Monday, September 7, 2009

30-Day Branding Challege Web Sites I like: Anne Ford

I spend a lot of time with my coaching clients talking about the need for a Web site. But when it comes to branding, it's not enough just to have a home page, bio, recommendations and clips. You need to have a site that presents you as a the kind of writer you want editors to know you are. And the best way to illustrate this is with examples. Today's is the first of what I hope will be a series of great examples of freelancers' brands. And if you have a recommendation of a Web site you love for writers, email it to me at heather at

[Full disclosure: Not only is Anne a fabulous freelancing colleague of mine, but she's a dear friend who's known me since my acid-washed jeans days in middle school. So I have great love for her as well as for her talent.]

Anne Ford is a freelance writer who excels at quirky, upbeat stories in the vein of This American Life. So when you land on her Web site, you want something that shows you that. What I love about her site is that she tells you that with so many words, but she also shows you that in the way her Web site is designed.

Land on her home page and you see a sunny picture of Anne, an bright and sunny orange-and-red color scheme with stylized flowers jutting up all around.

Visit her About page and you get a taste of her wit in the first line of her bio:
Writer or Nun: Those were the most memorable results of my high-school career aptitude test.
Her quips about being a decent square dancer and able to talk about highly-virulent strains of hospital-acquired infections--just not during dinner--give you the flavor of her writing and her personality.

And it goes on: The profiles she features meld well with her stated style, and even her health clips for a trade magazine--a genre not known for its adventurous voice--are even witty. And then she's got the recommendations that call her "an editor's dream" and say she "really knows what magazine writing is all about."

I don't have any money for her, but I'd hire her after reading her Web site.

This gets to a point about Web sites: You can't just say that you're a great writer--you have to show it on your site. I tell this to clients all the time. You want your Web site to read like your best article. It should:
  • Show off your writing style.
  • Illustrate your "voice" with the images and even colors you choose. Anne does this by choosing, bright, sunny colors to go along with her warm, sunny copy.
  • Back up your stated skills with clips that show it (and if you don't have any yet, clips that at least hint at your ability to follow through on your claims).
  • Provide testimonials that do the same--because editors will believe other editors before they believe you.
  • Be specific about what you excel at. Anne doesn't say she's great at investigative series, though I'm sure she could do one. That's not her chosen genre. She's specific and clear about what she likes to do and what she does with aplomb.
Thus, Anne leaves editors with a kernel of a vision of her before they call her or email her. She's planted herself in editors' brains without even talking to them. She now lives in them as a complete person and a professional. And her brand leads editors to believe that she's the right person for a specific type of story that Anne loves to write and at which she's an ace.

That's your goal. What can you do to bring it to life?

Photo © Charlie Simokaitis

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