The Ultimate Guide to an Awesome Freelance Website
How to attract bigger, better clients with less freelance marketing
An awesome freelance 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. It gets the attention of your ideal clients fast and keeps their attention long enough to persuade them to hire you.
Getting the attention of clients fast is key. When people view your website, they spend about 50 milliseconds (0.05 second) deciding whether they like your website and will stay or leave, according to a study published in Behavior & Information Technology.
These days, a goldfish has a longer attention span than people. The attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. But we humans only hang in there for 8 seconds unless something makes us want to know more.
Your content and design need to work together to clearly show how you help clients. If your freelance website doesn’t do this—and many freelance websites don’t—the client will quickly reject you and move on to the next freelancer on their list.
Why Most Freelance Websites Don’t Work
Freelancers often get bad advice from website designers and gurus—because freelance businesses are different than other small businesses. Website designers and gurus often recommend content and design features that aren’t necessary for freelancers—and can sometimes damage our businesses. Best practices for most small businesses don’t always work for us.
But more often, freelancers design their own websites, because website builders like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and GoDaddy make this seem so easy to do. And it is—if you have a strong technical and design background. But most freelancers don’t know how to modify templates to their needs or how to choose colors, fonts, and images that contribute to their key messages.
When I point out problems with a freelance website and make suggestions to fix the problems, the freelancer usually tells me that he/she designed the website, and that “the template won’t let me do that.”
A website designer who works with freelancers knows how to choose or modify a template that’s right for a freelance website. Instead of an amateurish “me too” website, you’ll get a website that’s customized to your business and clearly communicates your key messages in a visually engaging way.
You’ll have a website that will help you attract bigger, better clients.
This ultimate guide to awesome freelance websites covers:
- How to attract more clients with less marketing
- Writing awesome web content to attract bigger, better clients
- Winning more clients with a remarkable home page
- Why you need a professional website designer and how to work with him/her.
Clients expect freelancers to have websites, and they expect our websites to be professional.
A compelling, client-focused 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.
Do Less Marketing
If you have a client-focused website, you’ll be able to do less marketing—because your website will do the work for you.
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 freelance website for your, it might be time for an update. Website design and content change. And most freelance businesses evolve over time.
Develop an Awesome Freelance Website
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.
See Examples of Awesome Freelance Websites
Learn how three freelancers developed awesome freelance websites.
Awesome web content sets you apart from other freelancers and persuades high-paying clients to choose you. It helps you attract bigger, better clients, and build a stable, successful freelance business.
Web Content for High-Income Freelancing
Grab the attention of your target clients fast by focusing your web content on their needs and how you meet those needs. By answering the “What’s In It For Me?” question, you’re showing clients the benefits of working with you instead of another freelancer.
Here’s what you need to do to attract high-paying clients, and get more referrals from colleagues, with your web content:
- Focus on client needs
- Be compelling
- Be clear
- Write scannable content
- Include the essential content for freelancers.
If you already have a client-focused LinkedIn profile, you should have most of your key messages and much of the information you need for your web content.
Click here for your free checklist for your website content, writing, and design.
Client-Focused Content on Your Freelance Website
Client-focused web content shows that you understand the needs of your clients and you can meet their needs. Having a strong specialty helps you understand what your clients need—and makes all of your marketing easier.
Compel Clients with Key Messages
Client-focused content is compelling content. Highlight the benefits clients get when they work with you in key messages. Use your key messages in headlines and subheads.
Being clever is great if it contributes to your key messages. But being clear is much more important. If clients don’t know what your key messages mean, they’ll move on to the next freelancer on their list.
Web Content About You
Start the About page with one to three sentences about how the client would benefit by working with you.
Then briefly include the most relevant (to clients) information about your:
- Awards and honors
- Other professional accomplishments.
And if you want to provide more information, link to a subpage with your resume or a longer bio.
Include a professional headshot.
Client-Focused Content: Services and Portfolio, Samples, or Work
Services is an easy page to write. Select categories based on the type of work you do and use bulleted lists for services under each category.
So sample categories could include:
- Services (e.g., writing, editing, consulting, publication management, and training)
- Projects (e.g., articles, blogs, continuing medical education, white papers, newsletters, web content, and social media)
- Areas of expertise, topic areas, or therapeutic areas (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes; banking and financial planning).
Portfolio, Samples, or Work
This is another easy page to write. If you have samples you can share, use categories that make it easy for clients to find what they’re most interested in. Also use categories that let you highlight the type of work you most want to do.
If your work is proprietary, instead of samples use a project list and/or brief project descriptions to show what you’ve done. Write about what you’ve done and the type of clients you work with without mentioning names of clients or specific projects.
If you’re a new freelancer, put a little information about your work on your Services page instead of having a separate page for this. Add a few paragraphs with some project descriptions and/or use samples like:
- LinkedIn articles
- Volunteer work for professional associations
- School projects
- Spec samples (a speculative sample that’s like a project you want to work on).
Client-Focused Content: Clients and Testimonials
The Clients content is also easy to develop. Choose categories that let you highlight your most important services and interests, such as industries or types of work. Or just list your clients. Using a partial list of clients, labeled “Sample Clients” or “Select Clients,” is a good idea.
If you’re a new freelancer, you won’t have a clients page yet. That’s fine. Add it when you’re ready. If you only have a few clients, instead of a separate page, add a Sample Clients section on your Services page.
Testimonials on Your Freelance Website
What others say about you is far more powerful than what you say about yourself. Testimonials from satisfied clients help you attract more clients—because new clients want to know that other clients found your services valuable.
You can combine Testimonials with Clients on one page, have two separate pages, or sprinkle testimonials throughout your website.
If you’re a new freelancer, you won’t have testimonials, or enough testimonials for a separate page yet. If you have one to three testimonials, sprinkle them throughout your website. Add a testimonials page when you have about five testimonials.
Simple Contact Info on Your Freelance Website
Make it easy for clients to get in touch with you with contact information that’s easy to find.
Use a simple Contact page. Include your name, email address, and phone number. I recommend that you also include your city and state, to help show that you’re running a real business.
Start your Contact page with a call to action (what you want the client to do). A call to action starts with a phrase or sentence that urges the prospect to take action now, like:
Contact me today.
And include your email address and phone number on every page. The bottom of each page is a great place for this.
See Examples of Awesome Freelance Website Content
Learn more about how to develop awesome web content for each page of your website and see examples from the websites of three freelancers.
Your home page can quickly convert prospects into clients—if you capture and keep their attention with a remarkable home page. But if your home page is ordinary or bad, you’ll never have a chance to win those clients.
Stand Out with a Remarkable Home Page
A remarkable home page on a website for freelancers only needs two things:
- Client-focused content that’s clear and compelling
- An effective and visually-engaging design.
Tell Clients What They Want to Know on Your Freelance Website
Together, your home page content and design quickly answer the only question that clients really care about: “What’s In It For Me?”
Your home page tells them:
- What you do (your services)
- Who you do it for (your target clients)
- How what you do benefits clients.
And a remarkable freelance website home page includes:
- Images that contribute to your key messages
- A header banner with your key message and a subhead (or blurb)
- Shortcut boxes
- A clear call to action with your contact information
- A design that’s optimized for multiple screens.
Learn More About How to Develop a Remarkable Home Page
Learn more about what to include in a remarkable home page and how to highlight your key message and other key content.
If your freelance website doesn’t clearly communicate how you help clients in a visually engaging way, they’ll move on to the other freelancers on their list.
And the truth is that many websites of freelance writers and editors are awful!
They look like they were designed by an amateur—because they were. That’s why designing your own website is one of my 5 Deadly Website Mistakes that Chase Away Freelance Clients.
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 freelance website chases clients away.
Don’t Drive Away Freelance Clients
There’s one sure way to get a freelance website that will help you attract high-paying clients and build a stable, successful freelance business: Hire a professional website designer who has experience working with freelancers.
When you work with a professional website designer, you get a customized, visually engaging website that shows why clients should choose you to meet their freelance needs. You also save time because you’re not trying to do something that you don’t know how to do. And you get help with the technical aspects of launching your website and dealing with those inevitable tech issues.
Click here for your free template for planning your website and working with your designer.
Key Elements in Freelance Website Design
Some elements of compelling web content, like headlines and subheads, also contribute to amazing web design. Headlines and subheads let you use words and design to grab the attention of your target clients fast. Focus your headlines and subheads on the needs of your clients and how you meet those needs. Clearly and concisely say what you do and how this benefits clients.
Other key design elements are:
- Images that help you convey your key messages, instead of leaving clients wondering why they’re on your website
- Design that looks good on different screen sizes (smart phones, tablets, and computers)
- Home page shortcut boxes
- Fonts that are easy to read online
- Colors that create balance and harmony, and make reading online easy
- Design that loads quickly, so you don’t lose people
- Easy-to-find contact information and a clear call to action (what you want clients to do, e.g., call or email you).
How to Work with a Professional Website Designer
Getting recommendations from people you know and trust is the best way to find a professional website designer.
When you see a freelancer’s website that you like, email him/her to ask who designed it. Also ask about your colleague’s experience working with the designer. Some designers are very talented, but they don’t listen to what you want.
Stay away from sites like fiverr when you look for a website designer. While the low price may seem attractive, your website won’t be customized to your business, and it won’t be nearly as effective in attracting high-paying clients.
Trust Your Designer but Know What you Want
Website designers know what makes good and bad design. So treat your website designer with respect and listen to his/her advice. But also be firm about what works best for a freelance business. For example, some designers insist on including a contact form and a blog, because business websites are “supposed” to have these features. Just say no.
Sometimes designers insist on a certain theme or design features because that’s the way they always do things. If it’s not what you want, just say no.
Be honest about what you like and don’t like when you’re working with your designer. Otherwise, you won’t get the website you want.
Learn More About How to Work with a Website Designer
Learn more about effective website design for freelancers, and how to find and work with a great website designer.
10 Things Every Freelance Website Needs
If you want to attract bigger, better freelance jobs and clients with your website, you need to follow best practices for websites for freelancers. These are different than best practices for other small business websites, because a freelance business is different than other small businesses.
Best Practices for Freelance Websites
Here are 10 things you should do to make a professional first impression with your freelance website.
1. Client-focused content: “What’s In It For Me?”
Grab the attention of your target clients fast by focusing your web content on their needs and how you meet those needs. By answering the “What’s In It For Me?” question, you’re showing clients the benefit of working with you instead of another freelancer.
2. Headlines that highlight key messages
Compelling headlines draw clients into your website so you can keep their attention long enough to persuade them to hire you. I like to use subheads too.
3. Scannable web content
People don’t read websites; they scan them. In a 2008 study that’s still widely quoted today, Nielsen Normal Group found that people read 20% to 28% of the average web page.
So make sure clients get your key messages by writing scannable web content.
4. Key message in the top left corner
People look at the top left corner of a website first. This is part of the F-shaped pattern that most people use when reading on the web. In the F-shaped pattern, people look at the top of a web page and the left side of the page first.
And that’s why your logo is so effective in the top left corner of every page of your website.
5. Key content on the left side of the page
Web users spend 80% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 20% viewing the right half, says the Nielsen Normal Group in Attention Leans Left on Websites.
So put key messages at the beginning of your headlines, sub-heads and other web content.
6. Key content above the fold
“Above the fold” refers to what people see when they open an old-fashioned print newspaper before they flip the paper to see what’s on the bottom half of the page. The same concept applies to websites, but it means what people can see on the screen when they click on a website without scrolling down. People read content that’s above the fold more than they read what’s below it.
So put your need-to-know content above the fold.
7. Easy-to-find contact information
When your contact information is easy to find, you make it easy for clients to get in touch with you. Include your email address and phone number on every page, and on a separate contact page. The bottom of each page is a great place for this.
8. A clear call to action
Tell prospects what you want them to do with a clear call to action. Use this on your contact page and on every page.
9. Client testimonials
Testimonials from satisfied clients help you attract more clients—because new clients want to know that other clients found your services valuable. If you’re a new freelancer, you won’t have testimonials yet. That’s fine. Add them when you’re ready.
10. Professional web design
We’re living in a very visual age. Your freelance website needs to be visually engaging and professional, and clearly communicate your key messages. For many freelancers, developing an effective web design requires hiring a professional web designer.
Learn More About What Websites for Freelancers Need
Find out more about each of the 10 Things Every Freelance Website Needs to Attract High-Paying Clients.
Learn More About Awesome Freelance Websites
Here’s a complete list of the blog posts about freelance websites and 2 free tools to help you develop an awesome freelance website.