The freelance writing industry is highly competitive, and, for that reason, you must constantly find ways to increase your visibility. Even though we’re discussing what you can put in your freelance writing portfolio, remember it’s never 100% complete. It’s a living resource you must continuously update to ensure potential clients see your highest quality work.
The Importance of Creating a Freelance Writing Portfolio
Maintaining an online freelance writing portfolio is the key to breaking into the industry. In addition to being highly competitive, there’s a massive demand for online content. Up to 72% of survey respondents indicate that it frees up their time for strategic tasks when they outsource content.
Creating a freelance writing portfolio is a critical part of your marketing efforts because it showcases your best skills to potential clients. Think of this asset as something you can use to differentiate you from others in the field. For example, you might have recommendations or achievements that set you apart. If they’re not in your portfolio, your targets won’t know you possess these skills or have these accomplishments.
What You Can Put in Your Freelance Writing Portfolio
Many freelance writers might not realize that some potential clients don’t consider them for a gig because they don’t have a portfolio (or one that matches their niche—remember that). Think of it as your selling tool. After contacting the client, your portfolio should show them why you’re the best choice.
Create a Writer’s Biography Explaining Who You Are
Before reading anything you write, companies want to know who you are and a little more about your background. That’s where your writer’s biography comes into play. Write a few paragraphs outlining your experience and professional background. Then, include the topics (or niches) you specialize in and validate everything using client recommendations, testimonials, and other professional accolades.
What to include in your freelance writing biography:
- Your name and job title (“content writer,” “freelance writer,” “journalist,” and the like)
- A short paragraph describing in detail who you are, what you do, and how you accomplish what you do.
- Another short paragraph diving deeper into your experience and accomplishments
- Social media links—consider keeping it to a professional network like LinkedIn.
Outline Your Previous Experience
While discussing who you are and what topics (or niches) you specialize in are critical components of a high-quality freelance writing portfolio, your samples rank highest in priority. You can approach this step in two ways—showcasing your existing writing or creating new content.
Add links to your existing work
If you already have links to your current work, look at which ones are the highest quality. Ask yourself:
- Are they recent (think—within the last two or three years)
- Are they free of grammatical and style errors?
- Do they showcase your writing skills the best?
- Do they fit the niche you’re marketing or trying to break into further?
Create new content
Creating new content is ideal if you’re trying to break into a new niche. Say you have ten years of retail experience, but you’ve been writing about a different topic—like education—because you felt passionate about it at the time. If you want to break into a new niche, it’s a good idea to show that you “can.” Taking the retail experience as an example, think back on:
- Your expertise as a retail manager
- The things you taught others during training and other day-to-day activities.
- How you streamlined and improved processes
- The benefits you brought to the job as a whole.
What to do if you have no experience
While many companies require experience before hiring a freelance writer, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get your foot into the door when starting. The trick is showing potential clients your skills and capabilities, and you can accomplish that by doing the following:
- Launch a LinkedIn profile: Fill it up with your background experience, and request recommendations from previous employers to showcase credibility, dependability, skills, and strengths.
- Create a freelance writing website: Fill the about, contact, blog, and other site pages with content showcasing your writing skills. Use your LinkedIn recommendations as fuel for your testimonials page.
- Network: Networking with other writers in groups and forums not only builds confidence, but you’ll learn the ropes by learning from others’ experiences in the field.
Feature Your Highest Quality Writing Clips
One of the most agonizing parts of determining what to put in your freelance writing portfolio is selecting clips. While the temptation might be to include every single thing you’ve ever written, that’s not always the best strategy. For example, if you’re trying to target the tech industry, they don’t want to see clips about real estate or fashion.
Remember, the clips you’re featuring represent the niche you’re targeting and how you’re branding yourself as a freelance writer. So, make sure you’re choosing your highest quality clips. The clips also represent the kind of work you’re willing to do. Shoot for between 10 and 20 writing samples.
- Blog posts (long and short form)
- Newspaper, magazine, or other print publications
- Promotional materials, including press releases and other sales collateral
- Profiles and (or) case studies
- News items, editorials, or op-eds
What to do if you don’t have writing clips
We all have to start somewhere and, when you don’t have any samples to include in your freelance writing portfolio, that can be intimidating. Launching a freelance writing career without any experience is similar to when a company creates a content strategy—you have to find your niche and learn how to market to your target audience.
Target your niche by:
- Self-publishing on platforms like Medium or your freelance writing website’s blog
- Finding blogs and websites within your niche accepting guest posts
- Creating niche assets, including eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, and other content your target audience wants
Include Recommendations and Testimonials
Client recommendations and testimonials validate everything you’re saying and showcasing about your freelance writing career. High-value recommendations are the secret to many freelance writers’ success. When potential clients can see social proof of the experience you’re detailing, it’s easier for them to trust you can do the job they need.
Before wrapping up your portfolio, finishing touches include adding a biography picture and other visuals. For example, if you have experience creating infographics or sourcing high-quality stock imagery, add those assets to your portfolio.
How Portfolios Differ from Resumes
You’ve probably heard from many experts that if you don’t have a resume, you won’t land a gig or get your foot through the door with a company. Resumes outline a prospect’s education, references, and work history. However, this isn’t always the right tool for freelance writers. Don’t get me wrong—some companies ask freelance writers for a resume or curriculum vitae. So, it doesn’t hurt to have a resume.
However, a resume doesn’t tell the entire story regarding your background or experience. It shows, instead of tells, what you’re capable of doing. For example, when potential clients can access your previous work, that shows them what they can expect if they choose you as a writer.
Ultimately, you’re showing potential clients that you:
- Have a writing background.
- Can write well.
- Have a stable of recommendations.
- Can produce high-quality content for them.
Keep Your Portfolio Up-to-Date to Consistently Land New Clients
Remember, you’re never 100% finished with your freelance writing portfolio. It’s your responsibility as a successful freelance writer to keep this information up-to-date frequently. If you don’t have a portfolio showing off your best work, you’re missing out on many writing opportunities. Create one today and use it to land new clients consistently.
What should a freelance writer portfolio include?
Include writing samples within your niche and showcases your skills. Don’t include samples featuring topics you’re no longer writing about or content lengths you’re not trying to sell (for example, if you’re trying to sell long-form content, it doesn’t make sense to feature short pieces).
How do I create a freelance writer portfolio?
Start by writing your biography, including your experience and professional background. Then, move on to adding writing clips and client recommendations.
What is a writing portfolio sample?
How do I make a portfolio with no experience?
You can create a portfolio with no experience by launching a blog, guest posting on other websites, creating other pieces of content (like eBooks, infographics, and more), and using self-publishing websites like Medium.