Free Tools For Freelance Writers: Creating An Online Presence

by Alicia Sparks on September 22, 2011

I will exploit any opportunity I can to use images involving both computers and coffee.

Hi freelancer!

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:

  1. Creating a blog (for free).
  2. Buying a website but using free templates.
  3. 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:

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).

There are millions (exaggeration) of such sites out there, but the two I recommend are EzineArticles.com and HubPages.com.

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.

What Now?

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.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

James Dabbagian September 23, 2011 at 12:51 am

I’m not too fond of using free article repositories because of Panda. A better bet would be to guest post on several different blogs. That way, not only do you get the backlinks, you can say your work was approved on more popular blogs.

However, totally agree with the rest of the article. My current provider lets me pay per month, which lets me manage hosting bills better. 🙂

Alicia September 23, 2011 at 1:12 am

I think you’re talking more about using article marketing as a means to build back links, etc. to the person’s website. For these purposes, I’m talking more about using the directories as a means of getting one’s name out there – having a free place to display one’s work and begin building an online presence. In this sense, article directories are relevant despite the hesitance Panda has caused. Rather than back links, the focus (in this post) is the writer’s name, presence, and authority establishment.

Too, (for those purposes) they’re a lot easier to do than guest blog posts, as they don’t require contacting the blog owner, pitching the post, waiting for a reply, waiting for it to go live, etc. & for a freelance writer just starting out, that time is valuable, haha.

As a side note, Panda hasn’t caused quite the hell a lot of people fear. (I can still Google keyword phrases I used for a client two years ago, and see my/his Ezine and Hub articles on Google’s front page.) Have you read/watched any of Karon Thackston? (She’s the one who did the webinar that time I sent you a link to – been a few months ago.) Anyway, after the dust of Panda settled, she was quick to explain to everyone who was freaking out that article marketing isn’t just about building those back links – that well-written, quality articles submitted to article directories can still be seen, picked up, republished, interest potential customers, etc. (Check this out if you’re interested: http://youtu.be/9OquZSscGmY)

But, all that’s neither here nor there for this post: For freelance writers just starting out, sites like Ezine and Hub are solid, we’re-here-to-stay sites that allow them free space to display their writing skills, expertise, and bios, i.e., get their work out there 😉

Grace October 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Thank you, Alicia for these informative articles. I’m learning so much.

Trevor January 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Hi Alicia,
recently discovered your site and looking forward to reading more. Thanks.
Meanwhile, I am part of a small group of New Zealand creative writers who are trying to get short stories / first novels / etc out there.
Would you recommend the same approach or are there other options for creative writers?

Alicia Sparks January 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm

@ Grace – That’s so good to hear/read!

@ Trevor – I would recommend the blog and/or website (more sensibly, a combination of the two), but I wouldn’t recommend article distribution sites like Ezine and Hub – UNLESS the creative writer is teaching others about creative writing (in addition to writing his own stories). I’ll look more into this and dedicate a post to it. (I’ll update here when the post is up.)

Alicia Sparks January 20, 2012 at 12:14 am

@ Trevor (& anyone else interested) – The post for creating an online presence and boosting visibility (for creative writers) is up! http://wp.me/pykPf-iX

Tabitha March 20, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored to death at work so I
decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break.

I enjoy the information you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I
get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my
phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, very
good site!

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