When you’re starting your freelance writing business, you need to have a freelance writer portfolio. These are the writing samples that you have to showcase to potential clients as proof of your writing abilities and style.
Freelance writer portfolio is extremely important, as without it the majority of your prospective clients will not even consider hiring you. Think about it, you wouldn’t hire someone if you weren’t at all familiar with their work.
Many beginning freelance writers struggle with building their portfolio. Beginner freelance writers do not have previous clients who can give them recommendations. They did not get published in papers or blogs. For this reason, experienced freelance writers have an advantage when it comes to building their freelance writer portfolio. Creating your freelance writer portfolio should be taken seriously. Freelance writing is a business, whether you accept it or not. You should follow the correct steps to get maximum success.
FOR AN EFFECTIVE PORTFOLIO, CHOOSE YOUR NICHE
Success in freelance writing often depends on choosing a niche to write in. When it comes to creating a portfolio, selecting your niche should be one of the first steps you take. Freelance writer portfolio is about quality, not quantity. Writing a few pieces in your specific niche will be more useful for you than having more samples in unrelated niches.
When you write in a niche, you can command higher prices for your services. You will specialize in a particular field, and know your niche thoroughly. Moreover, because you will be an expert in your niche, you will also establish authority in your field.
If you’re having difficulty selecting your niche, get access to my worksheet to help you figure out your niche.
TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE WRITER PORTFOLIO, DETERMINE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
You need to know who you’re writing for. It’s that simple. You need to create a target audience or a buyer persona for your freelance writing portfolio. When you do this, you know how to write, whether to use formal or casual language. Moreover, you will know whether you’re going to write articles, blog posts, or educational pieces. When you create a detailed target audience, you can put yourself in your audience’s shoes, and figure out what topic would interest them.
To determine your target audience, you need to ask specific questions. Moreover, sometimes it works even better when you assign a name and picture to your target audience. You can have more than one niche and more than one target audience. For example:
One of my target audiences for my legal writing niche is Lisa. She is married, has 2 children under 5. Husband works full time. She has a nanny who helps out with the kids, but she’s always short on time. She is an attorney who owns her own practice, has 3 people working under her. Lisa’s practice pace picked up recently, so she is swamped with work, but with family and children, and work responsibilities, she does not have enough time to finish her projects.
Now, this is where I come in, and offer my services to help Lisa. I can write legal briefs and motions for her because those take up a lot of time. By doing this, I am solving Lisa’s main problem, which is a shortage of time. I am also helping myself because Lisa is only too happy to pay me to help her.
You see how when you break down your target audience, and understand them on a deeper level, you can easily cater your writing to your audience’s liking.
START CREATING YOUR FREELANCE WRITER PORTFOLIO
When you’re a beginner freelance writer, most likely you don’t have a portfolio. You want to apply for jobs, but they all want at least 2-3 samples from you in a relevant field. So how do you create a freelance writer portfolio as a complete beginner? I am happy to tell you there are several ways to build your portfolio.
1. START YOUR OWN NICHE BLOG
The easiest option for creating a few writing samples for yourself is to create a niche blog for yourself where you publish your own posts. Select that same niche or niches that you want to write in for your prospective clients. Your website/blog will itself be a portfolio for you. Depending on who your client is, you can even direct them to your site, and have them take a look at your blog.
A good example of a freelance writer who utilizes her own website and blog is Chloe Brooks. She is a content marketing and social media freelance writer. She has her own website and blog. Chloe writes on topics that she would usually get hired for. Check out her site here.
When creating posts for your own blog, make sure to follow some guidelines for your blog post to come out nice and shiny. You can read my post on how to write blog posts that get read by clicking here.
Don’t get lazy with doing keyword research. At the end of the day, you want your content to rank high also so that your client will have confidence in your skills that you can do the same for them. Make sure to set aside time for finding keywords, analyzing competitor keywords, etc.
2. START PITCHING FOR GUEST POSTS TO CREATE YOUR FREELANCE WRITER PORTFOLIO
Guest posting has been and probably will be one of the best ways to build your writer portfolio. The trick is to pitch to blogs and publications that are in or related to your niche. Also, when pitching, do your best to some research in advance. Your goal is to pitch and write for blogs or publications that have authority, high domain rankings. The reason for this is that once you do publish, you can get traffic and social shares from their followers. Moreover, writing for an authoritative site will help you establish credibility.
When you find a blog that accepts guest posts, write your best pitching email and send it out. Make sure to read the guest post guidelines carefully if they have one before pitching so that you’re not missing any important details when it comes to guest posting.
Moreover, you want to find out what type of attribution you’re going to get. Are they going to include a byline or a link to your site? Is there going to be an author bio? These are details that you want to go over before you write and submit your full post.
When pitching, you should pay close attention to the style and tone of the blog, and even the tone of the actual guidelines. This will tell you a lot about best practices when it comes to pitching to that particular site. They may expect you to be formal and use fancy language. Or, the complete opposite might be true. They might prefer more personable, easy to digest language. Just meet their expectations and follow the directions to the letter.
HOW TO FIND BLOGS THAT ACCEPT GUEST POSTS
If there are particular blogs that you read on a regular basis and love, you can find out if they accept guest posts from their website. You can see if there are contributions by different writers. If yes, then chances are that blog accepts guest posts. If this method does not work, you can always search their site to see if you can find a section on guest posting. You can also get in touch with the owner of the site or the one in charge of posting and publishing.
Make sure to follow the blog on all the social media platforms, interact with them, be on their mailing list, comment on their blog posts, etc. Your goal is to show engagement with their site.
If you can’t find blogs to pitch to, then one handy way to find blogs is to go on Google and just search the niche that you want to write in and add a term such as “guest posting” or “write for us” or “become a contributor.” For example, if I wanted to pitch to blogs who write about content marketing, I would search “content marketing+write for us.” This should bring up many different search results, among which will also be pages from different blogs that explain their guest posting guidelines and how to apply.
Guest posting can either for free, meaning you don’t get paid (but make sure you get some links back to your blog, and byline or author bio). Guest posts can also be paid. Not every site pays for guest post contributions. However, there are several sites and blogs who do pay for guest posts. Check out this post by James Parsons where he lists blogs that pay for guest posts.
3. OFFER TO WRITE FOR NON-PROFITS FOR FREE IN EXCHANGE FOR A TESTIMONIAL
Most non-profits are established entities and carry some weight and authority to their name. You can find a non-profit on any subject. Find one that interests you personally and is in your niche, or at least related to it. Write a good piece of content for them, and in exchange get a testimonial that you can showcase on your website, maybe even in your portfolio section.
Generally, writing for free is not something I would consider doing. However, when you’re building a portfolio, you might have to do that if the entity you’re writing for is considered an authority on the subject matter, has a great reputation and following, and is established. Due to all the good attributes, these companies usually have a great following. This, in turn, can become a traffic source for you.
4. UPDATE AND REPUBLISH YOUR PREVIOUS CONTENT
If you have old blog posts or articles, you can always update them and republish. When republishing, don’t post it to the same site as the original piece. Think of places like Medium and LinkedIn. Change the old sample a little bit, add some new and fresh content. You can also change the voice of your writing. If your blog post is casual in nature and uses every-day language, you can spruce this up too.
Based on who your target audience is, you can modify your voice and tone to match that of your target audience. Therefore, you can recycle an old piece of content and use it as a sample in your portfolio.
5. CREATE YOUR OWN FREELANCE WRITER PORTFOLIO SAMPLES
Lastly, there is another way to create your freelance writer portfolio. You can always actively work on creating it, without the need to publish it anywhere. For example, you can just write for the sake of writing. Create an imaginary business or company, or whoever your target audience is. The imagine your target audience has a particular problem, and you’re trying to solve that problem.
Write a sample based on that as if it’s a real-life situation. Include these writings in your portfolio. Remember, with every new job you get, you can always ask for a testimonial also to improve your reputation and increase your credibility.
For a prospective client to hire you, you need to have a writer portfolio. It’s definitely not the only factor that is important, but it’s one of the important ones. In this post, we talked about ways for a beginner freelance writer to create their freelance writer portfolios. You should not limit yourself to just one method. Read through this list and pick 2-3 that appeal to you the most and start working on it.
Are there any methods that you use for creating your freelance writer portfolio that I haven’t mentioned? Please comment and share below. Also, if you enjoyed reading this post, you would help me tremendously if you click on the social sharing buttons, and shared and pinned. Thank you 🙂