Building a website for your freelance business: five excuses that shouldn’t hold you back

Since I wrote ‘How To Design A Website For Freelance Editors, Proofreaders And Translators’, I’ve heard a lot of reasons why people say they don’t need, or can’t build, a website. So I want to debunk a few myths. If you’re looking to build a sophisticated website that generates hundreds of leads, this article isn’t going to be for you. However, if you’re thinking about putting together your first website so that potential clients can find out more about you, here are a few common excuses that shouldn’t hold you back.

1. I don’t know HTML

It’s not 1999. No matter what anyone has told you, you don’t need to know HTML to have a nice website.

A really easy approach is to use an online content management system (CMS). Don’t be scared by the terminology, a CMS is a system that allows you to easily write, manage and edit content on your website without any need for HTML.

Two good services that you could check out are:

Of those, WordPress.com is a little more challenging. It’s designed for blogging, so to turn it into a conventional website, you need to turn off blogging options (such as comments) and you’ll need to set pages to be static. I think SquareSpace is a little easier, but it does charge a monthly fee. WordPress.com is free.

2. A website is too expensive

It’s not 2003 either! People may have told you that you need a web designer. Or they may have even told you that you need both a designer and a programmer. For some websites, that is absolutely true. But this article is about setting up a simple site for a freelance business. With a simple site, the goal is to give potential customers the information and assurance that they’re looking for. More than that isn’t required, so you don’t need to spend a lot of money.

A simple site that is really well thought out is Louise Harnby | Proofreader. All the information that a client would want is easy to find. And with a site like that (a Weebly template), there shouldn’t be any need for designers, programmers or other major expenses.

An example of an effective proofreading website

If you think it might be worth spending more money on a website, that’s fine. However, a good trick is to start with something simple. Then you can choose to spend more later if it’s worthwhile. Install Google Analytics when you launch the site and you’ll be able to monitor your user numbers. If the site starts to become busy then that’s the moment you might decide to spend more money on it.

3. I have more work than I can handle even without a website

Actually, I think this is the best excuse I’ve heard. If you’ve got great contacts who give you interesting work at good rates then why bother spending any time or money on marketing? It’s a bit like J.K. Rowling on Twitter. Even as Twitter took off, for years she only updated her account to say she wouldn’t update it! Let’s face it, she doesn’t need the publicity and she’s unlikely to want to go online to make new friends.

But even this reason isn’t entirely sensible for freelancers. When you’re running a small business, things can change. You may find that a big client brings in new procedures, and suddenly you could find yourself in a dry spell for work. With that in mind, what’s the harm in buying a domain name and putting together a simple site? It won’t cost much and it will only take a day or two of your time. For that, you have the assurance of another line of marketing that’s ready to go if things change. Note that even though she didn’t use it much, J.K. Rowling still signed up for a Twitter account.

4. I don’t have time

There’s nothing wrong with this excuse… it’s just that I don’t believe it! You don’t have the time this afternoon, or you don’t have the time ever?

If you’re working so hard that you don’t have time to put up a website, you might want to ask yourself if you’re getting the rates you want. Why not take the time to put out a website? It could help you win work that pays a little more and that suits you better.

5. I’m on Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn so I don’t need a Website

Social networking sites are useful for a freelance business, but they’re not a substitute for a website. Your website is what people look to as a reference. Potential customers expect to find specific information (like contact details and how to get a quotation) there, so why not make it available? It’ll reinforce all your social networking profiles too.

Daniel Heuman is the founder of Intelligent Editing. He has visited hundreds of proofreading, editing and translating websites as part of the marketing of PerfectIt.

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