15 Minute Freelancer

72. The dos and don'ts of freelancer websites (with Gill Andrews)

August 19, 2022 Louise Shanahan Episode 72
15 Minute Freelancer
72. The dos and don'ts of freelancer websites (with Gill Andrews)
Show Notes Transcript

Two firsts for the podcast this week, a quick-fire question round and a GIVEAWAY!

My guest is the queen of website copywriting herself, Gill Andrews. In just 15 mins, Gill answers all your burning questions about the dos and don'ts of freelancer websites.

Listen in to find out:

  • What's the most important section of your website?
  • Why "contact me" might not be the best call to action for your freelancer website
  • Should freelancers have a blog on their website?
  • How much detail to share about your experience and past projects
  • A freelancer's guide to SEO
  • My most-used tip from Gill's book, ‘Making Your Website Work’
  • How to enter the giveaway so you can get your hands on a signed copy of Gill's book!

[LINKEDIN POST to enter giveaway: click here!]

Get bonus clips and tips in the 15 Minute Freelancer newsletter: 15minutefreelancer.substack.com

Say hi to Gill:

Website: https://gillandrews.com/
LinkedIn: Gill Andrews
Twitter: @StoriesWithGill

Say hi to Louise:

Louise Shanahan is a freelance health and medical copywriter and a big fan of finding your freelance niche. She's on a mission to help others build a freelance business that feels easy and works for them – in weekly snack-sized bites.

LinkedIn: Louise Shanahan
Website: thecopyprescription.com

Ask a question for a future episode on memo.fm/15/

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Welcome to 15 Minute Freelancer, your snack-sized guide to being your own boss and building a business and life you love. I'm your host Louise Shanahan. My LinkedIn bio says I'm a freelance health copywriter. But for the next 15 minutes, I'll be tickling your ears with practical strategies, behind-the-scenes stories, and nuggets of wisdom so you can create a freelance business that works for you. Whether you're just starting out or you've been self-employed for a while, I'll be right here with you to help you navigate the ups and downs of freelancing life. So grab a coffee relax and join me for 15 minutes of freelancing fun. Don't forget to hit subscribe.

Louise: Hello, Louise here and today I'm joined by none other than the queen of website copywriting herself Gill Andrews. Hello, Gill, thank you so much for joining me. 

Gill: Hi, Louise. Thank you very much, great that we don't have any cameras on otherwise you will see me blushing. Thank you very much for your nice words.

L: I shared on social media that we were going to be having this conversation so listeners could send in their burning questions about creating a freelance website for you to answer. So thank you first of all to everyone who sent in a question, and we've got quite a few to get through, so let's crack on. We're going to try something different today and start with a quick-fire lightning, round, bear with me because I've not done this before. Gill, I've got five or six questions that I'm going to fire at you and I would love it if you could give a super snappy answer to these.

G: Snappy answers is my middle name. 

L: Then we'll get into a bit more detail with maybe some of the questions afterwards. We've also got a surprise giveaway at the end of this episode, so stay tuned to get the details and find out how to enter. Okay, so let's go with a lightning round. Number one, should freelancers put their prices on their website? 

G: Absolutely, because it makes the decision whether to hire you much, much easier. That's what your prospects are wondering about, your competitors most probably are doing it. So if you are not doing it, you're losing out.

L: Totally agree. Number two, what's the most important page on your website?

G: It would be the most visited sales page. On most freelancer websites, it will be a homepage.

L: Oh, interesting. What's the most important section on the page?

G: Above the fold, because it decides whether person stays on the page or not. If you fail to capture them at the very beginning, so above the fold is what they see the moment they land without scrolling, if you get it wrong or somehow vague, unclear, they will bounce. This is the most important section.

L: Okay, number four, what's the best call to action for a freelancer website?

G: If it's a service page, then contact me, or you can maybe even have a contact form right there on the sales page, or a button that leads to the contact page. On your about page it could even be a freebie, depends on what's most valuable to you. On a homepage, I wouldn't put contact, it would be view services or check about me page. On the home page, there is a place for multiple calls to action. For example, unlike what some may believe that you need to have one call to action per page, yes and no, for the homepage it's not the case. This question is difficult to answer with just one simple sentence, depends on the page. 

L: So the best call to action is the thing that you want people to do?

G: After they read it. No, not only that, but also that you gave them enough information and motivation to do it. Because what you need them to do is like transfer me $1000 whatever, this is what you want them to do. But if it's a page that does not give enough motivation and information to do that. What you think they have enough motivation to do, which also is useful to you, what makes sense, basically, in your sales funnel.

L: I'm curious about, just to interrupt the quickfire round, when you said perhaps not to have a contact button on the homepage. Why is that?

G: They don't have enough information. I mean, you need to tell them so much more. Let's say I'm talking about writers, I offer blog writing, I offer SEO writing, I offer web copywriting. You won't be able to produce a compelling argument, the niche is super competitive, why should they contact you it doesn't make any sense, A. And B even if they contact you, you will have to explain everything to them that you already have on your website in an email, it will cost you so much time. So just lead them down the funnel, don't force people to contact you at any point. Just think about it, it doesn't make sense. They just landed on your homepage, why should they contact you, they don't have enough information, it's not a qualified lead. First, let them read your sales pages in peace. If you have sales pages of course, if you don't have sales pages, if the home page is the only thing you have, then you have no other choice. But otherwise, for you it's more beneficial if they go to a sales page, read everything, and only after they are okay with your process, they understood the value that you offer and they are okay with the approximate fees, only then make them contact you. You save yourself so much time and heartache. I mean, just to think about it what's logical, do they have enough motivation, do they have enough information, how did their mental state change, they just came to your page, they don't know you, so why contact you, it doesn't make any sense.

L: Great answer. Number five, should freelancers have a blog on their website?

G: No, they don't have to. I mean, if you are able to turn a blog into your inbound lead generation channel, then sure. But just to have a blog for the sake of having a blog, because everybody else is having a blog, it's not a very good approach. Every time you're asking yourself, do I have to do this? Think about it, how does it fit your sales cycle? Is it something that will help you generate leads, is it something that will help you generate traffic? Otherwise, you might be stuck doing things and wasting your time and effort, and we know our time and effort is super valuable, we're just one person. You may be stuck doing things that are not getting you anything. So think about it, is it valuable for you to have a blog, will you be able to produce articles good enough to attract traffic? How are you going to attract traffic and how are you going to convert those prospects who came through your articles to a client?

L: Okay. Final question, how do you create a slick mobile version of your website when you're using WordPress?

G: Well, if you already have a website, I have bad news for you, it will be very hard, and you would need a developer who will come and do something to your website so it's mobile-friendly. But it's very easy to take care of it in advance when you are looking for a website theme to select and to build your website on top of, just make sure it's responsive, just check how it looks on mobile, that's it often. There are so many themes, even non-premium ones, free ones, that scale nicely on mobile. You won't have to do anything if you're not breaking your theme. If you start messing with your theme and you think oh, I learned some coding here and there and you start changing your desktop version, then you might have problems with the mobile version. But if you stick to standard functionalities of your theme, which you made sure is mobile-friendly at the very beginning, then you won't have any problems, or shouldn't have.

L: Excellent advice. Thank you for those. Obviously, there's a bit more nuance around some of these questions but hopefully that's given people quick answers.

G: It's very hard to have a lightning round about website questions. Because everything, every answer is like it depends, and scenario one, scenario two, scenario three.

L: We have a few questions that didn't quite lend themselves to quick answers so let's take a look at these. Eleanor asked, how much detail should freelancers include about their experience and past projects and what's the best way to present this?

G: I'm afraid this question already implies not a very efficient approach to creating a website. It's not about how much, it's about with what purpose, what are we doing here. If I tell you, okay, three paragraphs, I mean, does it help you? If I tell you two paragraphs? It's about what my prospects know and how much do I need them to know to convert, and what exactly do they need to know. Then you see, okay, they definitely need to know that I have experience with past projects. And it's not so much about how much, it's about how to do it most effectively and what's relevant there. It really depends on how you structure your argument. What's the best way to present this? Again, the question is however you think it would be credible, whatever, if you would like to do a rain dance while singing a song about your past experience and past projects, and you think your prospects will totally resonate with that feel free to do that. It just needs to be clear, valuable, and relevant. Past experience, what I would not do, I would not have a portfolio page where you just have, let's say, you're a web designer, you have screenshots of the websites you created and that's it with no context, and you have like 10 of them. So when the prospect opens a page they have 10 different images to look at with no context. They don't know what niche the company was, even if you put company name, they may have no idea. The thing with experience and past projects is that prospects need to identify themselves with at least something. They should look at a couple of projects and think, oh, it's exactly my niche, or it's exactly the problem I had. They need to see problems like theirs solved. If you're just throwing some images on the on the page with no context it doesn't help anyone. It also creates overwhelm because the moment they have seven choices, more than seven choices, they are overwhelmed, they don't know what to choose. I would recommend doing it as an insertion into sales pages, so not having a portfolio page where it's not clear from this link what exactly you did and how it helped. Because I'm sure somebody else is also listening to this podcast not only copywriters, writers and web designers, you need context, you need supporting text on the sales page. It's the best way to do it with testimonials, with a quick snippet of something that leads to the case study page, if you have a case study page, where you explain this client came to me, they were struggling with these problems, here’s what we did, and here’s what results I helped them achieve. This is the best way to do it.

L: Marjolein, I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing your name correctly, she asked how should freelancers think about SEO? Would you consider a website more of a calling card or an information point for potential clients, or should we be prioritising SEO to attract traffic from search engines?

G: Fun fact, you will find successful freelancers who do each of them. Like you have a freelancer who has it just as a calling card, you have a freelancer who does it for SEO, and so on and so forth. There is no wrong way. The question is, how does it fit into your complete picture? Because a website is only one piece of a puzzle. Blog, SEO, is just one piece of a puzzle of your sales cycle. Imagine you have a calling card for a website, then my question is how are you attracting people to this website? Maybe you have an enormous presence on LinkedIn, where you have 1000 likes per post and they already know, like, and trust you from there, then you can have a calling card for a website. But if you do not have any other way to establish trust, credibility, and to show your skills, this won't lead you far. Because probably your competitors will have websites that look, you know, more full, they have more pages and they have more information. That's another thing, always look at what your competitors are doing. Because people are not shopping in a vacuum, they're not hiring in a vacuum, they're always comparing you to other people and businesses. So especially if all your other competitors have good websites and websites with many pages, quality pages, you have no other choice, I'm afraid, then to have at least a website, okay without the blog, but at least with the sales pages. Regarding SEO, it is super hard and it's getting harder and harder to do properly. It requires a lot of investment in time and a lot of strategy and skills regarding content strategy, what keywords to target, and so on and so forth. If you're up to it, if you're just starting out, if you don't have the pressure to earn the income right away, this is what I did. For two years, I was doing just blog writing for my website and focusing on SEO and now I can relax and the last time I blogged it was January, I mean like now I just write one blog post a year probably because I don't need it, I get enough traffic to get enough inquiries to grow my list and so on and so forth. There is no such thing as do I have to, do I have to, do I have to. What you have to do is to know how you attract people to this website, to know with what mindset they're coming to this website, because if they already know like, and trust you, you don't need a super duper website. If they don't, if these are strangers, you need a quality website with many pages. And what do I want them to do? If you're doing SEO, they're probably not gonna reach out immediately. They're probably, first of all, looking for the information, they may just sign up to your list, maybe you need an email marketing strategy. If you seriously have no idea how to approach this, just sit down, take a piece of paper and say, okay, who are my prospects, what do they know about me when they come to my website, depending on that, what do I need on my website. When they're on my website, what pages will they be checking? If they will be coming from LinkedIn and other social media and you're not creating any blog posts, you're not linking to articles, you're creating this post just for the social network, they will be coming to your homepage. Okay, they are on your homepage, what do you want them to do then? Or you're writing blog posts, they're coming from SEO, they’re on your blog post, what should they do next so it benefits you, so you can market to them. You really need a proper strategy. It's not a question about should I do X or Y, it's a question about will it help, how does it help, how does it fit.

L: That makes so much sense. One of my favourite tips from your book is the idea of the minimum viable conversation and thinking about what is the conversation that you're having with your prospects, so what questions are they asking, what are they thinking about when they come to your website, and how do you continue that conversation. I think when you think of it that way, it does make it a bit simpler, because you're just thinking, okay, what would I tell them if we were having a coffee and discussing this, and that can make it a little bit easier and take the pressure off. Okay, thank you so much, Gill, that's been so helpful.

G: You’re so welcome, we just started, how was it 15 minutes already?

L: I mentioned that we'd be doing a giveaway and this is actually the very first giveaway on this podcast. I'm excited to say that Gill has very kindly offered not one, but two copies of her brilliant book that she mentioned, ‘Making Your Website Work’. Honestly, I love this book, it’s one of my most thumbed-through copywriting books that I've got on my desk, when I'm writing website copy I refer to this all the time. To enter, all you have to do is go to my LinkedIn post about the giveaway, I'll put the link in the show notes, it'll be really easy to find, or if you follow me on LinkedIn you'll see it, and just leave a comment with your biggest takeaway or lesson from this podcast and we'll do a live draw and pull the names out from a virtual hat. I think this podcast will go out in mid-August so we'll give you a couple of weeks to listen and think about it. So you go to that post, leave a comment, and we'll do a live draw probably at the end of August. Okay, thank you so much, Gill, I really appreciate your time and your donation to our giveaway.

G: Thank you for having me. It's always a pleasure to listen to myself talk.

L: Before we go, do you want to let people know where they can find out more about what you're up to?

G: You can find me on my website gillandrews.com. I'm on Twitter, but there probably you will see more cat pictures than anything else. And if you would like to learn more about how websites work, I post on LinkedIn some fresh-off-the-press website tips. On my website, you will find both links to both of my profiles. 

L: Brilliant. Thank you so much and thanks to everybody for listening. Remember, head to the LinkedIn post, leave a comment to enter the giveaway and be in with a chance of winning a free copy of Gill's book. Until next time, happy freelancing.


You've been listening to 15 Minute Freelancer with me Louise Shanahan, freelance health copywriter and content marketer at thecopyprescription.com. If you enjoyed this, please hit subscribe, leave a review or share it with a freelance friend. And if you've got a freelancing question you want to be answered on the podcast, find me and say hi on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Thanks, and until next time, happy freelancing.