Before you can really start growing this freelance business, do you know what the absolute #1, must have thing is?
Of course you do, because I said it in the title: a website marketing your services.
Starting a website early on in your location rebellion serves two purposes:
- It serves as a training ground for your skill building
- It allows you to sell your services
And both are vitally important.
If you don’t have the right skills in place, you won’t be successful in your business over the long term. And if you don’t have a way of marketing yourself then you’re dead in the water as well.
I’ve helped hundreds of people build websites just like this, and today we’re going to look at 17 of the must have components to this type of site.
By including each of these things in your site you’re going to prove your expertise, build more rapport, and ultimately make it easier to start bringing in a steady income.
In order to follow this checklist, there’s one pre-requisite: you need to have a website!
It can be totally bare bones, and it doesn’t even have to be live, but to follow along you’ll need to have a domain name, a hosting account, and you’ll need to install WordPress.
This is all much easier than you might think, and you can literally be done with it 10 minutes from now.
The Freelance Website Checklist
Ok, ready to create a beautiful website that is going to help you bring in new clients, and establish yourself as one of the premier players in your freelance industry?
Sweet, let’s do this.
The Setup Items
1) A Premium Theme
On the surface, this is very much an optional expense.
However I’ve seen so many people work to create these websites, and 90% of the time, the sites from who use free themes look like crap.
They are tougher to customize for beginners, and can often have the theme company’s branding in various places on the site – which is a dead giveaway that you’re not willing to invest money in your business – so why should a potential client invest in you?
You can get amazing themes for around 50 bucks these days, and in my opinion, it’s money well spent.
Recommendation: I tend to go to Theme Forest first whenever I need a new theme. They have a huge catalogue of them, for just about any need you could have.
2) SEO Plugin
What’s better than finding work through friends, word of mouth, or other types of networking?
Getting a client completely out of the blue from Google. This requires no work on your part, and while it might take awhile to get your site to the point where this happens, once you rank for a couple useful key terms, it can be a great source of leads.
Worth keeping in mind, some premium themes have many SEO tools built into the theme, so an external plugin may not be needed.
Recommendation: Yoast SEO. This plugin makes it really easy to see what on page SEO components are good, and what need to be addressed.
3) Contact Form
This one is pretty obvious, but it’s going to look more professional if you have a custom contact or quote form on your site – rather than just an email address.
To really get the most of this, don’t just use the generic fields of (Name, Email, Subject, Body). Think through what information you really want to get from a potential client, and create fields for this.
The more detailed (read: longer) your contact form is, generally the higher quality leads you’ll get. If someone is going to take 5-10 minutes to fill out your form and really think about what they need, they’re already more committed to you.
Recommendation: Contact Form 7. Many premium themes have contact forms built in as well.
4) Branded Email Address
You’ve got a big boy (or girl) business now. And you want people to know it.
So while you may have a sweet AOL email address from back in the day, it’s best to get an email address for your domain name.
For instance you can email me here at [email protected].
Recommendation: Zoho. You can have emails for one domain free, and this will be more secure than setting it up through your shared hosting platform.
5) Email Opt In
No matter what you do online, an email list is the most valuable resource you have for marketing. The success of your email marketing obviously has a lot to do with the content you send to your list, but the first step is building it.
This is an absolute must for bloggers, but when handled properly, can be an effective tool for freelancers as well.
6) Custom Logo
This is a pretty easy one that seems like it could be really difficult and expensive.
Yes, to get a high end graphic designer to create the perfect logo could be hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
But we don’t need that. We just need something basic, that isn’t the text based logo your theme will give you. Going one step farther to have a custom logo will not only help you come across as more professional, but it will help your brand memorability as well.
7) No Sliders
It seems like the majority of premium themes these days come with big home page sliders. For your freelance business, you don’t want this. You’re not necessarily trying to promote your blog content, and most of what you do won’t be overly photo heavy.
So choose a theme that doesn’t have a big slider, and instead go for a simple headline, email opt in, and photo of you or something related to the business.
Recommendation: Sumo Me. They have a suite of tools, like their welcome mat, that can help you get email signups for your freelance site.
8) A Blog
While your site isn’t a blog per-say, having a blog component is a really good idea.
The way I’d incorporate a blog onto a freelance site is simply to build my perceived expertise. I’d write once or twice a month about topics within my industry.
What this does is prove that I know what I’m talking about, that I stay on top of trends, and if you’re running a freelance writing business, it has the additional bonus of establishing that you’re a good writer.
The Content Items
Now that we’ve got some of that setup stuff out of the way, let’s look at the different content components of your site.
9) Descriptive, Catchy Headlines
You want to pull people into your site. You want them to want to read more, and talk to you more.
In essence you want them to want to hire you.
Ok that’s a lot of “wants…”
But if you don’t hook them in from the beginning, there’s a good chance you won’t get that shot.
Most people treat headlines as an after thought – when in reality, you should put just as much time in to considering them as any other aspect of your site.
On your Home Page you want people to know what the site is all about within 3 seconds of landing on it.
On your About Page you want your personality to come through immediately and get people to want to read more about you.
On your Contact Page, you want them to actually take the action of filling it out and hitting send.
Think about how your headlines can help you achieve this goal.
Recommendation: I’ve always liked this formula I learned from Dane Maxwell of The Foundation has a starting point for headlines: Desired Outcome + Time Frame + Objection Handled = The Perfect Headline.
You probably can’t use this whole formula for every page on your site, but it’s a good starting point. And if you get even 1 or 2 of these in your headline, it’s still going to be pretty solid.
Here’s an example of a headline I use for Location Rebel:
10) At least Two Photos of Yourself
This is one huge non-negotiable for me.
When I’m reading a website and I can’t picture the person who is talking to me, it makes it extremely difficult to have any kind of personal connection with them.
However, when you have photos of yourself, then it immediately becomes clear who is on the other side of the screen. Bonus points if you can include photos that give some insight into your personal life. Hobbies, family etc. Anything like that makes you seem more real and approachable.
11) About Page with a Story
So along with a photo on your About Page, you should have stories that really show who you are.
If you’re doing freelance writing, why are you doing it?
Are you doing it to support your thirst for adventure while you travel the world?
Are you trying to support your 4 year old daughter?
Have you had a passion for writing your whole life, and are finally pursuing your dream of doing it for a living?
Any stories like these elevate you from a faceless company, to a real person, with real goals and ambitions. A story is a powerful thing, and your about page is the best opportunity you have to build rapport with that reader or potential client.
12) Diverse Samples or Case Studies
If you’re going to actually book work as a freelancer it’s important to have a solid portfolio of samples of your work.
This will vary a bit depending on what type of industry you’re in, but they don’t have to be from actual clients if you don’t have any yet.
If you’re doing freelance writing, narrow down your range of services. Are you doing SEO writing? Copywriting? Technical writing?
Once you have an idea of what exactly you’re offering create a few samples for each type of service.
If you’re doing copywriting, create a fake sales letter for a product you love to show off your chops. SEO writing? Pick 3-5 of the most random and difficult topics you can think of, and write 500 word articles to show your diversity.
Doing freelance SEO? Build and rank a website of your own, and point to that as an example of what you’re capable of.
Many people have also done work for clients they can’t talk about, so put in a little bit of extra time to create samples of your own to show off your capabilities.
This is one of the most powerful tools any person selling something has.
Usually people are reluctant to work with someone who hasn’t proven themselves. But testimonials can prove that you do in fact know what you’re doing and that many people have had success working with you.
Just take Location Rebel for instance. It’s all of these real world, unsolicited testimonials that really sell the course.
Even if you don’t have true client testimonials, get 3-5 people in your life to say nice things about the work you do, your personality, or other positive traits. Those can go a long way in building your perceived reputation.
14) Rates….Or Not
There are two different schools of thought on this. One is that you should have a page where you publish your rates.
This gives people a ballpark of what they can expect to spend and whether or not they can afford what you’re offering.
Other people swear that you should try and get the conversation started, sell them in advance, and if you know what you’re doing, they’ll pay whatever you ask them to.
For people just starting out, I tend to recommend the former. If you don’t have rates, you’re relying much more on your ability to sell, and by publishing them, it gives a starting point for negotiations.
Recommendation: Publish rates a little bit higher than what you would typically accept. This leaves them room to negotiate a bit (especially if they buy in bulk), helps you still get your target price, and makes them feel like they’re getting a good deal.
15) Social Media Links
Each social media platform has it’s place. Facebook is fantastic for personal interaction. Twitter is great for getting responses from influencers. LinkedIn is perfect for making new business contacts.
Have links to each of your profiles or pages on your site, as different people like to connect in different ways. So not only is this another excellent way to build rapport with people, it might get people to interact with you that might otherwise not have.
It’s one thing to be professional. It’s another to be corporate and stodgy. So often I see people trying to make corporate looking websites because they think that’s what it means to be “professional.”
The reality is people want to see personality.
When I’m hiring someone to work with, I want to work with someone I like. Sure you’ve gotta have the skills too, but if I know we have something in common and/or or personalities mesh well, you’re immediately bumped to the top of the list.
17) A Hook
Finally we have one of the most important things you can have on your freelance services website: a hook.
We talked about the personality aspect of it, but what’s your hook that truly makes you different?
Is it pricing? Will you create unlimited long form sales pages for $999 each?
Do you specialize in a specific industry? Are you the premier content writer for the golf industry?
Is it brand and personality? Do you live in some crazy place like Zanzibar and want to build a brand around that?
Have a hook that sets you and your offering apart from all of the other generic freelancers out there, and you’ll see your bookings and referrals skyrocket.
What other essential items do you think should be on a freelancer’s website? Anything we missed? Share in the comments!