To attract new customers as a freelancer, you need a website. But preferably not just any website. I myself have been successful as a freelancer in online marketing for more than 10 years and during this time I have experienced a lot, made mistakes of course but learned a lot. In this article I will tell you how to create a website with WordPress step by step, how to address your target group, how to generate leads and how to make your business more successful.
Going door to door was yesterday. Today freelancers win new customers online. WordPress is ideal for this. After all, the free open source software gives you the opportunity to create a professional website with little effort.
But to make sure that it doesn’t just exist in the vastness of the internet, but attracts visitors and brings new orders, you should consider a few things. What these are and how you proceed with the creation of your website, you can find out here:
1. The starting point – a clear positioning
Before dealing with topics like domain selection, hosting or templates, it is important to do some positioning.
This means that you clarify basic questions about yourself, your business and your customers:
Who am I?
As a freelancer you are your own brand. That is why you need a “Personal Branding”. This includes not only what you can do, but also what values you represent and why you do what you do. Especially the “why” is more important than many people think. It should also be clear on your website. But first you have to realize it yourself. Based on your values, think about what ideas you want to arouse in future customers. From now on, you must take these values and ideas into account in all communication. Whether it’s your logo, photos of you, small post pictures in your blog or your e-mail footer, every encounter of a prospective customer with you and your brand will leave an impression, whether you want it or not. Therefore, try to appear consistent and consistent and transport your brand values.
Who do I want to address?
Different target groups have different needs. To make sure that your website appeals to the right ones, it is important to know your target group or to define it for you. Are they private persons or companies? Who can you help best? Who do you want to help most? What do you want to achieve and what problems do you want to solve? Personas help you to get a clear picture of your customers. It’s best to consider which customers you don’t want and consistently reject requests from this direction.
What do I want to achieve?
In addition to customer acquisition, websites help to retain customers and/or establish you as an expert in your field. Maybe you want to land specific contracts – and not get in touch with others in the first place. The more you are clear about your goals, the more likely they are to be realized.
What do I offer and what not?
It is annoying for potential customers if they only notice after they have contacted you that you do not offer what they want – especially if it is not their fault but yours. Therefore, make a note for yourself which services you want to offer and which you don’t. At this point it is a good idea to make a first weighting. Which of your services are more important than others and should be highlighted on your site?
How do I differentiate myself from competitors?
Probably there are other freelancers who offer similar services as you do. Think about what makes you different from them. What are your strengths, what do you do differently than others? Are there “niches” you can specialize in? Even if it seems to be the easiest way in the beginning, you should not fight your way into the market with a low price. With a too low hourly rate you only attract customers for whom costs are more important than the quality of your work or the success of your measures. It is also almost impossible to get customers used to higher prices. Define a minimum hourly rate for yourself, at which you can work well in the long run and invest unbooked time in your own marketing, your website, your brand, instead of spending it on small jobs.
A clear positioning is the foundation for a successful activity as a freelancer. This is the only way you can give customers good reasons to hire you and not your competition.
The prerequisite for this is that you implement your positioning on your website. This starts with the choice of domain name and extends to the design and content.
2. Address finding – tips for domain selection
As your address in the net the domain of your website plays a central role. On the one hand, it determines whether potential customers click on your website and not on those of your competitors in search results. On the other hand, the domain name influences the ranking in Google.
Not to forget: Good domain names also leave a good impression offline, for example on a business card or a banner and should always match your positioning.
Whether a domain is available can be checked, for example, via the websites of hosting providers. Please note the following tips when making your choice:
If the desired domain with .de or .com is no longer available, many freelancers resort to .info, .org, .net or even one of the new TLDs. At first glance, this may look like a good choice, but this option has disadvantages: Most users are used to websites ending in .de or .com and quickly type in the wrong address even with an .org domain. In addition, spam sites like to use alternative endings and you could already cause a little uncertainty among your potential customers.
Our tip: If you want to address customers in Germany, prefer a .de address. Alternatively, .com is an option, especially for international websites. As a web developer with the appropriate target group, you can also use more modern extensions like .io. From .biz, .org and Co. you better leave the fingers alone.
By the way: if a domain is assigned, there is often the possibility to buy it. Just have a look at the Sedo marketplace. Maybe you will be lucky in the second round:
The domain name
When choosing a domain name you can follow a few rules of thumb:
- The name should be as short and easy to remember. If it also sounds good, all the better.
- Keywords in the domain name were very popular with search engines because of their advantages for the ranking, but nowadays they do not have a bonus! Long keyword names such as “Onlinemarketing-agency-NewYork.com” for example seem bulky and dubious. Then rather short and without keyword.
- If a keyword offers itself, but the domain is already taken, try it with a combination of numbers. furniture24.com is a good example of this. However, this is also a narrow degree. Webdesign0197 seems less serious than webdesignboston.com in case of doubt.
- Ideally the domain name arouses associations to your services. Fantasy names can also do that. With careerjet.com it is obvious to think about starting a career. Also seomoz immediately creates the right images in your head. So a little creativity is allowed.
When choosing a domain, keep in mind that your decision will be with you for many years. That is why it is so important to do a positioning beforehand. That way you know what your domain should convey to potential customers.
3. The web storage – the hosting
For your website you need a webspace on a server and therefore a hosting provider. Here you profit from a lot of choice, because the minimum requirements of WordPress to a web space are low.
- PHP version 7.3 or higher.
- MySQL version 5.6 or higher or MariaDB version 10.1 or higher.
- HTTPS support
For the time being, that is all it is. You will soon realize that these are the requirements of almost every hosting provider. However, when choosing your hosting provider, you should not be guided by lurid advertising, but think about how much work and trouble a bad hosting can mean for your independence.
Therefore you should rather spend 20 Dollar per month and choose a reliable Managed WordPress Hoster. They are specialized in WordPress pages and know about their pitfalls. They also support you with automatic backups and updates or help with plugins – all things that most freelancers don’t want to deal with.
Which hosting offers come into question for you depends of course mainly on how big your site is, which applications should run on it and how many visitors you expect. But for most freelancer sites the smallest package in the so-called shared hosting is sufficient. That means you share webspace on a server with several other customers.
In this comparison of 11 ways to host WordPress you will get detailed information about which providers are recommended for WordPress Hosting and which services they offer at which prices.
4. Create a concept – this is how you give your website a strong foundation
If you have a domain and web space, it is about creating a framework for your website.
The first question is which subpages your website should have.
The absolute minimum for freelancers are the following:
- legal information when necessary for compliance
You shouldn’t miss a “About me” page and a page with references. Both are important for potential new customers who want to know who you are and what you have already done. Depending on your work, it might be a good idea to present samples of your work under “References” next to names of clients. A separate contact page with a contact form is also recommended. We will come back to this later.
Tip: Clients trust recommendations of other clients more than any advertising text. Do you have the possibility to include testimonials of satisfied customers in your website. You will see that the so-called social proof is a secret weapon for customer acquisition!
Remember to ask the customer for permission to show your expertise with the project on your website. After successful completion of the project, you should get feedback from your customer, ask for customer satisfaction and ask them to vote for your website.
The main menu at the top contains pages that are essential for customers. It is best to limit yourself to three to seven. Anything beyond that will quickly become confusing. However, you can introduce further navigation levels and, for example, add one subpage per service under “Services”.
Important in all this: Less is more!
- A rule of thumb is that users should be able to get from any subpage of your website to any other subpage with a maximum of three clicks. On a small website this is best with one to two clicks.
- Limit yourself to a maximum of two navigation levels.
- Merge pages together when appropriate. A map does not need its own subpage, but can easily be placed on the contact page.
- Give your pages short names so that everyone knows immediately what they will find there. Even if it is boring, “About me” is better than “My background” or “Why my mother is responsible for my search engine optimization today”.
Make a sketch of your site architecture, either on paper or with a relevant software. Try to put yourself in the shoes of visitors. How quickly do you find what you are looking for and how well do you get from one “place” on your site to another? Are there dead ends? Does the internal linking work?
Talking about internal linking: coherent internal links help users to get from one page to another quickly and search engines to rank your site correctly. The context of the link and the link text should already tell the visitor what is on the linked page.
There is one thing that is worth remembering for the entire process of creating your website: It’s always about getting your target audience excited. This works best if you see your website with their eyes and not with yours. If you are unsure how something works, test it on friends, acquaintances and/or existing customers.
5. Theme selection – the layout of your page
One of the best things about WordPress is that you can create a good-looking site without any programming skills and can keep adding new features to it. What you need is the right theme.
This is a ready-made layout that you fill with your content and adapt to your needs. The latter works via a PageBuilder, a kind of modular system. This means that you move “blocks”, for example text or image blocks, to where you want them, adjust colors, fonts and font size. After a minimal period of getting used to it, this works intuitively and is also fun. Good themes give you a lot of customization options.
You can find a huge selection for example in the envato market at Themeforest or on Templatemonster.
You have the choice between
- free and
- chargeable themes.
If you are a freelancer at the beginning of your job and are short of money, “free” sounds good. But we advise you to take the few euros (between about 40 and 70) in your hand and invest in a paid theme.
Free themes are usually slimmed down versions of premium themes that are subject to a fee. This means that you have fewer customization options and often have to accept painful cutbacks. There is a high risk that during the creation of your site you will reach a point where you just can’t get any further. Then all you have to do is grudgingly move on to another theme, and all the work was in vain.
Paid themes often come with different ready-made layouts for different industries and objectives, which you can change flexibly. They also offer you a support service to help you with any questions you may have. This is especially important for beginners in WordPress.
In any case: Take your time for the selection. Take the opportunity to watch demos. Match the themes with your website concept and your ideas. Ask others, try and study.
More tips can be found in this article about the best & fastest WordPress themes.
6. The contents – Content is King
A nice layout is not enough to win customers. You also need good content.
Important: Good content convinces man and machine! Never write your texts for the search engine, but always for the reader and then check if the search engine understands what your site is about.
This means that it picks up the visitors of your website, convinces them to stay on your site and contact you for a job. Additionally, you should not forget to optimize your content for search engines. For example by using synonyms or proof keywords. This improves your ranking for relevant search queries. After all, the best content is only worth something if someone finds it.
Often both go hand in hand. This is because Google pays very close attention to which websites the user finds the desired information or action when evaluating pages. If you succeed in encouraging users to click and stay, this will have a long-term effect on your site’s position in the search results.
You can write books about content creation and search engine optimization. The following tips will help you get started:
- Speak the language of your target group: The perfect “tonality” is different when you address marketing decision-makers in large corporations than when your target audience consists of local craftsmen. Once again: Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Always (!) prefer a clear and easily understandable language with few frills.
- Get to the point quickly: The attention span on the Internet is short. For your content this means: Put important points forward and do without everything superfluous. On home pages, for example, it makes sense to place key strengths and advantages (for the customer) high up on the page so that they immediately catch the eye.
- Use (good) pictures: Texts are important, but nobody wants to read text deserts on the internet. Make sure to loosen up your content with pictures, icons, graphics and – if possible – videos. But be careful with stock photos. These are usually immediately recognizable as such and make websites interchangeable. Then your site will look like “any other” and that’s exactly what you don’t want. Invest rather in a photographer or let a person with a good eye help you with a small shooting with a good cell phone camera.
- Structure content: Use subheadings, paragraphs, info boxes and bullets. This makes content easier to read and scan. Main and subheadings (h1-h6) are especially important for search engines.
- Use keywords selectively: Researching keywords and using them specifically on websites is the basis for successful search engine optimization. However, the times of “keyword spamming” are over. If your texts primarily consist of keywords that are strung together, Google will devalue your site. It is better to use search terms sparingly in central places (headlines, alt-text, body texts), together with thematically related terms.
- Use a W-question tool: W-question tools tell you more about what interests your target group. These tools find questions that users search on Google for your keyword. This is a valuable help for content creation.
Creating good, search engine optimized content is not easy. Often it is worthwhile to get professional support and to hire a copywriter who is familiar with search engine optimization. You should at least have your texts proofread. But sometimes it is enough to read your own text aloud. In any case, use a proofreader or at least a good spell checker, because: Websites with spelling mistakes look unprofessional, even if the content is convincing.
7. For new contacts – integrate inquiry form
They are gladly forgotten. Contact forms are a valuable component of websites. They give interested parties a way to contact you quickly and conveniently, without having to make a detour via telephone or e-mail. This increases the likelihood that they actually do it and don’t delay, forget or first google a competitor and then contact them because they have a contact form.
Integrating such a form into your WordPress website is easy. All you need is a plug-in.
A very good choice for WordPress beginners and freelancers is WP Forms. The PlugIn is available in a free and a paid version, but it is very cheap.
- You can “assemble” your own contact form via drag and drop.
- The PlugIn comes with templates for different types of forms.
- It can be easily connected to a newsletter service.
- All forms are responsive, so they look good on mobile devices.
- DSGVO features help you with data protection.
- Spam sorts out the PlugIn automatically.
- Thanks to geolocalization you can learn more about the people who contact you via the form.
Of course there are a number of other plug-ins for request forms that are more powerful. For normal freelancer websites, however, WPForms‘ range of functions is just right.
8. Binding customers with newsletters
You want to keep your customers up to date with a newsletter? A good idea. Especially if newsletters are not too promotional and contain valuable content, they can contribute significantly to customer loyalty. Even new customers can be generated with it.
There are three ways to send newsletters with a WordPress page:
- Via the WordPress internal mail function
- Via the internal mail server, for example with a plug-in like WP Mail SMTP
- With a delivery service, for example an external newsletter software.
The first two variants unfortunately have serious disadvantages. Sending via the WordPress internal mail function is vulnerable to hackers and spammers. In the second case it happens quickly that your carefully created newsletters end up in the spam folder of the recipient.
We therefore recommend option 3, which gives you more options regarding the number and design of your newsletters and additional functions. Furthermore, you can be sure that your newsletters really reach the recipients.
Good solutions for freelancers who do not want to supply thousands of addresses with newsletters are the following:
- MailPoet: Up to 1,000 subscribers, the Newsletter PlugIn is completely free of charge. You can either choose from a stock of beautifully designed templates or create your own templates. Automated emails, statistics, double opt-in, here is everything a good newsletter plug-in needs. Above all, MailPoet is super easy and intuitive to use.
- The Newsletter PlugIn: This solution is also easy to install and use and offers you many possibilities to create your own templates. You can easily use a third-party email service, benefit from statistics, pop-ups and much more. However, the free use is limited.
- Mailjet: Mailjet is an external newsletter tool without frills, but with an easy handling, intuitive drag-and-drop email builder, fair prices and helpful support.
9. Integrate blog and achieve more reach
What’s missing now? A blog. Maintaining and expanding it does take work. But that pays off.
- You achieve more range.
- Good content promotes trust in brands and companies.
- They help you to achieve a better Google ranking.
- With the help of blog articles you can target your desired customers.
- You prove your expertise and collect links.
It is crucial that you focus on the right topics. Topics that interest your target group and which – ideally – have not been covered so often in other blogs. Otherwise it will be difficult to prevail against the competition.
A simple and free “tool” for finding the right topics is Google Suggest. Enter a search term in Google and the search engine will show you frequently searched related queries below the search slot. KWFinder, Google Trends or Exploding Topics are also helpful.
The topic of link building should also be mentioned here at least briefly. When evaluating websites, Google attaches great importance to inbound links, i.e. links that other websites place on their own. Here you can consider every link to your website as a kind of recommendation. Besides the quantity, the quality of links is crucial. More trustworthy websites give more reliable recommendations. In short, at best links are from trustworthy, well-known and traffic-heavy sites.
A blog is ideal for generating backlinks, i.e. links from other sites. It would be beyond the scope of this article to explain how you do this. But you can get valuable information here.
Finally, a tip: Social media like Facebook or Twitter can help you promote your new website and blog. The same applies here as for blogging: The best way to win new customers is to publish something regularly.
Websites need care
Don’t worry. You don’t have to think of a new layout every two months. But to keep your website fresh and exciting, it’s good to publish new blog articles and/or news at least twice a month, maybe add an achievement now and then or publish up-to-date photos. Very important for freelancers is that the references are up to date. Also check at least once a month plugins and co. for necessary updates.
This way you make sure that your website grows with your career as a freelancer. Neither you, nor your customers or Google will get bored, everything works as it should and there are no security holes. Optimal conditions for long-term success.