Throughout my career, I’ve heard this question a LOT. Do writers need a website to be successful?
Some writers say, “Yes, it’s impossible for anyone to find you without one.” Others will respond, “Portfolios are fine; it’s what I’ve been doing.”
So, what’s the answer when a writer is launching their career and have no idea which way to turn? Let’s take a look.
What Should a Writer’s Website Have?
Every writer’s website is going to be different. The main reason is that not all writers are going to offer the same services, write about the same thing, or have the same personality. However, the “bones” of the website will be similar.
For example, you may find these elements:
Some writers expand these offerings, however. If they have free ebooks, resources they love, or books they’ve written, then those will be featured in the menu. If they’ve written guides or have a newsletter, you’ll also find links to those materials.
Does all of this make your mind want to explode a little bit? That’s okay. You’re not alone.
Maybe Start with a Blog?
If a website seems like too big of an undertaking, maybe consider launching a blog? That’s what I did when I was thinking about which way I should go initially. I didn’t know what I could offer on a website, but I wanted a “presence” for my writing business. I had experimented with small websites in the late 90s, but the idea of developing one for my business was a little too overwhelming at first.
Once I wrote on that blog and got comfortable with the routine, it didn’t take me long to figure out the value of having a writer’s website. I knew many others who had them and what I needed to do to have one, so it was just a matter of launching. I experimented with a few different models before I finally landed on what I have today.
What Would the Blog be About?
If you decide to launch a blog, it doesn’t necessarily have to be about writing. It’s a “go-to” topic for a lot of writers, including myself, because we’re comfortable writing about what we know (or career). However, if you want to create a niche blog, many successful writers are doing this to attract clients.
You can launch it as part of your business website (here’s a good example), or you could create one without a site if you choose. Some writers have decided to launch lifestyle blogs that are separate from their writing business (here’s a good example) –BUT — it links to their business in the “About” section. As you can see, there are options, and the choices are limitless.
What if a blog still seems like too much? That’s okay, too! Some writers have too much on their plate to maintain much more than the queries and assignments they’re sending and receiving.
Did you mention Something About a Portfolio?
Many writers prefer having portfolios instead of maintaining websites or managing blogs. When using portfolios, the only thing the writer has to do is update it each time they have a new clip. Some examples include:
· ClearVoice — this one also has opportunities for writers.
· eByline — I have a small portfolio here and, as a result, found five leads.
· Journo Portfolio
· LinkedIn — I’ve been using this one for years and, so far, I’ve liked it the best.
· Muck Rack — I just found this one.
· nDash.co — there are also opportunities for writers here, as well.
· SkyWord — I used to get a lot of leads through here, but not for years.
What Does All of This Mean?
Ultimately, you’re going to have to navigate the waters of your career to determine the best course. What do you have time for right now? If you can manage a website without it being too overwhelming, check out those possibilities. If not, then consider what you can do with a blog. You may find that managing a blog right now may take up more time than you can manage and, if that’s the case, then look at the benefits of maintaining a portfolio.
The bottom line, what all of this means is, writers should have some kind of online presence. That way, potential clients can have a point of reference. You’ll find this is especially useful when you’re sending out queries or writing applications and potential clients request a link to a portfolio, website, or samples. If you have these materials ready, you won’t find yourself scrambling or not know what to do.