What a successful freelance website looks like

December 2, 2009 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Freelancing 

Freelance Websites — Part 4

freelance website secretsA website is a reflection of the person who created it.

When you see a disorganized site, you can infer that the owner is disorganized. When you see a site that is loaded with useful, relevant, information, you can infer that the owner is concerned about the needs of clients.

For many people, the Web has become their face to the world. It is far more expressive and revealing than anyone could have imagined when it was being created years ago in a university as a way to share academic information.

Back then, it didn’t matter what you posted. Only a select group would see it. But about 15 years ago, when people began commercializing the Web and opening it up to the general public, everything changed.

What you post now can be seen by millions all over the world. You can get more exposure on a website than you can appearing on the evening news.

This has raised the stakes significantly and has made creating a website a make or break task for business people, including freelancers.

Part 4: An Example of a Freelance Website That Works

So far in this series, we’ve looked at the benefits of having a freelance website, the mistakes freelancers often make with their sites, (like too many pictures of puppies), and the business-generating elements to include in a freelance site.

Now I want to show you my own website and what I’ve done to make it successful. And by successful, I’m talking about how it presents information about my freelance services and helps me generate a steady stream of paying clients.

I’m a freelance copywriter, designer, and consultant. And my business is called Direct Creative. I specialize in direct mail and direct marketing. Click here to look at my site in a separate browser window.

The first thing you’ll notice is that my homepage makes it clear who I am and what I do. The headline says I’m a copywriter. The photo shows I specialize in direct mail. The introductory paragraphs provide details about my services. Plus, there are links to all the main sections of my site.

In the Services section, I provide a summary of my services. Any potential client can look at this page and see what I offer at a glance. If they have additional questions (and they almost certainly will), they can look at the FAQ or frequently asked questions section with information about who I am, what I do, and how I work. I can’t anticipate every question, but by taking the time to answer a variety of specific questions, I show that I’m willing to be open and honest about my services.

Of course, there’s still an underlying question that most people will have: Do you know what you’re doing? That’s why I include a Bio section, which includes details about my experience. Prospects can see what sort of clients I have, where I’ve been published, organizations I have belonged to, etc.

All of these details go only so far. People expect me to say great things about myself, so to prove that I really do know what I’m doing, I need to show other people saying great things about me too. Which brings us to the section with testimonials, which I call Kudos. Here I list comments from clients and fans of my articles.

These work for me the same way they work for a product. When you go to Amazon, for example, you probably check the comments other people make before you buy a book or a CD, right? That’s because you want some objective assurance that what you’re buying is a quality product.

Next, I post a few samples of my work in the Samples section. I show small pictures of a few marketing pieces I’ve created and provide a brief comment on each. I also provide downloadable samples if prospects want to see more. This is reassuring for potential clients because you can tell a lot about a freelancer by looking at their work.

Naturally, there’s a Contact page, which is an must. I give a phone number at the top of every page, but the contact area provides more options. To reduce spam, I’ve “munged” my e-mail address. Munging is a way to show your e-mail to people viewing your site, but hide it from computers that search the Web to harvest addresses for spammers.

Not all prospects will visit your site and instantly hire you. Many will need additional information or more time to get to know you a little better. That’s why I’ve included a variety of ways to allow people to interact with me, including offering a free consultation and providing a newsletter. Plus, I have an area of my site dedicated to articles and resources that are valuable for people in my industry. These not only help to prove my expertise, they also give my current clients tools to make working with me easier and more efficient.

My website is a huge asset for me. It’s my face to the world, my “store front.” It functions as a brochure and as a sample kit. It educates potential clients and convinces people to hire me. When people call me, they invariably say that they first looked at my site. That’s how I know it works.

In Part 5, which is the final installment in this series, we’ll take a look at how my website has evolved over the years (ugh, this is like looking at unflattering high school pictures). And I’ll share a few tricks I’ve learned to make my site more user-friendly and more search-engine friendly.

Related posts:

  1. 9 business-boosting benefits of a freelance website
  2. Are you making these 7 freelance website mistakes?
  3. How I gave my freelance website a profitable makeover
  4. 8 website elements that generate freelance business

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Smart Comments

2 Comments on What a successful freelance website looks like

  1. Lorraine on Dec 2nd, 2009 6:30 pm
  2. This is a terrific series of posts.

    Parts 1 and 2 jogged my memory and helped me recall my first dog of a website!

    I like your point that, “For many people, the Web has become their face to the world.” This concept runs deeper than design, usability and even “King content.”

    With transparency increasingly prized in the business world, I see website–or blogs–kind of like homes: Technical elements–navigability, color/ fonts choices and copy tone/ voice–reflect site owners’ personalities much as architecture, furniture and tchotchke reveal homeowners inner lives.

    As online branding grows in importance, we’ll continue to be challenged to position–and reveal–ourselves through our websites.

  3. Dean Rieck on Dec 2nd, 2009 7:25 pm
  4. Lorraine,
    Well, you certainly have a good-looking site now. And I really like your cooking site for copywriters. I wonder how many copywriters like to cook and enjoy food? I do. But then, I’m married to an Italian, so there’s no mystery about why I like food.