WordPress Landing Pages for Your Freelance Business
For anyone who wants to build a business online and start generating some income, there are basically two main paths to take: (1) passive income in the form of digital products, affiliate sales, ads, etc., and (2) active income, usually being done on a freelance basis.
Although active income is the less sexy of the two, it’s also the more dependable one. For instance, the whole idea of passive income relies on your ability to keep driving large number of visitors to your sites every day. And it’s best if those visitors are first time visitors too. That’s because in that case, you can expose them to your offers and sell them either something of your own or send them over to an affiliate product they’ve likely never seen before.
Active income, on the other hand, is all about finding a client and then doing work for them actively – as a freelancer. Now, the thing with freelancing is that most clients want and need to hire someone for the long haul to take care of a number of tasks for them on a regular basis.
In the end, what this means is that with active income, you don’t need that many leads and clients. Actually, you can make a living online having just a handful, and sometimes even just one or two really good clients will be enough.
This makes freelancing a much more attainable method of making money for most people than going after passive income. And most importantly, you can get started right away.
However, you still need to find a way to grab your prospective client’s attention and convince them to reach out to you … or let them give you the permission to reach out to them (probably a more effective approach). We’re going to explain how to get this done with WordPress in the next couple of minutes.
Landing pages for freelancers vs. WordPress
Right off the bat, let me admit that WordPress is awesome. It provides a great deal of content management features, it’s optimized, fast, and gives you the possibility to extend the native functionality endlessly through myriads of plugins.
That being said, it’s not particularly great when it comes to landing pages.
The main downside is that the default structure of a WordPress page isn’t compatible with the core rules of building a landing page. Let’s run through just three of them quickly to get the general picture:
- Good landing page provides the visitor with just one point of action. This means that when a visitor comes to your landing page, they should only be able to either take the action you want them to take, or leave the page entirely. WordPress doesn’t make this easy because there are usually tens of links on a standard page built with WordPress (e.g. menu links, footers, sidebar links, etc.).
- Good landing page is distraction free. You really want to focus the visitor’s attention on what you’re offering and not on things like sidebars, headers, or footers.
- Good landing page should be accessible on all possible devices. Although the idea of responsiveness is popular among most WordPress developers, still not all WordPress themes are optimized for mobile viewing. This is a big problem, especially since these days, 65 percent of internet users globally go online via mobile phones (2013 data).
Long story short, in order to create a good landing page on WordPress, we need to somehow overcome these problems. So to do this, we’ll start by creating a simplified checklist of the characteristics that our landing page needs to have. I’m also going to refer to this checklist as “Checklist 1” from now on:
- Get rid of the sidebar. Sidebars are just unneeded distraction. We want to focus the visitor’s attention in the center part of the page.
- Get rid of the footer. For the same reason as above
- Use only minimal header. For the same reason as above
- Use distraction-free and simple design. Erase everything that’s just a design candy and doesn’t do anything for the actual goal of the page.
- Make the logo un-clickable. Remember, we want for the visitor to either take your desired action or leave the page.
Applying this to freelancing
A landing page for a product will always look somewhat differently than a landing page where you attempt to convince a prospective client to hire you directly.
You still need to present the benefits coming from your offer, the features, answer all the “whats” and “hows” and make it very clear for the visitor why they would want to reach out to you and possibly take you up on your offer.
So that’s all very similar to how you’d build a landing page for a product. There are some differences though.
First of which is that on a freelancer’s landing page there’s no need for a “buy now” button that requires any immediate investment. Very few people will be immediately willing to invest in your services without talking over their specific needs and goals.
It’s very uncommon for a prospective client to just want to hire you no matter what. Further selling off-page almost always needs to be done, hence there’s no need for a “buy now” button. Instead, go with something softer. For instance, use an opt-in form where the client can leave their contact data for you to follow up.
This can be done easily with MailChimp, for example. All you need is a free account. MailChimp will give you a piece of embed code, which you can place anywhere on your landing page.
Then, once you have the client’s info, you can follow up with them either directly via email or with the help of a platform like Bidsketch (something I stand by). It gives you a handy proposal creation tool and then takes care of sending it out and tracking the outcomes. The guys over at Bidsketch.com also provide a nice set of resources that let you in on their proposal writing secrets.
In the end, the elements I’d advise you to have on your landing page (and also the elements I have on mine) are as follows:
- Good headline that gets attention and presents the #1 benefit of working with you.
- Some proof on why you’re the person to handle the client’s projects.
- Quick intro on who you are and what you do.
- The services you offer and what benefits they provide.
- An opt-in form and a call to action.
- Examples of your work.
Now to the actual ways of building an awesome landing page with WordPress:
Solution #1: Creating a minimized custom page template.
Custom page templates are a mechanism in WordPress that allows you to alter the appearance of a standard WordPress page. Whenever you’re creating a WordPress page, you get to choose the template that the page should use:
The standard list features the page templates that came with the theme you’re currently using. However, you can create your own templates too. We’re going to use this opportunity to create a simplified version of a page that can serve as a landing page.
Note. To carry this out, you will need to feel fairly confident with HTML code and editing PHP files by hand.
The simplest way to create your own landing page template is to follow these steps:
- Make a copy of the php file of your theme and name it page-landing.php, for example.
- Edit the file and add this line at the very top: <?php /* Template Name: Landing Page */ ?>
- Go through the Checklist 1 above and make sure to take care of each element (get rid of the sidebar, and so on).
- Save the file and upload it to your theme’s main directory via FTP.
At this point, your template is ready and you can use it when building your next landing page, like so:
Solution #2: Use a plugin
There’s a WordPress plugin for everything these days, and that’s a great thing! However, with landing pages, there seems to be only one worthwhile free plugin out there. It’s called WordPress Landing Pages.
It’s relatively easy to use and even lets you in on some cool split testing functionality. There are also some built-in templates available, so you can experiment a bit to find what works best in your scenario.
The only reason I didn’t include it higher on the list is because there are a few negative reviews and people reporting that the plugin doesn’t work with all themes and WordPress installs. It’s certainly worth trying out though.
Okay, so there you have it! In this post, I’ve shown you:
- Checklist 1 for things you need to do with a standard WordPress page to make it landing page compatible,
- 6 elements of a good landing page for a freelancer,
- 4 specific solutions on how to build your final landing page.
I hope this has been helpful, and don’t hesitate to let me know what’s your current solution for landing pages and getting freelance gigs.
Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a blogger and writer, published author, and a blogger at Bidsketch.com (delivering easy-to-use proposal software for writers and other creatives). Make sure to check us out for exclusive resources and on-point advice created by people who have been in the client proposal business for years.