This is a guest post from Sharon Hurley Hall who last time she guest posted shared tips on how to be a writer.
The last time I posted here, I said that getting paid to write was not just about the writing. I outlined some of the aspects of building a writing business – or any freelance business – that you ought to consider. Today, I’d like to look in more detail at the hub of your business – your website. Since I’m a writer, I’ll use examples from my writing business, but really these suggestions could work for anyone.
Your Own Domain – Just Do It!
If you’re still wondering whether you should buy your own domain, stop wondering and just do it. If you’re going to set out your stall on the web, you should own – or at least rent – the land it is on.
Then start thinking about what you are going to put on it. You don’t get more than a few seconds to make a good impression, so you need to make sure that when potential clients visit your site, they know what you are all about. My site has had many incarnations over the years, but in the current design I’ve come back to a traditional corporate but fun home page, with the blog as part of the secondary pages. That’s because this design allows me to showcase my skills on one page. Even if visitors never go anywhere else, they will know what I do and how to contact me.
Doing Some Keyword Research
One of the things you need to do to decide how to describe your services is keyword research. Really, I’ve been talking about this for years, but it is so important.
- What words will people use when they are looking for your services? Those are your top keyword phrases. You need to build those into your content now by using the suggestions in How to Use Your Keyword Phrases in Your Content.
- What terms do you want to rank for? Build those in too and then use Gail’s blog linking strategy to ensure that you get search engine placement for those terms.
And don’t be afraid of some competitive analysis – if there’s a site you admire that’s getting lots of traffic, check out what they are doing and see what lessons you can take away from it.
What Can They See?
Visuals are also important. People retain more of what they see than what they hear or read, so have some pictures on your site. Include an avatar – you’re more trustworthy if people can identify you and screenshots of your work. This can be challenging for ghostwriters. I’ve got around this by doing similar work for sites where I can get the credit and showcasing those in my portfolio.
You also need to include lots of proof that you can do what you say you can do. Your portfolio is part of this, but it never hurts to have testimonials. Here’s a sure fire formula for getting a good testimonial from your clients.
To Price or Not to Price?
Many people wonder about including prices on your website. I think it depends on your business. My take is that each piece of writing is unique to the client, so I can’t quote till I know exactly what’s required. Of course, I have guide prices in my head (and on my PC) but I don’t want to make myself a hostage to fortune if a particular job is more complex or simpler than my average prices are worked out for.
So, to recap, you need a great home page, testimonials and a list of services, but there’s more. Clients want to research you so have a wonderful about page, your resume (if it’s relevant) and anything else that proves that you are the person they need. Since I blog professionally, I set up a separate page for blogging credits, which I update monthly, and I also set up a page for my ebooks. There’s no hard sell there, but clients can see that I know how to write, edit and publish a Kindle ebook.
What About The Blog?
You may be wondering why it’s taken me so long to get around to the blog. After all, I’m a confirmed blogger and believe in the power of blogging for profile raising. It’s certainly worked for me in other arenas.
But it may surprise you to know that I’ve found that the blog isn’t the most important part of my current client website. I update it a couple of times a month with testimonials and new published material – and that’s good for search engine visibility.
Because I don’t otherwise address clients on my blog (though I plan to one day), the all in one home page is a greater selling tool. I’m not ruling out putting more client centered material on the blog one day. In fact, I already have a couple of posts. Right now, though, it’s not a focus.
So how does it work? When I changed from the old design to the new one, I immediately noticed an increase in client communication. Many clients have told me that they have seen my site and liked what they saw. Before, I don’t think my business site was doing the job, and now it is.
So that’s what’s worked for me in creating a business website. What tips can you share on using a website to promote your business?
Sharon Hurley Hall
Latest posts by Sharon Hurley Hall (see all)
- Key Aspects of Your Business Website for Writers (and Small Businesses and Others) - November 1, 2011
- Getting Paid to Write – It's More Than Just Writing - July 1, 2011