All freelance writers should have their own, professional, website or blog!
This is the site you use to market yourself and your writing. Yes, site that markets you as a writer – yes every freelance writer needs one.
That’s a pretty strong statement; here’s why it’s true you need a website:
The people who will pay you for your writing are searching the web for writers.
There are exceptions, of course, but more and more editors, publishers, and people who need copywriting, speech writing, ghostwriting, ebook writing, and other kinds of both business and personal writing are looking for writers on the web. In fact, I’m not sure there really are any exceptions any more.
Here are four examples from my own experience.
These four hired me because of my website
- A man who wanted an allegory written found my website, called me and we got it done. I was well paid.
- A man who wanted to tell his story to his sons called me out of the blue and I wrote that book for him.
- The personal assistant of a woman who is CEO of a large corporation contacted me to write her boss’s book. I was well paid for that one twotoo.
- An alternative health practitioner who speaks literally around the world has contracted with me to write his book with an eye toward both selling it to a trade publisher and also selling it from the back of the room of his talks.
One of these people is within easy driving distance, the one is half-way across the country from me, the third and fourth are literally on the other coast. I would never have met any of them them if it hadn’t been for my website.
I also coach writers and all but one of my coaching clients has come to me via the web and lives far away from me.
You simply can’t afford not to take advantage of marketing yourself via the web. Fortunately, it’s easy and cheap to do these days. Here are the basic steps:
Your writing website or blog needs a host
A web host is where your web site is stored so can be found on the ‘net. I use BlueHost.com; they have a one click WordPress install that makes it sooooo easy. Their customer support is great and so are their prices… and yes, I’m an affiliate there, so if you buy through that link I’ll make a little money.
And there are tons of companies out there that provide similar service. Chances are you already have some web space with your Internet Service Provider; many of them, however, won’t let you use your own domain name without an extra fee, so do some checking.
Get your own domain name
Buying your own domain name costs $10 or less a year these days, and it’s worth every penny. You can use your own name, like I do (AnneWayman.com and take a look at my professional site), and if it’s available. Or pick a phrase that’s related to the kind of writing you do and is easy to remember. One writer friend of mine, reversed her first and last name – millercathy.com. It works.
I search for domain names and buy them through BlueHost.com to keep everything in one place.
Keep your website simple
When I speak of a blog in this context, I’m talking about a blog that ends up looking like a website. I mean go look at annewayman.com – can you tell it’s a blog? It’s done in wordpress and it means I did not have to hire a designer or worry if my designer moves to Fiji – I can update it myself which is a huge advantage.
Your site doesn’t have to be complex to do a good job showing off your talents. In fact, keep it simple. A home page, an about page and a page or two of writing samples will do nicely. 4 Pages Writers Must Have on Their Professional Website will give you more detail.
Those samples, by the way, can usually be used instead of snail-mailing clips – just point the editor to your web site and you’re done.
It’s totally okay to write some samples to show your ability off… just don’t pretend they’ve been published yet.
And don’t forget to include contact information on your site! In every one of the four examples, the contact started out as a phone call.
Why WordPress Is A Better Bet
If I were starting from scratch today, I’d make even my most static and unchanging website a blog. I’d use WordPress, which is free and although it takes me more than the promised 5 minutes to install, it’s relatively easy to do even if you have minimal technical skills. If I were hiring a web designer I’d insist they use WordPress.
Why? Because WordPress is really a content management system that makes it easy to update your site almost on the the fly. Once WordPress blog is installed, you simply log into it’s dashboard and you can add a page or edit a page without having to wait for your original designer to do it. You can change the look and feel as well with a couple of mouse clicks.
It’s also easy to find WordPress tutorials on line with a google or two.
Plus there are roughly a gillion free themes or designs out there – the real problem is narrowing your selection down.
Promote Yourself and Your Writing
Once your site is up, make sure your web address shows up on all your email, business cards, letterhead and anyplace else you can think of.
You’ll also need to submit your site to search engines-I use selfpromotion.com for this. It’s a bit arcane, but worth it. You can pay as little as $10 a year for the service and it will resubmit your site quarterly automatically.
You really don’t have any excuse not to get your pro site up, do you?
Write well and often,
Image from http://www.sxc.hu