Since I wrote ‘6 Website features you should check’ to help you make sure your website is up to date and relevant, I have added to that list.
Here is the original list:
Contact email address
Spelling, punctuation and grammar
Copyright date in the footer
‘I’ rather than ‘we’
A photo of you, the business owner.
Tall Tartan Talks here … Following learning and keen to make my website as efficient as possible I commissioned a fellow freelancer (a WordPress expert) to do a review of my website. An MOT, if you like. I am grateful for the many tips she recommended.
Checking more features
Therefore, in addition, I recommend checking these features:
New tab settings
Error 404 message
Go on, look again … Open up a new tab and work through your website and my list.
What and how to fix
1.What is an SSL certificate?
You are researching a topic and click on a website link. It opens. You notice that the padlock on the top left of the website URL (address) is missing. It appears with the message ‘Not secure’.
Some URLs start with http:// while others start with https. Maybe you noticed that extra ‘s’ when you were browsing websites that require giving sensitive information, like paying bills. But where does that extra ‘s’ come from and what does it mean? Your website host should provide you with an SSL certificate. If your website is missing that extra ‘s’, it could put off potential clients.
2. Setting new tabs
Adding content to your web pages might include a linking to another page of your website, eg Contact page with a hyperlink, or linking to another website you recommend.
If a visitor to your website receives an Error 404, there is an error loading that page, or a page link is broken. A quick and easy way to check that you’ve minimised this problem is to check that the links in your website work. Just google ‘broken links’ – you’ll find a selection of websites to help.
When I checked, I found many broken links. Aaargh! It seems I had tweaked and moved my pages around my website muchly over the last couple of years; I hadn’t checked that links still worked. They do now!
4. Personalising your 404 page
Have you tried personalising your Error 404 plug-in? Thanks to another freelancing colleague for that tip. If you feel creative, you could take your branding all the way through to the pages that break.
You hope that visitors to your website won’t ever see the Error 404 message, but, if they do, they will still see you, your personality and your message, with a link that you’ve placed there redirecting them back to your homepage.
Are you up to date now?
Remember, your website is your shop window. Does it work efficiently? Does it represent you and your business?
Have you started your freelance business? Do you have a website? Are you concerned that you don’t have much yet to put on a website?
You may feel terrified at the thought of building a website.
Or … have you owned a website for AGES? Have things changed in your business? Perhaps your website needs refreshing.
Tall Tartan Talks here … Whether you are a new or established freelancer, it is vital to give prospective clients who come across your website the impression that your features are correct and up to date.
Fear not. I have made a list of website features that you should check; that won’t take a moment for you to fix.
Go on, have a look … Open up a new tab, find the admin section of your website, and work through my list.
Website features to check
Contact email address
Spelling, punctuation and grammar
Correct copyright date in the footer
‘I’ rather than ‘we’
A photo of you, the business owner.
How to fix
1. Contact email address
If you have a website, it appears more professional if your email address is linked to your domain name. For example, my website is proofnow.co.uk. My business email is email@example.com.
Make sure the spelling of your email address is correct on your website. An error means potential clients can’t reach you. Or fellow colleagues. They will give up and try someone else.
It is personal choice if you display your phone number or not. Some freelancers like their customers to book a call, so their number may be linked to a Call To Action (CTA) button.
Being contacted by WhatsApp is the worst, in my opinion, as a way to communicate in business. I keep that app for friends and family. Others don’t want to be disturbed by phone but would rather be contacted by email. Whatever your preferred form of communication, make sure it is apparent and correct on your website.
2. Contact form
A contact form on your website is effective for reducing spam. But ensure it is connected to your email address and messages can get through. It is frustrating for potential clients to send a message for it to be lost in the ether. Check your contact form works by emailing yourself or asking a friend to test it.
3. Spelling, punctuation and grammar
This may seem obvious, but check the spelling, punctuation and grammar. Proofreading the content is vital, especially if you are providing your services as an editor or proofreader.
It is difficult to proofread your own writing because you see what you think is there, not what is actually there. You may have redrafted a phrase and the sense has gone? Yep! Again, ask a friend to check the content for you.
4. Correct copyright date in the footer
Have you ever scrolled ALL the way down to the bottom of a website page you are browsing? There is usually a date at the bottom – the copyright date. It should show the current year or the range of years of business.
You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) how many websites look out of date because the footer hasn’t been updated. Even well-known and established brands have overlooked small details like this.
If the date is wrong, how can we trust other content on the website to be correct?
5. ‘I’ rather than ‘we’
This is a style feature. If you are a sole trader, you own your freelance business. It’s just you, not a team. Do you use ‘I’ or ‘we’?
‘I’ is more personal and gives the impression that you are talking directly to me. I can get a sense of you and your business from your website. ‘We’ gives the impression that you are part of a team providing the service.
Be honest with your content. If you use ‘we’, who else are you talking about? What are the names of the people in your team and where are their photos? That brings me on to the next heading.
6. A photo of the website owner
I am aware that not everyone likes to see themselves in a photograph. But a photo of the freelancer brings a personal touch to their website. I can see a face to put to the name of the business.
It’s not hard to upload a selfie. If it is an up-to-date photo, even better. If you can afford to get a professional headshot taken by someone who can show your personality … fantastic!
Some freelancers use a logo instead. It’s a personal choice. Whatever image you use, make sure it is the same on your website as in any networking groups and social media channels you use. If you use a photo, we’ll recognise you quicker. You will become a familiar face. And we’ll remember you.
Keep your website fresh
If these features are in place and appear current, the potential clients looking at your website will know that they can trust you. You will give a good impression. The client may even be convinced to ask for your services.
There are other features I haven’t mentioned, but those mentioned here are a start and will point you in the right direction.
Websites are never finished. Don’t think that once it is built, that’s all you need to do. You need to tweak it monthly, at least.
If you add new content, for example, a fresh testimonial, it will keep your website up to date and fresh.
Why your website is important
If you keep these six points in mind, your website will help you come across as a trustworthy and confident professional.
Remember, your website is your shop window.
You may just prefer to rely on a profile on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook to help you persuade clients to book your services. But you own your website. It belongs to you and isn’t at the whim of the social media algorithms.
Your website needs to work for you and represent who you are. Be proud of it!
Much has happened since I first wrote (a year ago) about marketing my proofreading business, so this is the update … How I told the world I was open for business.
Building a website, social media and content marketing were the essential strategies I used, back in 2017, to proclaim my new services as a proofreader.
In a previous episode Business Plan and Training, I detailed how I became a freelancer offering proofreading services after three decades as a primary school teacher. In this tweaked blog post, I describe how I decided on my marketing strategy and how it has evolved.
I know some freelance business owners who still cringe at the thought of putting any details ‘out there’. Or haven’t got the interest or skills to build a website. But how else are you going to advertise your services or get business unless you are a presence online? There is also plenty of support out there if you need guidance or to outsource.
Displaying your ‘shop window’
“A website is essential: you need a ‘shop window’ to display your business.” These were the words of my Business Mentor at my local Job Centre when they helped me set up as a self-employed proofreader.
The process of choosing a website domain, a host, designing my website, plus researching the content marketing world of social media was a steep learning curve.
But I have come far over the last two years!
Also, I have seen many people, including career-changers, entering the world of editing and proofreading who are asking all the questions I asked then. So this blog post might help you. What follows is what I did to market my business.
Building a website
By January 2017, my New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) Business Plan (with People Plus) had been approved, and I was told by my mentor to go and build a website. The only domain name which was available and that I liked the sound of was Proofnow. That was the easy part. Proofnow Proofreader was born.
“How do I build a website?” My only experience had been editing my class page on the website of the school where I taught.
I chose my first website host. The building of each page was fairly straightforward: I added Services, Pricing and About pages, with a few photographs for variety; I emphasised my previous career as a teacher with efficient marking skills – this would be my Unique Selling Point (USP). I could add a couple of testimonials after getting some proofreading work.
Finding the website host for you
Although I was pleased with the look of the site on the desktop of the PC, it looked dreadful on my mobile. One tip I had read was that your website must be viewable on all devices.
At the end of my first year of business, I knew I had to find a different host as I found the backend clunky. I did some fairly intense research to find my next website host.
Creating a new website
I copied everything over to my new website … then I was up and active with my new host. What a relief!
Over time I read and researched more about how your website should be less about you and more about how you can solve problems for your potential client. This gave me the courage to tweak the theme and wording. Here are some tips I learnt.
Basic website tips
easy to read, clear font
your headshot and/or logo
your services – what you can do for your client
contact details – how does a new client get in touch with you?
Say less of what ‘I’ can do but what ‘you’, the client, needs. How you (the freelancer) can solve their (client) problem.
match the branding on your website with that on your social media sites where you will publish and market your website. In other words: same headshot, same banner, same headline/tagline for consistent marketing.
Designing your brand is made easier by choosing prepared designs from a free app. Canva is a design programme for those who have basic technical skills. I found it really useful when ensuring consistency in designing the banners for marketing my website and social media profile pages. This represents ‘joined-up’ marketing.
Everything I tried with my website involved trial and error, with the undo button at hand. Also, with sheer surprise if something worked first time!
Now, having been with WordPress for a while, I am now happy with my website and proud of what I have achieved so far. It is easy to manage and looks consistently good on a desktop, tablet and smartphone. Statistics show that mobile devices are used more for browsing websites than any other. Indeed, smartphones mean that websites can be viewed immediately when a link is shared. So it is essential that your website works and looks good. Everywhere.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, …? What kind of social media do you prefer? Where do you share the link to your website? What kind of content marketer are you? I know some folk who steer well clear. They’re just not interested. I know some folks who do it ALL. Is that a good idea? Does it work? Does it GET you work?
The first thing I did on Facebook when I started my business was to advertise Proofnow Proofreader as a business Facebook page because I understood it.
I have joined Facebook support groups. Anything you need reassurance for, it’s there, whether you are a freelancer, editor, proofreader or tutor like me.
I attended a workshop on LinkedIn run by fellow SfEP-er John Espirian at the annual conference of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders in 2018: ‘How not to be a LinkedIn Loser’. I learnt A LOT. He gives results of methods he has tried to make the algorithm work for him, then passes on the tips. Then I saw John talk on LinkedIn at the Cambridge Social Media Day (#CSMDay2019) in November, when I topped up my LinkedIn skills.
He recommends liking and commenting on the posts of others to engage in conversation, rather than sharing. This raises the visibility of your profile. To some, LinkedIn is where important contacts can be followed, and business connections can be made. Work may even follow. This is my favourite way to post my blog posts where colleagues can engage. Here is my LinkedInpage. Judge for yourself. Why don’t you try personalising your invite to connect? Then I will understand how we can help each other.
LinkedIn is also beneficial as recommendations can be made. After doing a proofreading job on a punctuation book for children, I was able to send the author a link where she could write a testimonial. It’s impactful because the focus is on the client to write it for you.
On Twitter, retweeting (sharing) posts of those you follow, and your own posts improves engagement. I engage on Twitter because a lot of SfEP members are there. An educational author even got in touch and offered me a proofreading job!
Like, comment, share
Having read a HUGE array of tips about content marketing, everything I have learnt has been by osmosis, by watching how others do it. However, it IS an effort to stay on top of content on social media.
When following newsletters you subscribe to for tips and advice, it is imperative to be selective. Take control and make your inbox manageable. Or you’d never get any work done.
If you want to share content, planning is vital. Blogging, for instance, is far more effective if subjects are planned over the longterm. Then fit in spontaneous posts when giving a reaction to situations. I try to publish a blog post monthly – it’s scary how quickly those months go.
When I share a #TallTartanTalks blog post, I aim to do it on a day when I don’t have a work deadline and have the time to like and comment on the engagement. This is timetabled in my diary. As a result, when I engage, my website viewing statistics increase dramatically. That’s one of the reaons why blogging is effective: for website visibility.
Others prefer to use scheduling tools, like Buffer, so that the timings of content posting are automatic. The worry of manual posting is removed.
Next blogging …
In my next blog post I will return to the subject of primary tuition and educational publishers as clients.
You can read my introduction to my education series in Why I Tutor.