Freelance copywriting is a fascinating job. But, as any job, it requires one to master a set of skills and tools to succeed. At Boxmode, we surely believe that a personal website is instrumental for the success in this field. You just need to use it right.
We’ve asked 14 freelance copywriters the following question: “If you were at the beginning of your career path as a freelance copywriter, what would you want to know before creating your personal website?”
Here’s what they’ve shared with us.
A warning: Some of their answers may seem controversial, but we hope you’ll find the tips that sound right for your situation.
Elna Cain, expert freelance B2B writer for brands and SaaS
“As a newly copywriter online, one of the best things to have to help grow your client base is a service-based website.”
This website promotes your copywriting service, shows your credibility, experience, writing skills and the social proof as a copywriter. But, wait, if you’re new, how do you show this? Utilize three easy tips to optimize your website: show the benefits (not only features), provide samples of your work, and make it easy to contact you.
To show the benefits of your service, your website copy has to speak to your ideal client – sports agencies, protein powder businesses, or yoga wear brands, for example. Use industry verbiage, stats and storytelling to show authenticity that you understand your service.
For your writing samples, provide mock-ups of your service. For example, if you want to write white papers, provide a white paper example on your portfolio page.
Finally, make it easy to contact you by having a contact form on your website, links to your social media profiles and a Skype ID or phone number. The more ways to contact you will yield more client work!
Chelsea Baldwin, founder at Business Bitch, Chelsea began freelance writing all the way back in 2008.
“The reality is that it’s businesspeople who’re most in the market to hire you, so you need to speak to them in their language”
- Lead with your most brag-worthy accomplishments. A lot of new freelance writers tend to try to show off their writing razzle dazzle on their website to impress visitors, but the reality is that it’s business people who’re most in the market to hire you, so you need to speak to them in their language. It’s easy to find 100 or more freelance writers to choose from: it’s not easy to take those 100 people and actually choose the one that’ll be the best investment for your business. Lead with your most brag-worthy accomplishments, like how most of your articles get shared over 200 times, or how one blog post made $5,000 for a client. That will help you stand out. Lead with your accomplishments to get their attention, and then show off your writing ability. You’ll land more gigs that way.
- Make getting in touch easy. Having a contact page is great, but make getting in touch with you even easier than that. Put a contact form or a button that leads directly to your contact page on every page of your website, so people can easily get in touch with you the moment they decide they’re impressed. The more you require people to click around to get to the goal of getting in touch, the more likely they are to get distracted and not follow through. The nature of the internet has created short attention spans, so you need to make sure you counteract that.
Anne McAuley Lopez, freelance content writer since 2010
“SEO from the beginning.”
If I could go back 10 years to my first freelance copywriter website, I would do three things:
- Focus the content on my website so that it is targeted to my ideal clients and services. Anything that doesn’t fall into those topics needs to get published elsewhere.
- SEO from the beginning. It is hard to play catch up on SEO after years of publishing. It isn’t impossible. It is so much easier to start from scratch and build from there.
- Include testimonials as part of my process with clients. I am having to go back to clients and ask for a testimonial when I could have made it part of the process from the beginning. Add those to the website to increase credibility.
Stefan Palios, a freelance writer for startups and VCs since 2017 based in Canada, with clients in Canada and the US. Stefan is also the author of the bestselling book “The 50 Laws of Freelancing.”
“A big part of a website is to showcase your work, but another (often forgotten) part is to showcase you.”
1) Build low or no-code. Unless you’re actually a coder by hobby, don’t go with any web-builder that requires you to use code.
2) Focus the website on what you’re really good at. When you’re going to market as a new freelancer, you will be competing against every single freelancer out there in your space. To win early work without a portfolio to back you, focus on what you’re really good at versus just what you are capable of. For instance, if you’re a copywriter that’s amazing at witty short-form blogs, orient your website to showcase that first, putting the rest of your talents in other services. As you get clients, you can expand with them and build a reputation for great work.
3) Tell your own story. A big part of a website is to showcase your work, but another (often forgotten) part is to showcase you. Share a bit on your site about why you got into freelance copywriting and your history. Sure, you have LinkedIn, but if someone lands on your site, they want to learn about you there. They might check LinkedIn too, so make sure the information is consistent.
Michelle E. Rawlings, writer, copy editor and blogger at ShellyRawlings.com
“It’s likely your website will never be perfect. At some point, you just have to take the leap and publish your site. You have nowhere to go but up!”
Creating a personal website that converts potential clients into paying customers becomes a lot easier once you identify your primary goal—or goals—for the site. Are you using it as a portfolio to show potential clients what you can do? Are you using it as a marketing tool to get your name out there as a freelancer? Are you trying to add new subscribers to your email list?
Once you identify what you want your site to do for you, it will become more clear what parts and pieces you need to accomplish those goals. If you’re trying to woo over potential clients, for instance, it makes sense to include a page on your site dedicated to testimonials.
Alternatively, if you’re just starting to get your name out there and want to start to build a reputation, creating a blog and learning about content marketing would likely be a more effective use of your time.
In either scenario, remember that your website will likely never be perfect. I could spend 12 hours each day tweaking little things here and there and still find something else to change. At some point, you just have to take the leap and publish your site. You have nowhere to go but up!
Katie Peacock, conversion copywriter and funnel strategist.
“Start creating consistent content now. You’ll never have more time to create than you do before you get your business off the ground.”
Here are three tips I wish someone had told me when I first started out:
1) Start creating consistent content now. Whether it’s a blog, YouTube channel, or another form of high-value long-form content (you’ll want to pick something you can repurpose on other channels), you’ll never have more time to create than you do before you get your business off the ground.
2) Clearly name the problem you’re solving — on your Home page, About page, and in your offers. Nobody who visits your website knows how little confidence (or experience) you have, how hard it was for you to write your own About page, or how nervous you are about whether they will like your work. When they see your website, they want to know you understand their problem and that you can solve it. Bonus points if you can prove you’ve solved it for other people!
3) Include the question “How did you hear about me?” in your Intake Form. That way you’ll know where your leads are coming from, and you can double down on marketing yourself in the channels that bring in your best buyers.
Volodymyr Bilyk, Marketing Manager at CNA International IT, an IT recruitment company.
“Focus on the value you can deliver.”
- Search Engine Optimization is tough for freelance copywriters. The competition is too tough. Because of that, it is better to focus on the showcase pieces and do them as if you were commissioned (in case if you don’t have real texts). Proper SEO on such pieces will certainly attract some SERP attention and, subsequently, a potential lead.
- Keep navigation easy to follow, especially on the portfolio. Outline the categories with topics and themes to be instantly understandable.
- When it comes to landing pages, you should focus less on hardcore SEO keyword onslaught, but rather on explaining the value you can deliver and how you can solve the client’s pains.
Rob Swystun, freelance content strategist, writer and SEO specialist
“If you can show that your writing helped a company increase their sales by a specific number, that is the most convincing thing you can put on your site.”
Before creating my personal website, it would have been nice to have some specific freelance writer templates. When I first designed it, I think I just used a generic template and then later took inspiration from other freelance writers. But it would’ve been good to have one or two specific templates meant for freelance writers to start with. Designing a website when you’re not a designer can be difficult, so it’s nice to have a starting point.
For writers who are getting ready to create a website, I suggest looking at sites of writers who you admire and following their design while still making it your own.
Definitely have a non-selfie photo that looks professional. Even if you’re going the agency route where you present yourself as a company, have your photo as the founder or CEO. Websites without any photos of people look a little suspect.
Something else I wish I had known when creating my website is that results speak to people. If you can show that your writing helped a company increase their sales by a specific number, that is the most convincing thing you can put on your site. Your potential clients are most interested in what you can do for them, and if you can prove that you are able to produce results, you’ll be able to get more clients and charge more for your services.
Allan Borch, founder of DotcomDollar.com, an all-in-one resource for bloggers and affiliate marketers.
“You need to possess patience as getting first clients has always been a challenge for anyone.”
Here are the top tips you should remember if you want to start your website and work as a freelance writer.
- Present a very compelling About page. This is how you sell yourself to possible clients. You have to impress them. So, talk about your skills, achievements, and experiences that could be of great help to get a deal from them. Nonetheless, keep it short, yet detailed. No one loves too much fluff. Don’t talk too much about your life but focus on what you can offer to them. Companies want writers who are concise even in a few words.
- A striking Home page. This is where your prospects would first land, so do the best not to disappoint them. Present a homepage that is simple and professional-looking. This is where you should first showcase and highlight your skills, so put it into words clearly.
- Provide a portfolio covering relevant topics to your clients. One mistake about new writers is pushing too hard to produce a portfolio. Do not just write about anything. If you are targeting a specific niche, make an article about it. That way, you would have specific prospects for your website.
Bottom line: The three tips above are the best ways to get you started as a freelance writer. Nonetheless, besides those tips, you need to possess patience as getting first clients has always been a challenge for anyone.
Ken Jacobs, CEO and Creative Director at Group 181, a creative advertising and marketing agency.
“For website development, I would put a heavy emphasis on SEO.”
I work on both sides of the transaction — I buy freelance writer services as well as sell my own services to clients.
For website development, I would put a heavy emphasis on SEO, with a number of pages specifically dedicated to the industries a writer works in. For these posts, the more specific, the better.
Page titles really matter. Even if they are a little clunky. For instance, you can say, “Freelance Writer For Articles And Content For Financial Services.” This type of title can be modified for a number of different sectors.
Daniel Carter, an electric ride enthusiast and founder of ZippyElectrics, a gadget review blog.
“Serve your facts in a fun, creative way instead of just focusing on yourself and your accomplishments.”
As a freelance writer for four years now, here are my three tips for freelance writers who want to start websites that would attract clients.
- Observe SEO. Remember that no matter how enticing your website is, it would still be useless if you wouldn’t be found by anyone. That said, hit the best ranking keywords. When you get a favorable SERP, you have already proven to your clients that you are worthy of getting a project. However, this could be a problem for those who are new to this business. Nonetheless, don’t shy away from the fact that you need help from an SEO professional to get you the best ranking keywords.
- Keep your freelance writer bio gentle. It is always a misconception among writers that they need to brag about their accomplishments on their sites. But don’t do it. Be a professional. Serve your facts in a fun, creative way instead of just focusing on yourself and your accomplishments. Make a bio that would sound as if you are telling your story while highlighting your achievements bit by bit. Keep things gentle.
- Pick the right domain. There are lots of domains out there but .com is the best one. If you want to be creative, do it, but remember that you need to get attention. The .com domain has been there for a long time now. That said, this domain is the one search engines would always favor.
Michael Russell, Director of Digital Marketing at Ratchet Straps.
“Make sure to be able to provide content examples before you make the website.”
One of the best things I would recommend to any new freelance copywriter would be to make sure to be able to provide content examples before you make the website. One of my biggest regrets that I ran into when I started my website was how fast a website could take off, and I had to turn down a lot of business back then was from not being able to provide work examples. Any new freelance copywriters should be able to provide anywhere from 6-8 quality examples of your writing and illustrations in those writings as to why they could help the business owners with new customers.
Another tip I would recommend for any freelancer would be to provide different types of work, for example, e-commerce websites for sales and one for those who are offering services, as the work can be very different.
Brett Downes, founder and SEO specialist at HaroHelpers.
“Don’t tell people what YOU do. Use your website to tell people what you can do for THEM.”
The most important tip we give to any beginner freelancer is not to use your website to tell people what YOU do. Use your website to tell people what you can do for THEM. This is a super common mistake that I have seen that many freelancers make.
Your potential customers don’t care about you. They didn’t come to your website to marvel at all your skills. They come because they have a query and they think you might be able to solve it. So instead of listing the skills you have and the services you sell, list the results you can provide them.
James Bullard, founder of SoundFro, a blog for online enthusiasts.
“Even if your website is for personal use, it still needs an element of branding.”
- The objective. You need to have a clear objective for your website. What are you trying to convey to your audience?
- Find examples. Research websites you like the look of. This will help you narrow down your objective and give you an idea of style and design you want to achieve by creating your website.
- Branding. Even if your website is for personal use, it still needs an element of branding. For companies, we are talking logos and other branding materials.
- A colour scheme. Choose a color scheme that coincides with your branding. This will help you have a clear vision of what your website will look like.
- Images and video. Images of everything relevant to your website are useful. The more personable they are, the better.
Thanks to website builders like Boxmode, anyone without technical or design skills can create a website really quickly. But you still need to do it properly. We’ve collected some of the tips mentioned by the experts above:
- Prepare your content long before you launch your website.
- Make it easy for people to get in touch with you through the website.
- Brag about your accomplishments, but make sure you use dry facts and numbers.
- Benefit from SEO from day one.
- Stick to your branding guidelines. (If you don’t have any, it’s time to do something about it, or at least, decide on your colour scheme.)
- Emphasize the value you are offering. Tell people what problems your services will help them solve.
- Be patient.
- Quit being a perfectionist. Publish your website as soon as possible — the fine-tuning job never ends anyway.