Business websites are a challenge, especially for writers. I don’t know why that is. Your website is your online sales person, 24×7. Websites are easy to set up, and writers write… so what’s the problem?
Primarily, it’s this. Writers tend to set up websites which are confusing for their audience — if indeed the audience ever finds the website. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that many writers still avoid having a website. They set up their book promotions on Facebook, and their general writing services promotion on LinkedIn. I don’t have anything against those two social media networks. However, it’s incredibly hard to stand out there.
When someone searches for your name on Google, and the only websites which come up are your LinkedIn profile, and your Facebook page, it’s not a good look. Here’s why: it casts doubts on your writing skills, and on your writing business in general.
As I say to my students: if you don’t have a “name” website which shows up in Google, to your clients, it means: “Hello… $25 and less an hour.” Quality clients won’t consider you. They feel that you lack professionalism.
Moreover, you have no guarantee that your page on a social network will be there next year, let alone five years from now, because you’re a “digital sharecropper”. This is an excellent term which Nicholas Carr coined in 2006:
“One of the fundamental economic characteristics of Web 2.0 is the distribution of production into the hands of the many and the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few. It’s a sharecropping system, but the sharecroppers are generally happy because their interest lies in self-expression or socializing, not in making money, and, besides, the economic value of each of their individual contributions is trivial.”
That’s was true in 2006, and it applies in spades in 2014 when the competition is much hotter. If you don’t have a website, to a prospective client it says that you’re small potatoes. If your webpage is owned by LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Google+, or whoever, you’re there because they allow you to be. They can change their terms of service, or toss you out. Your webpage can blow away on the next breeze.
If you want to make money writing, create a website which sells.
Create a website which SELLS
It’s never been easier to do that. You may know that I use Weebly.com — here’s one of my websites there. Even on a bad day, if I had a migraine splitting my skull, I could set up there and SELL within ten minutes or less. Truly, it’s a no-brainer.
(And no, I don’t have shares in the company — I just find it an incredibly easy to set something up there, and start selling.)
Ditto with Squarespace.com. (Same disclaimer applies.) Clients and copywriting colleagues tell me that the service is a snap for fast and easy sales websites. I’ll be creating a little site on Squarespace.com over the next few days, because I want to try the service myself.
Some tips for creating business websites:
- Make it clear what your business does, up front.
- Don’t be “creative”. As the master of advertising, David Ogilvy said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”
- Get your name in there. Preferably in the domain, but at least in your home page title. “Emily Jane Harrison, Business Writer”, is fine. “Just a Few Words Writing Services” or similar faux-business-sounding name is a worry. Avoid “creative” business names, if you can. Your own name (or a pen name) is fine: use that. Your clients know you aren’t a large (or even a small) company. If your name is on your business, it shows you’re confident in yourself, and in your writing skills.
- Sell your stuff. If you’ve got books on Amazon, put links to your product pages on Amazon — no one’s going to hunt for your book. Be smarter than big publishers, who are just now learning that book titles need to be clickable so buyers can BUY.
Better yet, if you’ve got books on Amazon, create ebook versions to sell on your own website. Not exactly the same book, that’s pointless. Do an expanded, or advanced version. If you’re writing fiction, offer a free short story so people can sign up for your mailing list, and…
- Create at least one mailing list.
Your Creative Business: Coaching to Turn Your Creativity into Profits
It means SELLING. We’re offering Your Creative Business: Coaching to Turn Your Creativity into Profits to help you to take your writing from hobby-status, to business status.
Is it for you? It may be, if you’re serious about making money from writing. It’s never been easier… “easier” (in the sense that creating websites and self-publishing is easy), but “easier” unfortunately doesn’t mean simpler.
There’s competition out there, but you’re an original, and you can turn YOUR creativity into profits.