How is your freelance website or portfolio looking? Maybe you don’t have one, maybe it’s been left untouched for weeks, or maybe you even feel a little ashamed of it.
That’s perfectly okay. A huge number of freelancers allow their websites to slide down the list of priorities, and that’s completely understandable.
As freelancers we’re spinning an awful lot of plates. Working on your own website can feel like something of a vanity project at times. Also, what should you even put on there?
In this post, I want to try to convince you why you really should start to dedicate some time and energy into your website.
Because your freelance website or portfolio should be a strategic component of your marketing, and an effective way to attract and win new clients.
But to achieve that outcome, you need to use a proven framework and understand exactly what outcome you are trying to achieve with your website.
Let me walk you through that now, and explain how you can use storytelling and a marketing framework to lead your visitors through a marketing process, which will make them considerably more likely to take action and reach out to you or buy from you.
Finding your website’s why
When I’m not working on Freelance Success, most of my personal freelance business time is spent building simple, strategy-focused websites for small businesses.
Through this work, I’ve realised that most people don’t actually know what they want from their websites – they just know they need one. This can cause a lot of stress because they know they should be doing more with it, but don’t know where to start.
You might feel this too. Do you constantly feel the urge to say you’re “still working on your website”, or “it’s not finished yet!” when you’re pitching to clients?
This kind of website guilt is incredibly common, and it’s something that can unfortunately really hurt your business.
While your website can be just a place to put information – like your contact details, for example – I believe this is massively underestimating its potential.
Understanding how your website can fit into your process for attracting new clients, and guide interested clients through the buying process is key.
So what is your website for?
Your freelance website should be one of the most important parts of your attempts to win new clients.
Having a good, well-thought-out website is like having a dedicated sales professional on your pay roll, doing the hard work to convince interested parties about how they will benefit from working for you. 24/7.
So your website definitely shouldn’t just be there to just look nice and show off your work.
It should be there to attract interested potential clients, educate them about how you can help them, and then lead them to a point where they want to do business with you. Or to at least stay in touch with you until they are ready to do business with you.
Now I’m not talking about using any scammy sales tricks here, like fake timers and gimmicks like that. I’m going to show you how storytelling should be key to building a freelance website that gets you more clients.
Don’t make it all about you
The main mistake freelancers make when they are creating their freelance websites and portfolios is to make it all about themselves.
This is an easy trap to fall into, after all, it’s your website, isn’t it?
Of course, your website should be a place where you share your story and what makes you unique – but you should focus on why this matters to your customers.
Constantly ask yourself why this matters to my clients whenever you’re adding content to your website.
For example, rather than giving your life story in the About section, talk about how you’ve helped other businesses succeed in your past. This is displaying your authority and expertise and allowing visitors to see that you could do the same for them.
What should my freelance website include?
It’s important to realise that your website should have an underlying structure to it.
If you’re relying purely on nice design, then it’s likely that your website will be unfocussed and confusing to use.
Just as you would when writing an essay, you want to outline your website’s content first.
In web design, this process is called wireframing.
But it also helps to block out the purpose of each section and the content we will use, based on a proven marketing framework.
I’m a big fan of Donald Miller’s Marketing Made Simple framework. It recommends using storytelling and a proven structure to enhance your website, and optimise it to get the results you need.
Simply put, it works brilliantly, because it guides your website visitors through a story, and helps you to refine and communicate your offer clearly. It helps you show exactly how you can help your clients and customers.
Remember, your past work and your website does not speak for itself. You need to clearly and thoughtfully explain what you do, and how you can improve your customers’ lives.
Attention spans are incredibly short online – and getting shorter – so your website needs to be carefully optimised to how visitors actually use and interact with it.
Building a freelance website that sells
So let’s go through the basics of this framework, which you can use to plan out and structure your website.
Of course, you don’t have to follow this exactly, but it’s a great starting point, and will make you think hard about clarifying your message and how you talk about what you do.
I really recommend giving the book, Marketing Made Simple a read to get more information on all of this.
But here’s a brief overview of what works well for freelancer websites, portfolios and landing pages.
1. The hero section
This is the big banner at the top of your page. Here you can include a short headline and a sentence that clearly says what problem you specialise in solving.
Make it easy to understand – if a new visitor would read this and then ask ‘what do you mean’ chances are you need a re-write.
2. The Problem
In the next section, you can set out the problem that your audience faces. Make it clear what there is to lose if they carry on doing things the way they have been doing.
3. Your Value proposition
Next, you can spell out the benefits that your audience can expect if they choose to work with you.
These benefits should resolve the problem you’ve just explained above. You have to be confident that you actually can resolve the problems, and genuinely improve their lives, however.
4. Position yourself as the guide
Now it’s time to briefly introduce yourself. Show that you know and understand what they are feeling, and then display your authority in this matter – why should they trust you.
This immediately positions you as someone who is perfectly positioned to help your audience succeed.
5. Give them a plan
Next you want to illustrate just how easy it is to get started on this path to a solution to their problem.
My preferred way to do this is to keep it to three simple steps.
So for website building, it might be:
- Book a call with me
- I will create your perfect website
- Watch as your new site gets you more sales and more work
As you can see, it’s fine to simplify the process a bit. Keep it simple and inviting. This is a good section to use some illustrations and keep it nice and visual.
6. Your explainer paragraph
If they’ve come down this far, they are obviously interested in what you do, so now is the time to hit them with a little more info and longer-form text.
Here’s where you can include a paragraph or two giving more details about who you are and who you help.
7. A video
You can also include a video if you want to. This doesn’t have to be an Oscar winner. Just summarise the content on your website again in video form.
You can film this yourself on your smartphone, or create an animated explainer video.
This is optional, but some members of your audience will appreciate it, and it does add the personal touch.
Why this structure works
Building your website with this kind of structure works, because it caters to how people actually use your website.
You have a matter of seconds to get across who you are and how you can help them.
You should always keep in mind that most people aren’t really interested in you, they are interested in what you can do for them.
This structure also uses storytelling to effectively engage your audience.
You are spelling out a problem that bothers them on a deep level, and then showing how you can resolve it for them.
Humans love stories because they communicate complicated ideas and information quickly.
They allow us to relate new information to information that we understand – which helps us with learning and retaining that learning.
That’s why using stories is so effective in all marketing.
Stories help your audience take a shortcut and understand more of what you are trying to communicate.
So if you’ve been struggling to get your freelance website right, I recommend giving this solution a try. You can implement it yourself, or create the content and then hand it over to a copywriter and designer to add sparkle to it. I can also work with you to create a great site for your freelance business. Drop me an email if you’re interested.
This also works particularly well for landing pages, so feel free to test it out.
With it, you can realise the potential of your freelance website, and start getting more clients and more work.
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