So, you’re thinking about, or may have already taken, the plunge into the world of freelancing. With all there is to love about it– working from wherever you please, making your own hours etc.– there are so many things to try to wrap your head around, that creating your own site may fall on the backburner. Perhaps you’re a seasoned freelancer, but are looking to create a website for the first time, or change to a new content management system (CMS).
In these situations, many freelancers turn to WordPress. Why? WordPress is hands down the most popular CMS available right now, and for good reason. WordPress makes it incredibly simple to create a website without having to know a bit of code. You can be up and running within the day, and the options are limitless.
Before you jump in, there are a few basic things you should know. One of the most important things to understand about WordPress is the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. If you’ve already tried going down that rabbit hole and found yourself overwhelmed, know that you’re not alone and we’re here to help.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
WordPress.com is the free version of WordPress that allows you to create a basic website that WordPress will update and backup on their own. While free sounds great – this version has many limitations. For example, you will not be able to advertise on this site, but other people can without your permission or control, and you won’t be paid a thing. You also won’t be able to sell anything on this site, nor will you be able to use a custom theme, upload logos, or use plugins. You also don’t technically “own” the site because you’re not hosting it, and wordpress.com has the right to delete it at any time (should they decide the content is inappropriate). WordPress.com is a great option for someone looking to blog who isn’t interested in ever making any money from it.
If you’re a freelancer in business for yourself, you’ll really want to present your work on a professional site. WordPress.org is the route to take when you’re looking to have complete control over your website and its brand. You can add the plugins and themes you want, choose your own hosting service, advertise which products and services align with your business, use your own analytics tools (such as Google Analytics), have an e-Commerce option, or build an online community.
If you’ve already started a site on wordpress.com and want to convert it over to wordpress.org, here is a simple explanation on how to do just that.
Post vs. Page
Once you have a site created, it’s time to start thinking about the “touch and feel” of it. Your site should include pages for each separate skill you are looking to showcase and communicate. For example, one of the critical pages you’ll need to include is a home page that explains exactly who you are and what you do. Keep in mind that this is the first time a new visitor will be seeing you and your work, so put your best foot forward and be very clear about what you offer on this page. You’re also going to need separate pages for your portfolio, contact information, policies and information, and if you’re a writer, a blog.
Blog posts are intended to remain on the same page, but to change all of the time. Rather than a static page of information, blog posts are content entries listed in reverse chronological order. Blogging, even just a few times a month, is a great way to get clients or potential clients to keep returning to your site to check out new content. You don’t need to be a writer to have a blog, just remember to blog about things that add value to your niche. Many bloggers find it helpful to plan their blogs in note-taking apps or simple project management tools where they can organize ideas, track edits, and stay on a schedule.
One of the most likely reasons you’re creating a WordPress site is to have somewhere to display your portfolio digitally. How do you know what to include in a portfolio? Here are a few must-haves.
Contact Forms – Make it as simple as you can for your potential clients to submit their contact information on your site. Consider using plugins like WPForms or Gravity Forms. Post these on several pages in addition to the portfolio page so that it’s as easy as possible for clients to communicate with you.
Contact Information – Some potential clients may not like using forms, but that’s okay. Be sure to have another way for them to reach you that’s more comfortable for them, like through your social media, email address, or phone number.
Client Feedback – Testimonials from past clients are powerful when it comes to building credibility. Just be sure to have permission before posting feedback online!
Past Projects – Probably the most obvious and most important thing to include in your portfolio are your past projects. If you’re a writer, include links to your work online. If you’re a photographer, include images of your best work. If you’re an app developer, post your client logos and include short descriptions about what language you used and what was specifically challenging about each project, as well as links to your GitHub repository.
Over time, your site will continue to change as you get more comfortable with your work, your niche, and what types of customers you are targeting. You’ll also begin to refine your own brand, and along with it, you’ll want to make changes to your site. For now, you have the information you need to get started and launch a professional WordPress website to showcase your freelance business.
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.