Sunday, June 29, 2008

Six Ways to Build Credibility on Your Website

As a web writer, your website is your storefront. And it's out there online with millions of other websites advertising the services of your competitors. When clients find you, often the first thing they see is a website. And even though the Internet is a crucial marketplace for freelancers--so many of us work almost exclusively online now--it's often difficult for prospects to trust you with their business based on your website alone.

If you can inspire trust on your website, you'll generate more business from the site--and have to do less work reaching clients in other ways. Here are five powerful ways to build trust and attract business online.

Testimonials. Testimonials do a lot to build trust. When a prospect sees a list of quotes from previous clients raving about your work, they're much more likely to be interested in your services. Of course, to get a testimonial from a client you often have to ask--and some of us just don't. To ensure you gather as many as possible, make a testimonial request part of your regular project routine. Whenever you complete a project with a client, ask for a testimonial and send a short questionnaire over. A list of ten or so testimonials will do wonders for your business.

Case studies. Case studies are an excellent way to show prospects exactly how you help your clients. Pick a few projects that went particularly well, and write long articles on them--complete with client quotes. Your case studies should demonstrate the problem the client had, any special challenges that came with the project, and exactly how you solved the client's problem and met those challenges. Display them on your site for prospects to read, or include them in your regular e-zine if you have one.

Portfolio descriptions. Porfolio descriptions work the same way case studies do; they're just shorter. Next to each sample in your online portfolio, write up a brief description of what the client needed and how you provided a solution. These don't have to be long--a paragraph or two will do. The idea is to write a small story giving prospects a behind-the-scenes peek at how you help clients solve their problems--and how you can help them solve theirs.

A client list. A list of your previous clients is always a good way to show you have experience. If you've worked with any nationally recognized businesses, that's great--but even without a few famous names up there, a list of previous clients will show that you've got a long work history in a specific industry or across several industries.

Focus on results. Results sell. If you have clients who give you testimonials that tell about a result your writing got for them--they closed a deal in record time; they have an enormous boost in traffic; sales are through the roof--hang on to those. Those are your most valuable testimonials. Put them in a prominent place and make sure all your prospects see them. Emphasize your results in your website copy, as well. If your articles often go viral; if a client once got so much traffic from your content that the server crashed; or if your clients regularly tell you your writing helped sales--those are definitely powerful selling points to emphasize in your copy.

Write a blog. Blogs build credibility because they get your name out there and showcase your expertise. There's also something about being published; even if it's on a blog, people assume you're the voice of authority. If you're known in your industry's blog circuit, your profile is higher and people will believe you're an expert in your field.

My current website doesn't do much to build my credibility. Not to worry--all that will change soon. All of these techniques can do the work of selling for you, if they're used right. And that's good news for your business.


Lillie Ammann said...

These are things I advise my clients to do ... but haven't done a very good job of myself. My own Web site is like the cobbler's children without shoes - I keep putting off doing anything about it because I'm too busy with client work. Maybe your advice will motivate me to schedule some time for my own site.

Mark Wiehenstroer said...

Good post Jennifer - especially with regards to measurable, quantifiable results based on feedback from your customers.
"My current website doesn't do much to build my credibility."
I'll second that and look forward to seeing what you come up with for your new site. Do you know approximately when your new site will launch?

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome list and can't wait to see the up and coming new website. Congrats!

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

I've recently begun a redesign of my own professional website and you offered some fantastic point I need to keep in mind. I made some notes. *winks*

I'm looking forward to seeing your plans for your own online business card (website) come to fruition. Feel free to drop me an email if you'd like help with any web design aspect. One of my own, presently unremarked talents that I'll be turning the focus with redesign is wordpress theme and web design. :-)