To use “We” or “I” on your website…

Should you use “I” or “we” when talking about your freelance services?

 I’ve gotten this question posed to me a few times, the most recent being tonight, so thats a good reason to perma-answer it on the blog…If you’re an artist, then your site is primarily a portfolio, so definitely use “I”.  Just start with “I am available to draw something for you!” and continue begging from there. Simple. No one expects an artist’s site to imply its a group thing.  

For web developers, your pitch-text can be somewhat of a grey area. Hopefully most clients will be enticed by your snazzy designs, but if they are shopping around for a developer they usually have the idea that they need more:  like e-commerce, hosting, SEO, advertising, etc. I even got an email once that said basically ” I love your work, I want designs like that… oh but I definitely need a hit counter for the site. Can you do that?”  Well duh. Everything these days is relatively easy to do.  So its very tempting to act like a bigger shop if you feel you can get away with. And if you’re currently unemployed  self-employed working out of your basement, it’s an ego-wax to fantasize your company is a major operator in the biz, and that’s where the usage of “we” creeps in…  

“We specialize in all your web development needs”.

Hey that sounds nice doesn’t it. I just came up with that… not! I’ve read that same exact line in a hundred websites. And if you’re selling to someone that has been shopping around a bit, they’ve read it a lot too. So you won’t floor anyone with that statement. And anyone shopping around will then compare your pseudo-company to all the other sites claiming this same thing. Which will group your solo services in with actual midsize companies that probably have much bigger and better portfolios. 

So how about… “I specialize in all your web development needs.”  

Better, me-thinks. Using “I” immediately reveals that you are a tiny shop,  just yourself. It also humbles your site a bit too. Which can be positive. Again, the smart client has read many pitches prior to you, so will pick up on this slight change. Ah-ha, here is someone I can get to know personally. And if they like the past websites in your portfolio, they can assume that they’ll be talking to The Creator of those beauties when they contact you. That is major. 

Get someone talking to you! Tell them you WANT to hear their ideas. People love to feel listened to. Especially non-creative people. They’ve got ideas, but no artistic follow-through. So if they can immediately talk up their dream site to a designer, they’ll probably lay out some cash soon too.

So I would write something like…

“Email me ideas for your website today, so you and I can figure out how best to make your dream site a reality” 

Now, unless you really do specialize in ALL things web development related, don’t make the claim. Pre-CartoonSmart, when I did freelance Flash work for a living, there were plenty of times that I told clients that I either wouldn’t do something or couldn’t do something. And I’m glad I never felt obligated to live up to some false claim on the site that I was a jack of all trades. For example, before I knew how to do anything with databases, it scared the heck out of me to take on a job I wasn’t sure how to do. And there were times when I wouldn’t do a job because I didn’t want to sit around doing search engine optimization for 8 hours straight.

Plus there’s always something mysterious about a person that doesn’t want to do certain work. Like the good detective that can’t be bought out to do a dirty job… So if you wrote on your site “I specialize in web design, illustration, and animation, but I leave the SEO, database, and security work up to the pros”, that’ll send a message that you are choosey about the jobs you accept. Just be careful wording such statements because you don’t want to sound unapproachable either. Or unknowledgeable.  It needs to read like you enjoy your work so much, that you only want to do work that you enjoy (make sense?)   If you can get this to sound right, there are definitely clients that specifically want to hire enthusiastic people that love what they do. And those are the type of employees that do the best work. 

Finally if you do sell web development services as a small team, lets say 3 or 4 people, then obviously you should use “we” in all your pitch text, but somewhere noticeable on the site I would include profiles about who works there. It’ll look friendly and add a personal touch.  Let people investigate. I’ll keep an eye open for a good example of a mid-size shop that does exactly this.

Want some say here? Leave a quick comment below, or discuss in detail on the forum…

4 thoughts on “To use “We” or “I” on your website…

  1. collette46 says:

    You have tackled some good points here, given good advice as to welcome potential clients ideas etc, but still slightly verging to the negative!

  2. GREAT blog post…and there’s some great feedback given here! Although, I have to disagree with your comment about everything these days is easy to do. Because web development encompasses so MUCH, it’s hard to do everything and specialize in every single aspect of web development! With that said–it’s better to focus and specialize in a main area and be really good!

    I focus on front-end development and that’s my main specialty. I do occassional back-end development, but it’s definitely not my forte.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s