Do writers need Web sites. In my opinion, if you're searching for work on
the Internet then yes. But why, I hear you ask?
When I decided to get serious about my freelance career, I spent
considerable time researching Internet resources while planning my marketing
strategy. Would there be enough work on the Internet to sustain my
existence? Or would I have to resort to a print marketing campaign to get
the word out? Given that e-mail is cheaper than paper and postage, the
Internet seemed a good option. So, I built a Web site, which, I expect to
work for me on three levels.
First of all, it 'looks' good to have a Web address. And they're as
commonplace as telephone and fax numbers in Author Interviews these days.
Therefore, in terms of projecting a savvy image, a Web site is invaluable
for providing another way for a potential client to reach you.
Secondly, a Web site can be a showcase. If you have clips then uploading
them to your site is a quick way for clients to see what you're capable of.
If you're just beginning, it's a chance to present some material. Yes
clients look for published work, but they also appreciate good writing.
Depending on your HTML skills, a Web page can let you show off photography
you may have taken. Being able to take a photo if needed is a great skill
for the intrepid reporter. I have a few photos in my clip file I'm
particularly proud of - one being a rather fetching close-up of a Highland
cow, featuring front page of a Sunday supplement. Said cow now features in
the Clips section on my Web site.
Another aspect to 'showmanship' is employers often request clips as text
only. No attachments, nothing fancy. It's rather sad to see your official
newspaper clips reduced to bare text, with no formatting. I'm often tempted,
as are others, to attach a little jpeg or pdf file to show how my work
'really looked'. Nevertheless, you have to respect the potential employers'
wishes. So, with the text, I paste the URL of the better-presented piece,
knowing that the employer may also want to see a better layout. It's easier
for the client to click a hotlink to a Web page than to open another program
to see my work (Big hint: Make it easy for the client).
Finally, once established, a Web site can provide secondary income to your
actual writing. You might decide to publish a weekly column and set up an
e-mail list of subscribers. With enough subscribers on your list,
advertisers WILL want to pay you to reach your audience. Or you get a book
accepted by a publisher . well of course you'll want to sell a few copies
from your site.
Of course, not everyone has Web design skills, or planned a Web presence in
their budget (which, in my case was about $0.00). But do not be deterred.
You don't need to register a domain name though it does help. A domain name
looks better than a long URL and you have an e-mail address that stays the
You can also choose to use space on another domain name -- often a far
cheaper option than getting your own domain and paying server-hosting fees.
If you really, really can't put an HTML page together (and with the software
packaged with the major browsers, it's easy to make simple pages), consider
trading services with a budding designer. Only the other night on an e-mail
list I subscribe to, a Web designer requested help with writing a press
release. She couldn't afford to pay anyone to write it, and would happily
have traded HTML services for a well-written release.
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