Use a one-page website to promote your writing business15 Aug 2016 | by Scott Nesbitt
Some of you might remember the early days of the web. Back in the 1990s, most people didn’t have websites. They had home pages. Those home pages were single web pages containing personal information.
As the web expanded and more people started using it, their sites became more complex. Other web pages branched off their home pages, with each page focusing on a different topic. That concept carried over to the websites of businesses and freelancers.
Not a lot has changed in the intervening years. Sure, websites these days have a bit more visual panache, but the basic design and structure of a modern website is the same as it was in the 1990s. You usually land on a site’s main page, and click around to the other pages on the site.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. My own website follows that design, and has since day one.
Still, it’s a lot of clicking around to navigate a site like that. What if you want to 1) have a simple presence on the web, and 2) just focus on advertising your services? You don’t have to create a website with multiple pages. Instead, you can use a one-page website.
Just as it says on the tin, a one-page website (also called a single-page website) is a site that consists of a single page. That single page encapsulates everything a potential client needs to know about your freelance business.
The beauty of a one-page website is its focus. With a one-page website, you need to pare down your message, the information you’re presenting, and your marketing pitch to the essentials. Nothing more, nothing less.
A one-page website is great for potential clients. They have all the information they’re looking for in a single place. There’s no need for them to click around to find what they’re looking for.
On top of that, a one-page website is easy to maintain. You’re only dealing with a single HTML file somewhere on the web. You don’t need worry about broken links to missing something in the navigation.
I’ve been using a one-page website for my About.me-like page and it’s been effective in getting me a client or three. There’s no reason why you can’t use one for your freelance writing business. Or any other type of business.
If you want to see what good one-page websites look like, check out the examples at One Page Mania.
What to include on the page
That’s really up to you. Since you’re using a single web page, try to make sure it’s not cluttered. At the very least, you should think about including:
- A short introduction
- A brief bio
- The kinds of services you offer
- A way to contact you — either an embedded contact form or links to your social media accounts
What about samples and a price list or rate card? You can include a section of the page that lists your rates. Or, you can link to a PDF version of your rate card somewhere else on the web — for example, in a public folder in Dropbox.
As for samples of your work, I don’t recommend putting them on a one-page website. Doing that will clutter up the page. Instead, link out to some samples — either on Dropbox or where they were actually published.
Keep the copy short and tight
As I mentioned a bunch of paragraphs ago, you need to pare down the message and information you present on a one-page website to its essentials. Think in terms of between one and three short paragraphs per section of your site. Think in terms of short, concise sentences.
Don’t worry about adding details. Just give your visitors an overview of who you are and what you’re offering. Always remind them to contact you for more information.
How to build the site
There are several ways to do that. If you want to embrace your inner geek and learn a new skill, then hand crafting your own site could be the answer. You can either find a template and modify it to meet your needs, or build the site yourself. One way to do that is to use a framework. A framework is boilerplate that you can modify. It gives you the bare bones and structure of a site, which you can tweak as needed. One popular framework is Bootstrap, but there are a number of others too.
My one-page sites (actually, all my sites and blogs) were made using Jekyll. Jekyll does require you to get your hands dirty a bit, but once you get the hang of it, you can use Jekyll to quickly build your website.
If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can quicky get up and running with WordPress (or just about any blogging platform, for that matter). There are a number of one-page site themes for WordPress which are attractive and easy to set up. However, I find that WordPress is a bit overkill for a one-page website. Why? A one-page website should be simple to create and maintain. With WordPress, you’re constantly updating and having a database behind the site is a bit it much.
Still, you have choices. The choice of how you build your site is yours.
Make sure your site is responsive
Not everyone uses a desktop computer or laptop to access the web. Many people now use their phones or tablets. As you probably know from doing that, it can be difficult to navigate certain websites on smaller screens.
A responsive design adapts to the size of the screen it detects. When someone visits your site using a desktop or laptop computer, they get the full site. When they use a phone or a tablet, the design changes slightly (sometimes, more than slightly). The responsive design moves navigation out of the way, it resizes images, it makes the text bigger.
Many one-page templates and themes — for WordPress or for hand-made sites — are responsive out of the box. You should double check to ensure that the template or theme you’re using is actually responsive. If it isn’t, you’ll be making it difficult for some visitors to use your site.
A one-page website isn’t for everyone. It’s definitely not for every writer. But a one-page website can be an effective way to promote your writing business.Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.