One of the first pieces of advice that I see expert writers tell other writers is to start a website. While I think a website is a great place to host your portfolio and experience, as well as a way to earn passive income, having a writer’s website is not necessary for making money.
Let me say that again – you don’t need a website to start making money as a freelance writer.
In fact, I bought my domain, AshleyEneriz.com, last year and still have not done anything with it. I was able to attract big clients and command $400-800 per article without a site. You, also, can earn money as a freelance writer, even if you don’t want to have your own site.
Should Freelance Writers Have a Website?
Many experts recommend writers have a website if they don’t have any experience or to increase your chances of clients finding you. I am not saying that freelance writers should never have a site, but instead that they should focus their precious time building up their portfolio.
Building a website is time consuming, and if you are on a budget, you might cut a lot of corners. I think it can do your image more harm by throwing up a poorly designed site with a url like ashleyisawriter.blogspot.com. Here’s why. You might be an excellent writer, but just a mediocre web designer (no shame here – I’m still trying to figure out this website design stuff). If you email a company with a stellar pitch that blows their socks off, they are going to think twice when they go to a site that is not as visually appealing.
See also: 4 Habits of Writers Who Earn More Money
4 Alternatives to a Freelance Writer Website
For brand new writers, I strongly suggest creating a strong LinkedIn profile. Make your profile appealing and directed towards what clients are searching for. Only include work experience that relates directly to the writer you want to be.
For example, I was a Starbucks barista in college, taught for a year after college, wrote the newsletter for a local hospice care company, and even wrote several pet articles that got over a million shares on MSN. None of that is on my LinkedIn profile because those things don’t align with my career goals.
Instead, I only highlight my accomplishments in the personal finance field. Your past or current careers can help advance your writing career if you stay within the niche. For example, a registered nurse is more likely to get a medical writing job than I am, even if they have fewer published clips.
My friend Jackie Lam has a rock star LinkedIn profile –
LinkedIn also allows individuals to publish articles on LinkedIn’s platform, which can increase your chances of being read. Jorden Roper does a fantastic job of filling her LinkedIn profile with unique content that is directed towards her desired freelance client.
When writing an article to publish on LinkedIn, ask yourself, “Who is my dream client?” For example, if you want to be a finance writer, then your dream client might be Chase or NerdWallet. Write something with solid research and with a unique angle that they would want to publish. These companies aren’t going to message you on LinkedIn and buy that piece, but hopefully you will attract similar companies looking for a writer.
2. Become a Regular Contributor
Becoming a regular contributor to several sites also gave me solid links to send to prospective clients. In my email, I would say something like, “I am an expert finance writer and contribute regularly to Investopedia…Here are a few links to my contributor pages: http://www.investopedia.com/contributors/53631 .”
For Investopedia, I have 64 articles displayed on my contributor page. It is like a free portfolio. The only thing I would change is my bio is that I would make it clearer where to find me by linking to my LinkedIn profile or Contently portfolio.
3. Cold Pitch with Links
Before I became a contributor, I had only a handful of published links here and there. You can still pitch to prospective clients with these links. Don’t let on that you are a new writer. Instead, make it clear that you are an expert in the field and have been published on X, Y and Z. Then say something like, “Here are two samples for you to view,” with links. The client doesn’t have to know that these are your only two samples!
If you don’t have links to share, then first work on getting them. Many huge sites accept guest written posts from new writers. While they might not pay, know that this is just your starting point. Look for the big names that want guest posts, like Scary Mommy.
4. Contently Portfolio
There are a few different portfolio options available, but Contently is my favorite. Big companies will hire writers through the Contently platform, but you don’t need to worry about that just yet. Instead, use Contently as a free and attractive way to set up your portfolio.
My advanced freelance writing course that launches August 30th will take you through the steps to perfect your Contenly portfolio and attract the bigger names.
If you are a new freelance writer and have a writer’s website, please know that I am not knocking you down. I think it can be a great resource, but I just don’t think it is necessary. I know there are many new writers out there who want to get started and are discouraged by the thought of putting a website together. If that is you, skip the website for now and focus on getting published.