I Don’t Have a Website – What Can I Use Instead?
If you don't have a website, here's a news flash - as a freelancer you really don't need one. Might it help you land some more jobs? Sure, there is a chance that it will help you land a couple more gigs. However, so many people do just fine without a website. In fact, I didn't have one for the first three years of my freelance business - it just wasn't necessary.
Putting together a website can require a lot of your focus, and money that you might not even be generating in your freelance business. So what's the point of putting aside all this time and money for a website, if it isn't going to bring you leads?
As a new freelancer, your focus should be completely about marketing your business. Having a website is not marketing unless you're pushing the website in some way, using ads, posting content on it and sharing it everywhere, driving traffic to the website. Your website in and of itself is not a marketing method. It's a place for people to find you online, to verify that you're credible and that you're not some fly-by-night service provider. But it's not the be all and end all for freelancers. I know plenty of successful freelancers who don't have a website at all, even years into their career.
I've been able to use tools like LinkedIn and Upwork to generate buzz, credibility and plenty of visibility on the internet with prospective clients. I used tools like Elance and Upwork to run my freelance business for the first three years and I was fully booked working for clients as a freelance virtual assistant, project manager, and writer. So having these other tools in place and making use of them regularly is an alternative to getting a lot of mileage out of your marketing efforts. Obviously, it's not enough to simply have an Upwork profile or to just say, 'Yeah, I'm on LinkedIn'. What are you proactively doing to build your visibility on these platforms?
If you're on LinkedIn, one example might be - are you posting regular content about your industry that uses keywords so your clients are seeing it? Are you networking with the big players in the industry? That's a proactive approach to LinkedIn, it's free, you don't need to pay for the premium service and you don't have to set up a website. It's another place for people to see you and to see testimonials that others have left for you.
Upwork is another good source for people to vet that you are who you say you are. I have hundreds of positive feedback comments on my Upwork profile from the five years that I've spent on Elance and Upwork together. So if someone wants to know if I'm legitimate or what experiences past clients have had, they can always find it by simply googling my name and the words 'writer'. My Upwork profile does a lot of the work for me because it's direct social proof from past clients who have been thrilled with work that I've done. Again, you don't need a website.
Eventually, I did put together a website for my freelance services writing for law firms. I still don't use a website to promote my virtual assistant work or my project management work directly for clients but I do have one specifically for the legal content strategies and writing that I do for clients, and the only reason I did that was I'd gotten to the point where it was within the budget to direct some of the revenue of the company to do that and I wanted an additional place I could be found online for that very specific fact.
Whereas my LinkedIn had multiple experiences on it and comments from clients across the board and my Upwork profile had so much feedback that it was almost overwhelming, my website was the one specific place I could go to share relevant information about the industries that I care about and it was a great thing to have in my tagline of my emails, and to be promoting on LinkedIn in an article marketing strategy.
If you're a new freelance writer, please don't waste the time and money to put together a website. You can land clients without one. I know of people who have landed clients without a website, without an Upwork profile and really just with an email address, their own research skills and interacting on LinkedIn.
Eventually, you might want to build a website but I caution you against doing it too soon because 1) you'll spend money you don't have which is really unnecessary, and 2) you really want to make the most of your website when it's time to go up -- and a lot of people use this as their excuse like, "I can't start pitching clients because I don't have a website yet." or "I need this fully functioning website and then I can start." Stop using that as your excuse. Real freelancers get out there and they market every single day, whether they have a website or not, so don't allow that to become your crutch about why you haven't taken forward action in your freelance career yet. Instead, turn this into an opportunity to go to the next level by really focusing on your marketing methods.
Remember, having a website is not a freelance marketing method unless you're doing something with it. So turn to your other marketing methods and as you grow over time, put together a website, establish yourself as legitimate provider of the services that you do. But please don't allow this to become your hang-up and don't fall for the myth that you absolutely have to have this before your grow your business.