Freelancer Survey 2018: Website Traffic Statistics and Insights from 250 Freelancers

How much traffic do the websites of your peers get? Do they have more daily visitors than you or is everybody faking it till they make it?

I wanted to know and created a survey to uncover website traffic statistics for freelancer websites. And while we were talking, I asked the freelancers about their toughest challenges when it comes to running a website to grow your business.

Survey Questions

  1. What do you do?
  2. How old is your website?
  3. What’s your Domain Authority?
  4. How many daily visitors on average do you get?
  5. Where do most of your website visitors come from?
  6. What do you find most challenging when it comes to your website?
Survey screenshot

Collecting the answers

I created the survey in Google Forms. To collect the answers, I posted the survey on Twitter and LinkedIn and asked many of my friends and peers to take it and share it with their freelancer friends.

After 5 weeks, I’ve collected 250 answers, and here are the results.

Below, you’ll find website traffic statistics for freelancer websites – daily website traffic and main traffic sources by business niche, age and domain authority – as well as the main challenges of freelancers with respect to getting new business through their websites.

Survey Results

Freelancers by Occupation

Freelancers surveyed: Occupation

Freelancers surveyed:

250

1/3 of freelancers surveyed were copywriters

The largest group of the freelancers surveyed were copywriters (34%). Business consultants, bloggers / writers, and designers made up a share of around 12% each.

Websites by Age

Websites by age

Giving up too early?

36% of the freelancers got their websites less than a year ago. The number of the websites between 1 and 2 years as well as 3+ years were a bit less: 25% and 27% respectively.

The survey revealed a surprisingly low number of websites between 2 and 3 years old (10,8%). It seems like after 2 years some freelancers give up.

Website Daily Traffic (All Websites)

Daily visitors (all websites)

Most Websites Get Little Traffic

A whopping 61,8% of the freelancer websites surveyed get fewer than 20 visitors a day.

18,4% get between 20 and 50 daily visitors. And only 19,6% get more than 50 visitors a day.

Daily traffic by website age

Daily visitors by age

Traffic Increases Over Time

In their first year, 81% of freelances have fewer than 20 daily visitors. Naturally, the website traffic increases over time.

In their 2nd year, 57,1% websites get fewer than 20 daily visitors, and 17,5% have more than 50 visitors a day.

Change in Website Traffic Over Time

Change in daily visitors over time

Getting traffic seems tough

The website traffic refuses to take off for the first 2 years. Even after the 3rd year of freelancing, only 40,6% get over 50 daily visitors, and 45% still have fewer than 20 people a day visiting their website.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that those 3+ year old websites aren’t working properly. To get client inquiries, the freelancers who are longer in business often rely less on the website traffic and more on the referrals.

Traffic Source #1

Main traffic source by website age

Organic is Traffic Source #1

For the websites overall, search is the main traffic source (40,8%), followed by direct traffic from personal contacts and word of mouth (30,8%) and traffic from social media (27,2%).

Other traffic sources reported included referrals from guest blogging.

Change in Main Source Over Time

Change in main traffic source over time

Organic Becomes Dominant Source Only After 2 Years

For the websites younger than 1 year, direct traffic and traffic from the social media are the dominant sources. This evens out between year 1 and 2.

After the 2nd year, organic traffic clearly dominates. It seems like the majority of the freelancers who survived their 2nd year are those who invested their time and effort in the SEO.

Main Challenges When It Comes to the Website

Main struggles

Get more client inquiries:

45,6%

Main Challenges: Inquiries and Traffic

The main challenges of freelancers seem to be getting client inquiries (45,6%). Yet, only 12,8% find it difficult to write the copy for their homepage, About and sales pages.

Is it possible that not paying enough attention to your website’s copy is contributing to the lack of inquires?

The second biggest challenge is getting more website traffic, which is a struggle for 27,4% freelancers. 18,4% reported that they feel generally overwhelmed.

Main Challenges by Occupation (4 largest groups)

Challenges by Occupation

Designers think they write good copy. Coaches feel most overwhelmed.

While there’s not much difference in how much everyone’s struggling to get inquiries (around 50±5%) and growing their email list (18±2%), some other challenges (or their absence) are more prominent for a particular group of freelancers.

Some of those differences can be explained by the occupation. Naturally, copywriters have no problem writing blog posts and web copy, while web designers rarely struggle with technical issues.

Similarly, 35% of freelance writers and bloggers struggle to write engaging blog posts probably because their peers are also good with words, and it’s harder to stand out.

Yet, why only 6,5% of the designers think writing copy is easy and why business coaches and consultants feel overwhelmed more often then other freelancers remains a mystery.

Challenges by Website Age

Main struggles by age

Inquiries and website traffic remain a problem for years

Whether it’s a brand new website or one that has been there for a couple of years, it still doesn’t get enough client inquiries for its owner. The same is the case with the website traffic.

The first 3 years of running your own website seems to be quite overwhelming, and only after year 3 being overwhelmed doesn’t make it to the Challenges Top 3, making room for growing an email list.

Domain Authority (All Websites)

Domain authority

62% don’t know their Domain Authority

Do you know what your Domain Authority (DA)* is? If you don’t, you are not alone. 62% of your peers don’t know that either.

Among those who knew, 52,6% have websites with DA below 20.

* – Domain Authority is a ranking score from 1 to 100 developed by Moz. It predicts how well a website will rank in search. To find out your DA, install Moz Bar Chrome extension and navigate to your website.

Domain Authority by Age

Change in domain authority with time

Domain Authority increases over time

Naturally, DA increases with time. Yet, some websites over 3+ years still have a low DA, probably because they don’t blog or rely that much on organic traffic when it comes to inquiries.

Knowing vs not knowing the Domain Auhtority

Those who know their domain authority vs those who don't

You’re better off when you know your DA

Freelancers who know the DA of their websites seem to get more traffic, feel less overwhelmed and struggling to get client inquiries less often.

It makes sense as those who took time to find out their DA did it with a purpose of growing it, and now have a better understanding of what to do to drive traffic to their websites.

Meet Jenny, a typical freelancer*

* – as per this survey

Hi. I’m Jenny, and I’m a freelancer.

I have a website, but it’s really new, not even one year old.

I get fewer than 20 visitors a day,

…mostly directly from personal contacts.

Domain authority?

No idea what that is.

I’d like to get more client inquiries

…and more traffic to my website. But sometimes I’m struggling with the technical issues or feel generally overwhelmed with this website thing.

The only things I find easy to do are

…write the copy for my web pages and find time to work on my website.

“How much can I trust these results?”

The results of the survey that cover the overall number of participants, such as daily website traffic, traffic source #1, domain authority, and main challenges, have a confidence level of 88% with a 5% error margin.

Also, as the participants of the survey were randomly selected, the relatively smaller number of the websites between 2 and 3 years seems not coincidental.

Yet, the results within individual subgroups (traffic by website age, challenges by occupation, etc.) have a lower confidence level and are more likely to have been different if the number of the freelancers surveyed was larger.

[Infographic] Freelancer Website Survey 2018

Freelancer Website Survey 2018

Share this Image in High Resolution on Your Site


43 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Hi Gill. Thanks for sharing this.

    Quick feedback:
    – The graph ‘daily visitors by website age’ is impossible to interpret without a key to what the circles mean.
    – It would help to give a link to find out what domain authority is.
    – I suspect an audience with fewer copywriters would count writing copy as more of an issue!

    1. Hi Tim. Thanks for stopping by.

      Regarding your points:

      – The circles in “The daily visitors by website age” mean “daily visitors”. The key is given on the Y axis. The chart isn’t supposed to represent exact values but aims to demonstrate the relative changes over time.

      – I didn’t want to distract from the survey by giving a link, but I’ll add a footnote later today. Thanks for pointing it out.

      – Jenny isn’t supposed to represent a typical freelancer in the universe but with respect to the results of the survey. I’ll make sure to add a clarification sentence, thanks.

      Yet, although only 4% of copywriters find writing copy difficult, 50% of them are struggling to get inquiries. And judging by the copywriter websites I’ve seen where not every copywriter website had good copy, I can imagine the overconfidence in your own copy plays the role here.

  2. That’s wonderful information Gill! So very helpful for a ‘Jenny’ like me. Thanks for conducting this survey. It definitely gives direction to someone with a new website.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and for your help in getting the answers. I remember you were among the first ones to answer and spread the word 🙂

      1. My pleasure 🙂 Hats off to you for collecting data from 250 freelancers. Well done 👍🏻 It sure is reassuring to know that there are so many other freelancers out there with the same struggles.

  3. Hi Gill

    Thank you for these insights! I’m going into year 3 and I’m super glad I didn’t quit around year 2 although I thought about it 🙂

    I struggled with copy for both my Home and About pages in particular and am sure this contributed to the lack of enquiries.

    1. Hi Yolanda. Thanks for sharing this! I read multiple times that the first 2 years are the hardest, and it often feels like stagnation, and I’ve also experienced it myself. Yet, it was still surprising to see how the survey confirmed that I’m not alone on a bigger scale.

      Glad to hear you haven’t quit and are now into your 3rd year! The numbers say it’s going to get easier 🙂

  4. Great insights, Gill.

    And congrats on getting such an excellent response.

    You can count my traffic on one hand some days, but for me a homepage that attracts/repels/pre-qualifies clients works well. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love more traffic so this is a great reminder I ought to blog more!

    (Also, glad I’m not the only one with no idea about DA!)

    Tamsin

    1. Thank you, Tam! 🙂

      I think I’ve told you once that you’re not the typical “I started from scratch” case. As far as I understand, you already have a good client base and get retainers or new clients from referrals.

      You’re also not alone in this regard, and there were more people who answered that they use their website as a business card and get clients from somewhere else.

      So traffic is not essential to running a successful business. Yet, if you want more inquiries through your website, blogging would be a good idea (as you’ve mentioned yourself). But blogging is an exhausting marathon, and the effects kick in only after 6 months, earliest. So it may be not everyone’s cup of tea.

      I know people who drive clients solely from LinkedIn. I guess there are many ways to do business online, even without traffic to your website.

      Thanks for helping me collect the answers and for stopping by!

  5. So true, blogging is a real time eater! I love reading about other people’s experiences. So thanks again for this! You’re right about referrals, though originally I got quite a few clients from local SEO. I started by optimising for my home city, for instance: Cambridge PR and Cambridge copywriting, and everything mushroomed from there. So for me local SEO was a real springboard.

    1. My pleasure, Tam.

      Re local SEO: I noticed! Your About page has an unusual slag: cambridge-pr-agency. So I guessed you’re optimizing for local. Seems like it’s a great idea! Then maybe write a few blog posts focusing on something where you get to say local keywords often enough.

      Another ideas on how to be seen as more relevant in local SEO:

      * put “About” section after every blog posts where you get to say “Tam is “.
      * add testimonials (or change them with the client’s approval) to include your keywords.

      My motto is: Do more of what works 🙂

  6. Very interesting. I am thinking about it. For now: how do you explain that so many copywriters are following you – percentagewise? Is it because copywriters are interested in this stuff, or does it have to do with recommendation of certain wellknown copywriters? 😉 (I am thinking in terms of enchantment).

    1. Thank you, Kitty 🙂

      Re many copywriters following me: I wouldn’t make this conclusion. The reason that I had many copywriters answering the survey is that some well-known copywriters helped me promote it, among other things by sharing it in with their colleagues and in internal group.

      Also, among my followers there are many who aren’t freelancers, and they are obviously not presented in the survey.

      So, I wouldn’t say that this survey shows that percentage-wise the majority of my followers are copywriters. They may as well be entrepreneurs or small agencies. But many copywriters are definitely among those freelancers who engage with my posts more often.

  7. This is a great insight, Gill!
    It gave me an idea as to where I need to focus on my own website.
    Thanks for this survey!

  8. It is so reassuring to know I am not the only one with low numbers on web traffic at this stage … currently early in year 2. Thank you for the insights and review of my site.

    1. My pleasure, Catherine 🙂 I was hoping for this survey to deliver some reassuring results, and I’m happy to see that it did.

      P.S. Did I review your site? It must have totally slipped my mind… 🙂

  9. Dear Gill, thank you for posting the results. It feels comforting for me that I’m not alone struggling with my website and trying to get more traffic by every mean I can. I also feel better regarding “finding time” and “blog writing” that were my major challenges, but I can see that it is almost everyone’s challenge. So I must be normal
    Thank you soooo much for your helpful insights and for my webpage review. (I fixed almost everything but I have technical struggles for a few last things, I need to see with my webmaster).

  10. Hi Gillian,
    Great work! Re: copywriters struggling to write content vs other professions: in my experience, the problem isn’t because of keeping up with the competition—it’s “the cobbler’s children go barefoot” issue. It’s hard to consistently publish content/copy for yourself when you’re busy writing it for others.
    I’d be interested in seeing a follow-up post in which you have some direct conversations with freelancers to understand the context of the survey numbers. Qualifiable data will help you understand the whole story. Thanks for putting this together!

    1. Hi Alaura. Thank you for your kind words. Glad to hear you liked the post.

      Re copywriters struggling to write content vs other professions: Actually, this is not what the survey showed. Copywriters struggle the least with that out of all professions presented in the survey:

      Copywriters struggles with web copy / content creation the least

      The results showed that bloggers and writers struggle with copy and blog posts the most.

      Unfortunately, having direct conversations with freelancers isn’t my domain (rather, telling them what’s wrong with their websites), so I’m not sure about a follow-up post. But if you’ll come across a post that addresses this topic, let me know. I’ll be interested to find out more about it myself.

      Thanks again for your help with collecting the answers and for stopping by!

  11. Hi Gil, great survey. I wasn’t doing as bad as I thought, LOL. Though I still want to grow my traffic as I’ve been at it for years. I can’t seem to get over the 300/day hump. My next tactic is to revamp a lot of old posts on the site and make them better for SEO and my readers at the same time. I often cringe looking at some of the old posts I have.
    Thanks for all the info and tips here too, much appreciated and glad I participated Gil. Have a great day and a new week.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      My apologies for the belated reply! My anti-spam plugin put your comment in Spam for some reason…

      Thank you so much for your kind words. And yes, 300 visitors a day isn’t bad at all. Revamping your old posts seems like a great idea, especially if you know they have a lot of participants.

      Thank you for helping me collect the answers and for stopping by!

  12. Thank you, Gill for taking the time to produce this. The results are pretty eye-opening and it’s nice to know that the struggles I face are pretty normal. I’m only in my fourth month of freelancing and have been putting quite a bit of pressure on myself to ‘be better’. Perhaps it’s time to relax on that front a little and enjoy the ride.
    Knowing the first 2 years generally suck for us all makes things a little easier 🙂
    Thanks again.

  13. Hey Gill! This is an amazing post! I love the realistic highlight of how long this online work actually takes (and that “more traffic” doesn’t equal more clients).

    As a coach myself, I think many coaches/consultants tend to be more overwhelmed than the rest of freelancers because their job is harder to describe, package and sell. It takes more time for a consultant to focus on the niche, client and offer (sp. how to package it) than for, say, a copywriter or a web designer where services are more focused and direct.

    Another aspect is how long it takes to deliver a service. While a copywriter’s work is immediately evident (new copy), a web designer’s is definitely clear, nobody “sees” what a coach does. Seth Godin talked in his Marketing seminar about different services and whether or not they lend themselves to a referral.

    For instance, if someone has had a haircut, everyone sees it, and you can easily let others know where to go and who to call. On the other hand, nobody can see that you just had a great massage, so referring clients is harder in that sense.

    If someone rebrands my website, people can see it right away, but nobody knows who my coach is (unless I talk about it) and how working with her has helped me in a specific area of business.

    1. Hi Elena, I think it is about as hard for copywriters as it is for coaches. They all have to find their niche. Copywriters have a hard time identifying their USP: all they can do is write 😉

      And everyone can show their results. Every profession, I guess, can get testimonials or other things to show their readers the quality of their work. Even when their work is in an area surrounded with taboos – then you’ll have to work with anonimous testimonials, and find other ways to make them believable.

      1. Hey Kitty! Thanks for your feedback. I’m not downplaying other freelancers, and they also have to find their niche, their voice, and their ideal client. What I AM saying is if my copy was full of cliches and jargon and then someone worked on it to make it sound like a human, visitors will “see” that difference right away. Coupled with new web design, it’s more visible than someone’s work with a coach. Coaching might be “less practical” for referrals. People would look at a website and say, “I love your design, who did it?” or “I love your copy, who did you hire?” rather than “I love your clarity and confidence. Who is your coach?”

        1. 😉
          I still think you are deluding yourself. Besides, referrals come in many variations. If you are truly happy with your coach, you will tell your friends about it. And if one of their friends needs a coach, they’ll think of you: ‘Ah, well, my friend X just told me she had a wonderful coach who helped her get her job back. Whatshername. You should look up her website.’

          Anyway. Look at the over 3000 testimonials at this coaches’ website: https://www.consulting.com/reviews

          1. Haha. Kitty, you’re explaining what coaches struggle with and why to a COACH who’s coaching COACHES (and, thus, talked to a gazillion of them about their struggles). 😉

            I see Elena’s point. The effect a coach has on you or your business is not as immediately evident and “graspable” (is it a word?) as effect a good copywriter has on copy.

            And you can’t get testimonials if you don’t get any clients, as coaching is harder to sell at the first place precisely because of this difference in “graspability of the effect”.

            For example, to sell someone my copywriting services, I could just go and review their copy pointing out the mistakes and fixing a paragraph to show the difference. And then a person is sold.

            But how you quickly demonstrate the effect your coaching will have on a prospect? And this what Elena is talking about (as far as I understand).

    2. Hi Elena,

      Thank you SO much for your eye-opening comment! I’ve never thought about it, but you’re totally right (also, great analogy with a haircut!).

      I left a more detailed comment on your conversation with Kitty, as I was a bit late your discussion has already evolved.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and leave such a thoughtful comment! 🌷

  14. ‘Yet, only 12,8% find it difficult to write the copy for their homepage, About and sales pages.

    Is it possible that not paying enough attention to your website’s copy is contributing to the lack of inquires?’

    Are you suggesting they don’t spend enough time? 😉

    1. Well, generally speaking, if you aren’t a copywriter and you find writing web copy easy, chances are you’re doing it wrong. If, at the same time, you don’t get enough client inquiries, you’re most certainly doing it wrong.

      From the personal experience I have to report that only because someone is a copywriter it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have a great web copy on your website. Actually, you should, but my experience while reviewing websites shows it’s by far not the case.

      So, when I look at this data and see that only 4% of the copywriters find writing copy on their website difficult but at the same time 50+% are struggling to get inquiries, I have to ask whether they aren’t overconfident and whether spending a bit more time on their homepage, About page and sales pages would be a good idea.

  15. Hi Gill,

    This was REALLY enlightening 😁 I will find out my DA immediately and act on it! I find your tips really helpful and will be referring back to your survey. I wonder whether results would be similar in other areas of work?

    I wonder if perhaps in time you could investigate the differences in web traffic between freelancers with a definite niche and those who provide more general services. I’d find the results of this interesting.

    Thanks for your hard work on this. Very much appreciated and very useful.

    Vicky

    1. Hi Victoria,

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂 I’m happy to hear you found this information useful.

      Re other areas of work: I can imagine that the results will be similar for everyone else who depends on website traffic for clients because the ways to get traffic are fairly similar. I’m not sure I’ll be investigating this myself in the near future, though, as I find teaching people how they can improve their websites more fun 🙂

      Thank you so much for participating in the survey and for stopping by!

  16. Hi Gill,

    I am studying your resarch again because I am blogging about it this week. I was wondering about this find:

    The survey revealed a surprisingly low number of websites between 2 and 3 years old (10,8%). It seems like after 2 years some freelancers give up.

    Might you not just as soon suppose you attract more readers with new blogs?
    And why is a quarter of websites of +3 years a small number? Do you have other figures to compare with?

    1. Hi there Kitty,

      My survey and I feel honored that you’re blogging about it this week 🙂

      Re your question: First of all, my survey went far beyond my followers. So I don’t think the reason for the websites between 2 and 3 years being significantly fewer can be attributed to the character of my audience.

      My impression that the first 2 years are difficult is based on the following:
      – my own experience
      – many people in their 3+ years of business telling me that they have almost given up in their first 2 years
      this great article by Naomi Dunford who has been helping business owners grow for 20+ years that says that the path of your business is an S-curve where at first it usually stagnates.

      Regarding the website owners with the websites of 3+ years: I wouldn’t say they are a small number. They were 27,6% of the respondents (more than a quarter).

      1. Re your question: First of all, my survey went far beyond my followers. So I don’t think the reason for the websites between 2 and 3 years being significantly fewer can be attributed to the character of my audience.

        >> Ha. I never said so 😉

        My impression that the first 2 years are difficult is based on the following:
        – my own experience
        – many people in their 3+ years of business telling me that they have almost given up in their first 2 years
        – this great article by Naomi Dunford who has been helping business owners grow for 20+ years that says that the path of your business is an S-curve where at first it usually stagnates.

        >> Ok. Qualitative results on your side. Dunford gives no timeline, just a developmental sketch. I agree with that experience, by the way: it can seem to stand still before taking off. I just meant, however, that you might have a unrepresentative sample.

        Regarding the website owners with the websites of 3+ years: I wouldn’t say they are a small number. They were 27,6% of the respondents (more than a quarter).

        >> My mind was muddled there. I stand corrected. Thanks.

        1. Oh, sorry, my bad. I understood “Might you not just as soon suppose you attract more readers with new blogs?” as if you are saying my blog attracts new readers.

          Otherwise, glad we agree 🙂