Ever heard that people eat with their eyes? It’s true for all kinds of appetites, including the decisions of whom to hire. Go-Globe found that two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain, and 38 percent will stop engaging with a site altogether if the layout is unattractive.
Freelance long enough and you’ll run into a drought. Clients are leaving, pitches aren’t landing, and money is getting uncomfortably tight. What should you do? Make it easier for prospective clients who’ve never heard of you to not only find you, but to get a glimpse of your skills and expertise. A website redesign can do all that — and more.
You don’t have to start from scratch. For those of us who’ve been around a while, a good website redesign means adding features you didn’t have before, beefing up others and cutting out anything that’s extraneous or doesn’t add value to what you offer. Here are three things that should be part of the mix:
1. A Clean Portfolio of Your Best Work
A good portfolio should show off every skill you claim. If you’re a writer, show different types of stories you’ve worked on. List the outlets you’ve written for and include a mix of different topics. For photographers, your visuals will speak for themselves — as long as the layout of the portfolio works for you, not against you.
But what if you don’t have the resources to do all this yourself? Muck Rack offers freelance journalists a portfolio page to show off your skills to editors who might hire you. Linking to that or something similar in an “about” page on your website can offer a stopgap while you design your own portfolio page.
2. A Blog
How do you think? What do you think about? What are you like when there’s nobody around to edit or manage you? A blog can answer all of these questions and more for clients who want your expertise but may be nervous about hiring an off-site contractor they can’t see daily. No matter your freelance business, blogs can have value by showing your process and highlighting what you find most important about the work you do.
But be warned: Starting a blog and then failing to update it on a predictable schedule tells prospective clients you aren’t reliable or committed. Be intentional about blogging, or don’t include one in your website redesign.
3. Samples or Products
Finally, consider letting clients download quick samples or tools you use to get work done. You probably have something a peer or client could use, and giving it away for free may help you to upsell services or secure a regular contract. Or, maybe you already have a product, like an e-book. Set up an online store and advertise it on your new site. Revenue will trickle in at first, but if the advice is solid and your work is too, clients may end up recommending your product to others. That’ll create a revenue stream that didn’t exist before your website redesign.
No one wants to be considered “stale,” especially in a climate where freelance opportunities are competitive. A new look, fresh visuals and a modern take on your services are all important, but don’t forget the features that show what you can do. Keep a clean portfolio; contribute regular blog posts; and offer samples or products that give insight into how you do what you do, and how different your offerings are to everything else out there. Whether it takes a few weeks or a few months for your traffic to pick up, you’ll get more attention — and maybe some more leads — well worth the boosted effort.