10+ ways your freelance writing site sucks (and what you can do about it.)
Does your freelance writing site have some…sucky… elements?
If you’re a freelance writer, there’s a good chance your answer is “yes.” You may be able to transform your clients’ content into marketing gold. But your own site…not so much.
Writing copy for your own site is hard (really!). I’ve seen super-talented writers make major blunders on their site – mistakes they’d never make with a client. Unfortunately, those blunders are probably costing them money.
Wondering if your site suffers from the same problem? Here are some ways your freelance writing site may suck:
– You don’t have a site.
So what are you waiting for? If you want to write for online clients, having your own site is a must. It helps with lead generation; it’s a place to showcase your clips and testimonials – plus, clients simply expect it. If you don’t have a site, you need to make it happen. Right now. Otherwise, people will not take you seriously as an “experienced web writer.”
– Your headline reads, “Welcome to my site.”
This is wrong for so many reasons. From a copywriting perspective, your headline is valuable real estate. Instead of wasting it on a “welcome” statement, you’re better served with a hard-hitting benefit statement. From a prospect’s perspective, saying “welcome” won’t make you stand out from the crowd. I will hit the back button on any site where I see “welcome” as the headline.
– Your home page preaches to the choir.
Your home page is not the place to explain why your prospect needs an experienced copywriter. They know this already. That’s why they’re on your site. Instead, you want to grab your prospects’ attention and compel them to click deeper into your site. That’s where they’ll find the information they need.
– You designed your site yourself. And it shows.
There’s nothing that screams “amateur” like broken links, an ancient design and bad stock photos. I know site design can be pricey. I get it. But this is one place where spending a little extra will go a long way. A professionally designed site will show your prospects you’re a serious business person. Besides, who has time to design their own site? You should be hustling for business instead.
– You talk about yourself way too much.
Many freelance writers go on about the classes they’ve taken, the seminars they’ve attended and the newsletters they subscribe to. Unfortunately, your prospects don’t care. What they do care about is what’s in it for them. Sure, you can address some of this stuff on your “about” page. Just focus your services pages around how your can help your prospects overcome a problem and make more money.
– Your blog hasn’t been updated in a long, long time.
You don’t have to publish a new blog post five times a week. What you do need to do is stick to a blog publication schedule. Maybe that’s once a week. Maybe that’s once a month. The key is consistency and writing the best possible post you can. If you prospect notices a neglected blog, she may wonder if you’ll neglect her copy the same way.
– Your copy doesn’t connect with your target audience.
To paraphrase an old Diana Ross song, “Do you know who you’re writing for?” You want your target reader to know that you “get” her, you understand her pain points and you want to help. That means the tone and feel, what you write – even the information you put on the page – is laser-focused on your reader. If you’re writing general copy, you’re going to get general (read: so-so) results.
– You don’t practice what you preach.
If you are an SEO writer, you better make darn sure that your site is optimized. That means a clickable Title, fantastic content and well-researched keyphrases. Prospects will judge you if your site isn’t up to SEO-snuff.
– All your text is below the fold.
You may have fallen in love with the WordPress template with the fancy sliders and big images. But if your text is all the way below the fold, your prospects may not scroll down to see it. They may get hit with your slider and immediately surf away. Remember, you’re a writer. Text sells. Not fancy sliders. (Thank you +Chris Simmance!)
– Making your copy all about Google – not your reader.
Concerned about your rankings? You may think that writing content “for Google” (read: stuffing it full of keyphrases) is a smart move. But it’s not. Not by a long shot. Not only is this considered spam, but it’s really bad for your readers. Don’t do it.
Want more tips? You can follow along with the Google+ discussion.
If you’ve put off working on your site because you’re “too busy” or it’s “not important right now” – it’s time to get to it. Fixing these extremely common issues will help you land more clients, command more money and generate leads more easily.
In short, it’s worth the time. Now, don’t you have some site tweaks to make? ;)
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As soon as it occurred to me I was doing more website copywriting than anything else, I realised I absolutely had to have a website (as a matter of urgency).
I mean, how on earth can you say you’re a web copywriter if you don’t even have your own website?
And yeah – I went for a web developer rather than the DIY option even though I was strapped for cash at the time.
I’d much rather have a professional-looking website and drive round in an old banger than have a cheap and nasty site and drive around in a more upmarket car.
I think the reasons are pretty obvious. But curiously, many other copywriters have their priorities the other way round.
Absolutely love this! Even though most of my work comes via word-of-mouth, why would I leave it to chance that my potential clients might research me and come up empty handed? It’s like having an out of shape personal trainer – why would you trust their work if they aren’t living it out themselves?
I LOVE your analogy! :) Exactly!
@Kevin – good for you!
I think the reasons for a professional website are pretty obvious, too. At the same time, I’ve talked with quite a few bootstrapped entrepreneurs – so I understand their mindset.
These folks think that they’re “saving money” if they create their own site. What they don’t yet connect is the time=money equation. If you charge $75/hr, spending 100 hours building a bad site – especially when you can hire it out for $1500 – doesn’t make sense.
Ah well. They learn eventually…most of the time. :)
Very timely article & handy checklist as I am currently finishing off the copy, updating clients, testimonials etc on my new WordPress site, which will replace my static website launched 4 years ago.
Reading through your points I was able to nod smugly for most with a Yup (professionally developed), Yup (no slider), Yup (optimised), but I have to admit I cringed when I read the Welcome bit! That was the headline I originally used on my home page but soon changed it to “The right words” which fits in far better with the body copy & my biz name Every Word Counts.
I’m also looking forward to starting a blog in my own right, rather than just ghost writing blogs for clients, & have set myself a weekly target. Only time will tell on that one but I think it’s achievable…
I’m laughing at your comment. At least you changed out your “Welcome” headline – so that’s a very good thing. :)
A weekly blog post should be very do-able. Especially if you set an editorial calendar first. Good luck – and let me know how it goes. Blogging for yourself is much more fun than blogging for clients. :)
Thanks, I’ll keep you posted! I’ve been jotting down ideas over the last few months, so don’t think I’ll be short of material. It will be more a case of making time to actually write/edit them, but hopefully I’ll soon settle into a weekly routine for that…