If you don’t have a website yet, but you’ve already started your business and are working with clients, don’t fret—that’s usually how it goes. But once you’ve figured out your offering and elevator pitch, played around with pricing, and have an idea of the type of client you want to serve, it’s time to add “create freelance website” to your to-do list.
If you’re not sure where to start, I’m glad that you’re here. We’re here to help guide you along and give you all the advice you need to get your freelance website up and running.
A great freelance website makes you look professional and polished.
Hold up, why do I need a website?
Okay, okay—do you need to create a website? Of course not. It’s your business. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do! We at Harlow, however, believe a website can benefit your business in a number of ways:
- Makes you look more professional and polished. Most of your potential clients will be doing a quick google or looking you up on social media to get more information. Having a presence makes you look like the real deal.
- Helps your potential clients get to know you better. This establishes trust and also helps them understand what you do and why you’re so good at it.
- Gives your potential clients an overview of your services so they can establish whether you’ll be a good fit for them. Let’s be honest, we all have a limited amount of time, so let those who are interested use your website to pre-qualify and avoid unnecessary discovery calls.
- Provides space for you to share social proof and testimonials from previous projects and clients. A recommendation from a previous client can go a long way.
- Is a platform where you can share thought leadership and your expertise through blog posts, videos, and case studies. You’re an expert at your craft, create a space where you can showcase that.
What Makes a Great Website?
Here’s the good news: a simple website, with a few key elements that show who you are, what you do, and what you have to offer, is all you need. (What a relief, right?!) Here’s a breakdown of the most important parts:
Stand-Out Value Prop
The header of your website is the perfect place to make a clear and concise statement about what you offer. This is likely the first thing visitors see and it can help you make an impact right away. Use your header to state what you uniquely do in a simple but powerful way.
For example, freelance writer Grace Clamann’s value proposition is loud and clear: “Write copy for your website that makes people go… Damn, that’s good!”
It’s light, it’s playful and it helps her stand out. You immediately get a sense of what she does and who she is.
This is where you outline exactly what you provide for your clients. You can create a single page to include packages and a la carte offerings, or separate the various categories into separate pages. You get to decide how to best showcase your offer, the only important thing is that they’re easy to find and understand.
If a potential client wants to get in touch, make it easy by including a contact page with a simple form they can submit. You can also include your phone number, email address, and social profiles, but don’t forget the contact form. The goal is to create as little friction as possible between them and you.
About Me Section
Your “About me” section (write and own that bio!) achieves two key goals:
- Creates an emotional connection. Potential clients may feel called to work with you because they connect with some element of your story.
- Provides professional legitimacy. Certifications and relevant past experience show that you don’t just talk the talk, you walk the walk.
To make the most of this section or page, include:
- A headshot. Make sure it’s a clear photo of only you. It shouldn’t be pixelated or too small, which makes it hard to see. Don’t have one? It’s easy to snap a solo shot using the camera on your phone and a timer. Or give a friend a call and have a photoshoot!
- Your bio. This can be multiple paragraphs long, or brief, with just a few sentences. If you choose a longer bio, it may be wise to also include a shorter intro that outlines the highlights for potential clients who want to get to know you quickly. This isn’t a place to regurgitate your resume, but to tell a story about your experience and how it’s brought you here.
- Any relevant certifications. Including this shows you take your work seriously and bring specialist expertise to the table. You did the work, now own it!
Use the words of past clients to show that you do great work and provide results. When a new client is considering your services, they’re likely wondering: “But can she really do what she says on her website?” Social proof answers that question.
The main types of social proof include testimonials (video or text), case studies, and reviews. All of these are valuable as your business grows.
The easiest way to start collecting testimonials is to ask at the end or during projects that are going well. You can even make this easier for your client—and less awkward for you—by creating a Google Form with just a few questions for clients to answer about their experience working with you. Pro tip: make sure you ask for permission to use their responses in your marketing materials.
Note that you don’t need to have an entire page dedicated to social proof. You can include them on your home page like freelance designer, Krisa Canvender, does.
This isn’t necessary for every freelancer. But for writers, designers, or any creative freelancer, we think it’s smart. This is where you showcase the work that you do. Paired with testimonials, you’re not just telling clients what you can do, you’re showing them—and that’s so much more powerful!
If you enjoy writing or want to build more thought leadership and credibility, a blog is worth considering. This is a chance to share your experience and unique point of view, which can help you stand out.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are three simple steps:
- Dig through past projects and clients and create a list of problems you’ve helped solve. Make note of common questions asked or issues that came up.
- Ask your clients what they were searching for when they found you.
- See if there are trending topics and conversations happening on social media in your field.
The topics you find through this research are likely great topics for you to write about for your blog.
So, How Do I Actually Create It?
I’ll start with the good news: you don’t need to be a designer or developer to build a website. There are plenty of platforms out there that help you spin up a site quickly. Many of them were built to make web design easy and simple, which makes them perfect for freelancers like us.
Most of the platforms now offer drag-and-drop features and made-for-you templates. In other words, all you have to do is pick what you like, add your branding, and voila! Here are a few options that make it shockingly easy to build a site from scratch:
The key to finding the best platform for you is to know what you want in a website and what support you need in building it. Then you can compare your options.
What Does a Great Website Look Like?
It’s one thing to know what goes into a great freelance website, but if you’re like me, you need a visual to really understand how all the pieces fit together. Here are a few shining examples:
Freelance Marketing Consultant
I love Codi Johnson’s website for so many reasons! A few noteworthy mentions:
- Easy to use and clean navigation right at the top of the website.
- A blog that showcases her social media expertise
- A “see my work” page, which is the portfolio that shows she can do what she outlines in her services.
Freelance Brand and Web Designer
Angela Garcia’s unique style stands out right away—and her website has all the key pieces! Here are some stand-out qualities:
- Simple and clear value proposition right in the header.
- A simple portfolio page that links to a deeper dive into each design/client.
- An about page that speaks to the reader while sharing her unique expertise.
You totally understand Kat’s vibe and brand right away when you land on her homepage, and that makes it stand out. She uses excellent storytelling to draw visitors in. Other honorable mentions:
- Casual header and photo of herself that welcome you into her world.
- A unique and on-brand form on her contact page.
- An entire section dedicated to highlighting her newsletter, course and more!
Okay, What’s Next?
Once that website is up and running, it’s time to get it in front of people! Make sure you add it to your social media profiles, include it in your email signature, and put it on any print materials you might have!
Your website is your digital summary, so you want to make sure it can be found quickly and easily from any profile, platform, or touch-point where a client might find you.
Remember, you can start small and build as you grow. A clean and simple website that shares who you are, what you do, and how you’ve helped previous clients is a great place to start!