A career as a freelance writer can be very rewarding. Getting paid to write is a writer’s dream. But it’s one that requires hard work and dedication.
If you’ve got a passion for writing and you want to turn it into a full-blown career, you first need to learn how to build a freelance portfolio that will generate business. Here’s how.
Build your website
Before you start writing, you’ll first need to a website to display your work. WordPress is the most popular choice for creating an online portfolio, as it’s free and easy to use. But if you’re more tech-savvy, you might find creating a website from scratch preferable instead.
As a general rule of thumb, your freelance portfolio should include:
- About page: be clear and concise with who you are and what services you provide.
- Contact page: this could be a simple form, or you might offer your email address or social profiles.
- Blog: as well as being good for SEO, blogs also display your value and expertise to potential clients.
- Portfolio: a collection of your most recent work, with samples and links to live posts.
It’s important to be discerning when you’re choosing which pieces to display on your portfolio. It can be tempting to post every bit of work you’ve ever done, but as is often the case, quality is better than quantity.
Select 5-10 pieces of your very best work and display them prominently. While you can certainly link off to other work you’ve done, ensure your best work is placed front and center.
Find your writer’s niche
Most freelance writers, while certainly talented enough to do so, don’t write for any and every industry out there. Instead of casting a wide net, you can catch more fish by being super-specific with the kind of work you do.
Finding your niche is important because it helps potential clients determine whether or not you’re a good fit for them. Zeroing in on a specific industry show that you’re authoritative in your subject, rather than possessing only a shallow knowledge.
Potential clients will often want to see an example of your previous work before signing you up. For example, providing a healthcare brand with a sample piece on digital marketing (no matter how well written) won’t cut the mustard.Finding your niche is important because it helps potential clients determine whether or not you're a good fit for them. #freelance #writer Click To Tweet
Once you’ve identified your niche, do some keyword research around it and optimize your site accordingly. This will help your portfolio appear in search queries from clients looking for writers in your niche.
Deliver authority and value
Potential clients will view dozens of writing portfolios as they search for a freelancer. To make your freelance portfolio stand out from your competitors, you need to go the extra mile.
As well as displaying a collection of your best, most recent work, consider offering something extra that prospective clients won’t find anywhere else.
Every portfolio should include a blog. It’s a chance for you to pass on knowledge and convey your authority on a subject. But go beyond the blog and offer something no-one else does.
For example, you could set up a basic e-commerce store and sell an online course or product related to your niche through it. Alternatively, buying an existing business and revamping the stock is a simple trick to save you time. Or you could host webinars on your chosen niche and charge a nominal fee for attending.
Integrating these with your portfolio doesn’t just provide you with an extra source of income. It’s also a chance for you to display industriousness and authority in your given industry too.
Go beyond simply displaying your work on your portfolio. Dazzle prospective clients by offering value and authority to make your portfolio stand out from the crowd.
Implement a guest post strategy
Perhaps the easiest and most popular way to build up your portfolio of written work is through guest posting.
In a nutshell, this involves emailing websites, blogs, and digital publications and asking if you can write for them. You might already have some sites you want to write for in mind already. But if not, a quick Google search can help you find potential opportunities.
Simply enter your industry keyword and “+ write for us”, and you’ll find dozens of possible options:
Before pitching your ideas, read their guidelines and existing content thoroughly to get a feel for the kind of thing they want to publish.
Regularly writing for sites in your niche doesn’t just build up your portfolio either. Getting your name in industry publications helps build visibility for your work and your services too.
With guest post outreach, it’s important to be open about what you want. Politely request a backlink to your portfolio to help potential clients find you. And for outreach at scale, use email automation to coordinate your efforts with ease.
Editor’s note: For guest blogging outreach, I suggest you use Ninja Outreach*. You can find relevant contacts of bloggers, create a drip email campaign to submit to them, and automate the sending process so you can just wait for their replies.
Did you learn how to build a freelance portfolio from this post?
Going freelance as a professional writer is a big step, and requires enormous effort and commitment — but it’s doable. Create and build up a strong online portfolio, and put a regular guest post strategy in place. In doing so, you will get visibility for your work and your services. You’ll soon build up a strong client base that will form the basis of a successful career as a freelance writer.
About the author
Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant
I love working with brands and businesses, as well as running my own ecommerce stores. Big advocate of social media storytelling, and I’m also a huge animal lover.