One 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.
I 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,