I spent years with a dinky little site to advertise my writing.
And you know where it got me?
It wasn’t until I started studying other writer websites (that actually attract clients and make money) that I discovered a few simple principles that go into creating a lead-machine.
Truthfully, I can’t remember which sites I looked at all those years ago when I first went hunting for inspiration. But if I posted them here, they’d probably all look different anyway.
These 14 writer websites pack in the same basic sales ingredients that, if you pay attention, you can use to your advantage, too.
Down below, you’ll learn about:
The 7 things you need to have on your writer’s site if you want to bring in clients.
The 3 things many people waste their time and energy doing that don’t make a difference at all.
How these sales secrets are put into play across 14 different writer’s websites.
This is gonna be YUGE.
7 Things You Need In Your Freelance Writer’s Website
1. A Defined, Concise Statement of Purpose
If you’re starting out, your website shouldn’t be about you.
Or your cats.
Or your favorite color of pie.
When potential clients are on the prowl for writing talent, you’ll lose them if you start with _anything _other than what you offer.
And when I say “what you offer,” I don’t mean: “I help badass companies breakthrough the noise and jump out on the page.”
Any client will skip right over you. Nobody even knows what that means.
Sure, you can say “badass” if you want (just know that literally every other beginning freelance writer also “helps badasses” or is a badass themselves—seriously, take a look around the writing forums).
But it’s far more practical (and will get you more clients) if you say, “I write long-form, SEO targeted blog posts for b2b companies.” Or, “I write whitepapers for tech companies.” Or, “I write poetry for walruses.”
Ok, maybe pick a different niche than walrus-poetry.
Anyway, that simple statement should be the very first thing potential clients see. If you’ve got what they’re looking for, they’ll come in for a closer look.
2. A Picture of Yourself
Yo, get your face in there!
Faces build trust!
And don’t do one of those photos with your sunglasses on. Make sure prospects can see your eyes. There’s a lot of research that says putting a human face increases conversions.
So if you’re interested in making money, get the camera out and put up a picture.
It doesn’t need to be a pro photoshoot or anything like that.
Instead, just sit near a window, and use a timer or remote to snap the photo. While a decent headshot will help your site, many people stall out here. Don’t be one of those people.
Your goal is to get your site up and running as quickly as possible. There are bigger fish to bludgeon, like learning how to send cold-emails or how to find the right clients.
Once you have something bare-bones together, you can always go back and update. Many people (myself included) find they never need to go back and make things super pretty. Sometimes the basics is all you need to get more clients than you can even handle.
Ok, so remember when I said you should have a statement that reads simply? Like “I write blog posts for b2b companies”? Well, that’ll make do for an opener.
But please don’t be that dry throughout the rest of your site.
Clients want to work with someone professional, timely, and relaxed (you don’t have to be relaxed—I’m not—but you can seem that way). Just avoid saying you’re a “badass” of any sort. You will break the cliche-meter.
4. Your Own Domain
bigboywriter[dot]blogspot[dot]com is already taken. Ask me how I know.
If you’re looking to start a business, you need to have your own “digital storefront.” Luckily, this storefront should cost you less than $100.
But using a domain that has WordPress, Weebly, SquareSpace, etc. attached to it is like trying to sell lemonade to people from below street level in the curb drain. Along with the clown from IT.
The point is—if a client sees that you’re using free hosting through another platform, they think, “oh, hey, this person doesn’t have any clients. If they did, they’d pay for their own hosting and have an actual website.”
There are a ton of ways to get your own domain. Simple plug-and-play solutions like Wix and Squarespace are out there and I’ve seen people use them to great effect.
My sites are all hosted by BigScoots, I buy the domains, and I install WordPress. I’ll cover that topic another day because it feels like a beast (it’s actually easy—but I remember how scary it was).
Testimonials are the lifeblood of a writer’s site.
You might not have testimonials right now and that’s ok.
I don’t recommend that any writer tries to make a living off of Upwork. The pay just isn’t good. You’ll be placing low bids and those content mills take a percentage of what you make.
But, they have a built-in system for getting clients and for getting testimonials.
If you’re just starting out, or you want to land a few clients quickly to pick up some killer testimonials, a content mill is a good option.
Before you do that, reach out to previous people you’ve worked with and ask them for a quick snippet.
If you’d like to know more about how to get a testimonial that will convince potential clients to work with you, you can download my quick Killer Testimonial Cheat Sheet or visit my post “How to Get a Testimonial.”
6. Samples and Previous Work
If you don’t have samples, you don’t have a shot.
That means, if you’re new to the game, you need to write up a few sample articles on your own.
It’s best to get clear on what your niche will be before you write these. So if you’re an animal-lover and you want to write for pet blogs, write these three articles:
“5 Best Kibble Brands for Dogs”
“How to Clean and Care for Your Dog’s Teeth”
“The Science Behind Why Cats Fear Cucumbers”
Publish your articles on your site, Medium, or LinkedIn.
Make sure the potential client can easily see what type of writing you do and what they can expect when they hire you.
Samples build trust.
If you’re not willing to write three articles to use as samples, you shouldn’t invest time or money into building a writer’s website.
If you’ve already written on other blogs, you can link to those posts. There are a few ways to do that.
For instance, look at how Elna Cain from InnovativeInk does it:
Compare that to Jian DeLeon, whose site is as bare-bones as you can get (but it still has all the elements of success:
You can be as simple or ornate as you want. Either way, you’re building trust with your potential client and getting them to understand the quality of what they’ll receive from partnering with you.
It’s also a good idea to grab logos from your previous clients as slap those up on your site.
The more “social proof” you can get, the better.
7. Clear Instructions on How to Contact You
There are plenty of themes and plug-ins you can find that have a clear contact form.
But you don’t even need that. Put your email address somewhere visible. And bold that bad boy. Add your phone number if you’re feeling adventurous.
I’ve talked with many people who went back and forth figuring out if they should use a call-scheduling calendar or not, or which contact form to use… honestly, none of that makes a difference.
In the beginning stages, you must reach out to people directly to get them to look at your website. If you want people to stumble upon your site, it’ll take about a year of hard work and tons of articles.
So really, the first version of your website shouldn’t be some massive blog with tons of frills.
Those long-term tactics come into play later on after you’ve already picked up a roster of clients who are paying your bills. That’s when you put in all the effort to make client-snatching effortless.
Until you’re fully booked, though, you’ll be hitting up people’s inboxes and directing them to your writer’s website.
3 Things You Should NEVER Waste Your Time With When First Creating a Writer’s Website
1. Your Client Grabbing Blog
Like I said earlier: if you’re just getting started, creating a blog for the purpose of bringing potential clients to you is an excellent way to waste your time.
Blogs are great ways to bring in traffic. But based on my experience, it can take six months to a year for any of your posts to yield organic traffic.
If you want to land your first client, building a blog to create organic leads is a waste of time. You’ll have a much easier time reaching out to potential clients directly and landing them that way.
Start up your client grabbing blog after you’ve filled up your calendar and you’re getting paid regularly.
2. A Fancy Branded Photoshoot
While I recommend getting one professional looking photo for your website, don’t use that as an excuse to kick around and do nothing.
When I was first setting up my website, I went out and my wife took these photos with her iPhone.
This was my main image. It was ok. In hind-sight, I probably would have skipped the sunglasses (again, visible eyes will increase your conversions).
This one is a little better (only because you can see my eyes). But really, nothing special here.
Again, in hindsight, because my market was men’s fashion bloggers, it may have been better if I put on more than just a t-shirt.
But you know what? It didn’t matter. These two photos were more than enough to land me a full roster of clients that allowed me to leave my day job.
The photos aren’t where you’ll do the convincing. It’s the words that count.
3. Elaborate opt-in forms and calendar schedules
When you’re landing your first clients, chances are you’ll be communicating with them via email. You don’t need an opt-in form or an automatic scheduler.
I get that it adds an element of “I’m so busy I need an auto-scheduler,” but it’s just unnecessary. Your time should be spent getting a minimum-viable website and then reaching out and learning who your clients are and what they need.
14 Writer Websites That Show Us How It’s Done
InnovativeInk is run by Elna Cain. If you aren’t familiar with her yet, you’re likely to come across some of her excellent blog posts on writing.
This site is her professional blog.
It’s clean, simple, and polished. As soon as the page loads, you see a picture of her face (builds trust) and she has her statement of purpose. Within three seconds, you can see that Elna is a digital marketing writer for hire.
Under her lead image, she has several logos that act as social proof. She explains more about her services, takes you through some written testimonials (powerful social proof), and then—BOOM—finishes you with the contact form.
It’s a simple formula that you’ll see repeatedly throughout this list.
You don’t need as many writing samples as Elna, and you don’t need as many testimonials, but this formula is what I used when building my site and I can tell you it works.
Nikita Morell has built an amazing website that generates leads for her. This is what your end-goal site should look like, but it’s far more complicated than you need to get your first client. If you’re looking for a first client, go with the InnovativeInk style.
But really, Nikita Morell has a clear statement of purpose (marketing strategy for architects) and plenty of social proof.
Kaleigh Moore cover page is simple and effective. If a website is all about building the “know, like, and trust” factor, she’s nailed it.
4. Amy Posner
Before you visit Amy’s site, imagine you’re looking for a writer that can convert readers into buyers.
What sticks out to you the most?
Is it that giant testimonial that casually mentions her 43% conversion rate?
Yeah, Posner crushes it with social proof. You may not have a ton of testimonials to use right off the bat, but Amy’s site is evidence that you can never get enough.
For every client you get, make sure you nab a testimonial afterward. Build up a bank and use them on your site just like Amy.
Sorcha isn’t a writer, per se. She works in branding (though the basis of her work is in copywriting).
Her site has all the basic elements of a killer sales page, but branding is her strong-suit. She’s clearly kept to a color palette, and this gives you a leg up when looking for clients.
I wouldn’t worry a tremendous amount about your branding when you’re just getting started. But if pick a color palette before designing your site, the end-result will look that much more cohesive.
6. Nikki Groom
If you’re looking to sling blog posts, Nikki Groom’s site has more information than you must have to get a client. Way more.
But, if you’re selling big-ticket items (like rebranding packages or large-scale campaigns) you have a lot of convincing to do.
In short: Groom’s website sells
a $5k+ product. And it friggen works. So if you’re looking to sell similarly high-ticket services, start taking notes.
7. Jion DeLeon
After you’ve looked at all the other gorgeous sites on this list, you’re probably wondering how in hell this one made it in.
This guy wasted zero time getting to the point. And it screams confidence.
He doesn’t need fancy sliders or tons of information. He just lays out what he’s done and what he can do. Simple.
If I’m ever looking for work again, I will definitely redesign my site to look like this. It takes all of 10 minutes and gets the job done.
8. Lori Haller
Lori Haller runs a design agency, but her website copy is too strong to leave off the list. Plus, she’s got a video interview with copywriting legend, John Carlton. Plus, she’s got Oprah.
She’s got Oprah.
9. Zafira Rajan
Zafira’s website is a masterclass in consistent branding and packaging.
If you want to learn how to bundle up your services without confusing potential clients, check our Rajan’s landing page.
10. Content Bistro
Content Bistro is just a fun site to be in. You can spend hours here.
If I had a criticism here, it’s the funky fonts. Keep your fonts sans serif and especially avoid cursive scripts.
Content Bistro made this list because their site looks great and lands clients. But their use of cursive scripts makes certain parts easy to skip.
11. Lindsay Hotmire
Lindsay Hotmire has built a website that crushes it. If I were to change anything, I’d add more testimonials in highly visible places.
But she knows what she’s doing. Plus, she knows how to make the cursive fonts work for her.
12. Jeff Kimes
You should aspire to have a mission statement as clear and direct as Jeff Kimes: “Copywriting and Email Marketing for Inspired Health and Lifestyle Businesses.”
Jeff nails down his niche (copywriting and email marketing), and his market (health and lifestyle businesses). And he puts very few other words.
It’s really that simple.
13. Mai-kee Tsang
Mai-Kee has an amazing website with some fun images that really convey her personality.
But part of her mission statement is complete unreadable (don’t use cursive font for any reason!!)
With that said, Mai-kee is possibly the only person in her space. If you’re a business looking to get on podcasts for promotional purposes, Mai-kee is the _one and only _person to go to for help.
She’s made herself irreplaceable. And because of that, she’s a total baller.
14. Brigitte Lyons
Brigitte’s site is built on a fantastic formula. It’s something like this:
- One-sentence mission statement
- Authority Content
- Social Proof
- Testimonials (social proof on spinach and steroids)
- Contact form
Chances are she takes care of the rest through email.
Sticking to a simple formula is the best way to get your site ready fast.
How Do I Get MY Writer’s Website to Look Amazing?
Sticking to a formula is the easiest way to build your site quickly and start netting clients like they were tuna. Big, delicious tuna willing to pay copious amounts of money for your writing.
You don’t have to learn to code to get your site looking amazing either.
All 14 of these websites follow a basic formula. I’ve broken that formula down so you can focus on the elements of your site that move the needle. Plus, I’ve listed out some of my favorite website themes for writers and entrepreneurs so you can plug in your images and copy and press play.