If It's Not on Your Website, Does it Even Exist?
Most freelancers, especially those in creative fields, have a website of some sort. It may not be superbly designed or even updated in the last year, but they have one and don’t need to be told why. They understand the importance of having a website, and yet, 45% of small businesses in America don’t. You might think, well these are mom and pop shops, generational businesses that haven’t caught up with the times. You may be right, but 45% is a big number, and perhaps there are more people than we realize who don’t understand the necessity of a website. While we’re at it, there seem to be just as many people who don’t understand the necessity of maintaining their website. You people who visit your site once a year to make sure it’s still there, you aren’t much better. You wouldn’t use the exact same resume you did in college would you? Start giving your website the attention it deserves.
THINK LIKE A BUSINESS
In the rare situation where you find a business that has no website, what do you do? You probably get annoyed. You think to yourself “come on it's 2021,” or whatever year you’re in, and then never use that business. Freelancers need to treat themselves like a business. You may protest “well I have accounts on a bunch of different jobs sites, plus LinkedIn, so what would a website do for me?” First and foremost, legitimacy. As we’ve gone over already, it’s a ridiculous conceit to have a business and not own a website. People take you less seriously from the get-go. If you want to be seen as a professional, you need a website.
Secondly, job boards and social media rarely leave room for you to go into detail about anything. Your site will have as much room as you need it to. You can have an FAQ page, a shipping details page, a page just with testimonials, and anything else needed to inform clients about your business. This is not to say you shouldn’t utilize job boards or social media sites. Using a variety of sites to market yourself is smart, but you still need a home base; a place people can access all the information they need about you. A website showcases your personality more than you could ever do on a job site. Everyone’s profile looks pretty much the same on sites like that. On your own website you aren’t competing for attention. It’s all about you and your vision. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that opportunity?
GETTING IT OFF THE GROUND
If you’re in the demographic that doesn’t yet have a site, here’s what you need to do to get started. Find a web hosting service and purchase a domain name. A few things to keep in mind when naming: Firstly, don’t over complicate. Your URL doesn’t need to be some supremely clever phrase, it needs to be something that can be easily spelled. You also don’t want your URL to be too different from the name of your brand itself as that will confuse people. If your brand is just your name, then use your name. You could put your name in an interesting order or combine it with your profession like Jane Smith Photography. You’re going to want to be flexible with your URL here as many domain names may have already been taken. You can visit your web hosting service of choice to find out what’s available. Two very popular ones are Go Daddy and WordPress. There are also many website builders that offer hosting too like Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify. That brings us to our next order of business, choosing a website builder; the software used to actually create your site. When picking a web host and a site builder, there are multiple things to keep in mind; including price of sign up and renewal, ease of use, customer service, customization, and technical specs like available bandwidth. For a more detailed idea of what to consider check this out.
BUILDING AND MAINTAINING
Your site doesn’t need to be super fancy. Though if you’re a graphic designer or some type of visual artist then it might have to be somehow visually appealing, but you probably have the skills to do that. What your site needs to do is answer two main questions:
1. What it is you do? Make this information concise, clear, and easy to find. No one visiting your site should have to search very long to figure out what your business does. You should also be showcasing past work that you’ve done on your site. You can give far more information about past work on your website than you ever could on LinkedIn.
2. How do you carry out your work in a unique way that sets you apart from the competition? Displaying testimonials from past clients is a great way to show potential clients an idea of the way you operate. Perhaps the best way to do this, is to exhibit a bit of your personality. Your website can be a door into your brain. Let clients know what it’s like in there.
One of the best ways to build a great site is to look at examples. Find the websites of people and brands you admire. Once you're sufficiently inspired, make that damn site.