10 Things that Will Make Your Freelance Website Irresistible to Clients
Clients today expect freelancers to have websites. Done right—with content that’s compelling and a design that’s clear and engaging—your freelance website will attract more high-paying clients.
Your website will also make getting high-paying clients easier, because it pre-sells and pre-qualifies clients. Before a client contacts you, he/she will already know a lot about you and your services from your freelance website. So you won’t have to work as hard to convince the client to hire you. And you’ll get fewer emails and phone calls about work that you don’t do.
What Most Freelance Websites Do Wrong
Unfortunately, most freelance websites aren’t done right. Sometimes, freelancers get bad advice from web designers—because freelance businesses are different than other small businesses. Best practices for most small businesses don’t work for us.
But more often, freelancers design their own websites, because advice on the web and drag-and-drop website builders like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix make this seem so easy to do. The result is a website that looks like it was developed by an amateur—because it was.
How to Attract, Not Turn Off, High-Paying Clients
Clients don’t want to work with amateurs. If your freelance website isn’t professional, they’ll move on to the next freelancer on the list.
And they’ll move on quickly: you have as little as 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) to make a professional first impression, say Google and others.
Your freelance website needs to grab the attention of clients fast, keep their attention long enough to persuade them to hire you, and make it easy for them to contact you.
Here are 10 things you can do to make yourself irresistible to clients with your website content and design.
1. Client-focused content: “What’s In It For Me?”
Grab the attention of your target clients fast by focusing your web content on their needs and how you meet those needs. By answering the “What’s In It For Me?” question, you’re showing clients the benefit of working with you instead of another freelancer.
On your home page, clearly and concisely describe:
- What you do (your services)
- Who you do it for (your target clients)
- How what you do benefits clients.
Use a tone and language that will appeal to your target clients. Continue focusing on client needs and how you meet those needs throughout your web content. Doing this is the key to attracting high-paying clients with your website and all of your marketing.
2. Headlines that highlight key messages
Compelling headlines draw clients into your website so you can keep their attention long enough to persuade them to hire you. I like to use subheads too.
Clearly explain what you do and how this benefits clients. Being clear is much more important than being clever. If clients don’t know what your headline means, they’ll leave your website.
Here you can see the headline and subhead from my home page and my about page.
Click here to see my website.
3. Scannable web content
People don’t read websites; they scan them. In a 2008 study that’s still widely quoted today, Nielsen Normal Group found that people read 20% to 28% of the average web page (How Little Do Users Read?).
Make sure clients get your key messages by writing scannable web content:
- Simple sentences
- Short paragraphs
- Active voice
- The right words
- Sub-heads to convey key messages
- Bulleted lists.
Compelling Web Content
On the Web, a one-sentence paragraph is fine. So are short paragraphs.
Make your content easier to understand and more powerful by using the active voice. Use words that your target clients know. Avoid jargon, and avoid or limit confusing acronyms and abbreviations.
Emphasize key points with sub-heads and use bulleted lists, where appropriate (e.g., services list), to make content easier to read.
Need to Know before Nice to Know
Focus on what clients need to know first, then include some “nice to know” content, if necessary.
In journalism (my college major), this is called the inverted pyramid. The who, what, when, where and why appear at the start of a story. Details and background information follow.
If clients only read the beginning of your content, they’ll still get your key messages if you put them first. You can include some nice to know content after that, but make sure it’s relevant to your target clients and concise.
4. Key message in the top left corner
Put your logo in the top left corner of your website—because people look at that part of a website first.
Looking at the top left corner first is part of the F-shaped pattern that most people use when reading on the web (F-Shaped Pattern of Reading on the Web: Misunderstood, But Still Relevant (Even on Mobile)). In the F-shaped pattern, people look at the top of a web page and the left side of the page first.
Here you can see my logo, which is in the top left hand corner of every page on my website.
If you don’t have a logo yet, consider developing one as part of your brand.
Learn how to develop your freelance brand
5. Key content on the left side of the page
Web users spend 80% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 20% viewing the right half, says the Nielsen Normal Group in Attention Leans Left on Websites.
So put key messages at the beginning of your headlines, sub-heads and other web content.
6. Key content above the fold
“Above the fold” refers to what people see when they open an old-fashioned print newspaper before they flip the paper to see what’s on the bottom half of the paper. The same concept applies to websites, but it means what people can see on the screen when they click on a website without scrolling down.
People read content that’s above the fold more than they read what’s below it. So put your need to know content above the fold.
7. Easy-to-find contact information
Make it easy for clients to get in touch with you with contact information that’s easy to find.
Include your email address and phone number on every page, and on a separate contact page. The bottom of each page is a great place for this.
Don’t use a contact form. This is one of the 5 Deadly Website Mistakes That Most Freelancers Make.
8. A clear call to action
Tell prospects what you want them to do with a clear call to action. Use this on your contact page and on every page.
A call to action starts with a phrase or sentence that urges the prospect to take action now, like:
Contact me today.
The best calls to action include a benefit. Do this on your contact page. Here’s an example from my website.
After your call to action, include your contact information.
9. Client testimonials
What others say about you is far more powerful than what you say about yourself. Testimonials from satisfied clients help you attract more clients—because new clients want to know that other clients found your services valuable. Testimonials are the business version of social proof that’s everywhere these days in reviews of products and services and on social media.
If you’re a new freelancer, you won’t have this page/these pages yet. That’s fine. Add them when you’re ready.
10. Professional web design
We’re living in a very visual age. Your freelance website needs to be visually engaging and professional, and clearly communicate your key messages. Hire a professional website designer.
Some elements of compelling web content also contribute to effective web design, like lots of headlines and subheads. Other key design elements are:
- Choosing fonts that are easy to read online
- Choosing colors that create balance and harmony, and make reading online easy
- Making sure that everything loads quickly, so you don’t lose people.
- Optimizing the design for mobile devices, so that your website looks great on smart phones, tablets, and computers.
Focus on speed and mobile devices
Kabo says your website should load in 3 seconds or less (How to drive traffic to your business website).
More and more people are visiting websites on smart phones and tablets. Make sure your website design looks great on mobile devices. Check your font size and loading speed; data can be slower on mobile devices.
Use the right home pages images
Don’t use images on your home page for the sake of using images. This is another of the 5 Deadly Website Mistakes That Most Freelancers Make.
Hire a designer or do-it-yourself?
For many freelancers, developing an effective web design requires hiring a professional web designer. When you hire a web designer, you know that your freelance website will be professional.
Yes, hiring a designer will cost you more than developing your freelance website yourself. But having a website that attracts high-paying clients, instead of driving them away, is well worth the investment.
The web designer can develop your freelance website on a content management platform like WordPress or a drag-and-drop website builder. Once your website is live, you can manage it on your own.
If you design your own freelance website, it may not look professional. You need to know how to choose a template that’s appropriate for a freelance business, and you need to have some sense of design.
And the money you “save” by not paying a designer is actually money you lose by not using that time to do paid work for clients.
I’ve always hired designers for my freelance website, logo, and other marketing materials. My website is on WordPress and I manage it myself. Occasionally, I ask my designer for help with something technical.
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