An American Editor

March 25, 2020

On the Basics — What should be on your website?

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 11:43 am

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner

An American Editor

Many of us have time on our hands at the moment, so this might be a good time to focus on creating, updating or revamping a website. That’s the kind of thing we tend to let slide when we’re focused on current deadlines; we might do updates or new content for our clients, but our own sites get left in the dust for “someday.” Well, friends, someday is today. Working on our websites is a good distraction from the chaos around us and a great investment in our professional futures.

What to include in an artist’s, designer’s or photographer’s website seems fairly self-evident, so this post focuses on tips for websites of writers, editors and proofreaders, and indexers.

General guidelines

As I’ve said in my presentations about websites, there are a few things we should all include in our websites, regardless of what kind(s) of editorial work we do.

Check for current contact information and make it easy for people to reach you. A simple contact form is often the best bet. You don’t have to publish a phone number or street address, and you don’t even have to have a link to your e-mail address, although that is my preference. If you don’t have a contact form now, consider creating one.

Make sure you have a copyright line on every page. If you haven’t updated yours with the current year, this is the time to do so.

You can include a photo of yourself if you want to, but don’t feel obligated — a photo might make you and the site seem more human and approachable, but visitors want to know about your work and usually don’t care what you look like. If you do use a photo, use one that does you proud. A headshot is all you need, or maybe one of you at your desk. Informal shots are fine; you don’t have to spend a fortune on a professional portrait. Just make sure it’s something that looks professional.

Don’t list hobbies unless they relate to the work you do.

An editor’s or proofreader’s site

Editors and proofreaders face a special challenge when creating websites for themselves, because it’s a lot harder for us to “show our work” than it is for writers, artists, designers, photographers, book layout and design professionals, indexers — most editing and proofreading clients would rather the world not see the “before” versions of their projects.

That said, there are plenty of effective editor/proofreader websites out there. Yours could include:

Information about your training and experience

List of skills

List of services

Definitions of levels of editing, especially the difference between substantive and copy- editing, and the difference between editing and proofreading

Descriptions of what you do (and don’t do)

Genres you work with

Style manual(s) you’re familiar with

Explanation of your process

Statement about providing samples, referring to a professional organization such as the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA;

Samples you’ve created

Testimonials from clients about your work

Information about payment options (deposits, methods — checks vs. PayPal vs. direct deposit, etc.) and deposit policy

Refund policy, if you have one

Organizations you belong to and what you do in them

Resources for more information (organization sites, for instance)

An author’s site

As a reader, what I look for in an author’s website are cover images, book synopses, reviews or links to the book(s), and buying info, along with a detailed author bio.

Let visitors and prospective clients know about:

The genre(s) you write in

Your training and experience, if relevant — usually more important for journalists and writers who work with publications and organizations than for authors of published books

If you write for clients rather than write your own books, include links to your published work — as long as the client says it’s OK to do so. I also put images of the first pages of some of the articles I’ve had published, but not entire articles, at my website; mostly to create visual or graphic interest, but also to “prove” that I’ve been published.

Your publishing history

Your writing process

The inspiration for your writing work

Organizations you belong to and your roles in them

Compliments about your writing voice and published work

Information about payment options (deposits, methods — checks vs. PayPal vs. direct deposit, etc.) and deposit policy

Refund policy, if you have one

Resources for aspiring authors (agents, books, self-publishing tips, courses, etc.)

Authors you admire

An indexer’s site

If you’re an indexer, you might have an easier time setting up your website than editing and proofreading colleagues. Consider including:

Software program(s) you use

Training and experience

Types/Genres of projects you work on

Covers of books and reports you’ve indexed (with client permission)

Client testimonials

Your pay model or rate

Information about payment options (deposits, methods — checks vs. PayPal vs. direct deposit, etc.) and deposit policy

Refund policy, if you have one

Organizations you belong to and what you do in them (especially if you belong to the American Society for Indexing;

What are the challenges of setting up and maintaining your website? How often do you do updates or revisions? What are some of the sites you’ve found helpful or inspiring?

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter ( is an award-winning provider of editorial and publishing services for publications, independent authors, publishers, associations, nonprofits and companies worldwide, and the editor-in-chief and — as of 2019 — owner of An American Editor. She also hosts the annual Communication Central “Be a Better Freelancer”® conference for colleagues (, this year co-hosted with the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors ( and planned for October 2–4 in Baltimore, MD. She can be reached at or


  1. I just noticed an important detail that you missed: All sites should have a privacy policy.


    Comment by Nate Hoffelder — March 25, 2020 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

  2. […] few weeks back, An American Editor owner Ruth Thaler-Carter published a post that discussed what editors and authors should have on their websites. It was a great post, but it got me thinking about how we could help those of you who already have […]


    Pingback by Questions to ask when refreshing your editor website | An American Editor — April 8, 2020 @ 10:26 am | Reply

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