If you’ve done any amount of research on launching your writing career, you’ve probably heard that you need a freelance writer website. But do you really?
A thousand times, yes.
While you might not need it immediately, you will eventually need a website. You can be a great writer with an awesome skillset, but none of that matters if you can’t showcase it!
Sure, I spend a bit of time maintaining my site, but it has saved me so much time in the long run.
So how do you create a freelance writer website that gets clients, especially if you’ve never made a website?
Here’s the breakdown:
We’ll get into the details of each section below. If you already have a website, you can skip to just the parts you need.
Step #1: Choose a Name for Your Freelance Writing Business
The first step—choosing a name for your freelance writing business. (And as much as writers might hate the sound of running a business, that’s what you’re doing!)
A lot of freelancers just use their first and last name.
I eventually settled on something pretty generic—Content by Lauren. But it’s easy enough to market and it makes a personal connection with my clients. I also never get asked, “What’s your name again?”
I had a few reasons for this:
I wanted to put my name out there, but I wanted my other sites to do the talking and teaching. I needed something simple and somewhat unimpressive that wouldn’t detract from my branded projects.
And, I’ll be honest, I’m still pretty uncomfortable marketing myself. I’d rather say, “Hey, go check out this stuff I made” than write a landing page talking about “why you should hire Lauren Connally!”
Anytime someone asks about working with me, I just send them to my portfolio page and call it a day. I’d rather that they see why they would want to work with me—much more effective than trying to tell them why they should hire me.
So which name is right for your business?
Personal branding is simple and makes it easy to make a human connection with your potential clients.
They also won’t ever have to ask your name again.
It’s flexible and doesn’t tie you down to a specific niche if you’re still figuring out what you really want to write about. (Just as well I didn’t brand myself a tech copywriter—I rarely write about tech anymore!)
And if you’re terrified about marketing you, just think of your site like a really fancy resume, if that makes things easier. You’re showcasing your freelance writing, knowledge, and possible design skills if you want to get a little fancy with your freelance writer website.
I use my site to showcase writing, community building, educational content, and foundational SEO knowledge. (And I do what design work I can, but nothing super fancy.)
The biggest advantage of personal branding is that your name will start to carry some weight as you grow as a freelance writer. People will start to recognize you and you’ll get projects a lot faster without having to go through lengthy interviews and consultations.
But again, it does require some degree of confidence. A lot of writers feel really uncomfortable with this, and for good reason. You’re selling you.
It’s okay if you find that a little scary! You’ll grow into it.
Business branding is a slightly less direct way to market yourself.
If you’re uncomfortable about using your name or feel like a niche-related name might be more beneficial, business branding may be a good route.
If you know what you want to write about and can see yourself writing about a certain niche for years to come, consider using a name related to that niche. Glossy Type is a great example—a beauty blog-gone-agency whose niche is immediately clear.
She showcases herself and makes a personal connection with potential clients but leaves things a bit open-ended. She shifts the focus from “just me” to an agency specialized in the beauty industry (“we”).
However, it’s difficult to get started with an agency-type site if you don’t have samples to back it up. Glossy Type has social proof from past work, which gives the business credibility.
Choosing Your Domain Name
Once you’ve decided which route you want to take, secure your domain name and social media handles.
Sometimes they’re taken, so you might have to get creative! If you’re using your name, it’s less likely to be taken. (And you can throw in your middle initial if needed.)
If you’re brainstorming a business name, I like to use Panabee to come up with ideas. It also shows you if your chosen domain name and social media handles are available.Register your domain name through Namecheap or through your host.
Step #2: Pick a Platform for Your Site
Once you’ve chosen a name, it’s time to pick a platform.
I am undeniably biased towards WordPress (self-hosted) and rarely recommend anything else.
It’s incredibly customizable and you can do just about anything with it. It does have a bit more of a learning curve than some other platforms, but I still recommend it, even to my not-so-technical clients.
(The set-up and theme selection sections later in this article will be specific to WordPress.)
WordPress.com has come a long way and is almost impossible to break.
They also have some really nice enterprise-level sites, but you gotta be willing to shell out the big bucks for those—and at that level, I would say there are probably better solutions, like HubSpot.
I was a huge fan of StudioPress and their managed hosting, but they’ve since been acquired by WP Engine and I can only speak to the quality of their themes. I’ve heard lots of mixed opinions about WP Engine.
I’ve heard good things about Wix, but I’m a bit skeptical.
The last time I checked them out, they were using WordPress for their own blog—I wasn’t sure what that said about the quality of their own platform and never looked into it further.I’ve also seen some really nice Squarespace sites, but primarily for those that want to expand into e-commerce.
Step #3: Find a Good Host—You’ll Be Stuck with Them
When you’re choosing a host, do lots of research.
You’re going to be relying on them quite a bit, so it’s important that you know they’re trustworthy. Read lots of reviews, check out third-party review sources like TrustPilot and contact your host beforehand if anything is unclear.
And beware of renewal rates. You’ll find that a lot of hosts offer dirt-cheap hosting the first year and often triple the price when you have to renew. (Not an exaggeration—realistically, it can be much more of an increase.)
And whatever you do, no matter how tempting it might be, avoid the hosts that charge bottom-of-the-barrel rates (think like $12/yearly). They’re unreliable, lack actual support, and there’s a good chance that if they shut down, you’ll be stuck without a way to recover your site.
Step #4: Create Your Professional Email Address
Most hosts offer free email hosting in addition to your web hosting plan.
I can’t stress the importance of having a professional email (or being able to send from a reputable domain). Gmail just doesn’t cut it if you’re reaching out to a lot of clients.
I have only ever used my personal Gmail address a few times (and with people I already knew I was going to be working with). In most cases, you should use an email tied to your domain, or a domain specifically for email if you’re paranoid about getting flagged for spam.
Gmail has sending limitations and lots of clients get put off when they see the free email domains. Plan on doing lots of outreach, which often isn’t very Gmail-friendly. (Yes, even if you’re going by the rules.)
And if you’re with a host that doesn’t offer email as part of your plan, Gsuite is a great route to go.
Step #5: Set Up Your Site
If you’re not familiar with WordPress, I recommend checking out WPBeginner. They’ve got some great resources for people new to WordPress, or who want to explore it as an option for their site.
Most freelance writers want to become familiar with WordPress at some point. There’s a very good chance your clients are using it, so what better place to start than with your own site?
With most hosts, the setup is already done for you. All you have to do is set up your user account from your control panel and the installation is completely automated. (If you run into any issues, their support is just a quick ticket away!)
Once you have your site installed, there are a few things you’ll want to immediately change.
Navigate to Settings > Permalinks and change your permalink settings to “Post name.” This way, when you make a new blog post, it only includes the post title in the link and not a jumble of numbers or categories.
Firstly, it’s good for your readers. They should know what the page is about just by looking at the link. Secondly, it’s good for SEO. Keep your links short and make sure it accurately explains the content of the page.
Go to Settings > Reading and find the option for Search Engine Visibility. Make sure “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is unchecked.
If this is selected, your site won’t get indexed. While you won’t be getting lots of organic search traffic in the beginning, you do want your site to be indexed.
My Basic Go-To WordPress Plugins
I’ve included my list of must-have plugins that I install before I ever start customizing a site. Some of them you may not need, like Jetpack and Maintenance, but I recommend installing the rest of them.
- Rank Math—The swiss army knife of WordPress SEO
- WPForms—Super simple WordPress contact forms (and other forms, like payments, surveys, newsletters and more)
- Akismet Anti-Spam—Helps prevent comment and contact form spam
- Civic Cookie Control—User consent for cookies
- Jetpack—You only really need this one if you’re still using some WordPress.com features. Don’t worry about it if you don’t use WordPress.com
- Maintenance—Display a beautiful maintenance page while you’re working on your site
Step #6: Choose a Theme
The last thing you’ll want to do before you get started creating the content of your site—choose a theme.
WordPress has a massive directory for free themes, so you can kind of browse around here before you even start creating your site to get some ideas.
I usually use Elementor or Divi, which are both page builders that give you a lot of control over your website design. So, if you’re big into customization and want your site to stand out, I recommend looking at those two.
My other favorite themes are the Genesis framework themes available from StudioPress. Although they’ve recently been acquired, you can still purchase a WordPress theme individually or as part of their bundle that includes all the themes.
Step #7: Include These Things on Your Site
Now for the important stuff—the content you need on your site.
You can get a functional website and a beautiful design, but none of it matters if you don’t have content that makes clients want to work with you.
A blog isn’t necessary, at least in the beginning. It’s helpful later on when you want a place to send your clients for extra resources or you want to start working on your SEO.
The only time I might recommend having a blog early on is if you’re lacking freelance writing samples.
For now, focus on the following content. This is the most important part of your freelance writer website.
If you don’t have a lot of content, this is often the first page of your website your clients will see.
Here’s how to make a great first impression:
The first sections of this site address some of the most common problems in tech copywriting—stuffy, jargon-packed writing that fails to captivate their audience.It immediately states the niche so that you’re not left digging for information.
The website above provides social proof early on, in the third section.
Here, they include a few companies they’ve worked with close to the top of the page, but they double down and include even more companies and some reviews closer to the bottom of the page.
Many freelance writer websites tend to shove their social proof towards the bottom of the site, despite it being one of the most important parts of your site.
But don’t worry if you don’t have this yet!
If you haven’t worked with anyone yet, you can supplement reviews with qualifications.
Talk about your qualifications, whether it’s a college degree, a background in writing, or a certification. Both Google and HubSpot offer free digital marketing and related courses and certifications. AWAI offers a paid copywriting course and certification, which is more relevant if you’re getting into direct response copywriting.
Your website doesn’t have to be complicated.
The best freelance writer websites are often simple and straight-forward, with only a few pages.
Starting out, you probably won’t have much more than the pages we talk about in this blog post—your home, about, services, samples, and contact page. (And even then, many writers don’t have a separate “samples” page on their website. It often gets lumped into their about page.)
Navigation should reflect that simplicity and give clear directions to your visitors.
Currently, my own freelance writer website just includes links to my blog, writing samples, about page, pricing, and a contact page. No sub-menus or anything fancy.
A Strong Call-to-Action
You should have a powerful call-to-action (CTA) on your home page, preferably in or right after the first/hero section of your page.
In general, you’ll want CTAs placed after each section, but you’ll want at one or two to really stand out from the rest.
For your freelance writer website, you’ll want the strongest CTAs to be to check out your services page or to contact you.
I also have a CTA for an email list, but that’s much less of a focus for me. Most of my business comes from people who show up to my site already wanting to hire someone. Putting them on an email list isn’t a priority if they already want to work with me.
For a strong CTA, you’ll want to consider the following things:
- The strength of the copy directly before your CTA—you want it to go directly after your strongest copy.
- The color you use—use attention-grabbing colors without being obnoxious
- Font and formatting—bold, contrasting words that are very easy to read
- Secondary CTA
The Secondary CTA
Now, secondary options are a little tricky but can be done. You usually see these on email pop-ups.
Typically, the options are pretty cookie cutter. You have a great option, “Yes, I want more leads now!” followed by an obviously bad option, “No, I’d rather keep throwing money away…”
And while those have their place, there are more creative things you can do.
Rather than paint the secondary CTA as a negative outcome, make it neutral.
Sure, it might not seem as powerful at first glance, but you can make it work for you. If the first option is “Yes, I want more leads now!” the second option should be “I don’t know if I’m quite ready yet.”
Your first option would be to direct them to the contact page or the services page.If they’re not ready yet, that second option could be used to direct them to a page with more information on to help them decide if they need a copywriter at this point in time. Or, it could just be to stay in touch via an email list.
If the idea of writing your about page makes your stomach turn, you’re not alone—many freelance writers feel the same way!
When it comes to crafting copy for our clients and promoting someone else’s product, it’s fine.
But the second we’re given the spotlight, things get a little uncomfortable.
So how do you tackle the beast that is your about page?
Too often we’re taught that self-promotion is wrong.
You have a great service that can help people make more money and connect with their customers. You’re not doing yourself—or your clients—any favors by avoiding self-promotion.
It might sound scary, but…
You need to put as much confidence into writing about yourself as you do writing about clients’ products.
Your about page is the perfect place to share more about yourself and how you help your clients.
And especially if you’re pitching yourself as a solo freelance writer, you need to do just that. Let them know they’re going to be getting you—your personality, your writing, and not some other writer who might not have the same skills or expertise. (Colin Newcomer does this well.)
Share Your Interests and Passions
This is your chance to make a personal connection and let them know how the topics you write about fit into your life.
Deevra Norling’s freelance writer website has a more personal feel in general, but I love her about page.
It’s simple, but it works. She gives a quick overview of some of the services she offers and touches on some of her specialty niches.
In each section, she shows her love for travel—the primary niche she showcases on her website. Not only does she enjoy writing about it, but it’s a passion that’s very much a part of her personal life.
At the end, she adds a personal touch and tells potential clients a bit about who she is and what she does outside of writing.
Many clients look for that sort of thing. They want your passion and enthusiasm to come across in your writing.
Writers with a passion for a topic are also likely to be more knowledgeable about it. That means more time writing and less time researching and trying to fill in the gaps.
Add Social Links and a Contact Form
If someone has made it all the way to your about page, chances are high that they’re going to want to connect with you and talk more about working with you.
Give them a place to check out your (public) social profiles and connect with you on LinkedIn. While I still don’t use LinkedIn nearly as much as I should, it was a big game-changer for me. Some of my highest-paying work has come from referrals from people I regularly interact with on LinkedIn.
Lastly, you’ll want to add a contact form here as well to make it easy for people to reach you.
I’ll be honest—my services page is probably the least viewed page on my site. But it’s important.
I have two types of clients: ones that constantly work with lots of different copywriters and know what they want and those that have never worked with a copywriter and have no idea what to expect.
My ideal client is someone who already understands what copywriting is and is willing to pay asking price without trying to haggle. That pricing page is written primarily for them and it might scare off people who haven’t hired a copywriter before.
I also include a little section at the top that links to some information about copywriting and what it is, typical rates, and information on choosing a copywriter that’s a good fit for their business. It directs them away from that page, but not away from my site entirely.
It’s a much better option than showing them how expensive writing services can be and letting them run away.
Your services page should include:
- Resources for people who don’t know what they’re looking for yet
- Clear pricing and details on what each of your packages include
- Links to any terms or things people need to know before working with you
- More social proof—reinforce their desire to work with you
- A contact form or email signup
Contact Forms and Page
We’ve already talked about some places to add contact forms, but here’s a list of where I would recommend placing them:
- Your website footer
- At the bottom of each main page
- As a floating widget, in the bottom right-hand corner of your site
- On your contact page
Basically, you want contact forms everywhere. You want to make it as easy as possible for potential clients to reach you. They shouldn’t ever have to go digging for a way to contact you.
That’s one of my biggest pet peeves about freelance writer websites—not being able to reach someone easily. I respect my clients enough to not waste their time with that nonsense.
Your contact page can be simple. I provide a few different options to people on my contact page—I have a link to my email, a contact form, my social media pages, and a separate form if they want a callback.
I also give them a way to reach me via chat on Facebook. (To my page, not my personal profile!)
You can also include links and some copy before the contact form. I used to have just a contact form with a short section on when I’d get in touch with them.
Now, I have a short section linking back to my Services and FAQ page, which has drastically cut down on how many emails I receive and shortens our initial correspondence in general.
Need Some Help?
Now that you have an idea of what you need for your site, all you need is to get started.
We’re here to help!
If the idea of creating and maintaining your own website still sounds awful, we offer affordable rates for easy-to-customize websites built on different platforms. Our go-to is always WordPress or a custom site, but we can explore the different options together.
Ready to get started?Book a consultation with us here and we’ll go over everything you need to know about your website.
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