Creating a Web Site for a Technical Writer
For a tech writer, creating a web site is a sort of online resume. You can use this as something for potential clients to look at once you've established contact in some other way. Invite them to see your web site, and they will get an impression, hopefully good, of both your experience and your writing and design abilities.
Web Hosting, Domains, and Software
There are companies out there who will help you design a web site. But as a tech writer, there's no reason you can't do it yourself. Find a domain (use your business name or as close to it as you can get) and a hosting service, get yourself some web design software (e.g. FrontPage, Dreamweaver, Flash, etc.) to do the work (unless you're a Notepad diehard and want to code your HTML by hand), and show the world what you can do. See our Links page for some ideas.
Designing your site
Your goal in designing a web site like this is to think of it as an introductory brochure. Keep it professional, leave out the personal photos and the story about your dog, and keep the design simple and clean unless your specialty is graphics-heavy interactive design using Flash or whatever. Remember that your primary audience will include people who don't know, and don't care, about the details of tech writing tools that you've used. They've got business needs that they want to know if you can help them with.
Samples and project summaries
What you want is a summary of the kinds of projects you can do - since this isn't an actual resume, it's fine to talk about what you can do and not limit yourself to things you've done. Put a few brief samples on the site so visitors can get a suitable impression - but don't place entire projects there for the world to see. Remember, your web site is just an introduction, not an encyclopedia, and you also don't want to make it easy for someone to download your work and pass it off as their own.
Industry focus - identify your target market
If you focus on one or a few industries, highlight this. Probably this is the single most important feature of your site, because visitors will be able to find you in search engines when they seek someone in that specialty. Who knows, you might even help create some of your market in this way. Say someone is putting together a project on intergalactic marine biology. They might not even know that they need a tech writer. As they search for the relevant terms, your site comes up because it highlights your specialization in just that field. With a good site that explains how you can add value to such a project, the visitor will be on the phone to you soon enough.
E-mail as marketing tool
With your web site will come an e-mail account (usually several). Use one of these as your professional e-mail, and include a signature with your site address and a one-line description of the services you provide. (Keep your personal e-mail separate; there's no need to tell Grandma about that intergalactic marine biology specialty of yours every time you write to her.)