Why Your Writer Website Doesn’t Get You Clients

Carol Tice

Why Your Writer Website Doesn’t Get You Clients. Makealivingwriting.comI realized recently that I have reviewed more than 100 writer websites and blogs. Along the way, I’ve noticed some basic mistakes many writers make.

In fact, in the Blast-Off class, Linda Formichelli and I usually review a few sites, and then we ask the participants to start telling us what’s wrong. Because it’s so often the same problems, once they’ve seen us review a few, they know what to fix on their own site.

What are these common gaffes? Here’s a look at five issues I see a lot:

  1. You don’t have a writer website. In one live event I did earlier this year, more than half the participants had no site yet — nowhere to send clients to look at their portfolio online. Writers whine to me, “Awww, do I really need a website?” Only if you want to get good-paying clients. Without one, you essentially don’t exist in today’s media marketplace. C’mon — take over your Zoominfo profile or join NAIWE for the free WordPress site. Something. Anything. Have a site by tomorrow. No excuses.
  2. Mystery header. Does your header say what you do and where you are? That’s what you want, because then Google will send you clients. If the headline doesn’t say what’s up on your site, the tagline needs to say it. It is impossible to overestimate how bone lazy people are when they hit new websites on the Internet. They are not going to delve into the question of what the point of your site is if you don’t make it crystal clear…they’re just going to leave, within a few seconds.
  3. Too many hats. If your site is selling natural vitamins, your crystal healing sessions, and your freelance writing, it’s not a strong tool for selling the writing. Ideally, your site is just about your writing (and maybe editing or proofreading) services. Keep it all in one wheelhouse, or people will be boggled. Also, your writing comes off as some kind of sidelight instead of something you’re focused on.
  4. Too much clutter. If you’ve got three sidebars stuffed full of widgets with pictures of who likes you on Facebook, Google AdSense ads, contests, a mile-long blogroll, archive links, and a host of other miscellany, realize you’re creating confusion. What is it you want the reader to do on each page? Usually, on a writer site, the answer is to contact you. On your blog, it’s probably to subscribe by email. So clear out the other stuff and make that the most prominent, easy-to-find action. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers says it best: One page, one goal.
  5. No contacts. Seriously, on Blogger blogs, I could expire before I figure out where they’ve hidden your email address. Others tuck it away at the bottom of their sidebar. Do you want people to hire you to write or not? Then get that contact info at the top of your sidebar and visible on every page,  not hidden under a ‘contact me’ tab.

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  1. Josh Monen

    Carol, do you think it’s a good idea to have the home page feature your latest blog posts or have an actual home page landing page instead?

    And what are your thoughts regarding a video on the home page that tells who you are and what you do? Of course I wouldn’t have the video start playing automatically (that’s one of my pet peeves!).

    PS: my website is currently under construction so that’s my excuse for a crappy looking site!

    • Carol Tice

      Great questions. Depends on the goal of your site. Are you looking mostly for blogging gigs? Then maybe having your blog as the home page works.

      If you’re looking for article/white paper/copywriting or other types of work, I’m in favor of having a static landing page that sells the variety of all you can do.

      I like the welcome video on the About page myself, with maybe a link to it from a mini-bio in the sidebar.

  2. Debra Stang

    Hi Carol,

    I remember we talked about many of those issues while you were mentoring me, and my web designer fixed both of them. I still don’t have a clear writing specialty (but then again, I’ve always been the kind willing to jump in with both feet and write almost anything), but other than that I think I’m on the right track.


  3. Ruth - Freelance Writing Blog

    Great tips Carol. I don’t have my email address on my freelance writing blog, however, I do have a contact tab. Do you think that’s sufficient? Also, I’m torn between integrating my writing website (which I use more as a point of credibility and less to generate business) with my freelance writing blog and having them separate. I’ve read through the materials in the FWD along these lines, but I’ve received mixed feedback. I know you’ve divorced the two and treat them differently…I’m curious about your rationale.

    • Carol Tice

      Well, my rationale is I wanted to be able to talk frankly about clients that suck…felt like that probably wasn’t the first thing I wanted prospects to see!

      I hate contact tabs…but more on that in the Webinar.

    • Ruth - Freelance Writing Blog

      Haha, fair enough. I’ll look forward to hearing more about the Contact tab in the webinar.

  4. Shana D.

    Great information.

    I have a bare bones website now that I want to expand and improve but am having a hard time trying to come up with a way to show my knowledge without sounding like every other writer website out there.

    What are the best techniques for making a writer’s website stand out in a crowd? Can this be accomplished through a combination of voice and a SEO strategy?

    Also, what is the most common deciding factor a client looks for when deciding to hire a writer after viewing the writer’s website? Is it portfolio samples? Past client list? Hopefully not just price if rates are listed…


  5. Karen S. Elliott

    Hey – thanks for the tips. I am pleased to note that my website follows all these tips. It’s still being tweaked, but I think I’m good to go! 🙂

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