Why do you need a freelance writing portfolio?
A great freelance writing portfolio is going to land you the writing jobs you want, help you to get paid what you deserve and sell your services. If you’re a new freelance writer you may be wondering how you can build a writing portfolio when you have zero experience!
When I started out, I didn’t even have a portfolio and it cost me work! Sure, I had a few samples I used that I linked from my blog but a portfolio would have made me stand out from the crowd and scored me better-paid work.
Luckily, there is an awesome way of building a writing portfolio, even if you’ve never had a paying client.
What exactly is a writing portfolio?
Your portfolio contains your best samples of work to show potential clients. Your portfolio is not the same thing as your writer website. You can either host your portfolio on your website, personal blog or on a free online portfolio site like Contently or Clippings.me
How to build a power portfolio with no experience!
If you’ve never worked with paying clients before or you only have one or two samples at present, you can easily build a healthy portfolio of your current best work. Obviously, as you grow and land more clients you can add more samples or change the samples of work you showcase.
So, what makes a good portfolio?
Ideally, you should have a freelance writing niche or area of expertise – this is the topic you’re going to create paid content on. If you’re struggling to find your niche, I suggest choosing two or three niches to begin with and narrowing down as you build your freelance writing career.
If you want to know more about freelance writing niches, grab my free guide below.
Demonstrating great writing samples in one or two topics shows that you are an expert in these areas rather than a generalist – someone who writes about everything. You’re likely to find better paying clients if you can show that you are an expert in a subject.
For your portfolio, you only want to show your very best work and ideally, you’ll need at least 5 to 10 samples. So, how can you achieve that without any paying clients?
The answer is blogging!
There are two ways to achieve samples of your work without any paid experience.
Option 1: Your own blog
I hugely recommend starting your very own blog if you’re just starting out. Sure, you don’t need to have a blog but blogging is a great way to build your portfolio, promote your services, and you have the potential to make some extra cash from your own website.
If you wanna know how to set up a blog on WordPress, check out my post here
Now, you don’t want to just start blogging about any random topic. You really want to write topics on your niche subject/s as you can then use these samples when pitching to potential clients.
Related: A magical 3 step formula for creating a freelance writing pitch
If you really don’t want to start a blog, I highly recommend writing a few articles and posting them either on LinkedIn or Medium – yes, you can use these samples in your portfolio!
Here’s a blog post I’ve used from this very website to pitch to clients: 3 reasons why guest posting is an awesome marketing strategy
I’ve also recently written this post to build my experience in the digital marketing sector.
Samples like this are great – if you’re publishing on your blog, remember you can republish these on Medium and LinkedIn – I suggest waiting around two weeks though so Google can index your blog post first for better search rankings.
Option 2: Guest posting
Guest posting is a super effective marketing tactic. Not only are you gaining samples of your work for your portfolio but you’re also getting in front of an audience and establishing yourself as an expert in your niche.
The key to guest posting is relevance. You don’t want to guest post on just any website. Ideally, you want to post on a blog within *you’ve guessed it* your niche/s.
Here’s an example – to promote this website and to build on my expertise within the freelance writing niche, I wrote a guest post on the Money Shed. This is a British website for people who want to earn from home so I knew it would be the perfect place for writing a post. Sure enough, it increased my blog traffic and email list subscribers. Furthermore, readers found out about my website and those searching for freelance writing opportunities know they can visit my site for advice and tips. I could also use this as a sample if I was applying for a writing position aimed at freelance writing or working from home. The same works for any niche.
Grab my guest post template below – this will teach you how to write an effective pitch to land a guest post.
But, aren’t you writing for free?
Yes. But, think of this are a marketing tool. I personally don’t recommend working for free in other capacities, just like I don’t believe in writing 500 words for $2 or whatever. While writing on your blog or guest posting is working for free, these methods will help to build your freelance writing business, help you to land good writing jobs and establish your name within your industry.
Remember, while these might be ‘free’ posts, it’s important to ensure that you’re writing high-quality posts as these are going to show off your skills to potential clients. You only need a couple of articles to get your portfolio started. Once you have three samples, I would start filling up your portfolio.
You can get started straight away by using a free online portfolio site – I use contently and it’s perfect for adding your samples. You can also add a short bio about yourself and add your social media links too. Even if you don’t have writers website, get your portfolio started now and include the link to it in your job pitches!