8 Steps Freelance Writers Can Take To Finally Get Their Website Up

writer's websitesOne of the first marketing effort a freelance writer should make is getting their professional website up.  There’s a lot of confusion about the best way to do that. Here, in eight steps, is one very simple way to finally get it done.

The web isn’t like print. You can put a site up today and totally change it tomorrow. It’s not terribly expensive and won’t take an age to do. Mistakes are easily corrected and total design changes are possible for anyone who can use a computer.

No more excuses needed ’cause it’s almost easy

Here are the steps you need to take to finally get that website up!

First find a host (that’s the place that stores your site so it can be seen by others) that has a one button install for WordPress. I use BlueHost (that’s an affiliate link – if you buy through it I’ll make a commission) which has such a button and I like their support and their price. But there are lots of hosts that offer a one button install.

free content for writersI can hear some of you saying, “but I thought WordPress is for blogs. I don’t want a blog, I want a website.” WordPress is actually a content management system that is often used for blogs, but it makes good sense for websites too. (Can you tell that www.annewayman.com is done with WordPress? WordPress is just a method of getting a website up and running.) It allows you to make changes easily, which is a must. Even if you get a designer, you want to be able to edit your own website without waiting for someone else to make changes. WordPress is a great solution.

Get your domain name, (a domain name is the address of your website – it’s how people will find your site) preferably from the host you’re going to use. Registering a domain name is not unlike registering a car – it has to be renewed every year and it’s just simpler to keep the billing in the same place as your website. If your own name is available, get that as your domain name. If it’s not available, consider adding writer to it or writes. Or try your name last name first name and see if that works. If your name isn’t available or if it’s hard to pronounce or spell play around with something else. Be creative but descriptive of the work you want to do.

Install WordPress. Your host will tell you exactly what to do to get WordPress installed with your domain name.

Choose a theme. A theme is the look and feel of your site. You can begin to look at them right through your WordPress site. There are roughly a gillion free ones out there so spend some time looking for something that’s close to what you want. For now stick with the ones in the WordPress directory. Don’t go crazy. If you pick a theme with apples and oranges today and next week want one with tigers and bears, you can make the switch easily all your content will be displayed in the new theme.

You only need four pages

Although there are all sorts of things you may want to add to your writing website, these are the only four you simply must have:

Home page -  Let the world know the kind of writing you do on the home page because that’s where, for the most part, people land first. The quicker you assure them they’re in the right place, the better.

About page - Here you let the prospective client read about you. If you’re new to writing, don’t say that. Tell a bit of a story of how you got into writing. This is also the place where you can let people know one or two interesting things about you – something that gives them an insight into your humanness.

Contact – Prospective clients must have a way to contact you if they want to hire you and a contact page is a simple and expected way to do this. I put an active link to my email on my contact page and my phone number. I want clients and potential clients to be able to both email and phone me. I haven’t had any problem except email spam and I use a strong spam filter for that. Some people use forms, others disguise their email in various ways in hopes of avoiding spam. Whatever you do keep firmly in mind you want it to be super easy for prospective clients to contact you.

Samples – You want samples of the kind of writing you want to be hired for. If you have live links to such articles, blog posts, etc., great. It probably makes sense to post some samples on the site as well because someone may print out your page and the links won’t work from a printed page. And if you aren’t published you can ‘publish’ your own samples right on your site.

It doesn’t have to be perfect

Some freelance writers seem to be afraid to get their site up because they are unsure what they need, or they think it won’t be perfect. I can guarantee you’re website won’t be perfect – I’ve never seen a perfect one and neither have you. Every site can be improved or tweaked or made more up to date or modern or whatever.

That’s one of the great thing about being able to edit your own site – you can tweak it all you want, and believe me you will want to.

Do these things and you’ll have your site up, finally. You can make it better once it’s up – if it isn’t up, all the ideas you have about it are going nowhere.

Your turn: What questions do you have? What, if anything, is topping you from getting your site up? If it’s up, tell us about it.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman

 

 

Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by cybershotking

Don’t Study Writing, Write!

writeEvery now and again I get a question from someone who wants to know if they should get a degree in creative writing. I generally say something along the lines of  ‘you don’t need a degree to write, what you need is to write and write lots.’

There are so many reasons to avoid writing. Studying writing is just one and it’s one that makes us look good. After all, getting more education about our chosen field can only be for the good, right?

But studying writing isn’t writing. The only thing that is writing is writing.

Just for fun I looked up how to write on Amazon. The results? Under “how to write” 158,505 books are listed. Or so it says… I did not page through all those.

I’d also point out that each one of those books was written by someone. An individual, or a couple of them, sat down and wrote what they knew about the how-to of writing.

I also know that reading widely, reading other writers, reading in your chosen field, reading things for pleasure and those that take you into who new areas, is an integral part of writing well.

But reading, as important as it is for writers, isn’t writing either.

Writing is what freelance writers do

When you write and make your writing available to readers you are then doing what successful freelance writers do.  We write.

free content for writersSure, this looks different for every writer. Of course, some are more successful than others, but even the most successful started just the way you and I do, one word after another on the page.

Of course it’s scary to put your own words down so others can read them. Naturally your first attempts probably won’t be great – but they may be good enough to get you started and if you don’t put words on a page for readers you aren’t really a writer.

If you really want to further your education and your writing by getting agree, fine. Make it an opportunity to write and be read. Be a sure as you can be that at least most of your instructors are also writers. Don’t use education as a way to avoid writing, please.

How to get started writing in 7 steps

Here are the steps to get started writing:

First, pick a simple topic – something you’re familiar with and something you’d like to tell others about.

Second, open a file on your computer (or grab a sheet of paper if you’re going to write by hand).

Third, put the topic toward the top in the middle of the first page.

Fourth, write about your topic. Write until it feels complete.

Fifth, begin editing and rewriting.

Sixth, submit it, post it on a blog, market it – something that will put your writing in front of readers.

Seventh – repeat, over and over again.

Sound like an oversimplification? It’s not. It’s exactly what freelance writers do every day, week in and year out. It’s what it takes, no more, no less.

We write when we have a degree and we write when we don’t. We write when we’re afraid and we write when we’re full of confidence. We write when we know what we want to say and when we’re not sure. We write and then we rewrite and then we market our writing.

Sure it helps to hang out with other writers some of the time, which is one reason Lori and I created this site and the 5 Buck ForumTake some writing classes if you’re so inclined, read books on how to write and put some of those things into practice.

But if you’re serious about being a freelance writer you’ll spend as much time as you can actually putting words on the page.

Your turn: What’s your take on this rant? What would you like to say about it? Even if you disagree – particularly if you disagree! Tell us in comments.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman

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Business Plans: 6 Must-Have Items

ChartIn talking with some beginning freelancers recently, I realized they were missing a pretty important part of their careers – a business plan. When I asked them if they had one, one of them said, “But it’s March! Aren’t those something you make for January?”

Actually, no. A business plan is something every writer should create in order to gain direction in their writing careers. Timing isn’t important, except the obvious — sooner is much better than later.

So despite the calendar saying April, this post is about getting your annual business plan in order. The difference — your calendar will now read April to April (or April to December, if you like).

You may have some semblance of a plan in place already, but you may not realize it. For instance, if you have an hourly rate you work with, or you know how much you want to earn every month, you’re already forming that plan in your head. Let’s get it on paper for you.

Try here:

Income goals. It’s time to formalize what you’re intending to earn. It’s okay to have it in your head, but the problem with that approach is that it’s too easy to amend when you don’t earn what you’d hoped one or more months. Start by figuring out what it will take before taxes to earn what you want to have in hand after taxes. Get a calculator. Get an accountant if you must, but paste that figure in your head.

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