-run task, and setting up a website is just the first step.