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I'm a one man band freelance company and have been using Upwork to supplement my income. I do it part time as well as working full time as a contractor for a government department.

I want to start attracting clients without using Upwork. One way I thought about doing this was by improving my website with lots of content and technical blogs to attract traffic.

Then it got me thinking, does any business actually search web developmemt company in Google anymore? Also, if I focus a blog on technical articles ill get fellow devs visiting, not potential paying clients.

What is your experience?

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    I have dozens of clients and no website. You should focus on finding clients and doing good work. So new clients will start contacting you directly. – Peter MV Dec 9 '16 at 12:42
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    I have a website, but it's literally a blank page. More important is the email addresses on that domain. – Michael Hampton Dec 9 '16 at 17:04
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    I have not spent time on a website for my freelancing business and I'm doing pretty well, though perhaps I'd do even better if I had a good website. I'm more technical and less on the creative side of things so my work doesn't require a portfolio. So I'd say it depends on what you do. If it's design or even software dev, you probably should have a good website showing off what you can do and a portfolio. – Neil Anuskiewicz Sep 13 '18 at 19:15
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    People might not FIND you through your website but they'll decide whether to hire you partially based on it, especially in your line of work. Web Dev you need to make a good website a priority, I would think. – Neil Anuskiewicz Sep 13 '18 at 19:16
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In my experience, a website will - in itself - give you nothing.

Clients are only found by actively seeking them.

When you have lots of face time with a potential client, a website should make no difference. However, a website could be helpful as a supplement, as it allows a short chance encounter in which contact details were exchanged, to perhaps become a selling opportunity.

Having said that, if a website is created - who should it target? The technical professionals or the non-technicals who make hiring decisions? Targeting both is not always as simple as it sounds.

Finally, if you work with IT - especially programming - it could be viewed as strange if you have absolutely no web presence. That is actually the reason I have a very basic website with contact details, picture and CV/resume.

6

Since now I was very rarely contacted by clients that found me from my website, and consider that I am online with my website since 1996, each 1-2 years I renewed it making it tecnically and graphically up to date (being a web developer and designer, it should be an example of good design and efficiency), it responds well to keywords and have a good number of visits (thinking locally), even if my goal is not to have a huge amount of visitors. In fact I use my website as a portfolio to show to existing and potential clients example of my works, skills and competencies.

I always found new works to do by word of mouth by other clients, after the first times that I built a stable clients base, I was then always contacted (more or less frequently) by people who heard about me by other satisfied clients.

I would not base my business on the fact that I should be found on line for searches like "web developmemt company" because (right now) it outputs 71.900.000 results, and you will be one on 71.900.000, there is a very far chance that someone will contact you by that method, unless you will optimize the site to be found in your area, and even when you will succeed in that, it will also depends on how many other similar companies you have around, for example I am not a in big city and I have around 8 web companies within a 5km of radius, and other 30 (with some of them important web agencies) within a 25km of radius from me.

In my opinion, to find a stable base of clients is more important to be known in your area as a reliable professionist that people can trust, rather than spend weeks of work in writing blogs etc to make traffic and then play dog eat dog game in the search engines results and rankings.

By the way to have a simple good looking, efficient, up to date website with portfolio, CV and other useful info, is a must.

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    Worth noting that a decent amount of effort should still be spent on a website if you aim to maintain one, as a potential client who does his research will likely stumble upon it. A poor website can lead to the client asking themselves: "If they're not prepared to put effort into their own work, why would they be prepared to put in the effort for me?" – lewis Dec 9 '16 at 10:17
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    @lewis in fact my post ends with "By the way to have a simple good looking, efficient, up to date website with portfolio, CV and other useful info, is a must." :) I spent too days of work in making my own site more and more times. – Mario Dec 9 '16 at 11:22
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Just my experience, but here's what a web site actually does for you in most instances:

  • It will lend credibility to you (or your company) if it is not too generic. If the site looks like a template or just some random stock photo infused script, it won't help as much as it will hurt. It needs to be personable and unique.
  • It may provide uncertain clients a place to view your work.
  • It may help past (or existing) clients find you if they've lost your contact info.
  • It provides you server space so you can send clients link to items they need. (It looks more professional, in my opinion, if you use your own domain rather than drop box or hightail, etc.)

That's about it.

Now, if you want to invest a whole bunch of time into beefing up a site with tech blogs and articles, etc. then you may be able to swing in some ad revenue if traffic increases enough. But that can be a lot of work for little return unless you build a go-to site that is very unique. Realize in this day and age any new site is going to struggle against sites that have been around for a decade unless there's a very unique pull. And (as morsor answered) who do you target? Clients? Other professionals? You won't get work from other professionals and there's just so much client-focused content you can create before a site just looks like an ad-revenue site, and thus unappealing to clients.

One thing my experience has shown me is that my web site has never gotten me any work. At best, I'll get a contact form submission from some random person wanting a quote without providing any information and when asked for more info, they don't have any. So, essentially wasting my time. I haven't updated my web site in about 8 years. Yes it needs an update. However, it still appears fairly modern and is still very functional, so updating it hasn't been a pressing matter. I have too much paying work to worry about my own web site. In fact, I've considered hiring someone to update my own web site because it's such a low priority for me.

Make no mistake, a web site is must. And it has to be functional and appealing. But I just don't feel mine has ever pulled in any client. I get clients 95% of the time via word-of-mouth. (I've never used any freelance marketing website).

The competition online for an online business is rough. Just imagine trying to compete with eBay or Amazon... well that's essentially what any "web development" site is going to do... but worse since web dev is web dev and SEO, tricks of the trade, etc., are known by all the top competing businesses in the field. Coming to the game late (2016/17) just means there's ground you'll never make up unless you have a team of dedicated workers all striving to overcome existing top-ranked search results.

In short, forget about trying to compete online. Just make a nice web site.. then focus your marketing efforts elsewhere.

  • how did you get those first clients for word of mouth? I've got a few good ones but no referral work yet and need to find more. – Joel Wigton Dec 13 '16 at 18:47
3

Your website is only crucial, but a single component of your clients' the overall buying journey.

Here's what your client's journey should look like:

  1. They hear about you from a previous client of yours and want a website too.
  2. They look you up and look at your work, read your blog articles, etc.
  3. Everything on your site, social media profiles, Dribbble page, etc shows the quality of your work as well as the fact that you are a creative professional.
  4. Your prospective client goes from kind of thinking about hiring you, to getting in touch with you to hire you ASAP.

Here are some things your website should include:

  • Your Work (duh.)
  • What you offer, and who you offer it to (niche down!)
  • A personal bio about you
  • A blog that covers all about the process of what you do, and how to do it.

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