For anyone wanting to build a sustainable, long-term freelance career, a website is an essential tool.
It’s your primary virtual home—the place where you can showcase the kind of work you do, the services you offer, and past client testimonials and case studies. It’s your main platform to make the case for why someone should hire you.
Running a freelance business without a website isn’t impossible, but it makes things a lot harder. And you risk losing prospects who assume you’re not legitimate because you don’t have one.
Below you’ll learn the benefits of having a freelance website, how to choose the best website building platform for your needs, some of the most important pages to include, and how to get started.
What You'll Learn...
- 5 Benefits of Having Your Own Freelance Website
- Should You Use WordPress or a Website Builder to Build Your Freelance Website?
- 5 Pages Every Freelance Site Needs to Have
- How to Build Your Freelance Website With a Website Builder
- How to Build Your Freelance Website With WordPress
- Closing Thoughts
5 Benefits of Having Your Own Freelance Website
Before any prospective clients decide to work with you, there’s a good chance they’ll check out your website, past testimonials, and current portfolio. Here are five reasons why every freelancer needs a website.
1. Create a Professional Image
By having a professional website, you’re in complete control over how you present yourself as a freelancer. When a potential client learns about you and goes looking for more information, they’ll find a high-quality website that presents all your best skills and qualities. That makes you look like the legit professional you are, which means they’ll take you seriously and be more convinced you’re worth the rates you charge.
If all they find when they go looking is your social media profiles—especially if you regularly post about topics that don’t relate to your profession—it won’t inspire as much confidence in your abilities and professionalism. A website that looks good and communicates who you are and what you do will help make the case that you’re a solid bet for them to choose.
2. Build Your Personal Brand
Every freelancer has something unique to offer. What makes you special and worth hiring? That’s the unique value proposition you want to build your brand around. And your website is the best tool you have for doing so.
It gives you space to provide proof of what you can accomplish by picking the best examples of your past work. You can spotlight past clients you’ve worked for as a form of social proof. And you can even highlight your personality—maybe you include a photo of your dog, or mention your love of Star Wars. For some clients, seeing your personality shine through will make them feel more connected.
3. Show Off Your Freelance Portfolio
Without a solid portfolio, potential clients only have your word to rely on. Even though you may be great at what you do there’s no way to prove it. But when you collect samples of your work onto your website, they can see for themselves. Your portfolio can speak for you.
And your portfolio helps ensure that the people who hire you already like your style. You face less risk of ending up with clients that are hard to please, because they’ve already had the chance to confirm they like the kind of work you do.
4. Generate Leads
One of the hardest parts of starting a freelance business is finding your first clients. Many new freelancers turn to bidding sites to get started, but they tend to attract low-paying and difficult clients. Building a website is a first step toward creating the kind of business where clients come to you.
Once you have a website up, you can start marketing your business with tactics like search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and social media marketing. Over time, these efforts will drive more relevant traffic to your site, that can then translate into new clients.
But trying to build your business reputation online without a website is a much bigger battle. You don’t have any central place to direct all that traffic to. And when promising leads do hear about you, they’ll have a harder time finding more information and learning how to get in touch.
5. Build a Sustainable Freelance Business
All of this adds up to helping you build a sustainable freelance business. Your website becomes an important part of building up the kind of reputation you need for prospects to learn about and want to work with you. A website that’s built well and sells your value convinces them you’re worth professional rates.
When you reach the point that clients are coming to you and you can charge what you feel is fair, you can focus more on doing the work that earns money and less on scrambling to find clients. That’s the real ticket to creating long-term success as a freelancer.
Should You Use WordPress or a Website Builder to Build Your Freelance Website?
If you’re skilled in web design and can build a site on your own, you can skip this section. But for all the freelancers whose services fall in other realms, figuring out how to build a website is a big question.
Two of the most popular options available for beginners are WordPress and website builders.
Website builders were created with beginners in mind. The goal is to help you build a professional-looking website without having to touch a line of code.
A smart website builder, like Gator, will automate the process of getting a base design into place for your website. From there, you can customize as needed using an intuitive website editor. The process can feasibly be completed within a matter of hours—or potentially less.
In contrast, WordPress will require spending more time learning how to use the content management system (CMS), but it’s a more robust system that offers more control over the end result.
WordPress is highly flexible and can be used to create nearly any kind of website you can imagine. Once you install WordPress on your server, you can choose the perfect theme, then start customizing. The theme you choose will form the foundation for your website’s appearance and its general functionality.
Put simply, website builders have a much lower learning curve, but the site you build won’t be as easy to customize and scale. WordPress will require a bigger time investment upfront but gives you greater flexibility moving forward.
5 Pages Every Freelance Site Needs to Have
Figuring out what to include on your freelance website is a personal question. You can get as creative and unique as makes sense for your brand. But in most cases, a freelance website will work better if it includes a few main types of pages.
Here are five pages every freelance website needs to have:
1. About Page
A lot of creatives use their About page to list their accomplishments. Although this might help to convince some people, it’s not the best use of this page. Instead, your About page should focus on the relationship between you and a potential client working together.
Spell out exactly what you do and why you’re best for the job. Make your About page stand out by speaking to your client’s deep needs and aligning this with your skillset and past achievements.
This can also be a space to clarify your brand values and some information about your working style. Freelancing is different from selling consumer goods in that you don’t want to attract every possible customer—you want to find the ones that are a fit for how you work. Your About page can give visitors a chance to learn whether or not that’s them.
2. Services Page
Your Services page (or pages, if you want to outline a few services) dives even deeper into your skills and what you’re selling.
What do you do? What’s your process like? And who do you typically work for?
Your Service page should also be written similarly to your About page. Even though the focus is on what you provide, you’ll still want to show your clients what’s in it for them.
One common mistake newbie freelancers sometimes make is trying to do too much. While each freelancer will have to find their own path to success, in most cases sticking with doing a few things well makes more sense than spreading yourself thin trying to offer a lot of different services. Think about what you enjoy doing and what you’ve received the most praise for. You can even consider offering different service-level tiers or packaging up your services into different packages.
This page should also include a solid call to action (CTA) to let visitors know what to do next. This can direct people to book a discovery call with you, send an email, or even purchase your services directly.
3. Portfolio Page
Your portfolio page is where you share all the best examples of your work. Your About and Services pages will spell out exactly the kind of work you do, while this page will show visitors what that looks like in practice. It’s where you prove all the claims you’ve made elsewhere on the site.
The layout of this page will depend on the kind of work you do. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, then this page can include screenshots of websites you’ve designed, or just showcase clips of your work. If you’re a freelance writer, then this page might be as simple as the headlines of your articles with links, so people can read your work live on the web.
In addition to picking out the examples of your work you feel are most impressive, also think about choosing a variety of samples that demonstrate the different skills you possess and types of projects you take on.
4. Testimonials Page
If you have a roster of past clients, then you should try to source testimonials you can display on your website. A handful of really solid testimonials can do a lot of the selling for you. While asking may make you nervous, most clients that have been happy with your work will gladly provide a few lines about their experience working with you.
You can also display logos of past companies you’ve worked with. This is a subtle design element that can go a long way toward convincing a prospect to take a chance on working with you.
5. Contact Page
Finally, you’ll need a way for prospective clients to get in touch with you. You’ll want to make it as easy as possible for new people to reach out. So, make sure that you offer multiple forms of contact on your contact page.
That may include a contact form with required fields, your email address, and possibly even phone number. You don’t want to miss out on a client because they couldn’t contact you the way they preferred.
Another cool thing you can do with a freelance website is add an in-depth form to your contact page. So, instead of the standard name, email, and message, you could include fields that are specific to the kind of work you’re going to be doing for them.
This can help to speed up the onboarding process and ensure you’re weeding out low-quality prospects from the get-go.
How to Build Your Freelance Website With a Website Builder
By now you should have a better understanding of why you need a website as a freelancer, the kinds of pages you’ll want to create, and which tool you want to use to build out your website.
Here’s how you can get started building out your freelance website with a website builder. For the tutorial below we’re using the Gator Website Builder.
1. Fire up the Gator Website Builder
The first thing we’ll need to do is fire up the Gator Website Builder. If you haven’t signed up for the Gator Website builder yet, you can select your plan here. Plans start at under $4 a month, and come with web hosting and a free domain name (for the first year).
Once you’ve signed up, open Gator up to get started.
2. Complete the Setup Process
As soon as you open up the Gator Website Builder, you’ll be asked a series of questions that will provide the website builder with the basic information it needs to get your website’s main structure and design into place.
Go step by step through the setup process and reply to each question and make your selections as prompted.
This process will take a few minutes, but by the end of it, the basics of your website design will be complete!
3. Customize Your Main Pages
Once your design is in place, you can start making changes to ensure the website matches your brand.
To fill in your own website copy, you can click on any text on the page to add your own words. Once you click on it, you’ll also see a menu that allows you to add any formatting you’d like.
The website builder will automatically include relevant images for your website, but to switch them out with your own you can click on the image, and choose Select Image from the menu that appears.
If you don’t have your own original images to add, you can take advantage of the free image library the website builder provides.
To move elements around on the page, use the arrows that show up in the top right corner of each page section. To remove a section you don’t want, use the trash icon.
And if you want to add a section to the page, click on the + icon that shows up in between each section when you scroll over it. Then choose which type of Section you want to add from the menu that comes up.
4. Add New Pages
The website builder will automatically include a few of the pages you’ll need, but you’ll likely want to add more. To do that, click on Pages in the menu on the left side of the screen, and New Page.
You’ll be prompted to provide basic information for your New Page, such as its name and whether it should go under another page (its Parent page) in the menu.
Once your page is created, use the editing skills you learned when customizing the first pages to make this one look the way you want as well.
Then repeat the process with each new page you need until the website is complete and fully yours!
How to Build Your Freelance Website With WordPress
Or, maybe you want more flexibility and customization options and prefer to use WordPress to build out your freelance website.
Here are the basic steps for getting started with WordPress.
1. Install WordPress on Your Site
To get started with WordPress you’ll need to install it on your site. If you don’t already have WordPress installed, then open up your control panel and install WordPress by clicking on ‘WordPress Installer.’
On the next screen, you’ll need to select the domain you want to install WordPress on, enter your relevant site details, and the installer will do the rest of the work.
2. Choose Your Freelance WordPress Theme
One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is choosing the theme for your freelance website. With WordPress, there are thousands of different themes to choose from, both free and premium.
You’ll want to spend some time researching the best theme for your needs before you choose one to install.
Luckily, once you’ve found the perfect theme, it’s easy to install and start customizing.
To install a new WordPress theme you’ll need to navigate to your WordPress dashboard. This will be through a link that will look something like “yoursite.com/wp-admin”.
Once you’ve logged into the backend of your site you can install a new theme by navigating to Appearance>Themes, then selecting ‘Add New’.
On the next screen, you can either upload a theme (if you’ve already downloaded or purchased a theme), or you can search for a theme directly within your WordPress dashboard.
Once you find a theme you like just hover over it and click ‘Install’, then ‘Activate’.
3. Customize Your Site and Add Pages
Once your WordPress theme is activated, you’ll get access to a theme customization panel, along with a theme options panel.
Both of these allow you to make customizations to your theme. The theme options you have access too will depend upon the theme you choose. But you can always make visual customizations by navigating to Appearance>Customize.
On this screen, you’ll be able to change your logo, color scheme, typography, widget areas, and more.
To add new pages to your site, just navigate to Pages>Add New. You can quickly add new pages to your site here.
4. Install WordPress Plugins for Additional Features
One of the most powerful aspects of WordPress is the plugin library. Virtually any kind of feature you want to add to your site, you can do so with a plugin.
WordPress plugins are a lot like themes in that there are thousands of different options to choose from. But, no matter what features you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find the perfect plugin for your needs.
You can always choose from some of the most popular WordPress plugins out there, or you can search for a more unique plugin–depending on the features you require. Check out our list of the best WordPress plugins for freelancers.
Hopefully, by now you’re well equipped to build an awesome new website for your freelance business.
You understand the benefits of why you need your own freelance website, as well as some of the most important pages you’ll want to create.
Whether you decided to go with WordPress or use a website builder is a matter of personal preference, existing skill set, and the ultimate goal you have with your site.
Get started building your freelance website today with HostGator!
Learn more about running your own freelance business:
- How I Found My Favorite Freelance Clients
- 7 Lessons on Managing Freelance Clients’ Expectations
- Top Tools I Use to Keep My Freelance Business Up and Running
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.