"You have to have a website"
"Every business must have a blog"
"You need to write daily"
"Get your audience to engage with you by socializing your media and distributing it across the content aggregator"
Ever heard this advice?
I thought so.
Business websites have been around long enough that everyone has an opinion on them. And with every new technology it gets worse with the preaching that this new thing will be a "website killer".
Fortunately, most of that advice flat-out doesn’t matter.
(Which means you can safely ignore 99% of it.)
Yes, you need a website for your freelance business.
Yes, you need to make sure people who come to it are happy.
Yes, you need to help those people decide to work with you or not.
But that’s it. There isn’t much else you have to do.
What I’ve found is that the bar is pretty low. You need a website that builds trust with a potential client. That’s it. If you’re a web designer or web developer, it’s probably a weekend project for you to get version one done.
Put yourself in your potential client’s shoes and look at it from their perspective. They come to your site and see it is well organized, communicates clearly, and shows which services you offer. That’s all they really need.
This is especially true if they were referred to you by someone else. All your website is doing for them is to backup their friend’s recommendation and show that you’re who you say you are.
I’ll get into other optional components of your website later, but check now and see if you have these essential elements. Or better yet, ask a current client or someone who is your ideal client:
- Pages are organized and make structural sense (e.g. navigation elements, visually separated sections).
- Headlines and sub-headlines are visible and communicate the exact message you want on each page.
- Each page has a clear call to action, limited to two choices. A call to action is what you want someone to do. "View services", "Subscribe to newsletter", "Contact me" are the big ones for freelancers.
- Your services are described in terms the client would understand.
Like I said, this doesn’t take much. Depending on your industry your site could even be as small as one page. As long as that page builds your client’s trust, who cares what other people say? Oh. There is one additional component you’ll need to make sure your website has.
Can you guess what it is?
P.S. For your headlines, here is a copywriting trick I’ve learned. If you stand back from your monitor and squint so all you can see are headlines, does the page still make sense? This is what someone will read if they are scanning your page.
It’s even easier if you’re comfortable with Chrome’s or Firefox’s developer tools. Just change all p, ul, li, ol, and other non-headline tags to be "display: none". Now you don’t even need to leave your chair.