Build Your Website
There are many reasons why you need to build a website for your freelance business:
- Tell your story and show off your work in a space that’s entirely your own.
- Increase your freelancing business’s visibility in search engines.
- Attract leads to your business and empower your website to qualify them.
- Boost your credibility amidst a sea of freelancers without websites or with crappy ones.
- Spend less time tracking down new business and instead doing what you’re good at.
Just like with branding, I believe that freelancers should build their own websites. For starters, you’ll save money and time doing it yourself. What’s more, there are plenty of tools and templates that make it easy to build a professional site even if you’re not tech-savvy.
Below, I’m going to provide you with a list of everything you need to create your freelancer website.
What's Covered in This Post
Everything You Need to Build Your Freelancer Website
I’ve been supervising and teaching people how to build websites for close to a decade now. Below is everything you’ll need to quickly and easily create an effective website for yourself as a freelancer.
By the Way...
If you need help visualizing what I’m about to discuss, I’ve created a 60-minute WordPress course that will take you through each step. Pro and Plus members get access to it. If you’re not ready to become a member, you can get access to it on suzannescacca.com.
Your website’s URL has three pieces:
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol — This is the HTTP/HTTPS that appears before ://.
- Domain Name — This is the name of your website, like howtobecomeafreelancer.
- Top-level Domain (TLD) Name — This refers to the letters that appear after the dot (.) — like .com.
Go to Domain.com and begin a search for the domain you want. Don’t worry about the HTTP part for now. Focus on the name and the TLD.
Try to get a domain name that matches your business name without it being too long or difficult to remember. There shouldn’t be any spaces or punctuation in it either.
As for the TLD, .com is always best (or whatever your country’s equivalent is if you prefer something like .co.uk). It won’t affect ranking or anything like that. However, if you tell someone your domain name, they’re likely to add a .com to the end out of habit. So snagging up a common TLD will ensure that everyone who wants to find you will.
By the way, don’t buy your domain from Domain.com. That’ll only create extra work for you. Instead, buy it when you purchase your web hosting plan. Many hosts will offer it for free the first year, too, so that’s another reason to wait. I just use that site as a reference so I can research domain names and have one ready to go before I reach the stage where I’m pulling out my credit card.
If you decide to build a website with a hosted platform like Wix or Shopify, you can skip this. However, if you’re going to use WordPress.org, then you’ll need a web hosting plan.
This is what allows your website to exist online. Regardless of which content management system (CMS) you use, your site will need to be hosted on a server and you’ll have to pay for it. It’s just that some CMS take care of it for you.
My personal favorite is SiteGround. You can get all the technical stuff you need for your site at once from them:
- Hosting plan
- Domain name
- SSL certificate
- WordPress installation
In addition, they provide great support.
I’d recommend starting with the cheapest shared plan. You can upgrade down the road as needed.
Content Management System
The content management system (CMS) is the platform you use to build your site. Wix. Squarespace. Shopify. WordPress. These are all CMS.
It’s tempting to use one of the hosted platforms because they’re supposedly cheaper and easier to use. However, you’re going to get the best results from WordPress because you have more control over everything.
To get started with WordPress, let your web hosting company point you in the right direction. Most of them come with one-click WordPress installation options immediately after you sign up.
One of the reasons why DIY web design has become possible these days is because of themes. A WordPress theme is a pre-designed website. Depending on which one you use, you may get one website template or multiple demos.
Typically, a free WordPress theme will come with a single design and limit how much of it you can customize. Premium themes — which you can find on ThemeForest for under $70 a pop — give you a variety of demos, advanced features, and more control over your design.
Here’s what I do for most of the sites I build:
- Install and activate the Astra theme from inside of WordPress for free. This forms the basis of my website.
- Purchase, install, and activate the Elementor Pro page builder plugin.
I’m not a big fan of WordPress’s default page builder, so Elementor (the free or paid version) is a must. Not only does it enable you to visually design your web pages, but it comes with beautiful templates. So you won’t need a premium theme if you go this route. That said, Astra’s premium theme and Starter Templates are awesome. I used them to build out this site.
In case you’re interested in another option, I’d also suggest checking out Betheme. It’s an all-in-one theme and page builder. You’ll have over 650 pre-built website templates to choose from, too.
While your theme and page builder will do a lot of the work to build the site out for you, it may still be missing crucial features. Contact forms. SEO tools. Analytics. And so on.
That’s what plugins are for.
With the exception of the page builder plugin, I always use free plugins. You can access them right from WordPress, too. Just make sure the ones you use are up to date. There will be a warning if they’re not.
You should also look at the reviews and ratings. I never use plugins with less than a 4-star rating. And if the most recent reviews mention major problems — like the plugin not working or breaking someone’s site — don’t use it.
Here are some of the essential plugins to start with:
- SG Optimizer — This caching and performance plugin is made by SiteGround and will help your site load faster.
- SG Security — Another SiteGround plugin, this one will help you monitor and protect your site from malware and other attacks and infections.
- Yoast SEO — This plugin adds an SEO tool to WordPress, which you can use to optimize each page for a better search ranking.
- GA Google Analytics — This analytics plugin simplifies the process of connecting your website to your Google Analytics account.
- WPForms Lite — If you buy Elementor Pro, you can create your forms there. If not, this is the best contact form plugin for WordPress.
Depending on the type of freelancing you do, you may need more plugins than this. However, this is a good place to start until you find out which features you’re missing.
Your WordPress theme may or may not have generated all the pages you need. Regardless, now is the time to customize what you have and add anything that’s missing.
In terms of customization, you should:
- Add your logo.
- Swap out the theme colors for your brand colors.
- Update the theme fonts for your brand fonts.
- Replace all the imagery in the theme with your own. (Make sure you have the right to use the images, so never ever use anything from Google Images!)
- Fill in your own copy on every page.
- Remove any section or page you don’t need.
- Add sections or pages you do need.
- Customize the website navigation.
As far as which pages your site should have, every freelancer should start with the following:
Other pages you may need now or in the future are Blog, Shop, Testimonials, Pricing, FAQs, Book an Appointment, and so on. Your theme or page builder plugin will likely have templates for many of these, so you won’t have to build anything from-scratch.
Don’t stress over building the perfect freelancer website today. Or else you’ll never be able to publish it.
Start with the basics as outlined above. Right now you simply need to get your business online. You can refine your copy, build out your portfolio, and optimize your content for search over time.