The Power of the Pre-Write: 5 Things to Do Before You Create Your Freelance Business Website
If you’re like most freelancers—especially those starting out—you don’t have the money to hire someone to create content for your website.
Like all the hats you’ll have to wear as a solo agent—accountant, manager, business developer—you’ll need to add writer to the list. While freelance copywriters may have it easier than other self-employed professionals when it comes to writing, anyone can learn how to create content for their business website with a few helpful tips. But before you start typing, here are some things you’ll need to do.
Map Your Work. First, come up with the pages that your website needs. Creative freelancers, for example, will probably want to have a portfolio, where they can refer people to see their work. But most websites have similar pages: a home page, information about your business, a listing of your services and testimonials bout your services. Think about the pages that you need for your particular website. A freelance event coordinator may want case studies of the events, while a freelance designer would want a gallery of his or her work.
Devise a Message. Before you write, think about the concepts you want to convey. Your home page, for example, probably gives an overview of your business. But what do you want it to focus on? My website discusses the importance of hiring a copywriter. I also let the prospective client know that they don’t have to hire a marketing agency to get dynamic copy. I end with my slogan, which emphasizes that my services are affordable.
You can emphasize the same messages on different pages, too. For example, you can go into your corporate history on the “About Me” page, but you can also mention that your company has XX years of experience on the home page, too. In addition, you can mention your services on the home page, and then go into detail about them on the “Services” page. Design can integrate part of your message, too. Instead of listing your services on the home page, you can feature them in a graphic that runs on the page, for example. If you’re creative, you know there are many ways to get your point across!
Know Your Audience. As a copywriter, I know that many of my site visitors already realize that I don’t copyright, as in the “C” with the little circle around it. My audience is looking for someone to write something stunning for them, to help advance their business. In many cases, they aren’t learning about copywriting, they want to know what is in it for them. That’s why it’s vital to show off your benefits—tell them what they’ll get when they use your particular service.
While many clients coming to your site are interested in a one-time service, it’s not a bad idea for you to position yourself as an expert in your field via blogging. The content on your blog may not help prospective clients on an ongoing basis, but it may help secure a sale. So why not?
Know Your Competition. It is not cool to copy–paste text from competitor sites. Repeat: It is not cool to copy–paste text from competitor sites. But it is useful to scope out the competition. By checking out others in your field, you can get ideas for content and design, and so much more.
The goal of checking out competitors is to get an idea of how their copy sounds and what their site is telling prospective clients. Pick out things you like, and others you don’t. In other words, use competitor sites as a reference, but make yours stand out from theirs. Overall, it’s a great idea to see what’s out there. Check out some websites of those in your field. As a writer, I enjoyed the following sites: Kristen King, Bob Bly and Conrad Winter.
Get Noticed. Also before you write, it’s good to integrate some keywords that will get your page some attention. This is my favorite site for finding useful keywords. Once you identify some valuable words, jot them down so you can refer to them when you start to write.
Make sure to inject keywords—but not to overdo it. There are also plenty of tutorials on the Web that can help you find out other ways to get your site picked up by search engines. For a start, try some keyword-rich content. Another tip is to regionalize your keywords. For instance, I use “NJ copywriter” or “New Jersey copywriter” to appeal to local or regional clients looking for a copywriter. So evaluate your keyword strategy first.
Writing comes next. Stay tuned: Next week, I’ll offer up some tips to help you put your business into words on your website!
Kristen Fischer is a freelance writer living in New Jersey. To visit her copywriting hub, head over to www.kristenfischer.com.