Empowering the Freelance Economy

What every freelancer’s website must have to get new business

Danny Matthew's simple website design is proving to give his business results
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Danny Matthews, the founder of Danny & Co, a Cirencester-based branding and design studio for small businesses, thinks he knows a thing about website performance. He is so confident in this area he says he can visit any website and tell you whether it performs or not in less than a second.

“It’s all down to the first line of text,” says Matthews.

According to Mathews if you visit a website that starts by telling you how many years of experience they have or why they are the best at what they do, your “brain recognises that the message isn’t about you and you leave.”

“So the biggest blooper of websites I see is not putting the visitor first. This isn’t opinion, this is science and is costing businesses dearly with every click,” he says.

The FI wanted to see if Matthews took his own advice so checked out his site. It’s a simple landing page that has an immediate call to action button that says ‘Start a Project’ which has the potential client in mind. The visitor immediately thinks they are going to get something out of clicking that button. Once clicked, you are immediately taken to a Calendly 30-minute meeting sign-up form.

It’s a simple and effective website. It’s quirky, too.

All about the goods: easy access to your portfolio

But if you are selling a service, people want to see the goods. They want to see samples of your work. That’s why every freelancer’s site should make it as painless as possible for visitors to find your portfolio of work. You could easily add a paragraph or two about any given project with an image or client logo (with their permission of course) alongside a testimonial. Any weblinks that can take a prospective client to the project are an added bonus.

Portfolio templates for freelancers

Just today there was news of a new portfolio website template for freelancers by Contra. The templates that FI has seen are simple, clean and modern.

“You can add the companies, brands, and agencies that you’ve worked with to the project that you worked on together,” according to Contra. “Their logos will appear along with their roles and tools on the corresponding project.”

You can be discovered by hiring companies by having your “top-rated profile” featured on Contra’s Discover page or copying your profile Contra link and sharing it with your network.

While Contra is free to use, an upgrade to Contra Pro is $12/month. The site says you can cancel your subscription at any time. The waiting list to join is here.

The site is combining portfolio templates for freelancers and job boards. Its FAQ page is here.

Don’t forget the simple stuff

Nick Jervis, a Bristol-based small business marketing consultant working with service businesses to help them grow, says a website can go wrong by missing the simple things. Like making it crystal clear what you actually do for a living.

“Don’t make me guess,” says Jervis.

He says another website blooper is when a site fails to tell visitors what steps they should take next to progress the relationship, i.e “call us on…”

He suggests having any contact information hyperlinked so the visitor can click to call, email or fill in a free online enquiry, plus live chat 24/7. He adds that downloadable ‘items of value’ is a good thing to have especially if the service being sold is researched a lot before anyone buys it.

Jervis says another big website blooper is “failing to add ‘proof of expertise’ to each page to take the visitor from “stranger to prospect”, such as client reviews, case studies, but importantly also external proof of expertise, such as media coverage and memberships of any professional bodies.”

Another thing he says to avoid is to fail to add photos and personality – “people buy people!” he says.

Personality sells, arrogance doesn’t

Ben Foster, CEO at The SEO Works agrees that personality sells.

“I’ve seen too many corporate sites that fall back to using generic or cliched images that just look posed or blatantly bought from a stock library,” says Sheffield-based Foster.

“Images are one of the biggest assets of your site that help differentiate you from the competition. Without putting thought into the image selection then you run the risk of having an average site,” says Foser.

“Investing a small amount of money in professional photography will help elevate your corporate website,” he says.

Other things to avoid are spelling mistakes and arrogant language.

“If a company plasters ‘industry-leading, award-winning’ on their homepage, then I’m immediately clicking off it. It’s arrogant, pathetic and desperate. Businesses need to do better,” says Jessica Ross at content marketing agency Smashtag Social.

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