Your website is like your digital calling card. These days lot of people find it odd if they come across businesses or contractors who are "unsearchable" online or don't have some sort of web presence. Even more eyebrow-raising is a business that doesn't have a website, but that has a Facebook page instead that has been collecting dust for months. It's clear that no one is regularly updating the page, responding to questions or comments or posting photos or information of any sort. Between the lack of a website and a stagnant Facebook page, many are led to ask the obvious question, "Are they even still in business?"
Whether you have a website, or if you just haven't gotten around to making one yet, the last thing you want is for a prospect to wonder if you're still in business. It is in your best business interest to have an up-to-date website that is both appealing and informative for your ideal clients. Even if you prefer to work with agency clients over direct clients, a website is an essential part of doing business these days. Project managers and small agency owners do look at potential contractors' websites. So, if you've been using this excuse to avoid updating your website or creating one at all, it's time to make a plan to give your online presence a much needed facelift.
I can tell you from years of experience, that grooming a website can only benefit your business. You'll start to see more and more inquiries from clients who find you by searching online, and you can start to depend less and less on other forms of marketing, like social media channels, because your website really serves as home base.
I could probably talk about this topic all day, but instead, I've summarized my thoughts into seven reasons why your website is your BEST marketing tool as a freelance translator or interpreter. These reasons are based on my experience, both as a freelancer, and as a small agency owner who requires her project managers to thoroughly vet each and every contractor we hire. You don't have to be an expert to use your website as a strategic marketing tool.
Let's dive in!
1. If someone loses your resume, email or business card, they can still search for you online and find your website!
This might be one of the most important reasons to have a professional website. Once you hand over your business card or resume, you have no control over where it lands. It could end up on the right person's desk, or it could end up in the recycle bin. But one thing is for sure. You can be found online, even if the person does not remember your name. By using the right information on your website, you have the ability to recover from the misfortune of lost business cards or misplaced resumes if you properly set up your website for success.
2. You own it!!!
I've said this many times on this blog, but it's worth repeating. No matter how much time and work you put into posting information on social media, networking with others and trying to keep your directory profiles current, you don't actually own any of those platforms. If they disappeared tomorrow, where would your contacts find you? How would you market your services to potential clients?
3. You can update your website as often as you like, increasing the potential of boosting your search engine ranking.
You can make your website as searchable as you want it to be. I'll be the first to admit that I don't spend loads of time researching the best ways to show up in search results, but I do have a good understanding of how SEO (search engine optimization) works, and the few things I've done to improve my website's SEO have really made a difference. You have the ability to use the proper keywords and information on your site to allow people to find you, no matter if you are looking to work with local or international clients. My small agency receives weekly calls from people who find our website online through simple searches, and most of these are not even local prospects. You can update your site and watch the success of it increase over time with some basic SEO knowledge and tools.
4. Our websites are the best way for new clients to get to know us better.
You can really make your website a reflection of what it's like to work with you. In fact, this should be your ultimate goal. For those of us who don't regularly get to sit down in person with our clients, a solid website that appeals to our those we want to do business with is essential. After all, we all know that clients work with those they know, like and trust. So, allow this to shine through on your site! Remember, the content you put on your website should be less about you, and more about your clients. I have loads of information to share on this, so scroll down to the end of this post to find out more about how to do this well!
5. Your website can grow with you.
As you shift or pivot in your business, i.e. you gain expertise in a new specialization, offer new line(s) of service, etc., you can best show off these items to your clients and prospects via content on your own website. A website is always a work in progress. Test various marketing strategies to see what is most effective for your freelance business. Once you find something that works, stick with it!
6. You control the conversation.
By using your website to talk to your clients and prospects, you are able to tell them what you want them to know by telling them what they want to know. Sound confusing? It's not -- I promise! You can use appealing images, well written copy and well planned whitespace on your site to convey why you are the best choice for your clients. You are a partner who will help them succeed. When you really think your website content through, you can avoid sharing long lists of courses you've taken or workshops you've attended, and start really talking to your clients and prospects in a way that makes them want to pick up the phone and call you.
7. You can use your website in so many ways, beyond a simple landing page.
In addition to the expected bio/about page you'll have on your professional website, you can also include pages like these to further demonstrate the professional you are.
A blog for your clients that will further help your search engine ranking;
A contact form that allows you to learn more about how clients found you and collect information about them before that very important first conversation;
The ability to schedule an in-person or virtual meeting by sharing your available times with interested prospects (obviously, optional, but can be very effective!);
A special page to share your expertise, memberships, certifications and qualifications in a visually appealing way that won't bore your prospects;
And so much more.