Woo, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and start a freelance writing career! Congrats!
Freelance writing is one of the best things I’ve ever done. When I started out, I was working a full-time job and working a part-time gig as a resident manager for an apartment complex. To say I was busy, was an understatement.
But, I had one goal in mind –
To be able to quit my job and work from home as a full-time freelance writer.
It took over a year, but I got there—and you can too!
Getting started might seem intimidating, especially when you don’t have any real experience as a freelance writer, yet.
The first thing you need to do is set up a freelance writer website and a freelance writing portfolio. It may seem complicated to do, but this blog post will walk you through all the steps.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Why a freelance writer website and writing portfolio are important
- Choosing a domain name
- Signing up for web hosting
- Why a self-hosted freelance writer website and writing portfolio is the way to go
- Getting started with SiteGround
- Creating your website
- Setting up your website themes
- What pages to include in your freelance writer website
- Ways to promote your freelance writer website
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The Importance of a Freelance Writer Website + Freelance Writing Portfolio
Creating a writing website and portfolio is important for freelance writers to have for several reasons. First, whether a side hustle or a full-time gig, freelance writers need to position themselves as business owners rather than employees. By utilizing a website just like any other business would, you’re showing potential clients that you are a business providing services to other businesses. Rather than acting as an employee, freelance writers are cultivating business relationships with potential clients.
Second, having a professional freelance writer website helps to build credibility. A website that positions you as an expert in your freelance writing niche plays an important part in establishing trust with potential clients, which gives more incentive for those clients to hire you—even if you’re brand new to freelance writing.
Third, having a well-thought-out freelance writing portfolio can help you win clients, even without a lot of experience. How you ask? The way to win clients with your freelance writing portfolio is to be picky, meaning you need to choose your very best work to display in your portfolio.
- Pick writing samples relevant to your niche
- Keep it small with only 3-5 of your best writing samples
Now let’s tackle the question I know you’re thinking right now; “But what if I don’t have any writing samples?”
The answer to this is simple. Create some!
If you haven’t had any clients yet, you can create your own writing samples to showcase your writing. Make sure they’re tailored to your niche and the type of clients you want to attract. So for example, if you want to be a freelance writer for the dental industry, create samples tailored to dentists and their clients. Once you’ve written your samples, you have a few different options that will create links.
- Create a viewable link in a Google Document and insert the link in your portfolio
- Save your sample as a PDF and upload it to your portfolio
- Publish your sample using LinkedIn Publisher, Medium, or on your freelance writer website’s blog
So, how do you set up a freelance writer website and writing portfolio to show to your clients?
It’s a lot easier than you may think. Let’s get started!
Step #1 – Pick a Domain Name
After you’ve picked your writing niche, you need to build your freelance writer website. Your site will also house your portfolio, which we will get to later.
Before you can get started on your site, you need to pick a domain name.
This can be one of the hardest parts of creating your site, in my opinion. For a freelance writer website, you can choose to use your business name as your domain name, or you can make it easy and go with your name, which is what I did.
The benefit of using your name for a domain is the flexibility it offers. If you ever choose to shift your niche or start a new online side hustle all together, you won’t have to purchase a brand new domain.
A domain name is very important to your online identity and is right on par with picking a company name, so it requires some serious thought before jumping in. With that in mind, trying to decide a domain name isn’t always easy.
Here are some basic guidelines for selecting a domain name:
1. Keep it short
Having a domain name that is too long will be hard to remember and you run the risk your prospective clients will forget it or misspell it.
2. Make it easy to type
Don’t include weird slang, spellings, or hyphens in your domain name. The last thing you want is for your prospective clients to end up on a completely different site!
3. Make sure it’s available
Do your research to see what’s available. If your desired domain is taken, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board.
Tip: Before purchasing your domain, check the social media sites you want to use to make sure your handle is available, too. Even if you aren’t sure which platforms you want to use, scooping up the name now will benefit you in the long run.
Step #2 – Pick a Web Host
When it comes to setting up your freelance writer website, one of the most important things to decide is what platform to build it on. There are a ton of options to choose from but the best choice you can make is to create a self-hosted freelance writer website, which means selecting a web host.
Here’s what to know about selecting a web host.
Think of your freelance writer website as your favorite coffee shop. In order for the coffee shop to do what it does, it needs a place for customers to visit. This storefront holds all of the coffee shop’s supplies and merchandise, as well as gives customers a place to enjoy their favorite drinks and pastries.
In order for you to provide your content to an audience, you need to have a “storefront.” That’s exactly what a web host provides. Without a web host, your freelance writing samples would just sit on your computer and there would be no way to get them out there for potential clients to see.
Free vs. Paid
I know what you’re thinking…”Can’t I just build a freelance writer website with a platform WordPress.com for free?”
The answer is, yes, you can use free platforms like WordPress.com or Wix and save yourself the $3.95/month hosting fees, but that doesn’t mean you should.
I get it, you may have just started freelance writing and don’t have a lot of money to invest in your business yet. But the truth is, creating a freelance writer website with a free platform may hurt your freelance writing business.
Here’s why you should take the leap and invest in a self-hosted freelance writer website.
1. It looks professional.
Remember how we talked about building credibility as a freelance writer? Having a free site can actually decrease your credibility.
Free platforms often come with an extra-long URL like www.yourwebsitename.wordpress.com or www.yourwebsitename.wixsite.com/yourwebsitename.
Not only is the long URL hard to remember, but it also looks unprofessional.
If you aren’t willing to invest in your freelance writing business, why should prospective clients?
2. You’re in complete control.
When you pay for web hosting, you’re paying for the freedom that comes with it. Meaning, you’re in total control of your content and you can design your site any way you’d like. There’s no shortage of options when it comes to themes, plug-ins and the like.
Which Host is the Best Host?
I debated between the two for quite some time before ultimately going with SiteGround. They offer comparable plans and pricing, but what won me over was the great customer service reviews, speed, and security.
If you’re on the fence about which web host to go with, check out this post from digital.com to see why SiteGround beat out Bluehost in an official comparison.
Ready to get started with SiteGround? Use my link to get web hosting for just $3.95 per month + a free domain name (a $15 value).
Getting Started With SiteGround
After using my link, you’ll see the three plans SiteGround offers. I recommend choosing the StartUp plan for now. You can always upgrade later!
Next, claim your desired domain name.
Take a second to review your choices. Specifically, double-check the spelling of your domain name. You don’t want your freelance writer website to end up with a misspelled domain name! Once you’ve verified everything, click complete.
Step #3 – Creating Your Freelance Writer Website
Once you’ve completed your purchase, you’ll be prompted to create a login for your user area. Once that’s done you’re all set to download WordPress. SiteGround makes it super easy with their Account Setup Wizard pop up.
With just one click, WordPress is installed and it’s time to customize your site. Which is the best part of starting a blog!
SELECT A THEME
WordPress will automatically prompt you to pick one of the provided themes. If you want to stick with a free theme for the time being, go for it.
Otherwise, I 100% recommend investing in the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes. It’s what I use for my freelance writer website and it is so easy to use thanks to the drag and drop visual editor. You can read more about Divi here.
If Divi isn’t for you, there are a lot of different options out there. Here a few of my other favorite places to find themes:
- Pretty Darn Cute Designs (I recommend The Pretty Creative Theme)
- Hello You Designs
- Elegant Themes
- 17th Ave Designs
Once you’ve picked your theme, simply go to Appearence>Themes on the left side of your WordPress Menu.
To add a new theme just click “Add New” on the themes page.
When you purchase a WordPress theme, you’ll end up downloading a .zip file containing all the elements of the theme. This will be what you upload to WordPress by selecting the “Upload Theme” button.
Once you’ve got your theme upload, all you have to do is “activate” the theme and then you can start setting up your freelance writer website.
Setting Up Your Freelance Writer Website
After installing your theme, you’ll need to create your pages and write your copy. Here are some basic pages to include on your freelance writer website.
- Home page
- About page
- Hire Me page
- Contact Page
Your About Page
This is where you introduce yourself to your client. Pretty self-explanatory, right? Well, what you may not have thought of is the copy on your about page should sell yourself to potential clients, not just list your qualifications. Yes, you should tell them about you but you also need to make what you’re saying about them.
- How can your experience achieve a higher ROI for potential clients?
- How can you make their lives easier?
- What benefit do they get from working with you?
- Why should they pick you over other freelance writers?
Your about page should include:
- Contain an attention-grabbing headline
- Include a photo of you
- Give an overview of what your business is and does
- Create a personal connection with potential clients
- Resonate with them in a way that makes you memorable
- Add to your credibility by positioning you not only as a professional but an expert in your niche
As mentioned earlier, your portfolio should contain curated samples that position you as an expert in your niche and show your best work.
If you want to write many different formats like blog posts and email marketing campaigns, have both types of samples in your portfolio.
Your Home Page
When potential clients land on your site, the very first thing they should see is a headline that positions you as a niche expert. This may seem repetitive, but you really want to drive it home that you know your stuff. If your site is basic and doesn’t do this, there’s a good chance your prospects will click off your freelance writer website and find someone else.
The bottom line here is clients favor credibility. They want someone that they can count on to deliver the content they need without having to micromanage. One of the best examples I heard regarding this was from Jorden Roper’s Killer Cold Emailing course.
Say you’re looking for a web designer to build your freelance writer website. You find two options. Option A seems experienced in creating websites and has pretty good testimonials, but his samples show work for several different industries. Option B is just as experienced and has good testimonials too, but what makes her stand out above Option A is that her website positions her as an expert in designing websites specifically for freelance writers. This is backed up further by her portfolio, which shows several samples of freelance writer websites she designed. It’s a no-brainer, right?
Your Hire Me Page
The Hire Me page lists the services you offer as a freelance writer. Many freelancers debate whether or not to include pricing on their Hire Me page, but there are some benefits to doing so. Mainly, you’re able to weed out the people who cannot afford or are unwilling to pay top dollar for your services. Needless to say, that can help you avoid headaches down the line.
Here’s an example of my Hire Me page.
Tip: Not sure what to price your services at? Just list prices as “Starting at $_________. Contact me for more details.”
Related: What to Charge as a Freelance Writer
Your Hire Me page is also a great place to explain your process so potential clients know what to expect when working with you. Everyone’s process is different and will vary from time to time but here’s an example.
- Interested in working together? Contact me.
- Once you’ve contacted me, we’ll set up a discovery call to discuss your needs and see if we’re the right fit.
- If we decide to move forward, I will send a creative brief for you to sign. I will also require a 50% payment upfront.
- I’ll get started creating your content.
- Once I’ve completed the work, I will send it to you to look over. I ask that you review the completed work within 3 days and send back any notes or suggested revisions.
- After all, the revisions are completed and the final payment has been submitted, I will release the work to you.
Your Contact Page
This is a must on your freelance writer website because it’s how potential clients will get in touch with you. There’s not a lot more to say about your contact page, but I do suggest using calls to action and inserting links to your contact page throughout your freelance writer website to encourage prospects to get in touch.
Bonus Content to Offer
Once you feel comfortable with how your freelance writer website is set up, it’s time to think about offering resources or helpful content on your website. There are two specific ways to do this that I want to touch on.
1. Offer opt-in freebie: I’m a big believer in building an email list and I think it’s something freelance writers should do on their websites, too. An easy way to do this on a freelance writer website is with an opt-in freebie. An opt-in freebie creates an incentive for prospects to join your email list by offering something in return.
A super simple opt-in freebie to offer prospects is a checklist or PDF download. Again, you want to keep it relevant to your target client and their audience, but even something as simple as “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Conversion Copywriter” would do.
2. Start a Blog: By starting a blog on your freelance writer website (related to your niche, of course) you’re offering a free resource to prospective clients. This is great for multiple reasons.
- The more content you create, the more likely your site will be found on Google (especially when utilizing SEO)
- It can act as an extension of your portfolio
- You strengthen your expertise, which creates more credibility
- Your prospects will see you as a go-to resource and will be more inclined to hire you
Promoting Your Freelance Writer Website
Once you’ve finished your website, it’s time to promote it and your services so you can build up a roster of clients. There are a number of easy (and free) ways to do this.
Next to your freelance writer website and portfolio, the most important thing a freelance writer can have is an optimized LinkedIn profile. A cross between an online resume and a social media platform, LinkedIn is a must-have for connecting with potential clients and showing off your skills. As I mentioned earlier you can create writing samples and publish them via LinkedIn but there are so many other reasons to set up a LinkedIn profile.
- Connect with other freelance writers
- Find freelance writing jobs
- Connect with potential clients
- Create and share content your target client will benefit from and that positions you as an expert in your niche.
When setting up (or optimizing your profile) keep SEO in mind by using keywords relevant to your niche. So, if you’re a B2B IT Writer, say so! Don’t just put the generic “freelance writer” in your profile or you’ll get lost in the masses. LinkedIn also has a feature that lets you insert links to your freelance writer website, projects, or portfolio.
You can obviously create social media accounts on whatever platforms you choose, but one of the best places to promote your freelance writing business is on Facebook. First, I suggest creating a Facebook page for your business where you can post links to your portfolio, talk about the services you offer, and other general info. Second, I suggest joining some Facebook groups related to freelance writing and creative entrepreneurship. Finally, you can consider using Facebook ads to drive prospects to your freelance writer website.
Another way to get your info out there and connect with potential clients, other freelance writers, and creative entrepreneurs is to follow them on social media accounts. Identify some dream clients you’d like to work with someday and comment on their posts to create a connection.
I highly suggest having an email account registered to your domain name for two important reasons.
- It looks professional and creates more credibility.
- It reduces the chance your emails will end up in a potential client’s spam folder once you start pitching via email.
Once you’ve got an email set up, create an email signature. You can do this either through the settings on your email account, or you can check out an email signature tool. My favorite email signature tool is WiseStamp.
Here’s what to include in your email signature:
- First Name, Last Name
- Business Name
- Title (Hint: Words like “Founder” or “Owner” are great here!)
- Email Address
- Website Address
- Social Media Links
Here’s an example:
Founder/B2B IT Writer, My Freelance Business
LinkedIn| Facebook | Instagram
You may notice I don’t include a phone number in this example. Whether or not you include your phone number here is a personal choice. In my case, I don’t give out my phone number to just anyone. Even though I work freelance, I try to keep normal business hours and don’t want to worry about getting calls at all hours of the night or on the weekend. For that reason, I am selective when it comes to giving out my phone number.
Commenting on Related Content
Commenting on content related to your freelance writing niche is one of the easiest ways to get yourself noticed. Do you already follow a few blogs in your niche? Start commenting on their posts! Most blogs are set up to include a website URL when you leave a comment, so it’s a great way to create a trail to your freelance writer website. I also suggest promoting your site in the name field. Something like “Katie – House to Home Copy & Content Writing” would work.
As long as you’re leaving thoughtful comments, you increase your chance of catching the attention of the author, other readers, and potential clients.
You can also hang out in discussion forums or groups your target audience hangs out in and leave helpful comments on those threads.
There’s just something about business cards that make you feel so official, am I right? You may shy away from investing in business cards since you’re working online, but I recommend purchasing a batch. I firmly believe all freelancers should carry business cards on them at all times because you never know who you might run in to.
One of the things I recommend to new freelance writers is to tell everyone and their mother about their new business venture. Whether family members, friends, or your dentist, you never know where you will find a connection to a potential client. So, invest in business cards and hand them out whenever you can!
Now, Get Started!
That’s it. Now it’s time for you to get started on creating a freelance writer website and portfolio so you can start connecting with clients! Good luck!
Katie Jenison is a freelance writer offering copywriting, blogging, and ghostwriting services. She works closely with home builders, remodelers, interior designers, real estate and property management professionals to help them create content marketing strategies, improve their digital presence, generate leads, and engage with their target audience. Katie also helps freelance writers and creative entrepreneurs pursue their dreams of working from home by providing tips and advice, business strategies, and writing tips on her blog, The Quiet Type. Download her free workbook, A Freelancer’s Guide to Setting Rates, here.