Creating a Freelance Writing Portfolio
Today I want to talk about one of the most important aspects of getting started as a freelance writer – your portfolio!
A writing portfolio is absolutely necessary when trying to get high paying and long term clients. Have samples of your writing will make clients take you more seriously and determine if you are a good fit for their brand/business.
That's not to say you won't have any luck getting clients if you're just starting out and don't have an abundance of samples in your portfolio. There are definitely clients out there willing to work with new writers, which is great news! We all had to start somewhere after all!
While it’s unlikely you will have a developed writing portfolio when you’re just starting out, you can still put samples of writing you’ve done on your own and update it as you get clients and writing opportunities. I still have writing samples of my work that was published by North Dakota State University while I was in college in my portfolio because
- I’m proud of it
- It highlights elements of my writing that I want my clients to see
So, how do you set up an online writing portfolio to show to your clients? It’s a lot easier than you may think!
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Pick a Platform for Your Portfolio
While I do recommend paying for a domain, that may not be feasible for everyone. When you’re starting out, you may not want to invest a lot of money in a website or writing portfolio right off the bat, which is totally okay!
If you want to go the free route, there are a number of platforms that work great for a writing portfolio but the two I’ve used in the past are:
I currently use Wix.com for my writing portfolio and I love pretty much everything about it. The first time I built my site, I used the premade templates offered by Wix and it was so simple. Everything was cohesive, easy to customize, and visually pleasing. If you choose to use Wix for your portfolio, I highly recommend starting out with the premade templates.
My current site was built using a combination of the templates and the freeform site editor. I tried to build it from scratch with the freeform site editor, but that was CRAZY. I do okay with computers and technology, but I’m definitely not a computer wiz!
You can go with the free version, which is what I did right away, or you can pay for a premium plan too. While I liked the free version because you still get a lot of bells and whistles with it, it comes with a lengthy web address that can be hard to remember and come off as unprofessional once you start putting yourself out there more. For example, your web address will look like this:
Converting your Wix site to a purchased plan is super easy though and they have a lot of different plan options, plus they usually have a deal for your first year. It’s a great place to start if this is your first time with this kind of thing.
You can also choose to go the self-hosted route with a web host like SiteGround or Bluehost and use the free WordPress download. While my portfolio was created and hosted by Wix, I chose to go with SiteGround for The Quiet Type. It's easy to use and there are a bunch of templates to really customize your content.
Add Content to Your Website
Once you’ve picked your platform, you need to fill your site with content. Some of the important things to include are:
TIP: If you need a little inspiration on what to include for content, browse the web to see what other freelance writers are doing.
Your “about” page is where prospective clients are going to get a feel for who you are as a writer. You can choose to keep a super professional tone or you can make it fun. Tell a story about how you came to this part of your life. What inspired you?
If you decide to let your creativity loose and keep your about page laid back, just make sure you don’t stray too far from your purpose or pepper your content with curse words!
This is pretty self explanatory, but your services page is going to give your audience a low-down of what you can do for them. Telling potential clients what you can offer is essentially another way to pitch yourself to them! This section is great for introducing your niche, if you have one. What industry or style do you like to write in? What are you good at?
Some people also include their rates here, but I prefer to not disclose them on my site. I’ve found projects to have a lot of variables and it’s hard for me to give them a “one size fits all” label. You never know when something will take longer than you thought or if you will have to do a lot of outside research! If it’s something you’re comfortable disclosing, go for it! It all just comes down to personal preference.
The most important part of your website is going to be your portfolio. This is where you want to include any notable work you’ve done. My portfolio consists of work I’ve done on my own that I have had published as well as work I’ve done for clients. If you don't have writing samples yet, don't worry. You can always create a couple in your chosen niche and self publish them on your blog or LinkedIn. Worst case scenario, just send prospective clients links to your work in Google Docs – but make sure you select “view only” when creating your link!
You can organize it pretty much however you want to, but make sure it’s cohesive. For example, mine is organized by client and within the client page I indicate what services I provided and include links to the relevant work.
You ALWAYS want to have a contact page! This is how prospective clients are going to reach you. Wix has awesome contact forms that you can customize to collect specific information when someone contacts you.
Make sure you list your contact information here, too. That would include your name or business name, email, and a phone number. If you are working out of a physical office, you can also include your address. That way potential clients are still able to contact you if they don’t feel comfortable using the form.
Link to Your Portfolio
Viola! Now that you have your brand spankin’ new portfolio done, it’s time to show it off! I suggest:
- Posting a link to it on your social media
- Adding a link to the signature of your business email
- Update your LinkedIn
- Create business cards with your website on it
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start sending pitches! Have you created your portfolio yet? I'd love to see it, so send me a link!