Welcome to Day 2 of the 7-Day Mini Course, “Free Tools for Freelance Writers: Save BIG While Starting Your Writing Business.”
Today’s focus is on finding free ways to not only create your online presence, but also create your home base online, and one that establishes you as a serious working writer, no matter what stage in the freelance business game you’re in.
Remember: We’re not talking about social media, here. Yes, Twitter and Facebook and Google+ are free, but these things are sufficient enough to create a well-rounded, this-is-who-I-am online home.
Today, you have three options to consider:
- Creating a blog (for free).
- Buying a website but using free templates.
- Getting your work out there by creating a profile with HubPages, Ezine Articles, or a similar website (which I don’t recommend as a SOLE solution – read on).
Plus, seven freebies to check out!
Create A Blog For Free
Let’s just go out on a limb here and estimate there are 27,372,394 different free blog platforms available, shall we? Given that number (or, the real one, which is probably shy of 100), why would a freelance writer who doesn’t have the budget for things like a domain name and Web hosting do anything but use a free blog platform.
Perhaps the most popular and well-recognized free blog platforms are Blogger.com and WordPress.com. Other platforms (like LiveJournal and Tumblr) are just as popular (trust me – I love them!) but usually for their community-oriented nature and not their reputation for serving writers, editors, or other freelancers in any professional capacity.
Buy A Website
This actually means you must purchase a domain (a “www [dot] whatever [dot] com,” if you will, and the space to host it. Sounds pricey, but you can actually pay less than $100 a year for this and many providers (like mine) will send a bill once every three months.
Maybe you want to jump in feet first and purchase your own hosting space. That’s fine – some writers do (I think I’d been writing professionally for about three months before I said, “OK, I need my own space!”).
While it’s not possible to get free hosting (unless someone owes you a favor or, you know, you know someone), it is possible to decorate that space for free.
For example, most hosting plans automatically provide customers with content management system options like WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal. Lots of freelance designers, start-up design companies, and students create free templates for these systems to fine-tune their skills, build portfolios, and get their names out there.
Searching “free [wordpress/joomla/drupal] themes” will bring up an abundance of sites for you to peruse; however, to get you started, try:
- WordPress.org’s Free Theme Directory
- Joomla! Extensions (Joomla! Extensions includes templates, plugins, and other components, and some of them are free.
- Drupal.org’s Themes
Get Your Work Out There
Certain sites allow you to publish your own articles, retain rights to those articles, and help you get your name out there as a freelance writer (especially as a freelance writer with experience in a certain niche).
Both sites allow you to create your own profile (complete with photo, bio, and link back to your blog or website), and because they’re both HUGE sites, a little keyword knowledge (and A LOT of quality writing) could really move you up the search engine rankings and give you some solid experience in article marketing (a lucrative market, if you do it right).
I don’t recommend using either of these sites as your sole online base, but I do think it’s a good idea to use one or the other (or both if you wish) and link it back to your blog or website. Too, in addition to using your blog posts as writing clips, you can use your articles on these sites.
Spend some time looking over each option, deciding which one, or two, is right for you and which isn’t, and then move toward making it real.
Missed last week’s class? Head over to Free Tools For Freelance Writers: Word Processing.