Just for a moment, pretend you’re looking to hire a freelance blogger instead of be a freelance blogger.
Now imagine this scenario: it’s 10pm. You’re on the sofa in the midst of a well-deserved Netflix binge when you remember you need to check out that candidate blogger’s website for tomorrow.
Thankfully, your tablet is in arm’s reach. You grab it, punch in the URL, and… seriously? Their website isn’t responsive. You’re left staring at a full-size web page that’s simply been shrunk to fit on your tablet screen.
You squint at the tiny text and do the zoom-in-finger-thing. You try flipping the tablet vertically. Yet everything stubbornly remains the same.
Frustrated and unable to find what you’re looking for, you start to have second thoughts – who is this person? It’s 2015! Surely they don’t expect you to go find your laptop just so you can see their site properly?
Now go back to being your usual freelance blogging self, and imagine how awful it would be if that was your freelance writer site. How many customers might you lose if your site doesn’t work right on a mobile device?
Not driving away a potential client is just one of the many reasons why your website needs to be responsive.
A responsive website is coded so that all content and images remain aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate regardless of the device from which it’s being accessed. In other words, a full website as seen on a desktop monitor can automatically adjust itself to be just as pretty and useful on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. No panning, scrolling, or swearing necessary.
You definitely need a responsive freelance writer site of your own. It’s not only a matter of looking nice, but it also affects crazy important stuff like how your site gets ranked in Google and how professional you appear to be. Understanding the reasons why will help you breathe easier (and rock your site like a boss).
1. Google favours responsive websites
In April, Google rolled out their updated “mobile-friendly search algorithm” that the tech industry coined “Mobilegeddon.” What this means is that Google now takes into consideration a website’s responsiveness when ranking it on a search results page. The easier the site is to access from mobile devices, the higher the ranking it receives.
In other words, the new algorithm effectively moved responsive websites from “optional” to “required.” If your website isn’t responsive, your Google search rankings will plummet. Yeah. Pretty huge deal.
2. The mobile adoption rate has skyrocketed
The mobile adoption rate is the rate at which people have started using mobile devices to access information. As you might’ve suspected, this number continues to grow crazy fast.
People now surf the web from their tablets and smartphones more than their desktops and laptops. That means the likelihood that a potential client will be checking you out from their mobile device is very high. Consider these staggering stats:
- Mobile use has officially exceeded desktop use. In 2015, nearly 1.7 billion users accessed the internet from a desktop versus about 1.9 billion from mobile devices.
- Google estimates that 50% of searches are conducted from mobile devices and mobile browsers. Just one year ago, it was only 20%.
- Tablets are the most frequently used devices to access information from 6pm to midnight during the week. This is important because many people conduct business research “after hours,” when the immediate pressures of the workday are gone.
- 69% of Americans aged 18-29 and 44% aged 30-45 used smartphones to find information about a job.
- 86% of executives use their tablet — and 72% use their smartphone — to conduct research for products or services for their business.
3. Responsiveness gives social validation and trustworthiness
In our socially networked world, having a responsive website proves to your clients and peers that you’re adept, modern, and take your freelance career seriously.
As bloggers, we promote our posts and websites on social media numerous times a month. Similarly, most of our LOIs and queries include our web addresses. You’ll want to make sure that when potential clients visit your site, they’re not turned off by an outmoded design.
In this Shopify blog post, the author cites trustworthiness as one critical factor of a website’s ability to sell to clients. He says your website “needs to reflect your willingness, ability, and track record for delivering on your promises,” and points out that one study showed the design of the site played more of a role in establishing trustworthiness than the content! People do judge a book by its cover, and if your site is lacking up-to-date design, you’ll come up really short in the social street cred department.
4. The time and cost are minimal
The time and cost of investing in, and maintaining, a responsive website is next to nothing. Even if you have zero clue how to code a website (me me me!), fear not — you really, truly don’t need to know how. Modern web templates are programmed to do all of the work for you. Here’s all you need to know:
- Though there are dozens of website software companies out there, WordPress is by far the most popular. Two-thirds of websites are run on WordPress, while the other third is comprised of its competitors Joomla! and Drupal, as well as a handful of other small companies. There’s really no reason for you to not use WordPress, as it’s pretty much considered industry standard at this point.
- There are thousands of free, 100% responsive WordPress templates out there. You can find some of them on WordPress’s website, or check out other sites like this one that lists 30 Free, Responsive and Stunning WordPress Themes. Even these free templates include all of the coding, programming, and digital behind-the-scenes magic necessary to run a responsive website. You don’t have to be a techie to use them.
- In addition to all of the free WordPress templates, there are also a bajillion premium templates that typically cost a one-time fee of about $50-$100. Now, you’d be totally fine using a free WordPress template for your site. But if you’re looking for something a bit more unique, elegant, or just plain different, a premium template’s design may appeal to you more than a free one. Some other benefits of buying a premium template are extensive web support, access to cutting-edge updates and plugins, and more tweaks for settings like SEO.
- Maintenance for either free or premium templates is easy-peasy. WordPress runs updates on its own, always ensuring you have the latest plugins and best functionality.
- If you’re holding off on switching to a responsive site because you don’t want to rebuild everything on your current site from scratch, that’s no longer an issue. WordPress can import sites from other software like MoveableType, Drupal, or Joomla! no problem. The best part? You no longer need to maintain two separate websites — one for desktop and one for mobile devices — which was a huge pain in the ass. WordPress has streamlined everything.
5. Responsive design proves your professionalism
It’s important to note that “responsive” doesn’t only mean mobile-friendly. It means that the website is built to scale down, or scale up, and still maintain its aesthetic and functional integrity. Being the professional that you are, you want to appeal to all potential clients regardless of which device they choose to work on.
That means you’ll need your website to look just as awesome on a desktop as on a smartphone. Doing so emphasizes your professionalism as a blogger: you understand that one size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to your clients. It shows you’re versatile, seasoned, and attuned to their needs, characteristics that make clients very happy. And happier clients = a happier you.
Finding clients can be a challenging task for freelance bloggers. And snagging those fabulous $200-$300 per post gigs is, as we all know, even harder. But having an up-to-date, responsive website can dramatically increase your chances of getting those high paying clients who are looking to do business with only the best (that’s you!).
Give your current and prospective clients a positive user experience on your site. It shows you’re aware of, and really do care about, their needs and priorities.
And that makes all the difference.