8 website elements that generate freelance business
Freelance Websites — Part 3
Different freelancers take different approaches to creating websites.
One will produce a huge site crammed with information, such as articles and checklists. Another will include lots of interactivity, such as polls or a blog. Another will want a site highlighting vast experience, showing impressive samples and results.
The diversity is good. Your site should fit your own specialty, personality, and the expectations of your prospective clients.
But the common thread running through all freelance sites is that they are (or should be) geared for generating work for your professional freelance practice. However, thinking “business” is usually the hardest part of freelancing for most people.
Without exception, the bottom line for any freelance website is business. Does it attract business? Does it produce paying projects? Is it a true business asset?
Part 3: Key Business-Generating Elements for Your Freelance Website
So far in this series, we have reviewed the benefits of a business website for freelancers and the most common mistakes freelancers make when they create a website. Now it’s time to get down to brass tacks and talk about what you should include in your website to make it a business generator.
Here are the basics:
- Clear, descriptive home page. It should be an informative doorway to your site. You should avoid an annoying “spash” page that most people will skip anyway. Your home page should tell people at a glance who you are and what you offer. It should also reveal the overall organization of your site from a quick look at the main navigational links. You want to give a professional first impression. And you want to use copy and links to entice people to delve deeper into your site. Also, your home page should go easy on big graphics so it appears quickly in browsers.
- Details about your services. It’s not enough to say you’re a copywriter or designer. Provide a specific menu of services. List the sort of jobs you handle. If you offer something unique, highlight it and describe it. One thing to keep in mind here is that specialists always earn more than generalists. Your menu of services should reflect your specialty focus. For example, since I’m a copywriter who specializes in direct mail, lead generation, and direct marketing, my menu includes services directly related to these specialties. I sometimes handle non-direct marketing projects, but I downplay these in my menu to avoid diluting the specialty focus.
- Answers to questions. Don’t assume people will know how you work or the details of your business. Doubt about these matters can prevent some people from calling you. Try to anticipate what questions prospects may have and provide clear, concise answers. How much time does it take? How much advance notice do you need? How much does it cost? What experience do you have? Do you require a contract or retainer? Do you charge for meetings? Etc.
- Proof of your expertise. It’s one thing for you to say you are an expert. It’s another to provide evidence that proves it. One obvious way to provide proof is to include testimonials from satisfied clients. Another is to provide case histories or success stories about projects that have turned out well. Posting articles you’ve written on your area of expertise is also a great way to provide proof.
- Samples of your work. Samples are a form of proof as well, and one that is a requirement for most freelancers. Prospects will almost always want to see the work you’ve done for others, though I think few will look at your samples closely. Most people simply want to get a sense of your “style” or see what sort of clients you do work for. Providing samples says that you are proud of your work, you have experience, other people trust you, and that you have nothing to hide.
- Contact information. If you want phone calls, put your phone number in a prominent location. If you want e-mail contact, do the same (though you might want to munge your address to help avoid spam.) It’s common to have a link called “contact” that leads to a page with various ways to reach you, including phone, mail, and e-mail. If you offer free consultation or information, mention this as a call to action along with your contact information. For example: “Get a free estimate and my special report, 7 Simple Copywriting Techniques that Build Winning Brands. Call me today at 555-555-1234.”
- Means of generating inquiries. Ideally, you want your site to be more than an online brochure. It should actively generate sales leads, so give people an incentive to contact you. I’ve given you one example to use on your contact page. Other techniques include publishing an e-newsletter so people have to provide their contact information to receive it, offering free consultation or analysis, offering samples, or even just offering a free estimate.
- Resources for your clients. In addition to elements to get new clients, you may want to include elements that serve existing clients. This might include a section of your site to view projects, checklists to make projects easier, information on how to use the work you provide, links to related services, tutorials, industry news, etc. Your site is your virtual office space, so while clients probably won’t be visiting every day, it’s nice to give them an incentive to drop by occasionally.
In Part 4, we’ll take a look at my own website and see how I implement these ideas to promote my freelance copywriting and design business.
- 9 business-boosting benefits of a freelance website
- What a successful freelance website looks like
- Are you making these 7 freelance website mistakes?
- How I gave my freelance website a profitable makeover
- 7 elements of a solid freelance copywriting contract