Writer websites are a proven way to stand out from the crowd, and get new clients calling you.
But most freelance writers don’t have one. That may be because when many writers contemplate putting up a site, it raises the question: What should the name of my writer website be?
And its corollary: What should the tagline say?
It’s easy to get hung up on what to do for website branding. So many possibilities! Then, you stall out and don’t end up putting one up.
That’s not good.
Your writer website is a great opportunity to create a writing sample. If you want online clients, creating a fantastic writer website is a great way to show them you ‘get’ the internet.
There are definitely some key things to know about branding for writer websites. I’ve reviewed literally hundreds of writer sites over the years — and seen writers succeed and fail with their sites. Along the way, I’ve learned there are definitely types of branding that work for writer websites…and types that don’t.
What do you need to avoid, and what works great for branding writer websites? Let’s dig into the details.
I’m going to start with the top problems I’ve seen in writer-website branding. Then, I’ll give you four ways to do branding that all reliably work great for freelance writers.
Avoid these writer website flubs
There are a few branding problems I see a lot:
Many writers want to show off their writing skillz with some clever, cutesy, or ‘creative’ branding on their writer websites. The problem is that cleverness is highly subjective, so you risk falling flat with many visitors and turning them off.
A recent example of branding someone pitched me on my writer community site: Winsome Words Ink.
Now, is ‘winsome’ a word you could see a business using in 2019? I don’t think so. Sounds more like you write historical romances.
These sorts of creative-writing, contest-style titles have a fiction-writing or author-ish feel, rather than the vibe of a freelance writer who serves client needs. Want freelance writing clients? Avoid.
That’s not punny
Writers love their puns and plays on words.
The problem is, puns are dorky. They’re also highly overused on writer websites.
There are legions of writer websites that say clients should pick the ‘write’ writer for the job.
Ha, ha! Not.
If you thought you’re the first writer to think of this sort of play on ‘writer,’ let me assure you, you’re not. Take a look at how many millions of responses Google gets for the search “right writer”:
Enough said? Steer clear of the pun zone.
We are not amused
Some writers go the opposite direction of the clever punsters, and try to puff themselves up. Their website branding hints strongly that they’re an agency, or have many different skills beyond writing.
They use names like, say, Sally B Multimedia or Oakwood Creative Solutions. If you’re hoping new visitors will browse around your site from that intro to find out more, the sad news is mostly, they don’t.
They just leave.
Meaningless words like ‘solutions’ or ‘multimedia’ leave clients baffled as to what you really DO. I know — you might think words like these make you sound businesslike and important.
The problem is, these words have been overused to the point of meaninglessness, and they just obscure what it is you’re trying to sell. There are too many writer websites with branding like this, where you can read through the Home page and still not know the person wants a freelance writing job!
The content on these sites often uses the royal ‘we’ — as in: ‘we will create great content for you.’ When it’s just you, behind the curtain.
All that does is set you up for awkward conversations with prospects, when they ask, “So who on your team will be working on my account?”
And then you have to explain it’s just little ol’ you. While they make confused and disappointed faces.
Skip the spin cycle and be clear that you’re a freelance writer. All the writer websites I’ve seen that actually get inbound clients spell that right out.
Saluting the general
Lots of writers are afraid to limit who they write for. So their branding doesn’t talk about any niche industries they know about — even if they know a lot about them.
Instead, they stick with a lot of generic language about how they create ‘concise, compelling content,’ or some such.
This attracts nobody. Clients are looking for writers who understand their industry, because they don’t have time to bring you up to speed on all their jargon.
Figure out two or three types of things you want to write about — or even just one, big industry you’re all-in on — and then make your branding all about it.
OK, now you have a sense what not to do.
What branding reliably works for writer websites? Here are four approaches you can use:
1. YOUR NAME + KEYWORD TAGLINE
If you have a simple name that’s fairly easy to spell and remember, there’s no crime in using it as the website address and name of your writer website.
This is the one I went with myself, over at caroltice.com.
As you can see, my tagline is “Seattle freelance writer,” working my local angle.
That helped me land three Fortune 500 companies in my town as freelance-writing clients, in the early years of my current freelance stint (begun circa 2005).
If I were updating it now, I’d probably put “Seattle freelance business book ghostwriter,” since that’s the main type of writing job I want today.
Over the years, writer websites have gotten a bit more competitive on Google, so being more specific and including an industry is better. An even more specific industry such as healthcare, software, or finance — wins in rising above the noise.
Note: I’d go after one writing type for my own writer site now because at this point, I’m super-picky about who I take on as a new client. If you’re just starting out, stick with industry type, rather than type of writing project. Easier to connect with more clients.
2. YOUR NAME + WRITER
Got a long name that’s hard to spell or pronounce? You can easily create memorable branding by adding the word “Writer” to the front of your first name, or first name and initial.
Note how her tagline gets her industry niche in there. Sweet! Because her name is hard to pronounce and remember how to spell (e-i? i-e?), this was a great way to go.
3. MEMORABLE BRAND, EXPLAIN IN TAG
Some writers are good at thinking up fascinating brand names. If that’s you, and you have a creative, memorable brand name you’re dying to use, I say go for it.
Then, tell us what you do in the tagline. For example, here’s one former Den member who’s a designer and copywriter. Her branding doesn’t say what she does…but you’re never going to forget it.
Go ahead and click on this Acrobatic Cow:
See what I mean? Pretty epic. I loved it when I just saw her business card, with the little somersaulting cow on it.
Be memorable, and people will stick around to find out what you’re about.
4. NICHE BRANDING
If you primarily serve a single industry or write on one general topic, choosing writer website branding that spells that out is a great way to go.
Here are a couple examples — the first is ultramarathoner (and MALW blog editor) Evan Jensen, who’s all-in on the health niche with TheHealthyCopywriter:
Sometimes, you can’t believe what URLs are still available that would be terrific for your niche. My coaching student, Seattle-area tech writer Rodika Tollefson, discovered that — incredibly, for Microsoft’s hometown — SeattleTechWriter and SeattleTechnologyWriter were available, so she grabbed them:
Consider doubling down on writer websites
Maybe about now, you’re thinking, “But I have more than one good branding idea! Could I do one site and brand it for one of my big industry niches, and then a more general one with my name in the URL?”
The answer is yes. But don’t create multiple writer websites! That’s too much work. Instead, buy multiple URLs, and make one of them kick over to the main choice (as Rodika did with her Seattle Tech sites).
As you can see, there are several proven approaches that easily impress prospective clients who land on a writer website. Hopefully, if your site is in the doldrums and you’ve never gotten an inbound lead, one of these will work for you!