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The Internet is an incredible tool for marketing; that is obvious. As a freelance writer, making yourself stand out helps land clients resulting in more pay and notoriety. This is where a branded website can come into play.
Especially if you’re serious about taking your writing career as far as it can go.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t be successful without a branded website. But, it will vastly improve your chances of being noticed by industry leaders who may want to hire you based on skill.
In fact, I’ve already had several inquiries thanks to my own website and I’m not even done building it yet.
What is a Branded Website?
Think of a branded website as your cornerstone of online activity. From a professional perspective, it’s the central hub for marketing yourself as a freelance writer.
It’s purpose: to provide information about what you do and connect with potential clients and possible fans. I say “fans” because many freelance writers move on to be more creative and publish novels.
It should be full of information related to your professional persona. So, try to refrain from using a branded website as a regular personal blog. Well, unless that personal blog centers purely around writing and what you offer.
Thanks to a variety of tools you can add to a site, you can create everything from contact forms to order payments. Many freelancers will sell goods and services directly from their branded websites.
Just take a look at StephenKing.com, the official site of the famed author. It’s full of Mr King’s works, professional information and bio. I’d like to point out how it also centers around him as an author.
It’s a prime example of what you can do with a website and your name.
How Much Does it Cost for a Branded Website?
It doesn’t cost a lot to create a branded website for yourself. In reality, you can do so on less than $150 per year. Which isn’t an overly expensive investment considering how much business you could get out of the site.
This amount pays for the hosting and domain name only. If you want some bells and whistles do go onto the website, it’ll probably cost a bit more. However, this is the base rate of what you might pay.
Of course, this also depends on your web host and any deals available. And it doesn’t include any professional help you might hire to help you fine-tune the pages.
But perhaps the most expensive thing you’ll provide for your branded website is time. You’ll want to put in some effort if you really want to stand out on the Internet.
Can You Use a Free Website for Branding?
Free blogging platforms like Blogger or WordPress.com are good for getting your work published on the Internet. However, there is something to be said about having your name as the domain.
For instance, my branded website is MichaelBrockbank.com. If I was to create a similar site on a free hosting account, it would look more like michaelbrockbank.wordpress.com.
Doesn’t look as attractive, does it?
Not to mention that free blogging platforms greatly limit what you can do. You’re not given access to the root directory, it’s harder to make customized changes and you don’t have access to a lot of plugins and features you can get if you were to host your own site.
I’m not saying that a free blogging account is worthless. But it doesn’t offer the same flexibility and marketability you’d get from buying your own web host account.
Building a Branded Website as a Writer
A website with your name as the domain has a lot of possibilities. It’ll help you grow as an authority, interest potential clients, and help get your name out in cyberspace as a freelance writer.
If you haven’t considered it yet, perhaps you should. Like I said earlier, my small site has already grabbed quite a bit of attention, and I just started.
So, how do you build a brand of yourself as a freelance writer?
First and foremost, offer professional information only. If you start blogging about your cats, children or political affiliations, you could turn off visitors.
People are visiting the website because they want to know more about what you can offer. Whether you’re demonstrating writing skills or promoting a new book or podcast, keep it focused on your career.
Provide a Logo, Favicon and Images
A logo is imperative if you want people to recognize your brand. This is true in any industry. Humans are more likely to associate images with context, which is why they’re so effective in social media.
Including a favicon, usually of the logo, works the same way. Should a visitor bookmark your site or see new blog posts from mobile devices, the favicon connects you to the material.
Highlight Your Abilities
Put emphasis on what you do and how you can help prospective clients. Think of it kind of like your online resume. A branded website gives you all kinds of abilities to demonstrate what you can do.
I’ve had many people contact me simply because they like the way I write blog posts. So, don’t be afraid to blog about your career or industry to show off writing skills and knowledge.
Connect Professional Social Pages
Having a professional account on social media keeps the freelancer writer separated from the person. It lets you remain social without adding the personal element to posts.
For instance, you’ll never see my interactions with family on WriterSanctuary.com’s Facebook page. Well, unless it pertains to writing of some sort.
Once you’ve established professional accounts on social media, add them to the branded website. If you use WordPress, this is a simple matter of just adding social icons or links.
Keep it Updated
Never assume your branded website is good enough. Always work to improve, and keep your content and contact information updated. Not only does this help keep you relevant according to Google, but it also keeps you relevant to visitors.
No one wants to visit an abandoned site. And if the information is outdated, it shows you have a lack in professionalism.
Include a Contact Form
If you want clients to give you work, they need to contact you. Adding a contact form is vastly important if you want to attract higher paying gigs or interact with others.
And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, WordPress makes this process incredibly easy. You can also do it for free if you use the right plugin to add a contact form.
You can see an example of a free contact form on this website.
Add an FAQ
Frequently asked questions are a prominent part of most professioanl and business websites. It helps answer questions people might have about you without them directly asking.
And instant answers are always ideal.
In the FAQ, you can include things like:
- Your rate of pay per word or project.
- Type of content you create as a freelance writer
- What companies you’ve helped in the past.
- Types of awards you’ve won.
- Things that interested you to become a writer.
If you’re planning on pushing out published works, fan-based FAQs might also be beneficial. It makes people feel like they know more about you and can relate.
It’s a great marketing device, really.
Flesh Out an About Page
Don’t just create an, “I’m Bob and I write stuff” about page. Add a bit more meat to the layout and give readers a reason to become a fan or client.
I’m not saying you should include your entire life’s story. However, adding details about you professionally can go a long way to engaging the visitor.
In fact, the “About Me” page is the most accessed on my own branded website.
A Branded Website Helps
Whether it’s selling goods online or promoting yourself as a writer, branded websites matter. And using your name before someone else does puts you out into the Internet as a professional.
Just make sure you keep in professional and conducive to your freelance writing or author career.