Last week, I asked writers to tell me about their websites. And boy, did they! I got nearly 500 responses in under a week.
Wanted to share the data with you today because it points up some of the common mistakes writers make with a writer website.
First off, the big one: Over 40 percent of writers said they don’t have a website yet. No site at all.
That’s like trying to sell your freelance writing services while wearing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.
When you can’t get found online, you can’t be taken seriously as a freelance writer today. Especially by online markets.
On the plus side, more writers are getting a site up — another 40 percent said they put up a writer site in the past year. So most writers either have a fairly new site, or no site at all.
Since it takes a little time to refine your site and make it into that awesome, 24/7 inbound marketing machine you want it to be, that probably means most writer websites are still in a fairly nascent stage. Their site likely needs tweaking and perfecting to be effective.
Takeaway: It’s definitely not too late to get a site. Most writers are still newbies at operating a writer website.
The big problem with most writer sites
Let’s get to the nub of it, the point of having a writer website: Does it get you clients? Do they email or call you and say they were doing a Web search for a freelance writer and turned up your website?
A good writer website should be more than a virtual business card you tell prospects you personally meet to go online and view. It should help draw clients to you.
The news here isn’t good: Less than one-quarter of the website owners — under 24 percent — reported that their site ever got them a single client.
That means over 75 percent of those website owners wasted every dime they ever spent on creating and maintaining their website, and every hour they worked on it, too. More than 200 writer websites, and zero clients.
Time is always short for freelance writers, and often money too, so that really hurts.
Takeaway: If you’re going to have a freelancer website, it’s worth learning how to make it get you clients. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time and money.
3 Key places writer websites go wrong
Why is this happening? I’d probably need to look at the websites individually to get all the details, but the survey shows there are a few basic things many writer websites get wrong:
- Don’t look pro. About half of all the writers with websites report their site is on a free platform such as free WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, Wix, or Yola. Freebie sites are alluring because of that great no-cost offer, but most have layout limitations, make you include ads for the platform, stick their name in your URL, or otherwise scream “I’m an amateur” when prospects take a look.
- No photo of you. Prospects come to your site hoping to virtually “meet” you — to see your face and get a sense of who you are. But 28 percent of the website owners said they don’t have a single photo of themselves on their writer website. The Internet is an anonymous place full of scams, and without a photo to see, clients may think you’re bogus.
- Selling off the blog. A distinct minority — about 13 percent of the website owners — reported their site is primarily a blog, and they’re selling off a “Hire Me” subpage. While I’ve seen a few successful bloggers do well with this, in general, if your blog isn’t going crazy with traffic and comments, this is a less powerful way to market your writing services than a focused, static site where you can write a compelling Home page that sells your services.
These are just a few of the design and easy-of-use considerations that go into creating a great writer website that I was able to track in the survey. When I do writer website critiques inside Freelance Writers Den, we cover many more best practices that go into creating a writer website that works.
Takeaway: There are some basics to design and layout of a writer website that many freelance writers don’t seem to know about. And those can make a big difference in whether your writer website gets found by prospects and comes off professional once they arrive.
Takeaway: If you’re going to sell off a blog site, you need to know what you’re doing and have a sharp, successful blog to impress prospects.
One bright spot from the survey came when I asked about writers’ use of social media. Nearly 87 percent of respondents said they have a LinkedIn profile, which can really help your writer site get found on search.
Building profiles on popular platforms such as LinkedIn — my top social site pick for writers looking to find clients — and including a website link over on that profile helps you rank better with the search engines.
Do you have a writer website? Leave us a URL so we can check it out, and let us know how it’s working for you.