You may think there is no need for you, a freelancer, to have a website. After all, there are job boards to sell yourself on, and you can attract business through social media and word of mouth. You can network face-to-face. There are many ways of finding work that don’t require anyone to search you out on the internet.
But there are far more reasons why you should get yourself a website. Check them out below.
Say you're at an event, chatting to people and hoping to drum up some work. Conversation’s going well, to the point where Business Person reaches for a canapé, and casually utters, ‘I am very interested in xxx skill you seem to possess. I’d like to peruse your website, and potentially offer you work worth many many dollars.’
To which you reply, ‘ummmm, I don’t have a website.’
Business Person’s face drops. Suddenly, they are not talking to a person fronting a serious, established company. They’re talking to a random individual at a networking event, with no way to verify your claims of being the best MacGuffin designer in the world. You can’t show them your work. You’re asking them to trust you are what you say you are.
If you had a website, you could hand over a card with the URL, confident in the knowledge your skills are there to be seen. A website allows potential contractors to feel safe in hiring you.
Look at the scenario above. You have the skills, you are meeting the people. But in order to sell yourself, you’re going to have to meet a lot of people, and tell them the same thing every time. You’re going to have to trust they won’t lose your card, and have the memory retention to recall why they thought you were awesome three nights ago, after too much free white wine.
A website removes - or at least lessens - the constant networking pressure. It takes away limits of geography and time zones. Anyone in the world can find you, at any time - and you won’t have to constantly explain who you are and what you do. It’ll be right there on a page.
Info at their fingertips
And in-depth info too. Sure, freelance job boards are useful, and you can generally say a little bit about yourself. There are ratings systems, and reviews of work. Job boards can be very helpful!
But they rarely leave room for full details of what you offer, nor for all the awesome testimonials you’re sure to earn from satisfied clients. A website gives you space to fully show off what you can do, and what people think about it. Even better, the focus is entirely on you. No competing against other freelancers for attention. You can have a page dedicated to FAQs, so visitors understand what you provide and how you’ll provide it. You can list shipping rates and delivery times, explain the process of your work, and really show what you’re capable of.
You’ll feel at home
A website is yours, and yours alone. Yes, maybe that’s a little intimidating at first, but you’ll get used to it. You’ll have complete control over everything; the image you want to put out, and the marketing you choose to employ. It also offers a measure of security, because job boards can fold overnight, or social media can crash. Your website is your safe place - and a great fallback in case other methods of generating work disappear for any reason.
So, how to go about it? You’ve decided it’s a good idea to invest in a website, but…do you have to build it yourself? Isn’t it insanely expensive and complicated? Luckily, these days, the answer is no.
Yes, all right, it can be expensive to set up a website. But the chances are you’re not a one-person corporation, who’s going to need to spend thousands and thousands on an insanely massive set up. Frankly, if you are and you built that without a website in the first place, you’re probably not reading this article.
The truth is, domains do not cost that much in the first instance. Do a few searches, shop around, see what’s out there. Pick something that suits your needs, and you might find it only costs a few bucks a month. (Be sure to read the fine print about rising costs later on.) Check reviews, and choose the one that best showcases what you’re offering.
Getting set up
It’s the twenty-first century, people. We are no longer in the dark days of having to code your own website into existence. Again, web searches are your friend. It’ll only take seconds to discover a multitude of domain providers that give you the option of getting set up quickly, and with minimum fuss. You won’t have to write any code yourself, and you can end up with something that looks fantastic.
The idea of designing your own look can be daunting. But again, never fear! Most websites are built using templates, and quite a lot of them are free. You may have to put up with some ads, or the domain provider’s name added to your email address if you don’t want to pay anything at all, but you won’t have to worry about it looking good.
If you want to smarten things up a bit further, there are numerous templates out there to choose from. Wordpress offers Elegant Themes, for example. Or you can search around for others until you find something perfect for you. Pick something easy to edit, and you’ll be away in no time. Many also offer support to help you if you get stuck, or encounter problems.
It can be difficult to choose the perfect name, depending on what you’re selling. If you’re simply offering yourself as a freelancer, there’s nothing wrong with using your full name for the domain and simply adding a .com or .net extension.
If you decide to later move up to a brand name, it’s easy to do. Most website providers offer the option of upgrading, and if you’re paying for them to host they usually provide multiple email addresses along with the domain.
So there you have it. On balance, the benefits of owning a website far outweigh the complications of setting one up. If you take yourself seriously as a freelancer - and want others to take you seriously as well - a website is the way to go.
Join the discussion in the comments below!