As I listened to her I realized it wasn’t simply confusion over what she needed to post on her site that was getting her; she was in overwhelm at the whole idea of putting up a website.
I know she’s not alone. I get a fair amount of email from writers pleading for help getting a website up. I also get email from those who paid a bunch to get a site up and now are stuck, not knowing how to fix it themselves – which is why I recommend WordPress, but that’s a whole other story.
And sure, what you put on the site, the content, is important, but for writers isn’t as likely to be overwhelming as the actual technology. Fortunately the technology of a website has gotten much simpler.
We aren’t born knowing how to build websites
First, let me say that none of us were born knowing how to build websites.
If you’re as old as I am, the web didn’t exist for much of your adult life; if you’re younger as this woman is, you may be comfortable getting around the ‘net, working with social media and using various software packages, but have no idea how to build a website.
Not only that, you’re scared to hire someone because of your lack of knowledge.
My point is it’s totally okay not to know how to do it.
Here’s what I suggested
Take a deep breath, maybe two.
Write down what you want your site to accomplish. Chances are it will be something like “I want potential customers to be able to find me on the web.”
Now imagine a potential editor or client coming to your site. What would they want to know?
They’d want to know about you as a writer because they’re thinking about hiring you or someone like you.
They’d want some background – some hint about how you came to writing.
They’d want , to see some credits if you have them. If you don’t, write some samples, which they will also want to see.
The want to see at least a couple of samples so they can judge if your style seems to fit with what they have in mind.
Finally, they want to be able to contact you as easily and efficiently as possible.
All that can be done in four or five ‘pages’ on a website. Background, credits, links to samples and contact information – that’s four pages.
The home or front page should probably give an overview of the kind of writing you want to do. At AnneWayman.com I’m focusing on ghostwriting books. Cathy Miller opens with her philosophy and experience at SimplyStatedBusiness. At LoriWidmer.com Lori gently admonishes potential customers to want more from their written communications, then shows how she can provide that. Sharon Hurley Hall gives her philosophy and shows what kinds of writing she specializes in for clients.
The About page is where you can tell your story – both how you came to write and some of the personal stuff you’re willing to share, like hobbies, marital status, etc. And it’s helpful to tell the story about how you came to love writing or the fact that you go surfing or that you love cats – a personal touch helps the person reading your site recognize you as a real person.
Your credit list, resume, or links to samples – this page is your demonstration that you can write by showing either who you’ve written for or links to samples you’ve put together for this purpose.
Your contact page – here goes your name, address, email and phone number. Okay, some don’t put their phone number on the web, although I’m not sure why. I have potential clients call me. I also have potential clients email me. You can probably leave your address off too, although I don’t. At a minimum you need an email address that you monitor daily.
There you have, it. Four pages, home, about, credit list and contact, are all you really must have for your website to begin attracting clients for you. Okay, if you’re putting up samples you’ll have more than four pages – which is fine.
You won’t immediately have clients beating down your door, but you will find, over time, your site more than pays for itself.
You might find 6 Steps To Creating A Blog or Website helpful.
What went on your very first professional website? What’s on your site now? How did you make the change? Tell us about it in comments.
Image created at wordle.net