Stepping Stones: Building a Web Presence Part II

One of the most important things any freelancer can do is establish an effective web presence. Some freelancers need two or three individual sites to promote what they do, especially if they are multi-disciplined. In my own particular case, I started off with a single web page, but as I branch out creatively I find that my needs demand multiple sites.

My current web presence,, is effective at telling the world that I have a LOT of experience, but if I were to start seriously marketing myself in my other skill sets (voiceovers, video, radio, television production, and photography) I’d need to create specific websites to showcase each of those talents.

My background as a military reporter for Air Force News Agency, the Navy Media Center, the Pentagon Channel and other networks is enough to give me some serious clout as a writer, but if I wanted to promote myself as a television reporter/anchor again, I’d need to do far more than what I’ve got listed at my current site. For writing, it’s enough for me to brag on my former life as a globe-hopping journalist.

The same goes for my work as a musician. It gives me street cred with the music publications where I need it, and that glance at my portfolio tells an editor everything they need to know. Not so much if I were trying to sell myself as a PR person or on-stage talent.

So why don’t I give myself an equal chance to get attention for what I’ve done in these areas? It’s simple–I’ve crammed in only what I think an editor might want to know. I try to keep the design simple (not an easy task and I fail in some areas of the site I am still tweaking) and respect the busy editor’s lifestyle.

The most important thing you can remember about building your web presence–and again, I don’t claim to have this one down pat on my own site–is that the first impression factor is key. You have less than fifteen seconds to impress the first time visitor. How well you use that fifteen seconds is up to you. I’d position my strongest material up front, keep the images looking large and pleasing to the eye, and use short paragraphs.

Don’t force an editor to go hunting for your contact information, keep your About Me relevant to the writing game and beware the temptation to air out your personal gripes with the world at large on your professional profile. I discourage people from blogging on the same site they are trying to get work out of. Always keep those two worlds separate, even if you link to your blog from the resume page. You never know who might get offended by some seemingly harmless blog post, and there are plenty of people out there in positions of power who have NO sense of humor whatsoever. Beware of them, and play it safe.

My two cents.

4 thoughts on “Stepping Stones: Building a Web Presence Part II”

  1. Well, the main reason I picked the blog format is because WordPress is so easy to configure once you have the system figured out. Content Management Systems like WordPress are just easier to use all around and while I don’t plan on updating the page like a blog TODAY, that may change some day and if it does, I’m already read to begin.

  2. I’ve done a lot of work with web design (not a freelance writer, though). I used to work with Joe in Japan (and know Catherine from there to). So, let me add some stuff:

    1. Have a definite goal in mind and make sure that everything in your site contributes to that goal.
    2. Make sure your navigation is very clear and straightforward.
    3. Make sure you emphasize substance over style. For example, using Flash on a site for the sake of using Flash is bad. Using Flash when its appropriate is okay.
    4. Be cautious about testimonials. Cath was very specific about testimonials from Editors she has worked with/for. Those are good because they can be verified.
    5. I, personally, would not use a MySpace site as a “professional” website…although I have seen quite a few reputable organizations using MySpace sites (in addition to their own domains).
    6. Make sure the e-mail address you use instills a sense of professionalism. Using is probably a bad idea.
    7. Be aware of other things you have posted as comments to blogs, in discussion forums, etc. Do a search for yourself on Google (and other search engines) to see the kinds of things that are coming up.
    8. Visit to get some tips on good/bad design.

    PS. Joe….drop me an e-mail.

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