Stand Out Online as a Writer in 2020

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Your website can be a tremendous tool for growing your reader base and your career. Let’s take a look at how to create a writer’s website that gets you work.

1. Use your website as a selling tool

The most prominent reason to start and maintain a website is to showcase your work and help your readers visualize how you can help them. 

There are a few tactics you can use to ramp up the professionalism of your site.  Customization of your personal website can make a world of difference in setting you apart from others, and making your site look polished. You need to have some custom design touches, your own header or colour palette or background image. A picture makes a huge difference. Not a picture of you with a drink in your hand, holding your miniature dog—a professional but friendly-looking shot of yourself. People come on writer websites to meet the writer, to get to know them and make sure it’s not another online writing scam.

2. Make sure your site looks professional

Writers who lack technical skills may shy away from simple things that can drastically improve the appearance of their site. It is very important to have a self-hosted site.

Strongly consider purchasing a domain name on content management systems like WordPress, so it is your own. This small investment adds another layer of professionalism to it.

3. Include the Essentials: Homepage, About Page and Testimonials

There are four main components of a killer website: a homepage, an “About” page, contact info, clips and testimonials. The homepage should clearly and concisely state what you do and how you can help your readers, while your About page can delve into the work you’ve done recently.

We suggest beginning with a primary call to action, whether through a tagline, layout or menu, that indicates what you specialize in. In addition, the menu needs to be direct and clear about things your target audience will be most interested in—your portfolio, clips and how to contact you. It’s important to put your name somewhere prominent, preferably in the domain name and in big print on your site’s landing page. Your contact info should be easy to find and, if possible, on every page.

It’s also helpful to include testimonials with headshots of your readers on your homepage or About page. They add huge relatability… it is amazing how our brain makes that connection with the face.

4. Spotlight your clips

As a professional writer, your clips and portfolio will be your greatest asset for attracting new readers. We recommend offering up your clips in reverse chronological order, and split them up by category if you write in different areas. If you have work online, link directly to it, or post a PDF of the opening spread.

5. Keep the (good) content flowing with a blog

You can run a “hybrid” site that’s part blog, part traditional website. You can update your site with blog-like posts, linking your latest work as a featured story. You may write something you don’t have a home for, and you can put it on your site and tweet or [write a] Facebook [post] about it. It’s kind of like a nice bonus outlet.

6. Avoid nonessentials that can clutter your site

It may be tempting to add every clip, link, widget, bell and whistle to your page, but don’t underestimate the power of keeping your site short and sweet. Specializing in one subject or type of service can also be advantageous. If you’re too vague or general, people don’t understand how or why they should partner with you. But keep in mind that specializing in something now doesn’t mean you can’t change it later.

You also don’t need to include a resume because the content on your site should be your resume. Another item to exclude is a rate sheet. With a rate sheet, you’re totally shooting yourself in the foot, giving yourself a chance to lose gigs, or having to work for rates you wouldn’t want to with pain-in-the-butt clients.

It’s better to be succinct than to put everything out there. Some writers add extensive FAQ sheets to their site, but every piece of data beyond the basics, you’re just giving them a chance to not like you, without having talked to you and finding out you’re really great.”

7. Know Thy Work Is Never Done

Once your site is live, your work isn’t done. In fact, it’s never really done—not if you want to keep getting work. This is a fluid document; it’s like a business plan, where you need to update it every quarter as your ideas change. We recommend revisiting, tweaking and rewriting the content at least once every six months. Frequent updates can also help boost your search-engine ranking. After all, the point of your site is visibility.