Dos and Don’ts for a Great Freelance Website

Part of my role at PubLaunch involves finding and reaching out to companies and freelancers who we think would fit in as suppliers on our site. As you can imagine, this has involved a lot of Google searches, digs through databases, and freelance website perusals. One thing I’ve noticed is that I make my decision about whether or not to contact each freelancer very quickly. The decision is usually based on a few things that I notice (or don’t notice) on a website. I thought I’d share some of these as helpful dos and don'ts to make sure you’re getting the most out of your own professional website.
DO buy your own domain name. I can’t say this enough. There is nothing that screams unfinished more than a .wordpress, .blogspot, .wix, or .weebly site address. Buying a domain name is the cheapest thing you can do for your personal business (they cost about $15 per year) and will make the difference between looking like an amateur and a professional.
DO make it easy to get in touch with you. Unfortunately, people are impatient and won't want to dig through a website to find an email address or contact form. Make sure your contact information is displayed in an easy to find location like your header or footer.
DON'T use a blog template. It’s never a good idea to host your professional website on a WordPress blog (or any blog template for that matter). Most of these templates simply don't have the functionality you need for a professional website and won't give you enough control over the final product to create a compelling site. It only takes a few extra minutes to set up a WordPress site (from instead of .com) vs a blog and will make a world of a difference to the first impression you make. If you’d prefer something more user friendly, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are all great options that use drag-and-drop page builders and no confusing plugins.
DON'T get too flashy. Simple will always be better, especially if you’re not a graphic designer and don’t have the budget to hire a web developer. Stick to a three-color theme and a clean layout without too many graphics and minimal text.
DO have easy-to-find work samples. When I’m exploring a freelance or professional website, I don’t want to have to dig for your work samples. If I can’t find them easily, I’ll give up within about a minute of being on your site. Make sure you include a link to your portfolio in your header so they’re always easy to find and (if you’re including images rather than website links) try to avoid making each image a separate page. It’s a lot more user friendly to click through a pop-up gallery.
DO have a dedicated email address. Another very important point. This is pretty simple to set up if you already own your domain name and will make you stand out from all the other Gmail and Yahoo email addresses.
DO have someone proofread your website. You’ll never be able to catch all your own typos and you don’t want to be caught with errors, especially if you’re an editor.
One final tip: get your friends to take a look at the website. They’ll find mistakes you haven’t noticed and point out if your site is hard to navigate.
I'd love to hear some of your ideas. Feel free to post any other tips you have for creating a great freelance website in the comments section below.
- Daniella