Over the past week, I've received several questions about writers' websites, and how to use sites (note the plural) to build your writing business and career, and most importantly of all, to make money.
Big tip: if your writer's website isn't making money for you, correct that oversight today. It doesn't take much effort, I promise. :-)
1. Set goals for a site BEFORE you create it
Start by deciding on the audience for your site. Writers tend to want to create sites about writing, but if you want clients to hire you on the strength of your site, you should make your writing services, AND the needs of your buyers, the site's focus.
Write down at least one major goal for your site. If you have more than three goals, consider creating two or more sites, over time.
(PLEASE write it down. Stick a note onto your monitor. If it isn't written down, you WILL forget what your focus is supposed to be.)
Here's a great big important tip: just get the site online. Sites are never "finished." You can and should revise your site as you get to know your site's audience.
Think about your ideal buyer and what he looks for in a writer. Your site gives you a great opportunity to showcase your skills.
2. Aim for simplicity: get it online in an hour or less
In my Sell Your Writing Online NOW (SYWON) training, I encourage writers to use simple site-creation tools like Yola for their first site so that they can get their first site online quickly.
Some writers want their site to be "perfect." Consider that maybe your site may never be perfect (mine certainly aren't), because you just don't know enough to create the perfect site. The good news is, neither does anyone else. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be online so you can give people an URL.
3. Don't use other writers' sites as a model
Other writers are not you. YOU are you. Your site is yours. Remember your clients -- they're your audience, other writers are not.
What do you want your buyers to know? Tell them.
Again, keep it simple. Create a basic site with a few pages: Home page, Services page, About page, Contact page, and leave it at that for now.
As people ask questions, add a FAQ page.
Then a few months from now, build out the site by adding more pages about specific services you provide. Add a case study.
(Or not, your choice. You may want to create some strictly informational pages.)
Another major tip: get testimonials, and display them on your site. Nothing succeeds like success. :-)
4. Ask for the sale!!
(Please note the TWO exclamation marks above. Considering that I rarely use exclamation marks, and consider them crass, this will show you how important I think tip #4 is...)
I'm always amazed when writers create a good site, then spoil it all by not asking for the sale, and worse, making it all but impossible for potential clients to get in touch.
You must ask for the sale, and make it as easy as possible for prospects to contact you. Include several contact methods, and yes, add your cell phone number if you're hungry for clients.
When asking for the sale, use lines like:
* "Contact me today, to discover three reasons you should [whatever_________]"
* "If [whatever_________] you're bleeding money. Contact me right now to ________"
If you're an intermediate to advanced writer, add a briefing form on your site -- this is what one of mine looks like. This cuts down on the tire kickers, and people who think you can write their web site for ten dollars.
(If you're a new writer, tire kickers are the least of your worries. Talk to EVERYONE, you need the experience.)
5. Make it easy for clients to buy from you
You should have a PayPal account, that goes without saying.
Familiarize yourself with adding PayPal "Buy Now" buttons. (All it takes is copy and paste.)
Advanced writers should have lots of Buy Now buttons on a site; if you're a beginning writer, use PayPal's option to add a Buy Now button to an email message, or send a buyer your PayPal address. (Your PayPal address needs to be a prominent feature on your invoice.)
Once you're selling products from your website, you can use an easy online store, via Selz.
You can turn your website into a money-magnet. Start today.