You’re a Writer – You Need a Website or Better Yet, Your Own Blog

by Anne Wayman

Writer's need websitesAll freelance writers should have their own web site or blog!

That’s a pretty strong statement; here’s why it’s true:

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. Here are four examples from my own experience.

  1. A man who wanted an allegory written found my website, called me and we got it done. I was well paid.
  2. The personal assistant of a women who is CEO of a large corporation contacted me to write her bosses book. I’m well paid for that one twotoo. 
  3. 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 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, and the third is literally on the other coast. I would never have met them if it hadn’t been for my website.
  4. 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.  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.

1and1 and some others offer simple website builders along with their packages which may be a good way for you to go, at least at first.

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 if it’s available. Or pick a phrase that’s related to the kind of writing you do and is easy to remember. I search for domain names at godaddy.com, but I buy them through BlueHost.com to keep everything in one place.

Keep your website or blog simple

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, and a page or two of writing samples will do nicely. Those samples, by the way, can often be used instead of snail-mailing clips – just point the editor to your web site and you’re done.


And don’t forget to include contact information on your site!

Why a Blog 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 a blog? Because you can update your site almost on the the fly. Once your 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.

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.

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Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Mindful Copywriting February 11, 2014 at 7:42 am

Finally, done. You won’t believe how many times I’ve come back to this post for inspiration! Thanks so much for all the knowledge and tips you share.

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annew February 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

and it looks great! If you want to do a guest post on how you got it done shoot me an email.

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Brandon Marcel February 3, 2013 at 6:50 am

I enjoy your writing so much. It is very informative. I am looking to up my game in freelancing and want to step it up to writing for magazines. I have done web writing and have written for several personal blogs that had over 10,000 daily visitors when live, so I am looking for a new challenge.

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annew February 5, 2013 at 9:31 am

Good luck, Brandon. Your goal is certainly doable.

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WOW September 28, 2012 at 11:09 am

Patti,

Why are you so rude? People make mistakes and you are not above making one! Must be jealousy I’m smelling.

Any who, Thank you Anne for taking the time out to write such an informative article. God knows I need it!

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annew October 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Thanks! I needed that!

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Mary September 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I found your article quite informative. I do have a question though. You mentioned it’s a good idea to start blogging. Does it matter if the blog is on the website or by itself (like Wordpress). Also does it matter what topics you are blogging about (if a blog is on a website)?

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annew September 17, 2012 at 11:50 am

Mary, in that article I’m suggesting using a blog platform like wordpress to do your professional website… look at annewayman.com… that’s actually a blog… but it’s super easy to update.

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Ron's Web SEO Copywriting Blog July 22, 2011 at 6:07 am

The most important thing to realize about blogging is – Blogging builds REPUTATION!!!

…and as a writer, you need that before anything!
Ron’s Web SEO Copywriting Blog recently posted..Future of Google SEOMy Profile

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Rupa December 21, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Hi Anne,
Could you point me to a website or resource where I can find an affordable web designer for my baby books blog and freelance writing website? I don’t really want to use bidding sites and would prefer something like the equivalent of your site or Deb Ng’s FWJ that posts gigs for freelance designers. Ideally, I want to find someone in my city. Besides craigslist and doing a google search, is there any other way you recommend?
Do you know what I can expect to pay for a fairly simple design ( nothing fancy, just using basic wordpress templates, adding a few banners and a logo, maybe)? I once approached a freelance designer who quoted $3000 which is waaaay over my budget. So, I’m wary of approaching web designers I find through search…I’d prefer to advertise and find someone who matches my needs.
Thanks in advance for your help.
.-= Rupa´s last blog ..When you read to baby, is the author in the picture? =-.

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Anne December 22, 2009 at 10:53 am

Finding a student, either from a tech school or a local college or university. Do it as a blog which will make it super easy for you to update… you won’t be stuck relying on a designer. WordPress is super easy and you can choose from who knows how many free templates. WordPress is free… you only have to find a host…

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David A. Boyingotn December 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Podbean.com is 10 bucks a month, or less, and you do your own design. Screencast.com is an interesting take on websites; 2G for free, and post through HTML your writings on any other site. Find a reasonable ISP and build your site yourself. An example of podbean.com is my website (I’ve been there 4 years), and I have posted several videos on this site from Screencast.com. You can build a very nice website (AP spelling changed this year) yourself, and pay your ISP $20 per month – shop around, a little, and you’ll find several to choose from. My landing page begins with a story about Jazz, its origination.
David A. Boyingotn recently posted..Musicians, Singers, SongwritersMy Profile

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annew December 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

David, I use bluehost and have my own domain names – BH is something like $65 annually – just over $5 a month but I had to pay annually. I think it would be no problem to host podcasts there but I’ve never tried it. Love your site btw.

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Karl Rohde July 1, 2009 at 5:31 pm

This is an old thread, but one thing I wanted to point out to the critics of “blog versus website” is that the area is now very gray.

All corporate sites who rely on the internet as a critical part of their online strategy have twigged to this.

Your web site needs to be both informational and engaging. Static content is generally not engaging, where as a blog of both opinion and examples tends to be.

Blogs also get your web site noticed by search engines. They also build a readership if well crafted, and one day, one of those readers “may” have a problem you can solve.
.-= Karl Rohde´s last blog ..White Papers vs. Blogs – Your Opinion? =-.

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Deidre April 29, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Anne,

I have an existing website that I use for my books. I’m just beginning to do freelance writing. Is it a good idea to use the same site to market my freelance writing?

Thanks,
Deidre

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Alissa March 15, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I’m aware that I’m responding to an old posting, but I am curious about the differences between blogs and Web sites in terms of “visibility” on the Web. I’ve had a blog for ages but only my friends have read it, and I would assume that if I had a Web site with its own domain name (and a way to search for it via Google, Yahoo, et al.), it would get more hits. Also, has anyone out there used Yahoo as a Web host and if so, what was your experience with them? Thanks!

-Alissa

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Karen February 27, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I’m sorry I don’t understand what you mine by making my website a blog and having a category for credits to link my samples. Please explain ?

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admin February 27, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Karen, you can blog about anything you want… which means you can show off your talents well. I’d make your website a blog and have a category for credits where you link to your sample. Make sense?

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Karen February 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm

As one new to blogging, I was wondering what I should blog about if I want to show potential employers, I’m able to write about more than one topic?

Also, when creating my website, what are somethings I should consider having on the website?

Thank you.

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Lori December 29, 2008 at 6:13 pm

I just started a website a couple of days ago, and I have to say that godaddy.com has a great set up. They even have a five page template for authors. If you purchase your domain through them you can get a free site with ad banners or for a very nominal fee you can get a site without the banner ads. For those of us just starting out with professional websites and very little technical knowledge, it really is a good way to go.

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admin November 10, 2008 at 10:47 am

Angela, copyblogger uses Thesis like I do… huge flexibility and less than $100. Not sure about problogger… he’s been a pro forever. After I get moved I’ll up level my thesis status and get a developers license so I can convert more sites to thesis…

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Angela West November 9, 2008 at 7:26 pm

I totally agree with you there. To my eyes, Copyblogger and Problogger look 1o0% pro and not like a typical blog at all. It is more the sites that stick with the traditional Wordpress structure (like mine!) that I think need changing. I believe both Copyblogger and Problogger use a custom Wordpress template, which makes all the difference. These can be expensive to purchase, but given the built-in CMS that you get with Wordpress their value ends up being more than that of a traditional site build. In fact, I may start looking into designing them now that you’ve got my mind wandering down that road. Thanks a lot for your insightful articles as always Ann!!

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admin November 9, 2008 at 1:04 pm

Angela… interesting perspective… I’d agree about some blogs, like blogspot and wordpress blogs that haven’t made use of a good looking theme… but when I look at http://www.copyblogger.com and http://www.problogger.net and even this blog as I get it together… well, they look quite professional to me. But we’re really talking about taste aren’t we… hard to argue, but I appreciate your thoughts.

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Angela West November 9, 2008 at 12:51 pm

Hi Ann:

I totally agree with everything but one point – making your professional site a blog. I think that the general public can tell the difference between a website and a blog and they think that a blog looks cheaper. Most will be willing to forgive this if you are a writer, but I think a static website that is well designed looks better and more professional. I’m actually going the other way with mine (blog –> static website) when I get a chance. Mind you I am also a web designer so this is easier said and done for me, I don’t have to pay anyone to update my site. I just thought I’d throw in my two cents for what it is worth.

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admin November 9, 2008 at 10:28 am

Patti, I make no pretense that I’m a copy editor and make that clear to every contract. That said, the error you mentioned is one I should have seen and didn’t.

Lindsey, great minds and all that ;)

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Lindsay November 8, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Hah, I wrote a very similar post this summer. Good to see others saying the same thing though.

If you want to be a serious writer, you really need your own domain and your own site hosted on a paid hosting server. There’s nothing like a blog on LiveJournal or Blogger to steal throw some cracks into your facade of professionalism.

Even putting professionalism aside, it’s worth the $5 a month to know that you control the site. There are no limitations to what you can do and, down the line, if you want to add a shopping cart for your book, or a forum for your fans, or whatever, you can easily add that to your own domain (not so with a blog hosted elsewhere).

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Patti November 8, 2008 at 4:09 pm

Hi Anne,

Forgive me for the criticism, but I’m always somewhat amazed that your web presence gets you so many writing gigs. You always have so many errors and typos in your posts! For example:

“The personal assistant of a women who is CEO of a large corporation contacted me to write her bosses book. I’m well paid for that one two.”

While I agree that a web presence is important, so too is the quality of what a writer puts up.

~PM

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