by Joyce Chung
In 2023, it pays (sometimes literally) to have an online presence, whether you’re working as a freelance editor, considering a freelance career, or looking to showcase your portfolio. With so many resources and guides available, it should be easy to set up a website, but even knowing how to start can be confusing. Here’s one process I found helpful.
Setting up a website is as much of a creative process as it is a logistical one. Take some time to look up sites created by editors in your network whose services are similar to your own.
When you’ve gathered intel on the landscape of freelance editing sites, begin ideating your brand. Compile samples, screenshots, and images that scream “you.”
Copy it down
Once you have an idea of the online presence you want, start writing the copy for your website. Consider who your target audience is, and what their problems might be. Then, prepare content for the following pages at the very least:
- About – Tell your potential client who you are and why they should hire you as their editor. Be confident! Explain what sets you apart, whether that’s your mission, years of experience, or editorial niches.
- Services and rates – Describe the editing you do and the types of documents you edit. Explain how your services can address your potential client’s pain points, making sure to loop in your relevant editorial skills.
- Contact – Make it easy for your clients to reach out to you. On your contact page, provide your email address and a contact form where they can send you an initial inquiry.
You can also include your portfolio and testimonials, as long as you have permission to include your previous work, or if it’s within the public domain.
Explore your website options
Full knowledge of HTML isn’t required to set up a website. Today, there are multiple website creators that can help you put together a visually appealing and customizable site. According to MAC Digital, these are four of the most popular ones:
- WordPress has been serving bloggers and web-savvy professionals since 2003. Its low cost, ease of use, and good fit for blogging have stood the test of time, but as an open-source platform, it may be attractive to hackers (nothing that can’t be fixed with a security plugin).
- Webflow is another popular choice for clean code, search engine optimization (SEO), and the option to seek aid through resources, forums, and customer support. That said, without a mobile app available, you will only be able to make changes to your site through your desktop or laptop.
- Wix offers an easy-to-use platform, automatic site backup, and built-in artificial design intelligence. Note that users have reported slower loading speeds on their mobile devices. Site owners have also experienced challenges when they made updates to their templates.
- Squarespace promises visually stunning web design, a mobile-friendly interface, and generous page counts. However, watch out for a slower page loading speed and the absence of an autosave function.
A Google search can reveal more choices that may better suit you and your needs. The most important criteria to consider when choosing your system is whether it will be exciting and easy for you to use.
Have fun building your site
Once you have your copy and website creator of choice, put your site together! Consider adding the following elements:
- A theme – Like a style guide, pick a font, colour scheme, and layout, and stick with them. Not only does having a theme reinforce your brand, but it also makes your site more cohesive. (Hint: make sure your viewers can read your content. Try a colour contrast checker to improve your web accessibility.)
- A logo – A logo is another win for brand consistency. It can be as simple as text or an illustration. Feel free to outsource your logo creation if you’re feeling fancy.
- A photo – A photo can create confidence that a real human is on the other side of the page. If you’re camera shy, linking your social media pages is another way to lend that human touch.
Make sure to preview your site to see what it would look like to a potential visitor. Remember to preview it on mobile as well, since there’s a not-so-slim chance that your clients may find you while scrolling on their phones.
Ask for feedback
As editors, we’re used to being everyone else’s second pair of eyes, but before letting your website go live, ask another person to navigate your site. Even if they aren’t a UX (user experience) professional, they can still provide valuable insight by showing you how the average visitor might interact with your site.
Ideally, your goal is to lead your viewers from your homepage to your services, and then to your contact information in a short amount of time, so ask for feedback with that trajectory in mind.
If you want to find out more about UX principles, check out the Laws of UX.
Claim your domain name
When you’re ready to publish your website, register for a domain name. A domain is the unique name of a website (think “https://editorstorontoblog.com”). There are multiple sites that can help you purchase a domain, and your website creator may even give you the option to set one up within the platform itself.
Consider also setting up an email address with a domain that matches your website’s. Google offers business email accounts and the option to activate Gmail for your editing service’s workspace.
Once your website has been launched, take a moment to celebrate, but don’t leave it at that. Even with ultra-optimized SEO, your website will likely sit in a vacuum until the rest of the world knows it exists. So, tack your URL onto your LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or social media account of choice, and don’t forget to add it to your ODE (Editors Canada’s Online Directory of Editors) profile if you have one.
Joyce Chung (she/her, they/them) is a copy editor from Vancouver and the owner of HoneyQuill Editing.
This article was copy edited by Keith Goddard, the editor-in-chief of BoldFace.