Your Freelance Website: How to Attract More Clients with Less Marketing
Not having a website was holding Kathleen Labonge back from being more successful in her freelance business. “I kept hearing from other successful freelancers that a website in this day and age was crucial,” says the medical copyeditor. But Kathleen didn’t know how to begin developing a website. And as an editor, she wasn’t comfortable writing about herself and her business, Write Point Editing Solutions.
By the time Kathleen had been freelancing for about two years, she knew that she had to have a website. With the help of a marketing course for freelancers and a professional website designer, it wasn’t as hard as she had thought it would be.
“People tell me that they like what they see on my website and it’s easy for them to get the information they need,” says Kathleen. “My website makes me feel more professional, and I think it helps potential clients take me seriously.”
Do Less Marketing
Clients expect freelancers to have websites, and they expect those websites to be professional.
A compelling, client-focused website shows clients that you’re the right choice for them and colleagues that you’re a professional who will do a great job if they refer work to you. Done right, your website will:
- Impress clients and colleagues by showing them you understand client needs
- Highlight your expertise, skills, and work (usually through samples)
- Show that you’re a professional who is running a business.
And if you have a client-focused website, you’ll be able to do less marketing.
Your website will pre-sell and pre-qualify clients. When clients contact you, they’ll already know a lot about you and your services. So you won’t have to actively “sell yourself,” the part of marketing that freelancers hate most.
Update Your Freelance Website
If you already have a website for your freelance business, it might be time for an update.
Freelance medical writer Genevieve Long and I both updated our websites in 2018. The type of work we’re doing had evolved over the years. We also both wanted a more modern design.
“All our marketing materials need updating from time to time,” says Genevieve. “My site wasn’t the best for mobile viewing any more, and I wanted to show I was up to date by refreshing the look.”
Genevieve and I were among the first freelancers to have websites.
In 2002, when Genevieve started freelancing part-time, she developed her first website. I developed my website about the same time. This was 5 years after I started my freelance business, since back in 1997, few businesses had websites. I updated my website in 2008, 2014, and 2018.
Develop an Awesome Website for Your Freelance Business
You only need 2 things to attract high-paying clients with your freelance website:
- Content that’s compelling, clear, and focused on client needs
- Design that’s amazing (visually engaging, clear, and easy to navigate).
Clients only care about how you can help them meet their needs.Your website content needs to quickly tell them:
- What you do (your services)
- Who you do it for (your target clients)
- How what you do benefits clients.
Include the essential content for freelancers, and make it clear and scannable.
Work with a Professional Website Designer
Kathleen, Genevieve, and I all hired professional website designers because we knew that our freelance websites needed to be professional and visually engaging. We also knew that trying to design our own website would be frustrating and waste our time.
“It would take me a lot longer than it takes a professional to design my website, and the result wouldn’t be nearly as good,” says Genevieve.
Genevieve is absolutely right. When you work with a professional website designer, you get a customized, visually engaging website that clearly communicates why clients should choose you to meet their freelance needs. You save time because you’re not trying to do something that you’re not qualified to do.
By hiring a professional website designer, you can focus on building your freelance business and doing your freelance work. As a fairly new freelancer, Kathleen didn’t have a whole lot of money in her business account. But she still found the expense of hiring a website designer well worth it. “Having a designer took a lot of the pressure off. I needed to focus on marketing my business, not figuring out how to do my website,” says Kathleen.
The Easiest Way to Develop an Effective Freelance Website
Kathleen, Genevieve, and I all found our website designers through referrals from colleagues—the best way to find any type of help you need for your freelance business.
Get tips on how to work with a designer
“A good designer will shepherd you through the website design and development process so that you’ll have an effective website for your freelance business that you love,” says Brian Corchiolo, my professional website designer. Brian owns bpc Creative and designs and develops amazing websites that are easy to navigate and exciting to use. He developed my website, including the latest update in 2018.
Kathleen’s First Freelance Website
When I developed my first website in 2002, I hired a website designer but had to figure out the content on my own. There wasn’t much information available about websites for small businesses back then, and I couldn’t find anything about freelance websites.
Today, there’s a lot of information about website content. But other small businesses are different than freelance businesses. So some of what works for most small businesses isn’t necessary for freelancers—and can sometimes damage our businesses. Many designers don’t understand this, and few gurus offer advice specifically on websites for freelancers.
Kathleen found the freelancer-focused help she needed to develop her website while taking my course, Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve. The course, and my book, 7 Steps to High-Income Freelancing: Get the clients you deserve, both provide step-by-step instructions on how to develop a client-focused website.
Before working on her website, Kathleen developed her LinkedIn profile. This gave her much of the content, including her key messages, that she needed for her website. “Developing an effective LinkedIn profile was the hard part, but that was key,” says Kathleen.
Working with a Professional Website Designer
Based on my recommendation, Kathleen hired Brian to develop her website. She also had Brian develop her logo, for use on her website, email signature, and other marketing.
Kathleen and Brian chatted about what she was looking for. “I told him I wanted something simple and professional, nothing flashy,” she says. Brian gave Kathleen several options for the design of her website. I gave Kathleen feedback on the designs and she then worked with Brian to refine the design.
Many website templates use a lot of images. But images that don’t contribute to key messages are harmful on a freelancer’s website. So Kathleen only used her logo, the best type of image for a freelancer’s website, and her photo. Kathleen’s logo is on the top left corner of every page—the first place people look on any website.
“A logo helps you connect with your potential client,” says Brian. “It tells the potential client something about you and what you do before they get into the website and start reading.”
Kathleen also got feedback as her design evolved. Along with my coaching, she asked family members of different ages what they thought about her website.
“If I hadn’t had an expert like Lori helping guide me to figure out what content was necessary and what wasn’t, it would have been a whole lot harder,” she says.
Genevieve’s Freelance Website Update
“It was important to me to have a website as attractive and professional-looking as my clients’, though not as large,” says Genevieve.
Working with a Professional Website Designer
In her update, Genevieve rewrote all of her content and updated her design. “I wanted to show I was up to date by refreshing the look and update the content to reflect how the type of work I do has evolved over the years,” she says.
Genevieve worked with Tom Todd of T2 Websites. Tom made Genevieve’s website full width, optimized it for mobile viewing, and made other changes to modernize the design.
One big change was to Genevieve’s Portfolio page, where she added photos to illustrate each sample, and used dropdown menus to list more projects without cluttering up the page.
Genevieve and Tom also worked together on a new color palette, featuring orange and a pale blue. Her new colors and design are softer than her previous website and the use of contrast to enhance readability represents best practices in health literacy communication, part of her main focus.
During the design process, Genevieve did have to “work hard and exert a lot of control over the look, feel, color scheme, and how I wanted things to work,” she says. Like Kathleen, Genevieve updated her website during Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve. “The course helped lay out exactly how to develop my new website and why,” she says. I provided feedback to Genevieve on each page as it was developed, which she passed on to Tom.
“It’s important to remember that web folk are different from you, as a communicator, and from each other,” says Genevieve. “Some are more gifted in the technical aspects of creating a website, and some are more talented in design and aesthetics.” So be sure and tell your designer what you want and work closely together.
Like Kathleen, Genevieve got other feedback on her new design. She asked a friend who is a website developer and a former freelancer for advice. “She was especially helpful on aesthetics and making aesthetics and function work together,” says Genevieve.
My Freelance Website Update
My 2018 update was primarily to develop a more modern design. But the new design also allowed me to highlight my key messages more on my home page and every page. Each page now has a banner near the top with a headline and key message. And I updated some of the language I used to describe my work for the digital era.
Working with a Professional Website Designer
I did some research before updating my website, so I could send Brian examples of websites I liked (URLs and screen shots) and what I liked about them. “Explaining design and graphics is hard,” says Brian. “That’s why I ask clients to send me anything they like.” My current website is modeled on the website of one of my clients. But Brian customized it for me, since my website is much simpler than hers.
Brian also came up with a way to make my Home page unique that I never would have thought of on my own. He created a banner image based on my logo. Using the concept of the bulls-eye in my logo, he created a simple yet powerful background image of the circles in the bulls-eye and put my headline over this. You can see my logo (which Brian also designed) and my banner image on my Home page.
Like Genevieve, I updated my Samples page to make each sample more visually engaging. Brian put the samples in boxes and added an image for each sample. I had also done some research on how other companies (not other freelancers) displayed testimonials, and I asked Brian to put my testimonials in boxes too.
Our New Freelance Websites Get Results
“My website makes me feel legitimate and professional. Now clients take me seriously,” says Kathleen.
“Everyone loves my new website,” says Genevieve. “The kindest comments are that the photograph is attractive, and the most useful are that it’s very easy to navigate.”
My website helped me get 3 new clients within a few months of the update. All of these clients hired me for healthcare content marketing, the type of writing I targeted with my website and like best. And all of them hired me by email, because my website pre-sold them on me.
Learn More About Websites for Freelancers
Brian Corchiolo, bpc creative
Examples of Awesome Freelance Websites
Want Help Developing a Client-Focused Website?
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