Anytime you’re representing yourself and your skills on the internet, the stakes feel high. That’s probably the reason why so many writers struggle to figure out what should be included on their freelance writing website.
Looking through Google will potentially confuse you further, as most experts have their own personal view on what absolutely needs to be on your website.
Some swear by a one-page method in plain text, While others build-out complex fully branded websites with multiple pages and tons of information.
This leaves the aspiring freelance writer wondering: Do I need to pay thousands of dollars to get a glossy site up before anyone will hire me? Do I need a headshot? Do I need a 1000-word About page detailing the history of my education and career?
(Hint: No, not really, no, and NO.)
So, what should you put on your freelance writing website?
The truth is, you don’t need any of the things above to get started. You can make a fully-realized, effective freelance writing website in one afternoon. The trick is not to second-guess every step and use a clearly outlined checklist to keep you on track. And yes, you’ll find that below!
Today we’re going to focus not on the bells and whistles, but on the bare-bones essentials needed to get started.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you’ll edit, update, and evolve your website over the years as your career grows. I have had more layouts, color schemes, and entire site structures than you can imagine over my 10 years of writing (and as I edit this post, I’m about to update it again).
In the beginning, the point is just to get to a place where you check off the basics so you can get the ball rolling. From there, trust that you’ll come back to it to update things at the right time.
Let’s review everything you should put on your freelance writing website.
Here’s why you need a freelance writing website:
Do you really need a freelance writer website? We’re going with a resounding “yes” on this one.
Some writers will argue that a website isn’t necessary. While it’s technically possible to “hack” your way to landing clients without a portfolio or web presence, treat that scenario as the exception—not the norm.
As you’ll find out if you stick around, we focus on building a strong foundation and giving ourselves the best possible chance of long-term success… not quick hacks.
You’ll probably get sick of me saying that, in fact!
As for your website, why not have a place online where your name, niche, and services are on display for potential clients?
After the initial set up (which is not that painful, I promise), it becomes one of the smartest ways to draw leads A good website is the equivalent of a 24/7 marketing machine that can produce leads for you in your sleep.
In. Your. Sleep.
Ownership and autonomy is another reason this is such an important marketing tool to have.
Social media might seem like an easier way to network and build an online presence—but make no mistake: relying on social alone is a bad idea.
Social platforms are owned by big greedy companies that can disappear overnight (along with your following), ban your account, or other scary things!
You could have all the social profiles in the world bringing in leads and then, one day, get banned from social media (it literally doesn’t matter why—and this has happened to many naive business owners) and lose your client leads in one fell swoop.
Another scenario? Imagine that you focus on building your website and email list up, social media platform of the moment goes bust, and you’re left unscathed because you focused on building up your own platform.
That’s more like it. 😉
Your website is something you control completely, which helps you build credibility and SEO street cred over time. You’re in charge of its content, its keywords, and even the kinds of clients it sends your way.
So, a website is a good thing. Agreed?
Let’s dive in and cover all of the bases—and examples—of a complete freelance writer website. You can use this as a checklist for building out your site. I’ve included some recommendations below for how to get started.
Remember: this doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you have the essential info, you don’t need bells and whistles to impress potential clients or get that coveted search traction.
Here’s everything you should put on your freelance writer’s website:
1. Name & niche
Let the world know who you are! State your niche on the front page of your site, above the fold (that means it’s visible before you scroll). Either before or after your title, include your name. But let’s get back to the niche for a minute.
This all-important piece of information is the cornerstone of your freelance writing career, so it will need to take center stage. Anyone who visits your website should know what kind of writer you are within two seconds of the page loading. Yup, two seconds.
Here are some random examples:
☕️ Small Business Grant Writer
☕️ Luxury Travel Content Writer
☕️ Amazon Listings Expert for Women’s Beauty Brands
☕️ B2B Sales Copywriter
☕️ Holistic Wellness eBook Ghostwriter
☕️ IT & Software Marketing Writer
The combinations are nearly endless. Don’t be afraid to narrow down and make yourself highly visible to a specific market. Your niche will also serve as the keyword phrase that you use to optimize your site—but more on that later.
2. About page
Even for a writer, this section can be a challenge. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say about ourselves.
Here’s a little hack most people won’t tell you: Your About page isn’t just a place to talk about yourself—it’s actually a mini sales page. It’s a chance to convert incoming traffic into lucrative collaboration.
That means your About page is actually more about your client than it is about you. Avoid going on a tangent about how you started writing when you were ten. Instead, use your bio to position yourself as an expert in your niche and call out some of the real problems your ideal client is facing in their business.
Paint a picture of what it’s like to work with you by calling out the benefits you bring to the table. How do you make the client’s life easier? How do you increase their bottom line? What do they no longer need to worry about once you’re on their team?
These are some of the things you can address when writing an effective About page. And, of course, infuse it with your “brand’s” personality.
If your niche is more serious in nature, like health or law, you might strive for an authoritative voice. If you’re in fashion or other lifestyle niches like me, you might aim for a more colloquial, modern tone.
At the bottom of your about page, include a call to action. You can assume that anyone who reads the whole page is pretty hyped to learn more or even ready to hire you.
The most obvious CTA would be “Work with me”, leading them to your contact page. You might also link them to policies or your portfolio.
By the way, before we go further… Be sure all pages are accessible at all times from the top menu of your site. CTA’s at the bottom of each page (or wherever you decide to put them) can help drive visitors in a specific direction once they’ve consumed one page’s content.
Include a straightforward breakdown of the services you include. This helps potential clients find out whether you offer the kind of content, copy, or other offerings they need. Your services should relate directly back to your niche.
Be wary of listing too many, even if that seems tempting. Those who list every service under the sun look like they’re just scrambling for work—not legitimate experts in many different things.
Some examples of specific services:
☕️ Product description copy
☕️ Email campaign copy
☕️ Long-form sales pages
☕️ Short-form sales pages
☕️ Cornerstone blog content
☕️ Video scripts
☕️ Social media captions
☕️ Press releases
This could be on your homepage or a separate page of your website. You may want to describe how they relate together and upsell your services, too.
For example, if you offer content writing services, you could upsell with additional services like meta description copy and social captions for each post. That may make the client’s life easier, rather than hiring a separate writer to do SEO & social.
When you’re writing out your services, keep in mind that it’s all about your client. What do they need?
Finally, note that you don’t have to include your rates on your website—but you do need to know what your rates are before a client asks.
4. Writing samples
Here’s where you get to show off your best work. Don’t just toss anything/everything into your portfolio, though. Curate your samples and upload work under two filters:
☕️ Samples that fall under your niche
☕️ Samples you’re extremely proud of
I separate my samples by category so that they can be browsed the same way my Services are listed. This is one simple way to streamline the experience of your site.
It’s tempting to upload everything you’ve ever written—it feels good to see it all in one place, after all—but the aim of your website isn’t to stroke your own ego. It’s to show your current ideal client that you can execute the kind of writing they need.
As for displaying actual samples on the page, I use a gallery plugin in WordPress that lets the client browse easily and click through to enlarge if they want.
If you don’t have any samples yet, don’t worry.
To get your first few gigs, you’ll create samples for your ideal client—something hyper-relevant to their industry and the kind of content they need—just to prove that you know how to do the job.
Once you land your first few writing jobs this way, you’ll be able to build up your website with real, published samples.
TIP: Structure your website in a way that makes it easy to link clients to the samples they are looking for. If they ask to see social media copy, you’ll want to link them to a page full of social copy, not email, social, and more.
Also, tip-within-a-tip! Never link them to your homepage if they’re asking to see samples. Don’t make them do the extra work or assume they’ll be able to find the right page.
Testimonials are powerful quotes from previous clients that vouch for your work. You’ve probably seen these on other websites: a quote next to a headshot proclaiming how skilled and helpful the service provider is and how highly they recommend working with them.
That right there is called social proof, and it’s one of the most powerful ways to sway prospects in your favor.
Testimonials can make a huge difference in the amount of trust you evoke when someone visits your website for the first time.
Think about how many times you’ve Googled a restaurant name, book title, or even potential employer’s name to learn more about them before you decide how to interact. Clients do that too!
Someone else’s experience can really shape the way we enter into relationships with people, places, and things.
(And as a sidebar, it feels nice to have someone else’s words of praise on your homepage. It can be a helpful thing to glance at when you’re having a crappy day and doubting yourself.)
So, how do you use testimonials and their persuasive power to your advantage?
It’s pretty simple. Once you complete your first few freelance writing jobs (and W-O-W the pants off your client), be sure to ask them for a testimonial.
Be direct about your intention to display it on your website for social proof. 90% of the time, they’ll be happy to write you a few sentences to use.
Here’s a script you can use if you’re not sure how to ask:
Hi, (client name)!
I wanted to thank you again for collaborating with me on (the project). It was a pleasure working together and I’m excited to see your launch take shape.
If you enjoyed working with me, would you mind sending a 1-2 sentence testimonial to display on my website? This helps me show future prospective clients that I can deliver high-quality work.
If you’re interested, I can also display your photo and your brand url below the quote.
I look forward to collaborating again!
Obviously you can customize this depending on what you actually worked on.
Don’t worry about coming across as presumptuous. If the client doesn’t feel comfortable providing a testimonial, they just won’t send one! No harm done. But you certainly won’t get one if you don’t ask.
Once you have them, add them to your site! These may be displayed on your homepage or on their own separate page (especially if you have a lot of them). Many WordPress website layouts offer built-in widgets to display them.
Much like samples, don’t worry if you don’t have these yet.
But unlike samples, don’t try to create fake testimonials before you get real ones. That’s massively misleading and a big ol’ no-no.
6. Contact information
Include a clear way to contact you, whether that’s your email address or a contact form. Your form could be at the bottom of your homepage or on a separate page.
If you’re using a contact form plugin (Ninja Forms is a favorite of many) make sure you test it a few times to make sure it’s working smoothly.
You can also include instructions or fields for visitors to include additional details about their project. This will help you quickly field requests as they arrive.
Finally, add a line to your contact information letting visitors know how long they can expect to wait before they get a reply.
7. SEO Optimization
Remember how I mentioned above that your niche will be used as your website’s keyword phrase?
A specific keyword phrase will help the right clients find you. You should weave it into your site’s text and image elements. Use variations and the exact phrase in a way that’s natural and non-gimmicky. Modern search algorithms know when you’re just stuffing keywords onto a page.
When used correctly, your keyword phrase will signal Google to send ideal clients your way. They’ll arrive stoked to work with you because you’ll be the solution that pops up in search when they type in their problem.
Here are a few places you should be using your keyword on your website:
☕️ Headline/caption on the homepage
☕️ Bio/about page
☕️ Services breakdown
☕️ Image file names of images you upload
☕️ Image alt tags
SEO is a complex topic, so I urge you to do some research and perhaps enroll in some free online classes (or just watch some YouTube videos) to stay up to date.
Having good SEO in place can ensure your website continues to function as a 24/7 marketing machine on your behalf.
The following items are optional and/or can be added later:
While some writers will claim this isn’t necessary, a photo can help you make a personal connection to a potential client once they arrive at your website.
Whether or not you want to include one is up to you. If you do add one, aim for a look that’s both professional and has a bit of your personality infused.
This probably goes without saying, but don’t post a blurry selfie or an awkward/random shot of you doing something unrelated to writing. A clean background and a smile goes a long way—but feel free to get creative and pose with your laptop or some other prop related to your niche.
If you’re unsure about your photo, you can use Photofeeler to let others judge how “likable” you look.
Not surprisingly, looking “likable” can help you out when you’re trying to get hired on the internet.
I don’t have a blog on my portfolio site, but many writers do. This is a long-term content marketing strategy that can help establish you as an expert.
Adding a blog to your site and regularly writing posts that relate to your niche can also increase your visibility in search and really help your Google ranking.
To top it off, a blog can also further solidify that sense of trust and connection when a new potential client lands on your website.
Of course, the blog posts need to be extremely high quality, optimized, and relevant. Look for topics on Reddit, Quora, and on social media that people in your industry are talking about right now, and craft awesome content around them.
It’s a lot of extra work and the ROI isn’t always immediate, but it can pay off in the long term.
Policies are usually bulleted points that paint a clearer picture of what it’s like to work with you, including regulations, your workflow, and what you expect from clients.
You might add these to an FAQ, directly on your contact page, or in their own section called “Policies” or “Work with me”.
Your policies don’t need to be on your website, though as you build your career, you may discover some frequently asked questions or common concerns that you can address.
Your actual freelance contract will have more detailed information about working with you.
I included some information about working with me directly on my About page because I want potential clients to be clear on my M.O. before they get in touch. These details live under a section of the page called “Who I collaborate with”.
One of the biggest things I point out, for example, is that I don’t work with clients who cannot provide solidified documentation of their target customer.
You’ll likely develop policies of your own as you grow your career and have various collaborative experiences.
Just remember that policies are yours to design! This isn’t the 9-5 anymore. You’re the boss, and you get to craft the way you work and set expectations.
Let’s land this plane, shall we?
Now that we’ve covered the bases, here are a few final tips on building an awesome, effective freelance writing website:
☕️ Empower yourself with Google and YouTube tutorials along the way. Some people give up when they can’t figure something out. Don’t be one of those people. You can 100% learn how to build a website in one day with a little digging around on the internet. This includes SEO!
☕️ Skip the which-host-is-better debate and go with Siteground for hosting. They are the absolute best.
☕️ Register your full name as a domain if it’s available. If not, try pairing it with your niche/title. This is great for SEO. Just remember that your niche might change, and then you’ll need a new URL.
☕️ Don’t forget to infuse your personality into your website. You can do this through a color scheme, fonts, and imagery. As you can see in the examples above, I’m aiming for a modern, fun, feminine site that appeals to fashion clients. Adding personality shouldn’t overwhelm you. Start small. This will evolve over time as you build your freelance business.
☕️ Keep the experience of the visitor in mind. Remove any unnecessary text, images, or clutter that will keep them from consuming the information they need and taking that next step (contacting you about a project).
Proof your site! I’ve seen many writer’s websites that are packed with spelling errors. I’m assuming it’s due to the mental exhaustion of building a website, but don’t be careless. Clients don’t see that you’ve put a lot of effort into your site.
But they will see errors and think “this is how she’s representing herself… so how can I trust her to represent me?”
Want to see results in your freelance writing career? Then you’ve gotta take action!
I recommend grabbing a cup of coffee and ticking off these boxes one-by-one, right now. You’ll have a shiny new writer’s website before your head hits the pillow tonight.
If you have any questions about building your site, drop us a comment!
☕️ SiteGround – The best web hosting platform on the internet. Fight me.
☕️ Google Domains – I host all of my URL’s on Google Domains so I can set up Gmail accounts for them. I prefer the Gmail interface, but this is personal preference.
☕️ WordPress.org – This is my website platform of choice, but there are others. WordPress is the most customizable. SiteGround offers one-click WordPress installation (among other helpful things).
☕️ Moz free SEO course for beginners – Check out their one-hour SEO course among other helpful resources. Get that search traffic!
This post originally appeared on Day Job Optional in July 2018. It has been edited for Freelance Writing Cafe.