Freelancers with a website make more money, study shows
If there’s one hot topic for freelancers, it’s getting paid enough to stay in business. There’s a delicate balance between undercharging (and kicking yourself later) and bidding too high and not getting the gig. When you first start freelancing, understandably, you have to charge less. But as you grow, how can you increase your rate?
There are a million little things you can do to gradually be able to charge more money. Gaining experience is one. The more you have under your belt, the higher the rate you can command. Being known in your industry is another way you can charge more. Even just raising rates every year or two can help you boost your revenues.
But while those strategies can take time, and you need more money now. Fortunately, there’s one easy thing you can do today to help you earn more money: build a website for your freelance business.
In fact, freelancers who have a professional website can charge as much as 65% more an hour than those without one. That’s a pretty substantial bump in pay for anyone! And all it takes is having a professional-looking website.
What a website does for you
Realize: not all freelancers are created equal. There are a lot of fly-by-night freelancers who are unreliable, provide subpar work, and are difficult to contact. These folks, unfortunately, have left a bad reputation for us all. So you’ve got your work cut out for you to prove to potential clients that you’re better than the crowd.
One way to do that is to have a website. Sure, the simple fact of having a site does not guarantee that a freelancer is professional and will deliver quality results, but it still gives that impression. Think about the websites you’ve visited. Don’t some make you feel like the company is more professional than others? What about brands that have no website? In today’s digital era, that’s a huge no-no.
If nothing else, having a website for your freelance business tells people you want to be taken seriously. You’ve invested the time and money (and really, it’s not that expensive) to create a website that showcases your work. That alone makes you stand out.
What should your website include?
There’s no reason to get crazy fancy with your freelance website. A few pages can help potential clients get to know you and your experience.
Your home page should provide an overview of the services you offer. Keep in mind that some people won’t visit any other page except this one, so you want to lure them in with the content here, then go more in-depth on other pages.
On your about page, you can explain more of your professional experience. How long have you done this sort of work? Which verticals do you have experience in (retail? banking? medical?)? You can also share some personal details to show a softer side.
Then on your services page, elaborate on the services you provide. You may have listed them on your home page, but here, explain more. If you offer packages, list those. It’s up to you whether you list prices or not. Many freelancers choose not to so they can customize quotes, but you may end up wasting time talking to people who can’t afford you if you don’t list them.
You might also have a portfolio page where you highlight the projects you have worked on.
Finally, have a contact page or include contact details at the bottom or side of each page. Make it easy for people to connect with you via phone, email, and social media.
It may also be useful to have a blog for your website. This is your chance to show off your expertise, talk about projects, and provide tips to readers.
Above all, aim for quality in your design. Less is more when it comes to web copy. Use keywords in the copy (but don’t go overboard) to ensure that you’re found when people are searching for your services.
It can be helpful to look at other freelancers’ websites to get a sense of what you like and what’s visually appealing. Take notes and apply to your own site design.
If you think that a website will cost you thousands of dollars, you’re wrong. You can DIY with a WordPress-based theme for free or less than $100 if you have just a little technical know-how (not a lot, I promise).
Another option is to use a website creator tool like Wix or SquareSpace. Wix has free services, but you can get a premium package starting around $12-17 a month for either, which includes being able to update your site, and the web hosting.
If you have the budget, you can hire a website designer (maybe another freelancer! maybe one you can trade services with!). You can pay anywhere from $500 on up, but it should be on the lower end, given that you don’t need any fancy features for your site.
How to leverage your site
Once you have your freelancer site, make sure to include links to it when you bid on projects, as well as on your freelancer profiles. Link directly to the portfolio page if you are asked to show samples of your work. You should also include it on your social media profiles, and from time to time, link to one of your projects to show your followers what you can do.
Whenever you complete a new project, update your site to include it. You might even ask clients to provide a testimonial you can post.
It’s amazing that something as small as a website could make such a difference to your freelance business. But taking yourself seriously as a freelancer — treating yourself more as a business than just a “guy who makes logos” — will lead to potential clients taking you seriously as well.