I’ve been a freelance writer for over four years, which means I’ve received my fair share of advice from more experienced freelancers. I have consumed endless blog posts and podcasts over the years and have invested in classes and coaching on how to become a freelance writer.
And over the years, I’ve noticed that most people share the same basic advice:
If you want to be successful as a freelance writer, you absolutely must start your freelance author’s website and optimize it for your niche.
And the underlying message always seems to be that if you don’t have a website, you’ll never be seen as credible to potential customers. Instead, you’ll be stuck writing penny-per-word blog posts on content factories forever.
Advice on building a website is spread so often that it is considered some kind of gospel. But is it really true?
If you are just starting out as a freelance copywriter, do you need to start a website right away?
My unpopular opinion is no.
4 reasons why you don’t need a writer website right away
To be clear, I think having a website is important. I just don’t think that’s the most important thing new freelance writers can focus on.
Here are four reasons why.
1. A website by itself does nothing
Just building a website won’t get you to find customers or make money. How do potential customers even get to this website? You need a marketing plan and a strategy and that comes with experience.
For many people, building a website turns into a sort of vanity project. They focus on ‘building their personal brand“When what they really need is to pay customers.
If you are just starting out, your time would be much better served by setting up a portfolio website. And you can do it in about 10 minutes with a site like Contently or Muck Rack. From there, focus on finding and presenting clients.
2. You may not know who your ideal client is
Some freelancers know exactly what their niche is right off the bat. They already have a subject that they are passionate about and have expertise to choose their niche is a snap.
But for most of us, that’s just not the case. In all likelihood, you probably have a variety of topics that interest you, but nothing that you’re willing to engage in. Heck, you might not even know what types of clients you want to work with.
The point is, you understand these things by working with clients and figuring out what you like and what you don’t like. That’s why I think it can be helpful to get some experience as a freelance writer first and then set up your website.
3. It can turn into a giant distraction
One of the hardest parts of starting a new business is knowing what to focus on. After all, your time and money are limited, so you want to spend it in areas where you know you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
What I often see with new freelancers is that building a website turns into a huge distraction. You focus on discovery How to choose a domain name, asking if you should be using WordPress or Squarespace, and looking for stock photos.
In fact, you are so busy working on the website that you still haven’t quite managed to introduce potential clients. It feels like you are doing something productive, but it really isn’t because your efforts won’t necessarily lead to paid work.
4. A website is not necessary to find clients and get hired.
A lot of people will probably disagree with this statement, but I don’t think you need a website to get hired. After I started freelancing, it took me four months to build a website. I have found tons of clients and made thousands of dollars in the meantime.
And today, I write for clients like Business Insider, Credit Karma, and Quicken Loans. None of these publishers have ever requested a link to my website. They wanted to see some examples of writing, however.
The idea that you need a website to get hired is an idea that is mostly carried on by other freelancers. It’s a made-up rule that new freelancers use to stress themselves out and waste time.
The essentials on your freelance writer website
If you’re just starting out as a freelance writer, you’ll probably want a website at some point. But just understand that your website is not what is going to find you customers or make you money.
All you need to make money as a freelance writer is to find a client who is willing to hire you. So make it your goal to show off, find a client, and earn your first $ 1,000 as a freelance writer. Once you earn money and solve problems for people, you can worry about building a website.