How To Launch A Profitable Website For Your Freelance Business
For many, the freelance route is a dream scenario. They envision revelling in the boundless freedom, setting their own schedule, working when they feel like it and relaxing by the pool when they don’t. Goodbye 9-to-5, hello life of leisure — of course, it isn’t that simple.
In fact, many will firmly contend that freelancing is just as arduous as a regular job (if not more so) because it requires constant activity to keep your name out there. If you’re putting so much time into networking, trying to find clients, pitching projects, and marketing your brand, then where’s the much-vaunted freelancer’s advantage?
The trick lies in finding ways to generate as much revenue as possible without needing to lift a finger — and this is what you should aspire to achieve with your website. With a finely-polished website on your side, you’ll find it easier to pick up work, earn more money, and be able to find the time to actually live the dream.
But how do you launch such a website? Let’s run through the steps you need to take, and consider what really matters for long-term financial viability:
Choose a low-cost but flexible CMS
Maintaining a website can be surprisingly expensive if you don’t make an effort to keep costs down, because hosting costs are just the start. When you want to update your layout or implement a feature, will you need costly development, or might you be able to do it for free?
A free platform like WordPress is likely to be the best option, because it has a massive following, suitable themes, and a vast range of free plugins you can experiment with. The more time and money you save at an operational level, the more of your freelance revenue you’ll be able to keep, and the more profitable your website will prove.
Make your content crystal-clear
Imagine someone landing on your website for the first time. What should their first impression be? How can you make it clear what you do and how you do it? What reason can you give them to conclude that choosing you for a project is preferable to choosing someone else? The core of your brand should be so clear that it’s reflected in your domain name (just as “skipthedrive” reflects the core advantage of not needing to commute anywhere).
Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it will be comprehensively compared to all the others that show up in the same searches, so your content must be exceptional. Try to get out of your head and put yourself in the shoes of your prospective clients, then use that insight to tailor everything from your copy and headings to your images and layout.
Blog regularly to build up a following
When you start out as a freelancer, you essentially throw away all the momentum you built up in the conventional working world and start anew. The list of accomplishments that made you worthy of consideration for full-time positions will have lost its value. This can be scary, but it’s also a golden opportunity for reinvention and the establishment of a personal brand.
As a spoke in a company wheel, you’re creatively limited — as a freelancer, you call the shots, and you should take full advantage by establishing yourself as an authority in your field. Write about the latest updates in the industry, and give your informed opinions. Offer pearls of wisdom through social media. Interview experts to help you network. The more people know who you are, the more referrals you’ll get, and the more weight will be attached to your name.
Provide compelling social proof
As important as social proof is for ecommerce, it may be even more important for the freelance business, reliant as it is upon word-of-mouth recommendations. With no large brand name backing you, the only thing separating you from others (to begin with, at least) will be testimonials from clients you’ve helped in the past.
Usefully, though, you’re not exactly limited to real-world case studies — you can get somewhat more inventive with it. For instance, once you’ve got into the habit of blogging, you can use social media praise for your work. You can even seek out industry authorities and get them to comment on your expertise: you’ll want to ask them if it’s alright to cite their praise on your website, but it’s unlikely that they’ll be concerned about that (provided your website is decent).
Use affiliate links wherever suitable
The value of having a large following goes way beyond picking up direct referrals and winning brand recognition — it extends to affiliate marketing, one of the most effective ways to make money through your website without having to do much. When you have people who trust your opinions, you’re an influencer, and you can forge partnerships with top brands to push traffic towards them by doing what you’re already doing.
Imagine that you write at length about practicing mindfulness, and there’s a certain book that helped you greatly when learning to meditate. If you’re mentioning it regularly anyway, why not get an affiliate link so that you can earn a modest commission whenever one of your readers uses that link to buy it? As long as you resolve to only recommend products you’d actually use, your audience won’t have a problem with it, and you’ll pick up passive income.
Consider relevant advertising
Accepting advertising on your site is something you should do very delicately if you do it at all. To become a top freelancer, you’ll need to come across as a consummate professional, but that will be severely undermined if your website is full of questionable links and low-quality ads. If you decide to use ads, make sure they’re completely relevant.
To that end, it’s best to arrange that kind of advertising manually instead of through automated programmatic PPC networks. Leave ad space on your site and let people know how to apply to use it, then listen to individual pitches and review the ads before you add them to confirm that you’re not concerned about their content. If you can find some decent ads that don’t affect your credibility as a brand, they’ll add to your passive income stream.
To maximize your profit as a freelancer, your website must help you bring in clients, keep your costs down, and bring in any passive revenue possible. The more passive revenue, the better, because it will tide you over whenever work dries up — and you might eventually be able to make passive revenue your primary revenue source.
Kayleigh Toyra: Content Strategist
Half-Finnish, half-British entrepreneur based in Bristol. I love to write and explore themes like storytelling and customer experience. I manage a small team of writers at a boutique agency.