Yes, you need a website. Period. A LinkedIn profile can be used as a stand-in while you get your act together, but you really do need your very own online home. A web search is the first and sometimes only reference check that new clients will perform before contacting you. Make that first impression a good one.
So what goes on a good freelancer’s or consultant’s website? The exact combination of items is up to you, but here is a list to get you thinking.
Services. Tell us what you do.
About. Tell us who you are.
Contact. Tell us how to get in touch with you.
All the Other Stuff That Turns Your Website from a Business Card into a Job-Creating Machine
Samples. Clients want to see what you can do. Include samples of your best work on your website.
Client Lists. Who else thinks your work is worth paying for?
Testimonials. You can’t beat other people saying nice things about you, especially when those other people are members of your target audience. Quotes from your mom don’t count; quotes from staff at nonprofits in your target market count lots. I’ve found that a solid list of testimonials minimizes the amount of reference checking that people want to do (which is good, because I don’t want prospective clients wasting too much of my current clients’ time).
Personal Information. People generally want to work with people they think they will get along with. Give us some personal information that helps us understand a little bit more about the person behind the services.
Social Media. Add your Twitter stream or Facebook Page widget to your site, along with links to any other profiles. This gives people multiple ways to check you out and to stay in touch, while also providing some additional insight into who you are.
Freemiums. Do you offer any freebies, like a blog or an e-book?
Pricing. Because fees can vary so greatly, some freelancers print their prices, price ranges, or sample project pricing on their websites as a way to stand out. If you are constantly contacted by people who can’t afford you, putting this info on your site can help screen some of them out. Whether this will work for you depends on your target market and how good you are at estimating projects.
FAQs. Answer any questions you get a lot from prospective clients. For example, you may want to share some of the standard elements of your contract upfront. You may want to mention whether you accept credit cards, or what kind of information you need before you can create an estimate. Nonprofits who have never hired a freelancer before are likely to have many “process” questions that your website can usually answer.
What about Advertising? Many freelancers choose to run advertising on their sites (e.g. Google AdSense) as a way to make a little extra money. With a few exceptions, I think this is a bad idea. It’s distracting and takes people off of your website!