Screenshot from Copywriting For You website
Screenshot from Copywriting For You website
Avoid a poorly designed website

In January 2023, I finally made the decision I should have made years ago. I decided to remove myself from the corporate world and pursue a career as a full-time freelance content writer and copywriter. While I have been writing since I was very young, it just never seemed that doing this full-time was in the cards. But eventually, the stars aligned. By March 2023, I had established an S-Corp, and my business—Copywriting For You—was born.

But, while I would love to say that everything was coming up roses, I’d be lying. Yes, I was wildly successful, almost right from the get-go. Even today, I am blessed to have a steady stream of new clients coming my way and a reliable set of long-term clients who have been with me before I became officially official. 

That said, I made many mistakes in my first year. I made so many mistakes that I feel like I’d be doing a disservice to all future content writers looking to start their own businesses if I didn’t share what I’ve learned along the way. So today, I am sharing my first post in a series—The Ten Mistakes I Made My First Year as a Copywriter. I hope it can help you grow your business faster and more cost-effectively.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of a Great Website 

Here’s the thing—when I got started and set up my legal structure, I assumed I would just take in work through Upwork and call it a day. And the fact is, I could have done that. I could still do that. Upwork has been and continues to be an amazing source of amazing clients. But word started getting around, and I had people reaching out to me outside of Upwork who didn’t want to join the platform and send me contracts that way.

And it got me thinking—I need a website, right? RIGHT! Anyone who is running a business these days needs a great website. If you want people to find you, you need that online presence. So, I hired the first contractor, who gave me the lowest bid. Yes, I found his company on Upwork. 

But in this case, hiring him was not Upwork’s fault. It was mine and mine alone. I sourced the work to the lowest bidder, investing just a few hundred dollars on a very rudimentary website. And it showed.

Here are all the things that were wrong about it:

  • Poor design that looked amateurish
  • Crazy slow load times that frustrated visitors
  • Poor navigation that made finding information difficult
  • Lack of compelling imagery to capture interest
  • No video content to engage users
  • A sitemap that did absolutely no good
  • Unprofessional fonts and mismatched colors
  • Broken links that led to nowhere
  • Mobile version that didn’t work properly
  • Generic content that failed to showcase my skills and personality

The Professional Embarrassment of a Poorly Designed Website 

So, this begs the question—why was my website so important to me? If clients found me through LinkedIn, word-of-mouth, and networking, wasn’t that enough? Well, sure, if I wanted to grow at a slow pace. And the truth is that in the world of freelancing, it’s a constant hustle. Clients can come and go. Even long-term clients sometimes have a change of strategy and may need more or less content, which can create income fluctuations.

A website was a means to the end, or perhaps the means to the beginning. If I wanted to increase my lead pipeline, I needed to make sure prospective clients could find me their way. And with people spending six and half hours or more online every day, this meant I needed that website. But what happened when they found my website was the problem.

Having a website just wasn’t enough. That poor website design painted a pretty awful picture. I worried it would leave those prospective clients wondering about wanting to work with me. Why? A bad website is bound to make them have the following thoughts:

  • Doubts about my professionalism
  • Concerns about the quality of my work
  • Hesitation to trust my services
  • Assumptions that I’m not serious about my business
  • Fear that I lack attention to detail
  • Perception that I’m outdated or out of touch
  • Worries about my reliability and commitment
  • Reluctance to refer me to others

And this was the last thing I wanted as a new business owner who had turned her side hustle into a full-time gig.

Don’t Make My Mistake: Invest in a Quality Website From the Get-Go

My advice to all of you new writers? Go big or go home. If you can’t afford a website, wait until you can—but do what you can to find the financial means to get one. A website is pretty much a non-negotiable in today’s business world, and it is your best opportunity to strut your stuff and help develop a trusted relationship with those potential customers.

Yet here’s the question—how much does a professional website cost? According to Forbes, the cost of a website for a small business ranges from $2,000 to $9,000. And it’s not a one-and-done endeavor. There are plenty of recurring costs, from maintenance to site upgrades, plug-ins, and more. Those costs can easily run you about $1,200 a year. But I’ll tell you this—it’ll cost you a lot more to fix a poorly designed website than to do it right the first time.

Now, you can start your website in stages. You can start with the bare bones and grow it from there—in fact, I’m very much in that phase now with my newly designed website. I’ll surely add more in the months and years to come. But, if you ask my opinion (you asked, right?), I would tell you to start with the following six key pages:

1. Homepage

The Homepage is the first impression visitors get of your business. It should convey who you are, what you do, and how you can help potential clients. Aim for around 500 words, ensuring it’s well-organized and visually appealing. Include a strong headline, an engaging introduction, and easy navigation to other key pages. 

This page helps with SEO by using relevant keywords and providing a clear structure that search engines can easily index. Interlinking to other pages like Services, About Us, and Blog makes navigating your site easy for visitors and search engines.

2. About Us Page

The About Us page is where you build trust and show your brand’s personality. Share your story, mission, and values to connect with visitors personally. Approximately 500 words will give you enough space to be detailed without overwhelming readers. 

This page is important for SEO, too, as it allows you to include keywords related to your business and industry. It’s also a great place to link to your Services and Contact Us pages, encouraging visitors to learn more about what you offer and how to get in touch.

3. Services Page

Your Services Page is where you outline what you offer and how it benefits your clients. Shoot for 500 words to detail each service, highlighting features, benefits, and why clients should choose you. 

For example, my new services page clearly highlights the following services that I have to offer:

  • Website content
  • Blog content
  • Article writing
  • LinkedIn content
  • Resumes
  • Cover Letters

Detailed descriptions help search engines understand your offerings, making it easier for potential clients to find you. Interlink to relevant blog posts and your Contact Us page to guide visitors through decision-making and encourage them to reach out.

4. Blog Page

If you are a content writer, you need a blog. Period. Regularly updated blog posts can target various keywords, keeping your site fresh and relevant in search engine rankings. Each blog post should be around 800-1000 words, depending on the topic, though I encourage some long-form content, too (2,000 words or more). 

The blog page itself should introduce what your blog is about and link to individual posts. Interlinking between blog posts and other pages like Services and About Us helps visitors find related content and keeps them exploring your site. After all, you want them to spend more time on your website to learn about you and how you can help their business.

5. FAQ Page

You may disagree with me on this one, but I strongly believe in the importance of the FAQ page. I recommend one to all new clients who don’t have one already. The FAQ Page addresses common questions and concerns potential clients may have and boosts your credibility. This page should be concise yet informative, with each question and answer pair being around 50-100 words. 

By including keywords in your answers, you help improve SEO and provide quick, valuable information to visitors. Plus, why not save everyone some time by answering some important questions right off the bat?

6. Contact Us Page

The Contact Us Page is where potential clients go to get in touch with you. It should include a contact form, your email address, phone number, and links to your social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, and Pinterest. Keep the text to around 300-500 words, ensuring it’s straightforward and easy to understand. 

This page is great for SEO as it provides location-based keywords, such as Copywriter in Woodbury, MN, and ensures search engines know how visitors can reach you. Interlinking to your About Us and Services pages can help visitors learn more before contacting you, making their overall experience smooth and informative.

Oh, and my new favorite addition to my Contact Us Page is the Book a Call option, which takes visitors directly to my Calendly page. This allows them to conveniently schedule time with me to discuss a project, scope out a blog, and more.

Those Value-Adds for a High-Quality Website

You might think that the six pages I mentioned above might be overkill for a new website. But, if you are going to spend the money on a basic site, adding another page or two will likely not break the bank. And trust me, you will want to add even more pages later. 

I just added a Partners Page to highlight the professional connections I can make for my clients. And I plan to add landing pages to dive deep into my service offerings later. As I said before, your website is an iterative process and you need to start somewhere. For me, having those six pages I mentioned above was non-negotiable. 

That said, a great small business website is about more than just having the right pages. It needs to be quality, with a capital Q. Here’s what your website needs and what poorly constructed websites typically lack.

1. Fast Page Load Speeds

In today’s fast-paced world, nobody has time to wait for a slow website to load. Ideally, your page load speeds should be under two seconds. Anything longer, and you risk losing potential clients who will simply move on to a competitor. And trust me, plenty of other content writers or copywriters are happy to take your business.

Fast load times improve user experience and make your website more appealing. Search engines love quick-loading sites, so it helps you get found more easily. Investing in good hosting and optimizing your images and scripts are key steps to ensure your site is lightning-fast.

2. High-Quality Imagery

People are visual creatures, and high-quality images can make a huge difference in how your website is perceived. Blurry or generic stock photos won’t cut it. Invest in professional photography and headshots regularly. If your budget doesn’t allow this upfront, go for high-quality stock images that truly represent your brand. 

Great imagery can attract visitors, keep them engaged, and make your content more memorable. Remember, the right pictures can tell your story better than words alone, so don’t skimp on this aspect.

3. Video Content

Video content is a fantastic way to engage your visitors and convey your message effectively. Whether it’s a short introduction about your business, client testimonials, or how-to guides, videos can make your site more dynamic and interesting. And if 88% of marketers are saying that video is a big part of their marketing strategy, it should be part of yours, too.

Videos keep visitors on your site longer, leading to higher conversion rates. Adding videos to your site can give you a competitive edge, as more people consume video content daily.

However, I know that video content is expensive. This year, I invested about $3,000 in candid (and not-so-candid) shots and two videos to help promote my business. You can find them on my website. I started with a short promotional video and a two-minute brand story video. And, I plan to make new videos every 12 to 18 months to further promote my copywriting and content writing business. Plus, I may even start creating my own videos—more to come soon.

4. Great Content

Content is king, as they say. Your website’s content needs to be clear, engaging, and well-written. And if you are a copywriter, this should be no problem. It’s about having informative text and using a tone that resonates with your audience. I like to write in a more conversational tone, almost like we’re together chatting away. You might prefer a more formal approach, or you’re a closet comedian, and your writing lets it all come out.

Whatever approach you take, high-quality content helps establish your authority in your field, builds trust with your visitors, and improves your SEO. Remember to keep your content fresh and updated regularly to keep people coming back and to maintain your search engine rankings. Shoot for a blog post on your new website at least once a week if you can. And yes, I know this is sometimes easier said than done.

5. Mobile-Friendly Design

With 60.67% of web traffic from mobile devices, a mobile-friendly design is no longer optional. Your website needs to look and function just as well on smartphones and tablets as on desktops. 

A responsive design helps your site adjust to different screen sizes and provides a better user experience regardless of the device. This makes your site more accessible to a wider audience and improves search engine rankings, as search engines prioritize mobile-friendly sites.

Don’t Make the Mistake That I Did: Skip Out on a Poorly Designed Website

There are so many things to consider as a small business owner, even if you are a team of one. These include general liability insurance, legal contracts, accounting software, hiring a great accountant, not prioritizing lead development, and so much more!

So, look for my next article—the need for a legal contract. Yep, that was my second mistake, and I’ll share all those insights with you soon.

If you need help with a great website for your small business, contact my partners at Suff Digital. Let them know I sent you. They’ll help you develop a website that you’ll be proud of. And if you need help with content, I’m here for you! Get some time on my calendar today.

PS… what do you think of my new website?

Leave a comment