Leaving Work Behind

15 Actionable Tips for Revamping Your Freelancer Website and Attracting More Clients

Written by Tom Ewer on December 10, 2014. 38 Comments

Available for WorkAs a freelance blogger, ideally you have a blog that you update regularly.

Why? Well, many of my clients wouldn’t have hired me if it weren’t for Leaving Work Behind – maintaining an active blog not only demonstrates that you can write, but it shows that you know what you’re doing when it comes to the world of blogging.

But if not, you should definitely have some kind of portfolio site. It could just be a relatively simple one-pager, or a few pages that contain testimonials, samples, etc.

But regardless of the shape and style of your online presence, it could probably do with a spruce up. In this post I am going to give you some quick and actionable tips that you can use to improve your freelancer website – and attract more clients – in no time at all.

What to Eliminate From Your Freelancer Website

  1. Blank or “Under Construction” pages. This aint the ’90s folks – “Under Construction” pages are a big no-no! If you’ve not written, polished and proofread content for a page yet, it shouldn’t be visible to visitors.
  2. Links to any of your own websites and blogs that you don’t actively maintain. By linking to out-of-date sites, you’re basically telling prospective clients that you’re (a) no longer actively looking for work, and/or (b) aren’t as attentive as a good freelancer typically is.
  3. Irrelevant/out-of-date samples. You may have come a long way in the past weeks or months, but prospective clients will only know that if you demonstrate it to them through your samples!
  4. Unmaintained/irrelevant social media accounts. Linking to social media accounts that you don’t keep up to date demonstrates that you aren’t necessarily fully invested in your online business. Linking to a social media account where you link to kitten memes and funny YouTube videos doesn’t make the best impression either.
  5. Endless service offerings. It may feel like listing your writing services alongside editing, virtual assistance, coaching and dog walking should give you a better chance of landing work, but in reality, it is likely to put prospective clients off. People are generally looking for a master of one trade, not a jack-of-all.
  6. Spelling and grammar mistakes. You must not have a single mistake on your site. If you have any, you are basically telling any prospective client that they can expect plenty more where that came from. This post may help.

What to Change In Your Freelancer Website

  1. Gaudy, unnecessary design elements. If you’re not particularly talented when it comes to website design, keep it as simple as possible. Leaving Work Behind is a good example of simple being effective (if I do say so myself). Here are a bunch of free WordPress themes that will do a good job for you.
  2. Complicated and/or confusing navigation. Make it easy for prospective clients to find the most important things: services, samples, testimonials and your contact details. You may well be able to fit everything on one page, like I do. Don’t make things any more complicated than they need to be!
  3. Your copy. Effective copy can make all the difference when it comes to pitching clients and generating leads. The idea of writing ‘copy’ may sound somewhat intimidating, but in reality it’s just a case of explaining what value you can offer people. Check the post I wrote about putting together a “Hire Me” page to learn more.

What to Add to Your Freelancer Website

  1. More samples. I cannot understate the importance of samples. The provenance (i.e. where the piece was published), quality and relevance of your articles will be scrutinized by prospective clients. If you don’t yet have many (or any) good-quality clients, try to get published on relatively reputable sites (like Lifehacker, The Huffington Post, etc.) as a guest poster. Getting published on such sites may not be easy, but that’s why such samples are so valuable.
  2. More testimonials. When you’re starting out you should aim to get testimonials from every single client. You can’t really have enough of them. If you don’t have any (or many) clients yet, try to get relatively ambiguous (yet positive) testimonials from anyone who has any kind of professional relationship with you (and doesn’t share the same surname!).
  3. More contact details (in more places). A prospective client should never have to look far to find a means of contacting you. Start by having a standalone contact page that is linked to from your navigation bar, but don’t necessarily stop there. You can include contact forms (or links to your email address) anywhere on your site.
  4. Social media accounts. Many prospective clients love for their freelancers to have active social media accounts, so that you can share their articles and give them a bit of a jumpstart in terms of engagement. So if you are actively maintaining a social media account, be sure to link to it from your freelancer website. If you don’t yet have an account, put some thought into starting one (my catch-all recommendation would be Twitter).
  5. Blog posts. Creating your own blog can make all the difference between earning a relatively modest rate as a freelance blogger and getting into that $150+ per article bracket. If you can run even a modestly successful blog – with some evident engagement within the comments section – prospective clients will be impressed. In short, don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk.
  6. Email subscription forms. If someone isn’t ready to be your client yet, maybe they will in the future, or maybe they will know someone in the future. This has happened to me more than once – long time subscribers turned “headhunters” have approached me to ask if I would be interested in writing for someone they are sourcing writers for.

Implement the Above and You Will Succeed

I challenge anyone to implement all of the above suggestions and not get more clients and eventually earn a higher rate. I’d love to hear from you so I can do my best to help you out.

Otherwise, I welcome any freelancers to share their own suggestions as to how we can improve our websites! Fire away in the comments section below.

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38 Responses to “15 Actionable Tips for Revamping Your Freelancer Website and Attracting More Clients”

  1. Abass Toriola
    December 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Great piece, Tom. This came timely, as I’m presently considering revamping my portfolio site.

    Thank you very much for the post. I’ll try to implement everything on the site.

    Hmm…I don’t know if I’m not asking for too much, but could you just take a look at my main copy, and tell me if it’s fine or not? (contentmarketingplus.com)

    Just so you know, I’ve been your reader and admirer since you started this blog. I’ve been reading all your posts, but this is my very first comment.

    I love your writing style, and I try to emulate it, too. In fact, I’ve mentioned that to my blog readers a number of times.

    Tom, you’re just awesome!

    Keep up the good work.

    • Tom Ewer
      December 11, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Hi Abass,

      Thanks for commenting!

      A couple of things spring to mind about your copy:

      1. It’s really long! I lost interest quickly. I suggest that you shorten the copy and consider adding sub-headers, and maybe a relevant image or two.
      2. You don’t link to any samples or have any testimonials within the copy. This is a big no no.
      3. I would get rid of the P.S. at the bottom. People will either consider your work good value or not – telling them that it is won’t sway them!

      Cheers,

      Tom

  2. Hassan
    December 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Hey Tom it’s me Hassan ( the alive in birmingham group pssst!)

    Great article. I’ve just landed my first few guest posts and something like this is exactly what I needed.

    One question though.

    What advice would you give to freelancing blogs that are starting off and need a “bribe” for their email subscription boxes?

  3. Jacquelyn Delcamp
    December 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    It’s interesting…having a valid portfolio has been the biggest obstacle and hardest thing to overcome when applying for guest posts.

    All valid points. Thanks Tom.

  4. Gina Horkey
    December 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Nice read, thanks Tom!

  5. Natalia Prats
    December 10, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    This is full of good ideas, thank you.It’s also helping me decide to go and make those changes my site urgently needs (it’s too old and shabby!). I need to take all this into account when I finally rearrange all the little bits that makes my site work.

  6. Diane Chesson
    December 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Great post, Tom. I’m just getting ready to revamp my website, so this will be very useful to me.

    Thank you very much. Have a wonderful holiday, and I hope 2015 will be your best year yet.

    Diane

  7. thomas
    December 10, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I want to do exactly what you are doing, thanks for the post and we try to implement these ideas.

  8. Corina
    December 10, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Hi Tom,
    As always useful, common sense and straight to the point information.
    Thanks,
    Corina

  9. Brin Wilson
    December 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    The best advice of all, in my opinion, is set aside an entire day (or more) to really try to work out why your website exists. What is its purpose? What is it supposed to be doing? Once you’ve got that really defined, the next step is to set aside a whole series of days to work out how to achieve this. Each website is different and simply saying sort out the problems (which shouldn’t be there anyhow) and add more testimonials may certainly help a bit, but only a fraction of what really getting a grip on what your website is supposed to be doing and then ensuring it does will. At the end of the day, it’s all about setting your website goals and making sure that your website is achieving said goals – if it isn’t, then you’re website is failing you and it’s time to start thinking about why for yourself rather than simply following a set list of quick ‘fixes’!

  10. Brin Wilson
    December 10, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    P.S. “I welcome any freelancers to share their own suggestions as to how we can improve our websites”

    – Never ever underestimate the importance of the design of your website… do YOU think your website looks good? That’s nice! The important question however, is does the type of person you’re looking to be hired by? The amount of time I’ve gone to a site owned by a freelance writer looking to hire them and thought: nope, this guy/girl just doesn’t care about the user experience (in terms of design or otherwise) of their own site enough to bother caring about mine! Similarly, I also look for technical knowhow in writers before I hire them (since I’m, as you know, all into WordPress-related content) and if their own site is full of holes (images that are badly optimized, more than a max of about three css files loading, JS files loading in the header instead of the footer, missing ALT text, etc, etc) I think: if they don’t even know such basics then it’s only going to be a hassle bringing them up to standard and usually just give them a miss…

    • Tom Ewer
      December 11, 2014 at 10:41 am

      While you’re probably more technically-minded than many clients, I totally agree with you Brin. Design can make a big difference, but that doesn’t mean that you need to spend huge amounts on a custom design. Get yourself a simple, clean WordPress theme and take it from there.

  11. Darren Boland
    December 11, 2014 at 1:42 am

    Hey Tom,

    All really good tips, regardless of being a freelancer website or not. They are tips that everyone should be doing….

  12. Rob Leonardo
    December 12, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Just came in time when I have left behind work and considering freelance writing! Thanks for the useful tips and reminders 🙂

  13. Susanne Bendtner
    December 13, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Thank you very much for this useful post.
    Happy holidays!

  14. Patrick
    December 14, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Thanks for these actionable tips, Tom.

    Very helpful for my relatively new blog. I post every other week, and on the off weeks, I like to work on the site itself. Should keep me busy for a bit. 🙂

  15. wendy mccance
    January 21, 2015 at 12:52 am

    Fantastic article full of wonderful advice. I love how you mentioned having a blog where the readers are engaged. Getting comments, shares and likes are so important not only so potential clients can see how readers are reacting to what you write, but it also gives you the opportunity to find out what readers are interested in reading.

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