Tag Archives: website

Why you still need a good website

We blog, tweet and keep in touch with friends on Facebook, but is it enough? Not if you want to appear professional and gain more freelance work.

Before you can snag a great assignment, you need a clean, organized way to impress an editor, who most likely is in a big hurry.

webscreensEditors work with dozens of people on a daily basis. When they are ready to hand out an assignment, they often view writers websites to see work samples.  They do not want to view your Facebook page, check your status, look at baby pictures, or read a stream of tweets about what your friends are doing.

A good portfolio means business

Editors look for a freelancer with a professional portfolio, giving them the confidence to hire you to write for them. They want to know you’re serious about work, not about spending time the beach. They want to see samples of recent work, so they know they can count on you.

At a minimum a writer’s or artist’s portfolio should include:

  1. Credentials
  2. Expertise
  3. Recent work
  4. References
  5. How to get in touch

What about a blog?

A blog is a great tool for a free website equivalent. Most people blog at blogger.com or worpress.com, both of which are free. You can choose a style that replicates a website with pages and tabs. However most blogs intentionally list new content in chronological order with the newest posts at the top. That can be disorienting to a visitor expecting to easily find your credentials, work samples, etc. A blog, separate from the one you use socially, can be styled to remain static, rather that showing posts and updates. Search a few templates at blogger or wordpress and you’ll find some are suitable to replace a website.

Here is a brief masthead sample, using the ‘mimbo pro’ design at wordpress.com. Looks just like a website, doesn’t it?

If a blog template won’t do, then expect to pay $200-300 if you can’t do a site on your own. Most web designers will take on a small client for a five-page site in that price range.

Some freelance organizations offer free or low-cost member sites as part of their benefits. If you belong to a national author/writer group, such as authorsguild.org, check their member benefit list.

Free web  templates from sites like 1&1.com, webs.com, and wix.com.

Social media is fine for keeping in touch with colleagues and friends, but your website is the best chance you have to make a good impression.

Give yourself a cohesive predictable place to display your credentials, show clips of recent work, state your preference for types of media you work in, and make it easy for an editor to hire you for your next assignment.

I maintain one site for my tech business, one for assistance with self-publishing, and one specifically for my freelance work. It shows editors exactly why they might want to hire me for a specific assignment, and includes a brief tagline that assures them I’m reliable. Curious, visit gallagherink.com and then comment here to share your own writer’s website.

A clean, informative website makes it easy for editors to turn to you again and again. It showcases your work to get your more business, and invites referrals when an editor wants to pass your information on to a colleague.

Writer’s Residence

Monica Shaw
Monica Shaw

Today we have a Q & A with Monica Shaw of Writer’s Residence, a site where writers can build an online presence; including a portfolio of their work.

But first a little background on Ms. Shaw…

Monica Shaw is an internationally published freelance writer who has been building Web sites since the early days of the Web. In addition to Writer’s Residence, she also writes a popular health and fitness blog at SmarterFitter.com. You can visit her own writing portfolio at monicashaw.com.

1. What is Writer’s Residence and who should consider using it?

Writer’s Residence is a website that lets writers create a beautiful website, writing portfolio and resume/CV quickly and easily through their web browser. The service is ideal for any writer who wants an easy way to create a professional website where they can showcase their work. This goes for freelance writers, journalists, authors, copywriters, and pretty much anyone who wants to make a living through writing.

2. How can having an online portfolio benefit writers?

An online porfolio is an invaluable marketing tool for writers. Like a printed portfolio, a website helps you promote your work, particularly when sending queries to editors and agents. You can also use your website to gain exposure to your writing by linking to your website in emails, on business cards and on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s all about marketing. In fact, there’s a great interview on my blog with marketing expert Penny Sansevieri that addresses this specifically and I encourage you to check it out.

3. How difficult is it for people to set up a portfolio on Writer’s Residence? Is HTML knowledge required?

Writer’s Residence is designed to be easy. You can have a beautiful website up and running in 30 minutes or less by filling in a few simple forms through your web browser. No downloads are necessary. No HTML is required. We host it all so no technical knowledge is needed. All of the features are tailored for writers, which means you won’t spend time or money customizing a website with a bunch of features you don’t really need.

4. Is it expensive to set up a portfolio?

No, Writer’s Residence is not expensive at all. You can set up a portfolio for free with our 30-day trial. This gives you risk-free access to all of Writer’s Residence including a hosted website, support for your own domain, and unlimited uploads. After that, we charge $8.99 per month, which is cheaper than most website hosting services and has the added benefit of being specifically tailored for writers. There are no hidden fees and you can cancel at any time.

5. Is there any help or advice available if people have questions?

Yes. We love our customers and are always on hand to help with questions. You can contact us through e-mail or phone (we have both UK and US support numbers) and are guaranteed a personal response within 24 hours from either me or my partner, Tim. Since we created Writer’s Residence, you’ll get support directly from the people who built the site. 

6. What else can you tell me about the portfolio, and where can people go for more information?

Writer’s Residence grew out of my own freelance writing career and I continue to use the site to host my own online writing portfolio at monicashaw.com. As a user and developer of Writer’s Residence, I have a vested interest in making sure it’s the easiest, most hassle-free service out there for writers wanting a website. I love it when our customers tell us that their websites helped them land writing gigs. It’s one of the reasons why we created Writer’s Residence in the first place.

For more info, people can visit our website at writersresidence.com or contact me personally at monica@writersresidence.com. I also write a blog about freelance writing with loads of useful tips and interviews at http://writersresidence.com/blog/.

Writers: If You Want Work–Be Visible

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times that somebody found me one way or another and then offered me a job. I can tell you that it pays off to invest some of your time and effort into marketing yourself as a writer. If you are visible, you will get work. The question is…how visible are you? Here are some smart ways to extend your reach and let people know you are out there:



  • Have a website. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate creature. Mine is fairly simple, but has enough for people to get an idea of what I have done and what I can do.
  • Start a blog. If you want to write on the web, a blog is great practice. I had never done one before Freelance-Zone and now that I have the hang of it, I really enjoy it. Just make sure you are aware that anyone can read what you put on there. Keep it professional.
  • Stay in touch. Yes, I send holiday cards. I e-mail editors and let them know what I’m up to–or just touch base and say hello from time to time. Staying on their radar means they won’t forget about you when work comes through. Plus, it’s nice.
  • Add a bio. Whenever possible, see if you can add a one-line bio to articles that you write. Include an e-mail or website where people can get in touch with you.
  • Use a signature block. I have said this before and I’ll say it again….the signature block is your best friend. All e-mail correspondence should have one. I have gotten a lot of additional work through this. It should at the very least include your full name, a telephone number and your website and e-mail address.
  • Use social media. Not on Twitter? Today is a good day to set up the account. Do you have a Facebook account? If not, perhaps it is time. Social media can really get your name out there and it is FREE. Take advantage!

Writing For The Web


Writing for the web is a different animal than writing for print. If you usually pen articles for magazines, you may want to brush up on how to write web copy. More and more these days you will find content online, and if you can write for this market you will increase your chances of making a sale.

Here are a few smart tips to keep in mind when writing for the web:

  • Keep it short and snappy. Web readers tend to tune out if text is too long.
  • Think about formatting. Bulleted lists, bold text and white space are your friends on the web.
  • Use sub-headings and try to stick to one idea per paragraph.

When it comes to writing for the web, think about impacting your reader. If you don’t snag them immediately and keep them interested, another website is just a click away…

Stepping Stones: Building A Web Presence Part I

I am of the firm opinion that every writer who has clips and a bit of experience should have a website of some kind. Joe and I talked about this as an idea for posts, because we both opted for different looks/styles and formats when it comes to our site. My website has a very clean, simple look. I wanted something classy that was easy to navigate and update. I spent time looking at how other writers had their sites set up and selected a very basic system. I have a bio, resume, section for info on my photography, contact info and a section that lists selected publication credits. I opted not to list all of my writing creds, as I think it begins to look messy.

One thing I decided to do that I’ve not seen elsewhere is to include testimonials from editors I have worked with. Continue reading Stepping Stones: Building A Web Presence Part I