When to consider building a website for yourself
Many people wonder when is the right time to build a website for their freelancing business. Some think it's the first thing to do while others prioritize other methods of getting clients. This all depends on who you are and what you do. For creatives, designers, photographers, and videographers, a website is more imperative than it is for marketers, developers, or even writers.
I'm in my 5th year of freelancing for digital marketing and only now have I determined that having a website could provide value. After having consistent clients for several years, I am hoping to increase my conversion rate from referrals. I'm working to generate more leads from my network and want to have a place for them to go to learn more about me and my services.
In addition to having a website to show leads your work and services, there are other reasons that can be valuable to build a website. Ensuring that you have sufficient information to showcase- testimonials, case studies, a portfolio for your creative work, or showcasing your writing, is imperative to have a website that provides value.
If you're just starting out in your career and don't have a lot of experience, skills, or testimonials, I wouldn't recommend building a website just yet. I'd focus on improving your Linkedin profile, building skills, and finding clients through other mediums before investing the time and money into a site.
Done is Better than Perfect
It can be really easy to use your website as a way to procrastinate. Websites can always be improved so getting into a perfectionist mindset to make sure the site is perfect can be more of a hindrance than a help. As my mentor told me "you're going to hate your website in three months regardless of if you love it now or not. Give yourself a deadline and just get something done. Iterate on it over time."
Something done is better than something perfect. Get your MVP (minimum viable product) in place and live. You're your harshest critic.
Choosing a Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name for yourself is an important decision. You want to ensure that your domain is easy for people coming to the site. As a freelancer, you have to decide if you're going to use your name as your brand or determine a new name to build a brand around. I'll use my name as an example. My name is Emily Schmidt - and as Emily was the most popular baby name for a decade, and Schmidt is the most popular German last name in the US, there are very few domain names that are an option for me. Ideally, I would own emilyschmidt.com or emilyrschmidt, but neither of those are available. emiyroseschmidt.com is a good option (and I own the domain) but based on feedback it is too long and has too many spelling variations for it to be easy.
I decided to go with emily.marketing. It highlights my skill sets, my name, and is easy to remember. I'm able to create an email address easily with it using 'es' in front of the domain name to make it as easy and memorable as possible.
When choosing your own domain name when branding around your name, think about those same considerations: spelling variation, length, and ease.
Where to Build Your Site
Unless you're a programmer or somebody with CS background, there's no need to learn how to program now. Sites like Squarespace and Wix are great options that will eliminate a lot of challenges and struggles. You can also hire a professional web design agency to build your website. The cost is a little more, but if you have a simple site, this is a great alternative.
In Part 2 of this series, we'll talk about the components you'll want to have on your website.