The How-To Series: Build a Freelance Website

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As a freelancer, especially if you’re working remotely, the internet is your resume. Potential clients will likely look you up on search engines and social media to learn more about you, and having a robust, consistent presence on the web is a solid foundation for your freelance career.

Building a website can seem like a daunting task, but luckily there are tools out there to help make the process as straightforward as possible. No longer do you need to know how to code to create a clean, sharp personal site to display your portfolio. When building your site, make sure to keep these things in mind.

Domain & Site Host

Ideally, you will want to have a unique domain for your website. Create a professional URL that incorporates your name clearly. You may have to be a little creative if your name is relatively common, but try to stick with a shorter URL that isn’t too similar to already-existing sites.

Before you purchase a domain name on a site like GoDaddy or Google Domains, figure out how you want to host your website. Your choice of a site host is mainly based on preference, and how much you will need certain functionalities and support services. Some domain registrars also have web hosting capabilities, like Network Solutions, BlueHost, and MediaTemple.

If you’re looking for a simple site with a few pages to display your work, Squarespace and Wix are easy-to-use website builders. If you’re looking for a host with more functionality, WordPress might be your way to go — especially if you want to write a blog, too.

If you’re only looking for a simple landing page, about.me allows you to create a free profile with a bio and photos. If your work is more creative and suitable in blog form, Tumblr connects your account to a social network where posts are easily shareable.

It really comes down to preference on the back-end, and luckily these services have free subscription options or trial periods.

Bio & Photo

Keep your biography relatively succinct yet comprehensive. There’s no need to spell out every project you’ve worked on; instead, include broad summaries of your work and your impact on the projects you’ve worked on.

The tone and voice of your biography, along with the visual appearance of your web pages, will set the personality of your site. Depending on your industry and function, you may want to take a more formal and professional approach by using third-person and writing your biography in reverse-chronological order. If your work is more creative and/or lends itself to a more casual audience, organize your biography in a way that highlights your relevant projects and experience, rather than the order of events.

The same guideline applies to your headshot and other photos you’d like to share on the site. Including a photo of yourself on your site adds a level of relatability, especially if you mainly work remotely. Think carefully about which photos you use and how they represent you.

Key Skills & Job Titles

Most freelancers are regularly updating their list of skills between projects, since they are more attuned to how the job market is evolving. When you have a shortlist of key skills that you want to highlight — and that best represent your work — make sure to include them on your site as often as appropriate.

Choose no more than a few functions or job titles to focus on. Prioritize your experience and the type of work you want to perform, rather than including every possible area you have experience with. A web designer with digital marketing experience may want to highlight both, but adding in project manager, developer, and marketing expert might be too much.

Freelancers often work across industries, and it’s important to note what industries or types of companies you’ve worked with before. For example: entertainment, technology, consumer packaged goods; or, start-ups, corporations, non-profits. If there are certain types of companies you’d like to work at, mention them among your interests.

Portfolio & Projects

It may seem overwhelming to include every single project you’ve ever worked on, but the level of detail you include for each project is up to you. If your work is relatively similar across projects, having one page summarizing your tasks and listing clients may be sufficient.

If you have performed a variety of functions and tasks for different clients, each project might be better represented as its own web page. Use your project pages to be more specific about your work, and include examples that highlight your key skills.

Either way, find a way to visualize each project, and keep your descriptions focused on the type of work you performed and your impact. Include project links and visual examples where you can — whether it’s a photo of a campaign you ran or the link to a site you built.

Contact

Don’t forget to provide a way for your site visitors to contact you! Whether linking to your social media profiles or creating a contact form through the site, you’ll want to make sure you’re reachable to your audience. Provide a link to your LinkedIn profile, and upload your most updated resume to the site if you’d like.

Remember that your website isn’t done once the site is live — you will need to maintain your site over time as your projects, work, and the job market changes. Building a personal site can seem like a lot of effort at first, but the practice of tracking and summarizing your work can help establish your marketability and give you confidence for your next project.

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