Are you’re thinking about creating a website for your freelance writing business?
A website can be a great way to show off your portfolio, highlight your accomplishments, and connect with potential clients.
But is creating a website really worth the cost and effort?
If so, how do you actually go about creating one?
As a Freelance Writer, Do I Need a Website?
The truth is that you don’t need a website as a freelance writer. But I personally think it’s a good idea.
Let me explain.
You don’t need a website as a freelance writer because there are tools that exist for everything a site can offer.
- Want to build a portfolio? Consider creating a Medium account.
- Want to show off your accomplishments? Social media profiles and blog bios provide ample opportunity to highlight your accolades and unique skills.
- Want to give clients a way to connect with you? Again, social media is an excellent tool for this. You can even list your work email publically (something I’m always a bit iffy about).
That’s not to say a website isn’t useful. A website can be an incredibly valuable tool in your writing career.
But many guides say that the first thing every new writer should do is build themselves a website.
I’m simply suggesting that a site isn’t absolutely necessary.
So, How Do I Create a Freelance Writing Website?
Creating a website can feel like a hassle, but it really doesn’t have to be all that difficult.
We’ll break this next section down into five steps:
- Getting a domain
- Website building options
- Hosting your website
- Choosing a theme
- Creating your site
1. Getting a Domain and Hosting
The first step to building your website is choosing a domain.
While the name is entirely up to you, there are some common combinations that freelance writers use when picking a domain:
- LovelyLlamaWriting.com (or some other writing business name)
The list could go on, but those templates will give you a great place to start looking for the perfect domain name.
Unfortunately, not every name you want will be available. Some will be already taken by others, and some are priced far too highly to be worthwhile for a portfolio site.
Speaking of price, there are a ton of websites other that sell domain names.
Some of them for as little as $1.
Personally, I’ve bought close to 10 domains over the years and have always used ones of the bigger names in the industry.
I’m sure some of those websites claiming to sell domains for “$0.99!” are entirely legit – but I prefer to give my credit card info to one of the credible companies, like GoDaddy, NameCheap, or Domains.com.
So, I Bought The Site… Now What?
Congratulations! You’re the proud owner of www.[yourdomain].com.
So… now what?
Next, you need to decide how you want to build the website, and then how to host it.
2. Website Building Options
If you’ve done any Google searching on this topic before, you probably know that there are a ton of website builders out there.
The list could go on.
While each one has their pros and cons, the biggest trade-off you’re making is ease of use vs. customizability.
WordPress is the most customizable of all the site builders. It’s also the most difficult to set up and use.
If you’re relatively computer-savvy, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble, but you’ll probably still need to search for a few walk-throughs.
Check out a few examples of awesome sites built on WordPress.
Examples of WordPress Sites
Weebly and Wix are among the easiest to use. They’re entirely drag-and-drop which means there is zero coding of any kind required. They’re also fairly intuitive to use, meaning you’ll be up and running pretty quickly.
But…They also aren’t as customizable as WordPress.
So they may be some design elements that you want to change but have to live with.
Another advantage of companies like Weebly is that they are both a website builder and hosting provider. But we’ll get into that more in the next section.
Examples of Weebly and Wix Sites
3. Hosting Your Website
Next, you need hosting.
I won’t bother trying to explain what hosting is (mostly because I don’t understand it) but what’s important is that in order for you to put anything on the site, you need a hosting provider.
Unless you plan on launching multiple websites, I’d recommend keeping your hosting options simple.
If you choose to build a WordPress site, consider using the Startup plan on WPEngine (WordPress’ hosting service).
If you get a paid plan with a website builder like Wix or Weebly then hosting is included.
4. Choosing a Theme & Designing Your Site
Next, we’re talking about site design.
Unless you know a thing or two about user experience and the principles of website design, I’d recommend browsing around for an awesome theme on whatever website builder you’re using.
If you’re struggling to pick a theme, then think about what your goal for the website is.
- Is it mainly meant as a personal writing blog?
- Do you want a fancy home page with a hero image and contact button?
- Do you want a way to show off your portfolio and publications?
Once you know your goal for the site, picking a theme becomes much easier.
As a side note, if you want a theme that does all those things well, then you’ll probably have to pay a few dollars.
Examples of Awesome WordPress and Weebly Themes
Unicode – WordPress
Navy – WordPress
Kudos – WordPress
Birdseye 2 – Weebly
Unite – Weebly
Oasis – Weebly
5. Tips for Creating Your Site
What should you include on a website? There are a few things your site must have and the things it should have.
Let’s start with the “must haves:”
- A high-quality image
- A professional bio
- Examples of past work
- A contact form
With those four things, potentials clients will understand your expertise, be able to assess your writing style, and then contact you with their writing project.
But that’s just a barebones freelance writing site.
There are a handful of ways you can take the site to the next level:
- Create a thought leadership resources that your target audience will value. This is one of the best ways to demonstrate your industry knowledge and writing ability.
- Capitalize on the power of social proof. Create a page that highlights testimonials as well as any relevant courses, accomplishment, or publications that show your expertise.
- Have a page dedicated to your services and rates.
- Create a downloadable ebook. This is similar to the thought leadership example, however in this case you’re putting it together into a PDF and letting visitors download the ebook in exchange for their email.
Putting It All Together
When you put all that together, you have yourself a beautiful and professional writing website.
But, that doesn’t mean you can just set it and forget it.
Building a website doesn’t guarantee you’ll get any traffic. “Build it, and they will come” does not apply here.
Instead, you need to maintain the website by regularly adding new content and updating your portfolio.
You also need to get the site out into the world by including it in your social profiles, publication bios, and where ever else you can.