Do you want a successful writing career?
Stupid question, right? Of course you do.
We all do. We want clients that pay thousands for every project, a steady flow of work and the ability to work from wherever and whenever we want.
But there’s a problem.
You might want these things and you probably have the ability to achieve them, but if you’re anything like the majority of freelancers out there you’ve no idea how to get them.
Too many wannabe writers buy into the bullshit you read about freelancing. Those awful articles explaining how you can build an empire whilst sat at home in your pyjamas, the ludicrous fallacy of ‘if you can write, you’ll eventually find success’ and other tired, damaging tropes.
The truth is, finding success as a freelancer is hard. It’s less about your ability to write and more about your ability to market your skills and build a business.
If you’re determined to make this work, this is the first mindset shift you need to make.
You are not a writer. You’re a business.
And whats the one thing every single modern, successful business has?
Whether a brick and mortar store, software as a service or eCommerce shop, every modern business needs to have a website. And so do you.
A professional writer’s website or portfolio is the foundation on which you’ll build your freelance career. You don’t need it for the same reason as many of the above examples, but having a professional writer’s website is imperative as it:
- Gives you an online space to display your writing clips and portfolio which…
- Gives you a more professional veneer
- It allows potential clients to find you through the Google search engine results
- They can also find you through the author bio you’ll have on well placed guest posts
A writer’s site is the absolute minimum for a successful freelance career. It’s your headquarters, the central hub to which you’ll link all other marketing efforts.
The good news, you can have your very own writer’s website up and running within 10 minutes.
Why You Should Use WordPress
WordPress. The platform of the blogger.
You might think this is all it’s good for. Setting up your own niche blog to cater to a small segment of people or simply journal your antics from last weekend’s night out.
But it doesn’t have to be.
For your purposes, WordPress is one of the best options out there.
Choosing the Right Hosting Service
WordPress sites come in two varieties:
- WordPress hosted
- Self hosted
WordPress hosted sites are those ones that have a URL that looks like [domain].wordpress.com.
These are useless for your needs. Because it’s hosted by WordPress you’re limited in what you can do with the site. It doesn’t offer the customisation or freedom you need to effectively run a business.
You need to self host your site which requires you to purchase a hosting package.
There’s a huge selection of hosting providers out there and, if I’m being honest, I don’t find there to be much difference between them.
Most writers and bloggers will shamelessly plug the service provider of their choice at this point in an effort to get one of those lovely little referral commissions.
Problem is, this leads to there being dozens of different recommendations and claims that their service is the best on the internet.
If you’re setting up a simple writer’s website or blog to attracting clients, a fraction of a second in load times or some other minor difference won’t kill your career.
Most of the big service providers out there will easily handle your needs and are unlikely to give you any problems. After checking a number of different recommendations most independent writers seem to use Hostgator (who host this site), Bluehost or Westhost.
Stick with one of those three and you shouldn’t have any problems.
As I’ve just mentioned I use Hostgator (here comes the plug, right :)). I’m sure the other companies are good, but I’ve only ever used Hostgator.
Why have I only ever used Hostgator? Because I’ve never had a problem. Below are some of the reasons I’ve not had to switch service providers.
- One click WordPress install – I had the basic blog up and running in less than a minute.
- 24 hour live text chat (I’ve had a few questions that have all been worked through within 30 minutes of asking).
- Price – A starting price of $4.86 per month ain’t bad at all.
- Downtime – I’ve had one instance in over the last few years where my site was down. It was down for a grand total of 10 minutes. Not ideal, but 10 minutes over a couple of years is pretty damn good.
- 45 Day Money Back Guarantee – If you’re not happy you can get a full refund.
Of course I’d prefer for you to choose Hostgator as I get one of those lovely aforementioned affiliate commissions.
You’ll also get 25% off if you pop in the coupon code haveaword25 on signup.
However, if you’d rather go with another provider then make sure that you choose one of the large service providers like Bluehost or Westhost.
Now, enough of the product plugs and introductions and on to the actual setting up of your website. Before we get onto the walk-through steps here’s what you’ll need.
- Around $15-$20 for domain registration and your first months hosting
- Five to ten minutes to walk through this method
That’s it! Great, right?
Step One – Find Your Domain Name
This is going to be the name of your website. What all of your clients see when you hand them your business card or when searching for a writer on Google.
So make it good!
Come up with something that’s personal to you, easy to remember and easy to verbalise. I learned the hard way that hyphens are difficult to explain over the phone.
Check around to see if it’s free. Once you’ve settled on something you’re happy with move on to step 2.
Step 2 – Registering Your Domain
Head on over to the Hostgator home page and you’ll see the below. Click on the big orange button to ‘get started now’.
After clicking you’ll be taken to a page that looks like the below.
If you’re only registering one website then the hatchling plan should be perfectly adequate.
You’ll now be faced with a long page that requires you to fill in a huge amount of information. Work your way through until you hit section 4, which should look like the below.
If you ask me, all of the above are a waste of cash. Here’s why:
Sitelock – I’ve not heard great things about this. I’ve also heard it’s primarily aimed at eCommerce stores. If you’re not accepting payments over your site then it’s not needed.
Constant Contact – If you want a good email tool use MailChimp. It;s free for up to 2000 subscribers or 12000 emails a month. don’t waste money here.
Google Apps – You’ll set up an email address with the site. You can then link this to any good email service. This is not a necessary purchase.
CodeGuard – Just not necessary in my opinion
Search Engine Visibility – From what I’ve heard, purchasing this does little to increase your placement in the SERPs.
Uncheck all of these options, fill in your details and complete the registration.
Congratulations. you’re now the proud owner of your own website.
Step 3 – Installing WordPress
The penultimate stage is to actually install WordPress on your site.
Head to (and bookmark) your c-panel screen by typing www.[yourdomain].com/cpanel into your browser.
You’ll be asked to log in with the details you used when registering before being directed to a screen full of options.
You can ignore most of these options. All you need to do is scroll down the ‘software and services’ section to click on the ‘quick install’ button.
That will bring up the below page. Wait until it loads and click on ‘install WordPress’.
There’s a bunch of options on this next page but you only need the free option. Click on the box I’ve highlighted in red in the below image.
Follow the instructions and you’ll have your own WordPress site up and running in minutes.
Once that’s all done type the below into your URL bar and you’ll be taken to the WordPress dashboard where you can get started writing, designing or whatever it is you want to do with your new site.
Setting up your writer’s website is the first mandatory step in creating a profitable writing career. If you’ve not yet taken this step then do yourself a favour.
Head over to Hostgator right now and follow this guide. It will be the most beneficial step you can take as a freelancer.
If you’re not sure where to go from there or have any questions relating to WordPress plugins or themes, just drop a comment below or shoot me an email.
Also published on Medium.