5 Deadly Website Mistakes that Chase Away Freelance Clients
Did you know that a goldfish has a longer attention span than people? The average attention span of people is now down to 8.25 seconds. But a goldfish hangs in there for 9 seconds, says Statistics Brain. Other experts say the average human attention span is only 5 seconds.
That’s why your freelance website needs to grab the attention of prospective clients fast, keep their attention long enough to persuade them to consider or hire you, and make it easy for them to contact you.
Why a Freelance Website Drives Clients Away
Yet, many freelancers don’t do these things—so clients quickly reject them, and move on to the next freelancer on their list. I’ve seen these deadly mistakes over and over again, on thousands of freelancers’ websites.
These mistakes are common because Web designers and gurus push everyone to include content and use design that isn’t necessary for freelancers—and can sometimes damage our businesses. Other businesses are different than freelance businesses. Many designers don’t understand this, and few gurus offer advice specifically on websites for freelancers.
But sometimes, freelancers are responsible for common mistakes. When you try to design your own website but aren’t a designer, you usually can’t create the right type of website for a freelancer. Many times when I’ve pointed out a website mistake to a freelancer, the response is, “but the template won’t let me do that.” A designer knows how to either choose a template that WILL let you do that or modify the template.
Win More Clients with Your Website
Win more clients with your website, instead of chasing them away, by avoiding these 5 deadly mistakes.
Mistake #1: Failing to grab the client’s attention fast
If you don’t grab the client’s attention with your Home page and keep it long enough to get your message across, the client will never know how great you are.
“Tell the reader what they need, and want, to know, and no more – it sounds simple but far too many people don’t follow this rule,” says Rob Weatherhead in “Say it quick, say it well – the attention span of a modern internet consumer.” Weatherhead was referring to website content in general, but this is even more important on your Home page.
An Attention-Grabbing, Client-Focused Home Page
Make sure your Home page is:
What does “short” mean? People read:
• About 49% of web pages with 111 words or less
• Just 28% of an average web page (593 words).
(Source: Statistics Brain)
• What you do (your services)
• Who you do it for (your target clients)
• Why clients should choose you (the benefit they get when they work with you).
Convey key messages with:
• A headline
• At least 1 subhead.
Use a tone and language that will appeal to your target clients.
Awesome Freelance Website Checklist
Mistake #2: Using images that detract from your key messages
Most web designers and gurus say that you have to have images on your home page. This is not true!
If an image doesn’t contribute to your key messages, it doesn’t belong on your website. It will just confuse clients and distract them from your key messages.
Don’t let a designer convince you that you need images, or throw in pointless images because the Home page template has a space for images. Don’t use images because you see them on other freelancers’ websites.
The Right Type of Image for a Freelancer’s Website
A logo is one type of image that does belong on your Home page, if you have one, and on every page of your website. My logo and tagline is the only image on my Home page.
A logo is a symbol or other design that helps you visually convey your key messages and services. Combined with a tagline (a memorable phrase or sentence that captures the essence of your business), it’s a powerful marketing tool that will set you apart from other freelancers. It’s a meaningful image that contributes to your messages.
Mistake #3: Making it hard for clients to contact you
When a client wants to hire you, or consider you for a project, he/she wants to reach you quickly and easily. If you make this hard, the client will just move on to the next freelancer on the list.
Never Use a Contact Form
Web designers almost always insist that freelancers have a contact form. Just say no!
A contact form is impersonal and implies that someone will get back to you eventually. Contact forms may be necessary for corporations and other big organizations, but they’re never appropriate for, or helpful to, freelancers.
Clients don’t want to fill out a contact form. And they won’t wait to hear from you. They’ll just find another freelancer.
Use a Simple Contact Page
A simple Contact page works best for freelancers. Start with a call to action (what you want the client to do). This can be as simple as “Contact me today” or you can reinforce your key messages like I did with: “Contact Me for Targeted Content to Motivate Your Audiences.”
At a minimum, include your name and company name (if you have one), email address, and phone number. Including your city and state helps show that you’re running a real business. You can invite people to connect with you on social media on your Contact page, but put your email and phone number first.
Here’s an example of my simple Contact page.
Include Contact Information on Every Page
Make it even easier for clients to contact you by including your email address and phone number every page of your website.
See how I did this in the bar at the bottom of every page of my website.
Put the Contact Page in Your Menu
Include Contact or Contact Me in your website navigation menu. Use a clear, simple navigation menu so clients can easily find this (and other web pages).
Mistake #4: Having a stagnant blog
A key purpose of a blog is to continually provide fresh web content and increase rankings in search results. Clients may search LinkedIn to find a freelancer, but they’re very unlikely to do general web searches, because the number of results they’d have to wade through would be staggering.
When clients visit your website, they aren’t likely to read your blog. They’re just too busy, and focused on finding a freelancer to help with their immediate needs.
Many freelancers start a blog, write a few posts, and then ignore it. Imagine a client who comes across your blog and finds a few posts from a year ago. The client will quickly reject you.
A blog directed at attracting clients just isn’t worth the time and effort that’s necessary to do it right. But you could write articles on LinkedIn, and direct clients to these articles when appropriate.
Mistake #5: Designing your website yourself
Many websites of freelance writers and editors look awful. They fail to communicate key messages quickly and clearly and look like they were designed by an amateur—because they were.
Templates in drag-and-drop website builders like Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix make it seem like it’s very easy to design your own website. But if you don’t have knowledge of good design and the technical ability to adapt templates to a freelancer’s needs, your website will be amateurish.
Often, freelancers design their own websites because they think it’s cheaper than hiring a professional designer. But it may not be. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then it’s cheaper to hire a designer—because you’ll lose a lot of billable time by trying to design your own website. And you can’t put a price-tag on the clients you’ll lose if your website chases clients away.
Clients want to work with freelancers who are professional. If your website isn’t professional, they’ll find another freelancer.
Hire a professional designer. He/she can design your website so that you can manage it yourself, either using a content management platform like WordPress or a drag-and-drop website builder.
Learn More about Developing an Effective Freelance Website
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