If you've done any exploration into being a freelance writer (and if you're reading this article, you most likely have), you've probably heard that having a writing portfolio is essential. A successful freelance writer's web presence is built on the foundation of writing portfolios. It's the display you'll utilize to entice prospective clients by demonstrating exactly what you can do for them.
Of course, establishing a fascinating writing profile is a lot more sophisticated than simply putting a bunch of links together and calling it a day. Your writing portfolio will serve as a representation of your writing brand, and as such, it should be treated with the same level of professionalism as the work you do for clients.
Step 1: Pick a niche
When introducing oneself as a writer, it's easy to take a broad approach, especially if you're just getting started. In general, "I can write everything that you need!" appears to be a wonderful selling point.
Clients, on the other hand, prefer authors who are specialists in their subject. Do you recall the old phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none"? That is as true in writing as it is in any other profession. After all, who sounds better for the job: the one whose portfolio spans a wide range of subjects and disciplines, Or the writer who specializes in the type of content the client is looking for and has a number of great samples to show that they understand the audience's preferences?
That's why, rather than being a generalist, you're better off defining your niche and becoming a master of it. Your client's requirements are unlikely to be generic. They'll be precise, and they'll expect you to be as well.
Specializing also has a practical benefit: if you can demonstrate that you can perform that type of writing well, you'll be far more likely to find writing jobs that interest you. Always write the type of material you want to get employed for in the future, rather you end up settling into a niche that you don't enjoy just because those were the simplest jobs to get as a beginner.
Step 2: Have some work published
"Wait, how are we expected to get work published for our portfolio if we need a writing portfolio to secure writing gigs?" you might be thinking.
The truth is, it's not as difficult as it appears. It's all thanks to two words: guest posts. While guest articles are unlikely to be paid work, they are an excellent opportunity to get your name out there, build your writing portfolio (and brand), and demonstrate your writing skills.
To begin guest posting, research some sites that are relevant to your niche. Here's where Google can help: Enter a search term that a reader looking for your material may use, and then glance through the top five results. Do their blogs appear to be the type of publication to which you'd like to contribute? Look for pitch parameters, discover if they've hosted guest posts before (you can find this by searching the site name with "submission guidelines" or "guest post"), and then write your own pitch.
It's probable that you'll receive more rejection letters than acceptance letters. That's fine! Keep looking and trying, and you'll ultimately get your foot in the door.
Step 3: Organize and collect your samples
Now that you've produced a few writing samples, it's time to gift-wrap them with a ribbon.
When it comes to hosting your portfolio, you have practically endless options, ranging from self-hosting on your own website to using a service like WordPress. However, where you display your portfolio, isn't nearly as crucial as what you include. (You could even create a portfolio on most of those sites to increase your exposure to different types of people.)
So, how do you decide which items to discuss?
As you can expect, a large part of your decision should be centered on accentuating your brand. Which of your writing samples best demonstrates not only your writing ability but also the breadth of your knowledge? While the topic matter can and should be related to your area, having five blogs that all essentially say the same thing isn't going to wow anyone. Demonstrate the diversity of your field of knowledge to potential clients! Showcase your creative writing abilities by putting a unique perspective on your niche. Of course, if you've landed a post on a well-known website in your profession, make sure to milk it for all it's worth.
It's important to remember that it's not just about the number of samples you use. A newcomer with only three strong articles to display will appear more impressive than someone with dozens of lower-quality postings.
Step 4: Make it simple to hire you
It doesn't matter if you have the most spectacular writing portfolio on the earth if your potential clients can't reach you! Make sure you have a clear description of the kind of services you perform and what potential clients may expect from you before you finish your portfolio. Consider the following:
- What are your areas of expertise?
- What are some of the topics you've previously written about?
- What are some of the most well-known clients and businesses with whom you've previously collaborated?
Yes, most of this will be a synopsis of what your samples have previously shown. However, if a customer is skimming (which, let's face it, most of them are), you don't want them to miss you because they didn't pay attention to the names of your samples. Reiterating your abilities in a categorized bullet-list manner is a terrific method to reinforce why you are the ideal candidate for the work and get them to accept your freelancing proposal one step closer.
Don't forget to provide your bio and social proof, and make sure to keep that "Contact me" button visible – it's your call to action! Make it obvious what the best and simplest method to contact you is, whether you utilize email forms or encourage people to contact you via social media.
Step 5: Update your portfolio regularly
Finally, keep in mind that your writing portfolio should be seen as a growing document. Sure, if you follow these procedures, your website will appear wonderful right now, but how will clients feel in a year or two when they need to employ someone and all of your examples are outdated? Will they be drawn to the portfolio with a mix of brand new and evergreen topics that they know will connect with their audience, or will they prefer the one with a mix of topical posts that haven't been hot since 2018?
An up-to-date writing portfolio demonstrates more than simply a recent topic matter; it also demonstrates that you care about presenting your finest work. You won't rest on your accomplishments but will continue to strive to produce exceptional work that achieves the outcomes your clients desire.
Building and maintaining a writing portfolio might take some time in the beginning, but once you get going, it gets a lot simpler. Each new achievement your portfolio achieves gives you another example to add to your collection – in many ways, a strong portfolio grows itself!