Not everyone succeeds their very first time out.
Take Oprah Winfrey, for example. She was actually fired from her first TV reporting job because the producers deemed her “unfit for television news.” Despite this poor first showing, she went on to create a media empire worth an estimated $3 billion!
As a new writer, it may feel like your professional website needs to be done perfectly so you can attract clients and make the writer’s life actually work.
In reality, even an ugly website is better than nothing.
I should know. My first website was downright hideous (think triangles and polka dots). Over time, I was able to redesign, rewrite, and reorganize the content into something I’m quite proud of.
If you’re just getting started, AWAI has an entire program that helps novices create a new website in four days. But first, here’s a very basic step-by-step guide for how to get your freelance writer website up and rolling.
Step 1: Choose a platform to build your website.
A decade ago, a writer looking to post her own website probably needed to hire a website developer. This person would write out long pages of HTML and CSS code to make the site materialize online.
Things are much easier now. Tools like free WordPress templates and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) builders make it possible for novices to build professional-looking sites.
Of all the site-building platforms, WordPress is the most popular and functional option. Many hosting companies have a one-click WordPress installation feature on their dashboards to help you get started.
Another option is to use a website builder tool associated directly with the hosting company. Wix.com is just one example of a hosting company that lets you drag and drop content to create your pages.
Step 2: Sign up for an account with a hosting company.
Once you have a basic idea of what platform you are going to use to build your site, it’s time for some price shopping. A good hosting company has competitive rates for their services along with a friendly and knowledgeable staff.
While talking to potential companies, get a feel for all the fees involved with hosting, securing, and maintaining your website. A great introductory rate may not be worth it if they plan to drastically increase the price after year one.
Check out companies like GoDaddy.com, iPage.com, HostGator.com, and BlueHost.com to figure out which company is going to be the best fit.
Step 3: Choose and purchase your domain name.
Your domain name will provide a first impression for your site visitors, so give it some careful thought. There are several free search tools you can use to check for domain availability — just do a search for “domain availability.” Plan to spend around $10–$15 to buy and maintain your domain year after year. Once you find the perfect name, simply talk to your hosting company and they can help you make the purchase.
Step 4: Build your website!
It’s now time for the fun part… You get to build your website!
If you’re unsure how to start, talk to your hosting company: It’s likely they can point you in the right direction. A number of tutorials and guides online can help you with your chosen building platform. Check out Websitesetup.org and Lynda.com for a few good ones.
Once you have your basic site structure created with several new pages and navigation, you can start filling in your marketing content.
Include all the basic information that potential clients will need to know to learn about your services. Ideally, that includes copy about the niche you target, past experience and testimonials if you have them, a description of your services, and an easy way to get in touch with you.
Remember, your first website as a freelance writer doesn’t need to be perfect right off the bat… It can even be downright ugly…
But given time, your site’s content, look, and functionality will begin to take shape until it perfectly represents you and your writing business!