When Freelancers Don't Need a Website

David Hicks is known in Ottawa for his ALL_CAPS twitter account. He made a couple products and put them up for sale. He says the mayor thinks he’s angry.

He makes a living as a freelancer, his Instagram account says that he’s a “Wordpress and Shopify (and other things) developer for hire.”

You’d figure he’d have a website with links to his online store. His Twitter and Instagram accounts, with his freelance service offerings and surely, with a link to a portfolio of his best hits…

But his website, brandbot.ca, shows this:

screenshot of brandbot.ca, showing just an image of a bot

I talked to him about his website. “I’m guessing you just concluded that your website just doesn’t matter”, I said.

His reply went something like:

I used to have a website four years ago but I was getting all kinds of bad leads. And when you have a website you have to keep it up to date and all, and to set it up you have to put 40 or 50 hours into it and I guess I’ve been too busy with work to justify it.
Sometimes it’d be nice to have a portfolio up, but I just end up showing the sites I’ve worked on to the people who ask.
So it’s been like this all these years and now it’s a bit of a running joke.

David gets his work mostly from past clients and from word of mouth. Evidently, so far that’s been good enough. He’s still pretty active on social media, and he still does networking, and that’s good enough.

David doesn’t need a website for his freelance business. Maybe you don’t either.

Firing Your Generic Website

Maybe your Typical Generic Freelancer Website™ hasn’t been sitting well with you for the last while. Maybe you’re done with the “here’s what I’m good at, here are some blog posts, here’s how to contact me.”

If that’s the case, here are a few ways to “fire” that type of website and what you could be “hiring” instead.

  1. Leave a mark. There’s something else to David’s site we haven’t mentioned. It may be empty, but it’s memorable. Have something that gets people talking.
  2. Show proof elsewhere. Find a spot on the web where you can have a stream of the smallest things you can build that show your skills, and publish something every week or every day. Small SVG animations. Neat effects with CSS. JavaScript snippets. Copywriting before and afters.
  3. Be remarkably helpful on forums. Invest all the time you’d spend building a website into reading comments and threads and helping out people online.
  4. Point to other people so they get the attention. Use your website to highlight other people’s work you respect. Be a curator for other people’s “art”. Don’t make it a blog format, just change the “art” on a regular basis and make people type in your address to not miss out.

Or, if you really want to stick with a freelancer website, consider making your website intentionally showcase a sharp value-ladder of offerings, targetting a global market.

While you get enough work from word-of-mouth from your current (local) clients, now’s a good time to make website that’ll attract a certain global but very niche market that’ll pay off over the long run.

That’s going to be the topic of next week’s article: the difference between local and global markets on one hand, and the difference between winner-take-all and open-gates markets on the other.

Stay Sharp!


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