If you missed the first post from the freelancer’s fortnight series don’t worry, check out broaden your client base if you want a good insight into expanding your client base. Our next freelancer tip outlines why it is imperative to have your own personal website that you fully control.
We’ll explain why investing time into designing a personal website can be beneficial to freelancers and give our opinion on why social media accounts aren’t enough anymore. So why should you have your own personal website or portfolio? Let us explain this question a little deeper.
Why Do I Need My Own Website?
As a freelancer you can use social media to promote your material to potential clients and fans from all over the world. You can gain a following of fans which if they like your art, will retweet and like every time you post something new. But tweeting everyday, posting projects on dribble or getting appreciations on behance aren’t enough to secure that next commission. There is a missing part of the puzzle. That missing piece is your directing people back to your website.
Potential clients may search the social media channels to find a particular style to match their brand and relevant project. Once they find someone they like or have added your name to a shortlist, next they are going to visit the artist’s personal websites.
They’ll do this to find contact details, view other projects and get a feeling of what you’re like as a person. If you’re lucky enough to get contacted straight off the bat then great! If not, then not having a website when others in your space do is a major problem. The aim is to make your website the central point where clients should come and visit to see your material.
Social media is where you should be promoting but most importantly linking back to your central hub; your website. Another problem with social media is you’re fighting against others within the same space. By this we mean, if a client searches “graphic designers, London” within Twitter, your profile, your tweets, are among your competitors. It then becomes a shouting competition for attention, which isn’t ideal for anyone, particularly the client.
You can get around this by harnessing the most powerful tool you have, your personal site. You can let your creative writing go wild without worrying about any limitations (140 characters for example). You can showcase your work in a way you want and only show content that you and your clients are interested in.
If you’re a developer then creating a website shouldn’t be too much of a problem. However if you have little web development knowledge things could get a little trickier. There are however many different ways you can build a site without having prior web knowledge, here are a few suggestions.
Free Personal Publishing Platforms
If you know nothing about setting up your own website, or don’t know anyone that does, then this option might be for you. Companies such as Cargo Collective and WordPress are becoming more and more popular, as you can set up your own website for free, (apart from the domain and hosting costs).
This allows the creative to change their own website whenever they want, but one of the main problems with picking this option is their limitations. As it has become popular, especially that of Cargo within the freelance industry, is that everyone looks the same. There is no real creativity in their websites and you can’t stand out from the crowd. So this option has its advantages and disadvantages, which is why we would encourage anyone to have a go at setting up their own unique website, which is different from the rest.
PSD To HTML
This is ideal for designers who want full control over the look and feel of the design but may not have the HTML knowledge or the time to code the website. Simply mock-up a PSD version of your site, send it over to the agency and they’ll do the hard work. It’s great for freelancers who are on a smaller budgets but still want that professional grade code. So try out some of the services below:
Pre-built Website Templates
If you haven’t got time to design or develop your own website then you can buy a pre-built template. Similar to Cargo’s problem, it’s highly likely you may stumble across the same template on another website but this option can be a real time saver, if that’s what you’re lacking! WordPress templates are also avaiable if you’ve already got the software running on your site.
Domains And Hosting
Once you’ve designed and coded your website, the final stage is to get your site online. There are endless web site hosting companies, but we would recommend Vidahost. Not only have they one of the best support teams around, support tickets are answered within an average of 10 minutes. Now that’s impressive! Also they are very affordable and you can get certain free domains when buying hosting packages. Plus we’ve managed to pull together an exclusive voucher code for you. Use “graphictide-hosting” to get 10% OFF hosting packages.
That’s it, now you’re set to broadcast your personality and style plus give clients a central place to find your work.
To summarise: If you haven’t already, make sure you start thinking about your personal website. Start mocking up designs and push it high on your to-do list. Don’t lose clients because there isn’t a central place where your work sits. If you website is already up and running, make sure it’s full of great content and make sure your work really showcases your style and personality.
How has your website helped your freelance career?