5 Things Every Writer Needs On Her Website

On Monday, I mentioned in passing a few characteristics necessary for a good writer’s business card. I’d like to follow that up by mentioning a few things that every writer absolutely must have on his or her website.

  1. At least three examples of past work: I make a point of linking to all my past clips from this website. You don’t have to be so thorough, but you should make it easy for a potential customer to see at least a few examples of your past work as proof of your skills as a writer. Even if you have to write something specifically to use as an example when you’re starting out, make a point of having three or four solid samples.
  2. A contact page: No matter whether you prefer for potential clients to email you, call you or send a carrier pigeon, make sure that you lay out your contact information clearly on your website. Even better, put in a contact form where a prospective client just has to type in his or her email address and message right on your site.
  3. Your full name: You’d be absolutely surprised how many writers’ websites I’ve looked at recently that did not actually list the writer’s full name. You don’t have to have yourname.com (although it’s nice if you do), but do put your name somewhere up front in big letters.
  4. A subscription option: If you’re writing and you have a website, it just makes sense to have some sort of regular content your clients can subscribe to. Blogs are rapidly becoming the most common option, but email newsletters can still be a good choice. Either way, offering something a reader can subscribe to helps you build a list of potential clients — they’re not necessarily looking for a writer today, but they may be back in a couple of days or weeks, especially if you keep sending out quality content.
  5. A mention of your specialty: What? You don’t have a writing specialty? Well, it’s time to get one. Your specialty doesn’t have to limit you — I would consider blogging my specialty these days, but I won’t turn down other work. Mentioning a specialty just helps clear up what sort of work you’re particularly interested in taking on.

16 Comments

  1. Michele   •  

    Wonderful tips! I don’t have any subscriptions available to my website right now but I do have a link to my blog and anyone could subscribe from there. I never thought about subscriptions for my website. I thought I’d just let it sit like a portfolio…

    *smiles*
    Michele

    • thursday   •     Author

      @Michele, It’s been my experience that fewer people are interested in simply bookmarking a website these days — what with switching between computers, it’s easier to sign up for some sort of reminder than trying to actually remember why you set a specific book mark. It might be worthwhile to share your blog through your portfolio site — after all, your blog is a solid example of your ability to write on a regular basis! In the case of your site, I don’t think you’d have to do much (great design, by the way): just add a button to your portfolio site to help visitors sign up for your blog without having to click over to it.

  2. Michele   •  

    I will do that today, Thursday–it’s an excellent idea! I never thought to do that. I do link to my health blog and my writing blog at the top of the page, though.

    Thanks for the input, and for the compliment on my design. :-) Goofy Girl Designs is my designer–LOVE her! :-) Her website link is: http://design.goofygirl.org/. She’s working on another design for me right now. My health site (www.healingwithjuices.com) will be getting a fresh look, just in time for Spring! :-)

    *smiles*
    Michele

    P.S. I love your name, by the way. :-)

  3. Meryl K. Evans   •  

    Hmm… I used to have writing samples on my site, but they were outdated faster than I could update them. Haven’t figured out a magic formula for that. Will have to work on this one. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. thursday   •     Author

    @Meryl, My solution has been to just add each new clip to the top of my list. Old ones are at the bottom of the page — but still listed. I honestly took this approach because it wound up taking the least amount of effort on my part. I really ought to clean out some of my older clips eventually, but for now, I just have a clips list with lots of variety.

  5. Meryl K. Evans   •  

    Good advice, thanks. Can I copy your portfolio page? :) Hey, at least, I asked!

  6. thursday   •     Author

    @Meryl, Since it’s you, you’re welcome to copy it. I’ve got to warn you, though — all those clips do have my byline on them. You might be better off using your own clips. :)

  7. Meryl K. Evans   •  

    HA! Thanks for the laugh. It’s unbelievable how some folks who steal a web site don’t even bother to fix the URLs or anything. Talk about lazy!

  8. thursday   •     Author

    It’s definitely a pet peeve of mine. I always feel that there’s so little to be done about content thieves — it’s a frustrating situation.

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  11. Susan Johnston   •  

    Aw, the bad link problem… I know that one well. If you have permission to post the story on your website, you could do it on a separate page as text (or an excerpt). Alternatively, you could take a screenshot or save a web article as a PDF. I’d recommend this in case the website completely disappears.

    Do you think that listing all of your clips might overwhelm the reader? I’ve culled my list to a few of my best clips in each niche so that it’s not an exhaustive list. All of my online clips are also saved in Delicious.com in case I need to find them later.

  12. thursday   •     Author

    @Susan, I haven’t actually had a problem with listing all of my clips overwhelming prospective clients. Depending on the specific project we’re talking about, I generally make a point of singling out a relevant piece or two — but I’ve heard some great responses from clients who like the ability to see more than one or two cherry-picked clips.

    In the end, I think it’s really a question of what works for you, though. If maintaining one big list is easiest for you, great.If just having a set of three or four clips you like to submit, that works too.

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  14. Steff   •  

    There’s also the point that sometimes you can get extra jobs from listing your previous clips. I list nearly all of my clips on my website, and on several occasions I’ve recieved emails from clients or editors saying. “I’ve seen that article you did on such-and-such. Can you do me one on a similiar topic? I shall reward you handsomely.”

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