What to Put On Your Freelance Writer Website if You’re a Newbie

What do you put on your freelance writer website when you're a newbie?Struggling to build your freelance writer website?

When you’re a new writer, it can be tough to present yourself professionally. After all, you don’t have any clips! How can you impress clients?

You can’t tell copywriting clients you’ve gotten results for your previous clients.

You can’t tell editors you’ve been published in X and Y magazines and show them previous articles.

It’s hard to see how you can get started in this line of work! It’s that old thing where it’s hard to get a job without experience, and hard to get experience without a job.

There is an easy way to break out of this cycle, though. You can create a freelance writer website that impresses clients and makes them want to hire you. Yes, even as a newbie.

Here’s how:

Newbie freelance writer website copywriting 101

What can you write on your newbie writer site to attract clients?

You could have a blog under a tab, or a link to a blog you write elsewhere. That’s a start. But optional, especially if you’re not interested in paid blogging gigs.

What you definitely need are three things:

  • A compelling Home page
  • A strong About page
  • Easy-to-find Contacts

The Home Page

The Home page is all about the prospective clients you want, and how you will solve their problems. Think about the type of magazine or business you want to write for and what they need. Write about how you do that.

Emphasize the strengths you bring to the table. Are you prompt? Reliable? A stickler for grammar? Let them know.

End it with a strong call to action that tells them what to do next: Contact you.

The About Page

Your About page tells clients why you love the types of writing you do. What made you the writer you are today? Fill us in a bit on your personal life…but through the lens of what a client would want to know.

In other words, not the story about how you wrote a poem with the first crayon you were ever handed at age 4. And not your whole life story, blow by blow. But let us meet the writer you are now and see a bit of your personality. That will allow clients to see if they might get along with you on a personal level.

Keep your freelance writer website copy short and sweet. A lot of prospects hire writers because they don’t know how to be concise. So if you can do that, you may gain a client right there.

Finally, look at your tone between these pages and get it consistent — and a bit personalized and creative.

Keep in mind that these pages are a writing audition. Broadway hoofers sing their song and do their tapdance…and we write our sites.

So make it shine. Keep rewriting it until you love it.

As you get clips, you’ll create a portfolio page and add more. But you may be surprised how far you can get with just those two pages, a few key words for the search engines, and your email address.

The problem with self-created samples

Often, I see new writers create some samples on their own to get their portfolio started.

You write an article. Or a brochure. Or put up some of your own blog posts. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not very impressive.

Why? You haven’t shown you know how to satisfy a client. Your prospects know you just wrote that article for yourself. So it was easy to get it “approved.”

The one sample that can get you the gig

There’s one type of sample you can create that will impress clients and get you hired.

That’s because even though you create it for yourself, ultimately it does have to satisfy a client.

It’s the copy on your freelance writer website. Its job is to convince prospects to pick up the phone and call you.

If your website copy can do that when you don’t have any other clips, you know you’ve got some strong writing skills! And so does the client.

The secret of newbie success

New writers often tell me they feel no one would ever want to hire them. Why would they do that, when they could get some experienced pro?

Then they don’t do things that could help their career, like put up a writer website.

Which is too bad, because I can tell you not every client wants or can afford a highly experienced writer. Wherever you’re at in your writing career, somewhere there is a prospect who would love your help.

So if you’re new, own it. Don’t pretend you’re anything you’re not.

Then, write your way to success with your website copy. A strong freelance writer website can help you get the gigs that will give you something to put on that Portfolio page.

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23 comments on “What to Put On Your Freelance Writer Website if You’re a Newbie
  1. Maureen says:

    Hi Carol. Great post and comments. I appreciate all the advice. Just wondering something…
    I currently have a writer website that I set up for fiction writing. But I’d like to adjust it using your tips from the post above and I’m wondering if I would need to add a “children’s writing” tab for when I target children’s magazines? Or just put what enables me to write for them–and the parenting/mom and education mags. I’m focusing on as well–under the “Home” or “About” page? Kind of an inclusive “Here’s what I can offer as a writer” no matter the age level?
    Thanks for your help, Carol. Keep up the great work on your site. It’s one of my top favorites!

  2. Arthur says:

    I’m just about to launch my website and I think I’ve covered everything in your piece, Carol.

    But my next question is, how do I market the website? Other than paying my service provider extra to get good search placement and trying to draw enough attention on LinkedIn, are there any good ways to drive traffic to the site?

    • Carol Tice says:

      Traffic is not the goal of a writer website…it’s leads. You need to attract the few prospects you want.

      There is so much to that process that I created a 4-week bootcamp about it, Build a Writer Website That Works…it’s part of Freelance Writers Den — get on the waiting list to check it out next time we open.

  3. Danielle says:

    I really needed to read this. I am one of those writers, although not a beginner, who has been putting off the whole website creation task. After reading your post, I am going to create a website.

  4. Andrew Ikner says:

    Just got my website registered and I’d swear Carol’s writing just for me, as I am a “newbie”, of sorts. I guess that’s part of the reason Carol is successful: she makes the reader think she is talking directly to him, and she offers real, valuable advice. My problem is that I’m old, and so are my samples! The “article” I’d like to use was in the “Sunday Paper”, which was once a fairly respectable weekly but is now just a coupon engine (last time I checked).

    My article “went away” along with all of the archived pages and discussions. The other stuff was press releases, old ad copy, or pieces for “examiner.com”. Don’t know what to do and am leaning toward a “samples page” that includes actual material, rather than links. Is that cheesy? It clearly lacks the credibility that comes with a link to where the actual work can be found on the internet. Any input will be appreciated.

    Thanks to Carol and all of the experienced contributors who are so willing to share and to help. You really make a difference as you inform and inspire!! – Andrew

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Andrew — so glad this piece helped you!

      When you can’t link, get a PDF made where the clip is READABLE and post it on your site. I like Google Document Embedder for serving those. Hopefully you cut out some clips back when. We all have pieces that don’t exist online, so you’ve got to show them another way…it’s not cheesy, if you make your clips clear and readable and they can see the paper’s logo in it. It’s fine. So go for it!

      And you’d be surprised how diligently papers keep morgue files…ask if you could buy a reprint if you don’t have the piece and they may be able to help you.

      Newspapers are a historical record and they tend to keep at least one copy of each issue, which means duplication is still possible.

      • Andrew Ikner says:

        I hope you have some idea of how important your advice and the forum you provide has been to me (and I suspect many, many others). It’s advice, valuable info and inspiration, and these are sorely needed.

        I’ve been fairly diligent at archiving for myself and am just working on the polish and organization. I’ll check into the PDF process, try to make the presentation of clips appealing and let you know as to outcome. It’s Sunday and I’ll be eating boiled peanuts and watching football as I work on my site.

        Hope you’ll check it out when it’s done! God knows I need the feedback and I crave the validation! There, now I’m really sharing. Aren’t you glad?

        BTW: you have some great followers/contributors/commenters (what’s the proper e-speak here?) and the subsequent discussions/threads are often as helpful and insightful as the initial post.
        -a

        • Carol Tice says:

          I know! My readers rock, and have a lot of great advice. 😉

          That’s why I do the monthly First Friday link party now…come on back for that if you want more from my readers!

  5. Thank you so much for this post Carol!
    I was working hard on my writer’s website when this post popped into my inbox!
    It is exactly the advice I needed to bring my website together and to make it presentable to potential clients. In the coming weeks, I’ll be adding more clips to my portfolio and will add references.
    I am so grateful that I found your website. It has been my go-to website for everything regarding my new life as a freelance copywriter and I am on here daily!

    Thank you for everything that you do!

    Sending you a massive grateful digital hug ,

    Ashley Meijer

  6. Medha BN says:

    Absolutely to the mark Carol. I totally agree with your advice for newbies. Just a year back I started my freelance blogging career after I started blogging as a hobby. In-fact I realized my potential after I got a blogger asking if I could join him as a ghost blogger.

    From there on I have been getting enough clients from my blog if not more. And yes, being true to yourself always helps. My first client was so much compassionate that I must say I learnt a lot of wordpress skills from him.
    Medha BN recently posted…How to find blogging jobs as freelance writers or freelance bloggers?My Profile

  7. Sheldon says:

    Hey Carol

    This Article really, REALLY inspired me to work on my website starting TODAY. I’m ready to push my full time career!

    Thanks!

  8. Karen says:

    While I agree on the importance of a writers’ website, I have to admit I’ve advised new writers to wait until they have some clips and testimonials to include. I’m a freelance writer but I also hire other writers/editors for projects from time to time.Even though I work on a tight budget, I honestly don’t think I’d hire anyone without any clips or recommendations.

    The one exception would be if someone had a very polished, professional looking, well-written blog. I agree that if you’re writing for your own blog you’re not showing that you can satisfy a client, but you are showing that you can produce well-written content that appeals to readers. It’s also a fair assumption that if you’re blogging for yourself and your blog posts are well-written and error free you can produce clean copy that will need little editing.

    Thoughts? Anyone?

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think you’d hire them if their website copy blew your mind…see Monica’s story below about getting hired off her site on zero clips. If you’re trying to get hired for copywriting, having a polished blog doesn’t make that sale as well as polished website copy, I think.

      For blogging gigs, a strong blog of your own is the best sales tool, I agree. Depends on what you’re trying to get hired for here.

  9. Daryl says:

    I’m sure you’ve mentioned this before Carol – But to me, simply identifying your experience and properly selecting a decent niche relevant to your experience would go a long way in helping new writers find clients
    Daryl recently posted…7 Reasons Why Writers Shouldn’t Rely on Popular Revenue Sharing SitesMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      So true Daryl — a lot of writers are afraid to choose a niche or two and call them out. But simply saying “freelance writer” is too general and doesn’t help prospects who visit figure out if you can write the thing they need.

  10. Yep, Carol, if you’re a newbie copywriter then you’ve absolutely got it keep it short and sweet.

    But if you’re a little more established then things are slightly different.

    At some stage you’ll probably want prospects to find your website in search. In this case, you’re gonna have to say a bit more. Otherwise search engines will have little content to go on when ranking your pages in search.

    That’s where your website visuals become all the more important, as they help break up that extra bit of copy you’re gonna need.

    But going back to your original point – as far as newbies are concerned, this is something they really needn’t worry about.
    Kevin Carlton recently posted…Why reading books sucks if YOU want killer copywriting gigsMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m actually a fan of short copy for writer sites for all levels of writer.

      300 words a page is great…and shows prospects you know how to write web pages. They shouldn’t run on and on, since most people won’t scroll down.

      I had one client who made me write only 250 words on each page, and at first it drove me nuts. I was like…what???!?! But I became a total convert to their philosophy. If you’ve got more to say, create another subpage. Web pages work best when all the copy is visible without scrolling down. It’s way more impactful and powerful.

      • Yeah, Carol, 300 words sounds like a good target to me.

        But so often I come across writer websites that can barely muster 3 or 4 half-decent paragraphs. And that means they stand little chance in search.

        My home page word count comes it at around 400 words. But I’m offering something more involved than the average writing service, so I’m cool with it.

        As it happens I got a lead through search today. He said he was specifically attracted by my site because it spelled out exactly what he was looking for.

        OK, my website gets a trickle of enquiries not a flood. But I ain’t lyin’ – that really did happen earlier today.
        Kevin Carlton recently posted…Why reading books sucks if YOU want killer copywriting gigsMy Profile

  11. Donnie Law says:

    Good advice to not pretend you’re someone your not. Be yourself. People can tell if you’re trying to be someone you’re not.
    Donnie Law recently posted…Miles and Points 101: Part 3 Leverage Good Credit For Free TravelMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’ve seen many writers struggle with the ‘voice’ on their writer site, and writing about themselves, Donnie. But I agree with you — it’s worth working on it until it feels comfortable and sounds like YOU.

      Because then your site will attract people who would like you!

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