If you’ve been putting off creating a website for your freelance business, Amy Gelfand, web designer and owner of Gelfand Design, advises there’s no time like the present. “Like me, many freelancers are a one-person show. It’s important that we use our website as a platform to tell our story, explain what sets us apart, and make an emotional connection with potential clients,” she says.
Here she outlines five reasons every freelancer should stop procrastinating and start working on a site their business can call home.
- People can’t hire you if they can’t find you.
Gelfand explains that many people looking to hire a freelancer start with a Google search. If you don’t have a website, you may as well be invisible.
“I have a friend who is an attorney, and until very recently he did not have a website. He was losing business by not being visible. To make things worse, when he did presentations, people couldn’t find him to check out his business and background or to follow up after the event,” Gelfand says.
Everyone is turning to the web to recruit creatives. Don’t miss out because you don’t have a website.
- Your website is a sign of professional legitimacy.
While there is value in networking and meeting potential clients face-to-face, you can’t discount the importance of having a robust web presence as a freelancer.
“When I meet someone who is supposed to be helping people tell a story or refine their web presence and they don’t have a website of their own, I wonder if they’re for real,” Gelfand says.
To illustrate her point, Gelfand recounts this story of a web copywriter she met at a networking event who announced during her elevator speech that her job was to help her clients “rock the web.”
“She didn’t have a website. I had two opportunities to give a referral to a writer that week, but in the end, I couldn’t bring myself to refer to her at all because this web copywriter didn’t have a website. Her portfolio was a Pinterest board.”
- If you don’t tell your story, you risk someone else telling it for you.
Gelfand describes the internet as a democracy where everybody in the world can weigh in on your business. But she says your website is a dictatorship, and you are the dictator.
“You tell your story on your website, and you position your business in a way that helps clients identify you as the best solution for their needs. You tell the story in a way that makes you shine and elicits the most positive and productive response from your audience,” she says.
On a related note, Gelfand advises freelancers to register their business domain name. “One of my past clients forgot to renew her domain registration, and one day she discovered that her nonprofit organization’s website had been replaced by a Japanese porn site,” she says.
- Your website is an important tool in your networking toolkit.
When you meet someone at a networking event, having your website on your business card allows the contact to look you up later. If that contact passes your card along to a prospective client, he or she will likely look at your website first.
“If you don’t have a website, they might not bother to follow through at all. Or if they lose your business card and try to look you up, they may not be able to find you,” Gelfand says. “You just lost business.”
- You will never know how much business you are losing for want of an effective website.
Until you put yourself out there and establish an online presence, Gelfand says many professional doors will remain closed. Having a LinkedIn profile and a Facebook business page just won’t cut it. You need to have a business website that clearly spells out who you are, what you do, and how you’re different from others in your field.
When you do tackle creating your business website, Gelfand says appearances matter. You don’t want your website to look like it’s under construction or incomplete. “That’s like showing up to a job interview in a nice business suit wearing scuffed sneakers,” she says.
Regardless of whether you hire a web designer or choose a low-cost DIY option for your site, Gelfand says the finished product should look packaged.
“You may have a greater vision for a better website later, but make sure what you create today is high quality,” she says.