Once you’ve decided to dip your toe into the freelance writing waters and become a freelance writer, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the advice that veterans offer.
Some suggest to start a big website, tweet every hour, blog each day and participate in multiple forums online. Yikes!
Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing these things, but it’s not where you should start.
The first thing you should do when setting up your freelance writing business is to create your portfolio.
You want a portfolio that will wow potential clients. After all, your portfolio is usually what will determine if someone hires you or not.
It’s your chance to show off your writing style and skills. Think of it like your audition. You want the client to read your portfolio and think that you are the best writer for the job.
But how do you get started building your portfolio if no one’s hired you yet?
Here we’ll take a look at some of the best ways to build your freelance writing portfolio that will let you shine.
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Offer Your Services for Free
This advice is a little controversial. Some say you should never sell yourself short and work for free.
But I see it as an opportunity to help someone else, get a nice piece of content for your portfolio AND get some feedback on your writing.
You could even do it as volunteer work and offer your services to a non-profit. You could reach out to an organization you like and mention that you could help them.
Explain that you’d like to offer your writing for free in exchange for a testimonial and a clip in your portfolio.
Be specific when you offer free help. If you’re a freelance blogger, don’t volunteer to handle every aspect of their blog for a year for free.
Instead, offer a smaller deal. Maybe you could write one short blog post a week for a month. This gives the project a definite end date and makes it obvious that you’ve fulfilled your duties.
Create Your Own Samples
Another way to build your writing portfolio is to create your own samples of your work. This works best if you’ve already choosen a niche to start writing in.
For example, if you want to be a copywriter for small, women owned businesses, then create a few short articles that would appeal to these specific clients.
If you’d like to be a freelance blogger for health and wellness sites, then start your own wellness blog or start guest posting for other popular health blogs.
This will show your potential clients that you “get them” and their needs.
You don’t even have to tell your prospecting clients that your portfolio projects are just samples. Most clients won’t care about that detail. They just want to know you have the skills to help them.
Partner with Other Freelancers
When building your portfolio as a freelance writer, why not reach out to another freelancers where your skills could create a great combination.
Let’s say you offer copywriting skills, then reach out to a freelancer who sells web design services.
It might be that some of their customers are looking for copywriting referrals. You could even offer a discount to clients you meet through the web designer. Networking is a great way to find potential clients.
When you have clients that are looking for web design services, you can direct them to the freelancer that you’ve partnered with. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Creating your portfolio can feel intimidating. But keep in mind that every successful freelancer was once a beginner without a portfolio, too. They didn’t give up and neither should you.
What to do After You Have Content for Your Writing Portfolio
Okay. So let’s say you’ve gotten enough content where you feel pretty good about your portfolio.
The next step is making it easily available for prospective clients. This is when having a website becomes very useful.
I’ve hired freelance writers in the past, and one of the things that always sold me was their portfolio on their site. They’d leave me a landing page that housed each piece.
I could then go and explore freely all of their writings. This approach screams “I’m a professional and know what I’m doing.”
This was way more effective in grabbing my attention that the writers who’d state, I can email you examples upon request. For me, I just wanted to review the writing, hire and move on.
If you want to learn more about starting a freelance writing career you may want to look into The Horkey Handbooks Freelance Writing course.
It’s packed with useful information and will walk you through setting up your business step by step. Even teach you how to create your website!
And make sure to grab their 200+ writing niches guide. It’s totally free and a great resource for aspiring writers.