Very few freelancers can afford to forego an online presence.
There are so many ways to establish an online profile. There’s LinkedIn, of course, but Twitter and Instagram are also very effective at attracting potential customers because of the large number of users on these platforms.
All these social networks are great, but it’s important not to forget to have a website of your own too – ideally, one that looks as professional as possible. This is usually what converts visitors to followers, and eventually, followers to customers.
So what does a website need to convert visitors to customers?
1. Your Offering
It’s clearly important to let visitors know what you can do for them, but the focus should be on what sets you apart from your competitors. For example, a translator who specialises in IT can generally demand higher rates than a translator who does everything from children’s books to user manuals. This leads us to the next point.
Many freelancers don’t publish details of their customers on their websites, usually because they assume their customers won’t allow it. However, in general, companies don’t mind being named as a reference, provided your work is up to scratch.
Why not ask them? You’ve nothing to lose, and even an anonymous reference is better than nothing. This great post from Moz covers the issue in more detail (the video uses the example of an SEO consultant but all tips can also be applied to other freelance professions).
3. ‘Buy Now’ packages
One thing that works very well for freelancers but is rarely used is a Buy Now button (e.g. from PayPal) on their website.
This has a number of interesting advantages:
- You are forced to create a specific package. For example, a graphic designer could offer to design a company logo for $200.
- The customer knows exactly what to expect. There are no negotiations because the package is there in black and white.
- Once you have attracted a customer with a small project, you can then go on to offer them more personalized services.
- You are paid in advance, so no chasing payment.
There is a saying which applies equally well offline as well as online: you can’t beat free! Freebies are a great way to attract attention and links from other websites. For example, if you were a graphic designer, you could offer free icons for download. If you were a writer, you could offer a free pdf on what makes a good sales letter. This would automatically position you as an expert in your field.
You could also offer something like half an hour of free work to get new clients interested. For example: a free website copy analysis, free design consulting or a free translation of less than 200 words. Yes, theoretically it’s possible that there are clients who just want to take advantage of you. But I don’t think it’s going to happen very often. The main reason for this is just to lower the barriers of taking the first step for your prospect.
Which digital products or free services could be useful for your potential customers?
5. About me
This is an important page on any freelancer’s website. Your ‘About me’ page tells visitors exactly who they are dealing with. You can personalise it further by adding a photo and writing a little about yourself.
For example, explain what has sparked your passion for the area in which you work. This will make you seem approachable and help the customer see the person behind the service. Learn more in our guide.
Maintaining a blog requires a reasonable amount of time, unfortunately, especially in the initial stages. The benefits are clear though: not only is it a platform to talk about your projects in detail, but the additional content also attracts visitors via search engines. A blog allows you to get creative, using infographics, animated videos or even starting your own podcast.
Integrating your blog into social media channels like Facebook and Twitter also creates fantastic networking opportunities with other bloggers. Read more about the benefits of blogging here.
7. Creating a website for your business
If you don’t have a website yet or if you want to revamp your existing one, you have two options: create it yourself, or hire a professional to do it for you.
You can find freelance website designers, copywriters and graphic designers on sites such as Upwork or Freelance.com. Take a look at a few of their websites and get a couple of quotes for comparison.
To find out more about website builders, check out this article or simply download our free ebook on website creation for beginners.
Of course, you could always hire someone to help with only certain aspects of your website, such as the design, text, graphics or coding elements, while you concentrate on the parts that you do best.
I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions, please do leave a comment!
This article was published originally in 2012 and has been updated since then.