Freelance writing is appealing for many different reasons. Whether you want to start a writing career or supplement your principal income with a side hustle, you will need to know where to start.
Becoming a successful freelance writer may not require all of the same skills that other career paths do (you may not spend as much time business conference calling, for example), but you do need to develop some skills (as well as the writing skill, of course!).
Knowing how to find work is essential. 57% of freelance writers report difficulty finding new clients. You will need to know how to market yourself effectively so that not only do the clients hiring for those jobs find you, but they see you as highly qualified and the best person to carry out their writing project. In this guide, we will look at how you can create a portfolio that will land you the freelance writing jobs you want.
What Is a Freelance Writing Portfolio?
While freelance writers do sometimes send business proposals to prospective clients, a portfolio enables clients to find you too. While a salesperson may use a proposal generator salesforce, a writer needs to also include a portfolio alongside any proposals.
A freelance writing portfolio is a collection of your writing used to showcase your skills, knowledge, and abilities to prospective clients. Ideally, the writing that makes up your portfolio will be some of your very best work and demonstrate multiple areas of knowledge.
The Benefits of a Freelance Writing Portfolio
A freelance writing portfolio is a convenient way of showing others your work and capabilities. You can show it to people you meet networking, include it as a link on your social media pages, and more. It is a centralized repository of the writing work that you are the proudest of. Instead of having to rack your brains and think of the most impressive articles to show each potential client, you can just show them your portfolio.
Although you are likely to send your portfolio to others, it can also be a more passive, effort-free way of bringing in leads (potential customers in business-speak!) to your business once you have finished it.
A portfolio also enables you to show off which organizations, publications, and clients you have worked for in the past. “Social proof” is a phenomenon where people are more likely to trust you if other influential people have already done so, and a portfolio is a great way to use social proof to your advantage. In a sense, one aspect of an eminent portfolio is that it is an efficient name-dropping tool!
A portfolio also proves that you have the task management skills to successfully deliver projects to clients on time. It is a particularly attractive feature to those hiring new writers. A portfolio is a seal of legitimacy.
How to Create Your Portfolio: 5 Steps
So, how can you go about creating your freelance writing portfolio? Here are five helpful steps that you can follow.
1. Choose your niche
A niche is highly recommended for a freelance writer to have. It refers to a specific area of expertise and experience that you most commonly write about—and a portfolio can be proof that you write about your niche well. Your niche could be lifestyle blogging, writing about technology, or even academic writing. The list of potential freelance writing niches is almost endless.
For most writers, their niche is naturally a topic that they have particular knowledge or interest in. Your niche could also be an industry that you have worked in previously before going freelance. If you don’t have a niche yet or want to find a new one, it can be worth doing some research into which niches are the most sought-after (and the best paying).
However, while having a niche is recommended, you don’t have to limit your range of topics covered too strictly. Versatility can also be appealing to prospective clients, so try to strike the right balance.
2. Get a domain name and web hosting
Your portfolio is most likely to be on your business website. If you don’t yet have a business website, setting one up can be very fruitful. The first step to setting up a business website is purchasing a domain name from a domain registrar. You will need to choose a domain name that is available, represents your business well, and is easy for people to remember.
Once you have bought and registered your domain name, you need a web hosting service. These are sometimes separate services but are often offered by the same platforms that offer domain names. For example, Wix is a company that provides web hosting and domain names, and also includes website building tools.
If you want a quicker way of setting up your portfolio, some online platforms like Clippings.me, Contently, and Pressfolios host freelance writing portfolios without you needing to set up your own site. However, setting up your site can attract more clients. You could also do both if you want to cover more bases!
3. Choose which work to showcase
Perhaps the most crucial part of setting up a freelance writing portfolio is choosing which writing work to include in it. You will want to match your writing to the niche that your ideal clients will be commissioning projects in. For example, if you want to write about the automotive industry, showcase pieces you have written about this.
As well as a range of topics, you may also want to showcase a range of different types of writing. If your talent is SEO copywriting, include landing pages you’ve written for clients. If content writing is more your bag, include longer, informative articles. Sales emails, ad copy, and social media posts are all examples of writing projects that you can include in your portfolio. Again, think about the type of work you would like to be doing more of and what your target client would want.
While it may be tempting to include as much of your writing work as you can fit onto the page, go for quality over quantity. A prospective client is more likely to be impressed by a few excellent pieces than dozens and dozens of lower-quality ones. If you’re not genuinely proud of a piece, do not include it.
While you should demonstrate your niche, don’t worry about including work on other topics (as long as those topics are not contradictory or unappealing to clients in your chosen niche). If your niche is dating and relationships, don’t worry if you have also written an authoritative caller ID guide.
As well as including your writing work, it can be a great idea to include what the clients thought about your work (as long as it is positive, of course!). If you have good testimonials, including them in your portfolio can be a great form of social proof.
4. Arrange your portfolio visually
Visuals are an important part of marketing, whether you are selling compute engine instance types or your freelance writing services. A visually cluttered website will be hard and unpleasant to read, and prospective clients may not stick around on the page for long enough to look at your work! Minimalism, neutral color palettes, large and clear fonts for text, and images can all make your site look more appealing to most visitors.
Avoid showing entire articles on your portfolio page—include short samples to grab attention and links to the articles in their own pages. Besides, there can sometimes be legal issues with sharing articles in places other than those that they were intended for—even if you wrote the articles yourself! Your article about how to build a call center only needs a short sample on your site, as your readers can follow the link to rea more on the original site if they are interested.
If possible, organizing your writing samples by niche, publication, or type of project can help readers find their way around your portfolio more easily. Include easy links or information on how potential clients can contact you.
Check your site looks good on mobile and tablets as well as on desktop, and if in doubt, ask a friend to look at it for you and give you a second opinion.
5. Share it with the world
Once your portfolio is ready, make sure that you link to it from as many different sources as possible to increase traffic. Guest blogging can be a great way of increasing traffic to your site and portfolio. Think about your niche and reach out to blog owners in this niche. A well-placed guest post can draw a lot of attention.
You should also share your portfolio in online communities where marketers, content managers, and other businesspeople spend time. Link to it on your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages. You can even use Muck Rack, a special service for writers and journalists.
Show the World Your Writing Skills
A portfolio is a great way of showcasing your work. Once it is finished, make sure you keep it up-to-date and relevant by checking it every few months and replacing anything that may need replacing. Google’s algorithm also rewards fresh content. A good portfolio can earn you applause digital rewards online.