9 business-boosting benefits of a freelance website
Freelance Websites — Part 1
In the mid 1990s, I logged into my CompuServe account (remember CompuServe?) and created my very first website. It was a big deal, because the World Wide Web was fairly new to people at the time and I was probably one of just a handful of freelancers who had a site.
Of course, it was a complete waste of time, since few potential clients accessed the Web back then. It was cool to have a site, but not particularly useful. I don’t remember a single client who called me because of it.
Today, that’s all changed. Just about everyone has a website. Saying you don’t have a site is like saying you don’t have a phone or indoor plumbing.
But just because nearly every freelancer has a site doesn’t mean that every freelancer’s site is successful. Many have one for no other reason than everyone else has one. It’s often more a matter of not wanting to explain why they don’t have a site rather than finding ways to use the site to build their business.
This is the first of a series of articles on websites for freelancers. I want to discuss the benefits of having a site from a business perspective, what freelancers often do wrong when creating a site, and what elements you should include to make your site a business generator.
I’ll also show you the website for my own freelance business, Direct Creative, and give you an inside look at what I do that works, the different versions of the site over the years, and a peak at some tweaking I’ve done to improve my site.
Part 1: The benefits of a freelance website
You may think you already know all the reasons why you have or should have a website. But do you? After looking at a lot of freelance sites, it’s obvious to me that many freelancers don’t grasp the full potential of a well-written and well-designed site.
So let’s start with some of the benefits of having a good website. Your freelance site lets you:
- Promote your services to the entire planet 24 hours a day. Like a billboard along the highway, it’s visible to anyone who comes by. But it can be far more than a billboard, it can be like having a full-time sales force, getting clients and generating work for your business day after day.
- Eliminate the need for printed literature. There was a time when I spent hours printing and mailing information packets to prospects. Now I just send people to my website.
- Reduce the need for letterhead and business cards. Your site becomes your calling card and your branding tool. Since I seldom do business locally and I bill by email, I haven’t printed new letterhead or envelopes in years. But even if you do use these items frequently, a website means they’re not as vital as they once were.
- Provide samples of your work to anyone, anywhere, instantly. I used to spend a lot of time making copies of my work and mailing it to people. Now I never do. My site does the work and even reduces requests for samples because of the next benefit in this list.
- Sell prospects on your expertise before they even call you. My site provides so much specific information, few people even ask me for samples. Why should they? After visiting my site, they’re already convinced I can do the job. This is one of the most powerful benefits of a good site.
- Establish a virtual space for your business in the minds of clients. One of the downsides to freelancing is that people often think of you as someone working at home in your underwear. But with a good website, you can give people a different and more professional image for their mind’s eye.
- Answer questions about your services. By telling potential clients how you work, you can reduce the amount of explaining when you talk to them on the phone or in person. It helps you get down to business faster so you can talk about the work rather than about yourself.
- Offer documents and resources as an aid to clients. As a professional, there are many ways you can assist your clients to make working with you easier and more productive. On my site, for example, I provide a Q&A document that helps me gather the information I need for projects.
- Create opportunities for additional revenue. This one is big now that people realize how to “monetize” by selling ads and products to take advantage of site traffic. My site not only pays for itself, it actually provides a tidy income stream of thousands of dollars a year.
The bottom line is this: If you don’t have a website, you should. If you do have one, you should consider whether it’s doing all it can do to bring in business. Are you fully utilizing the benefits listed here?
In Part 2, we’ll look at some of the common mistakes freelancers make with their business website.
- 8 website elements that generate freelance business
- What a successful freelance website looks like
- Are you making these 7 freelance website mistakes?
- How I gave my freelance website a profitable makeover
- 11 quick ways to kickstart your slow freelance business