If you’re like most writers, you can spend days, months, or even years slaving away at your writer website, and you still don’t feel like you’re quite “there” yet.
You’re likely to let a few curse words slip and maybe even kill a computer mouse in the process. [Don’t worry. We’ll forgive you.]
But learning how to build your website, and deciding what elements to include, doesn’t have to feel like slave labor.
I’ve looked at a lot of freelance writer websites, and you know what I noticed? Many writers tend to make the same mistakes over and over.
You aren’t going to be one of those writers.
You want your website to say, “I’m a professional.” You’re driven to create copy that makes prospects say, “Let’s get to work!”
Your highly effective writer website starts right here. Begin by avoiding common mistakes, and make these simple tweaks instead.
1. Drop the welcome intro
When writers approach me to evaluate their websites and I hop online to check them out, I’m often greeted by something like:
- Welcome to my website!
- Glad you’re here!
- Thanks for stopping by!
While these welcome intros are friendly, they’re a waste of space.
To me, this translates to, “I’ve just launched my website, and I’m super excited you’re one of my first visitors!” While it may be true that you’ve never had a writing client before, you don’t need to let potential clients know that.
Another drawback this welcome intro has is that from the very first sentence, you’re making it about you. Yes, it’s your website dedicated to your services, but clients are more interested in how you can benefit them, so begin your website copy by showing them how you can help.
Use a sentence or service-oriented statement that addresses your prospects.
Here are just some writer website intros that do a great job drawing clients in:
- “It’s undisputed. You make more money with professional copy.” –Emily Suess
- “Want to give your business a boost with custom content?” –Elna Cain
- “Get the quality content your projects deserve.” –Joe of Joe Can Write
- “Are you in need of a freelance writer?” –Lauren Tharp
I don’t think it gets any simpler or more effective than Lauren Tharp’s intro. Focusing on what clients need is such a simple tweak, but it can make a huge difference!
2. Turn “I” into opportunities of “You”
Marketing gurus Neil Patel and Joseph Putnam point out in their Definitive Guide to Copywriting:
You need to write about your business in the context of how it helps your customers by focusing on their needs, by using “you” more than “we,” and by making sure your copy explains how you will help the customer instead of only providing a boring description of your business.
That right there can mean the difference between a prospect idly surfing your website and a prospect actually hiring you.
Let’s take another example from Be a Freelance Blogger’s community manager Lauren Tharp. She could say something like this on her home page:
I’m Lauren Tharp, freelance writer. Through quality blog content, I help small businesses give their vision a voice, save them the headache of writing their own content, and help them connect with their audience. I strive to fill brand content with personality to keep readers coming back for more.
Nothing wrong with that, right? But it could be better. Lauren knows exactly what she’s doing when she takes instances of “I” and shifts the focus onto the reader. Here’s what Lauren’s home page looks like:
And in case you’re reading this on a tiny phone screen, here’s what her home page copy says:
Are you in need of a freelance writer?
My name is Lauren Tharp and I can help you if:
- You’re an entrepreneur with a vision — and you need to give that vision a voice.
- You’re in desperate need of written content… but you hate writing it yourself.
- The written content you already have just isn’t connecting with your audience.
I specialize in creating unique online content that helps portray your brand in a way that’s filled with personality — a technique that keeps readers and customers coming back for more.
Lauren’s approach is much more personable and more likely to draw prospects in.
Bonus tip: Keep this concept in mind while writing your About page as well.
3. Limit your home page copy
It might feel like you have to stuff every detail about your business into your home page, but that’s simply not true.
Prospects want to know one thing when they land on your site: Do you offer the services they need? Only after that do they want to know if you’re the right writer for the job.
Your home page, then, should serve as a portal to the rest of your business that says, “If you feel you’re in the right place, then head to page two.” (Of course you don’t have to say it in those exact words, but that’s the kind of action you want to prompt.)
This strategy works because it prevents you from wasting everyone’s time. Who wants to read through 1,000 words just to find out whether you write blog posts or advertising copy? Few people will even brave the 1,000 words at all (16 percent might).
The biggest mistake writers make that leads to long home page content is that they populate it with “about me” copy.
Prospects usually don’t care why you started writing, and they certainly don’t want to hear that first. What they really want to know is if you can help them with their blog content strategy, and you don’t need more than a few sentences to show them that.
Your goal, then, should be to entice clients to move down the sales funnel by greeting them with easy-to-digest text that doesn’t feel like it will take an hour to read.
4. Develop a clear call to action
You have the basics down, but what’s going to drive prospects to actually type out that email or pick up the phone and hire you? It all starts with a clear call to action.
Basically, you have to tell your visitors what to do next.
It may seem like a no-brainer to you that prospects should contact you, but if you don’t tell them how or where to do that, you may never land a new client through your website.
The first mistake a lot of writers make with their call to action is that they don’t include one at all. This leaves prospects hanging, and in most cases, it won’t get them to page two.
Start by coming up with something that will get your site visitors to take action, such as “Fill out my inquiry form,” “Shoot me an email,” or “Get a quote.”
The other mistake writers make with calls to action is that they have too many. And that means they’re trying to send their visitors all over the place at once, which only gets confusing.
“Check out my portfolio, see what my clients have to say about me on my testimonials tab, and then contact me for a quote,” is a common approach I’ve seen on many writer websites. While each of these suggestions alone would work great, bundling them together could mean that your prospects never make it to the last one, which is what you need if you’re going to get any work from them.
Decide on the single most important call to action for your entire website. As you’re a freelance blogger, you’ll probably want it to be something along the lines of “Contact Me.” You can always vary the wording, such as “Let’s chat,” “Get in touch,” or “Get a Quote,” but the end result should be the same.
Once you know what call to action you want to use, make it clear across your entire site, including on your home page, About page, portfolio page, and even your sidebar. KeriLynn Engel does a great job of this by adding a “Get a Quote” button, contact form, or email address to each page on her site.
Bonus tip: You can also have secondary calls to action, such as “Subscribe to My Newsletter,” but getting clients to contact you for a quote on your services is your main priority. Make your secondary calls to action smaller and less prominent.
5. Ditch the biography
Your About page is about you, right? After all, it is called “About Me.”
Your About page copy exists to help prospects make a better decision about hiring you. They don’t care about where you grew up or what inspired you to quit your job and start writing. They want to know how your experiences make you the best candidate for the job.
For example, you might not mention your four puppies unless you’re targeting clients in the pet industry. You probably won’t go into detail about why you quit your job to write (but if you were targeting clients with pet care blogs, you’d want to mention if you worked at a pet shop or veterinary clinic before becoming a writer).
That’s not to say that your About page can’t be any fun. A lot of writers (myself included) share a few fun facts about themselves, which is a good way to help clients get to know you and to inject a bit more personality into your writing. But the long-form biography that’s all about why you love writing? It’s simply unnecessary.
Let’s do a quick exercise. Choose one of these 5 tweaks you can make to your website, and get it done — then come and show us the before and after in the comment section.
I went with #2. Instead of, “I help businesses save time, drive web traffic, and offer practical, valuable advice to their readers,” my website now says, “I’m here to help you save time, drive web traffic, and offer practical, valuable advice to your readers.” It’s not a huge tweak, but it gives off a different vibe.
Now let’s see yours! Make a small tweak to your writer website today and tell us about it below.