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Freelancing Writing 101: How to Build a Freelance Portfolio

Team Pepper
Team Pepper
Posted on 6/01/228 min read
Freelancing Writing 101: How to Build a Freelance Portfolio

Table of Contents Why Do You Need a Freelance Writing Portfolio? How to Build a Portfolio for Freelancing What Should You Include in Your Portfolio?  Writing Portfolio Templates How is a Writing Portfolio Different From Other Portfolios? Conclusion  FAQs Starting off as a writer can be confusing at first. Even if you have had good… Continue reading Freelancing Writing 101: How to Build a Freelance Portfolio

Table of Contents

  • Why Do You Need a Freelance Writing Portfolio?
  • How to Build a Portfolio for Freelancing
  • What Should You Include in Your Portfolio? 
  • Writing Portfolio Templates
  • How is a Writing Portfolio Different From Other Portfolios?
  • Conclusion 
  • FAQs

Starting off as a writer can be confusing at first. Even if you have had good mentorship and decent talent, you will face many difficulties. Finding what to write about and where to pitch ideas is a task in itself. Add to that the task of being trusted with a piece to write. You have to prove your capabilities as a freelance writer to all the publications through your work samples, be it the digital or print medium.

Freelance portfolio building is what makes this task easy. A portfolio is a collated document that showcases your expertise and capabilities as a writer. If you are a finance writer, you can include the best of your financial blog pieces, articles, and other work samples you might have written for publications and clients in your portfolio. Similarly, if you are a fashion writer, include the best fashion articles that you have written. Don’t forget to mention your work with major publications if you have ever done it; even the smallest of tasks with them counts. 

If you are not an industry-specific writer, mention it at the beginning of your portfolio and include only the best, most significant of your writings. It is going to show prospective clients how easily adaptable and flexible you are according to the client’s needs. This will help you in getting published on different platforms across different fields. 

So, in simple words, a freelance writing portfolio is your personal brand as a writer. You have to advertise your freelance skills and expertise by collecting the best of your work to convince brands, publishers, and clients to work with you. This blog explores how to build a freelance portfolio

Why Do You Need a Freelance Writing Portfolio?

Let us look at some reasons to use a freelance writing portfolio. 

1. It increases your chances of employability

You need a writing portfolio because it can dramatically impact the kind of work you will receive in terms of quality and quantity, both for the better. If you are a young graduate looking for opportunities, you should definitely invest your time in creating a portfolio. It is going to communicate your skills and your devotion to future clients.

2. It is going to speak about your skills other than writing

A well-curated writing portfolio is going to speak about your skills other than writing. Above all, it can showcase both your organization skills and writing skills. You can then end up with gigs that pay your bills as well as contribute to your professional growth as a writer. 

3. It makes the client’s job easier

A portfolio makes it easier for your clients and publishers to see your work and assess your capabilities. The client will have to spend less time finding different links to your work and more time actually going through your content. Make the job easier for them, and they will be impressed in the first go. 

4. It avoids confusion

You must remember, showcasing your expertise and adaptability as a writer is what you need to convey while looking for a job. A writing portfolio does exactly that in a simple and hassle-free manner. There are many kinds of writing jobs. They can be journalistic, blog writing, copywriting, or social media marketing. The style and format of writing depends on the industry. 

Most of the time, the roles are specific, and clients are looking for the perfect match. It isn’t easy to convince them that you hold the expertise and are capable of adaptability. This is again where a writing portfolio comes to your rescue. According to niches or industries, you can curate your content to impress your clients (and retain them). It reflects how you are up to date with trends and technology. 

How to Build a Portfolio for Freelancing

Curating a content portfolio, however, is not an easy task. You have to set up a website, write about yourself, and attach links. Now that you know the reasons to have a portfolio, let us see how we can create one.

1. Include only the best work

Creating a freelance portfolio doesn’t mean you have to mention every piece you have written in your career. Even if you are a fresher, you must mention only the most significant work. You need to focus more on quality than quantity. Increasing the number of work samples will only make your profile look dull, and your potential clients will be faster in rejecting you because they wouldn’t have the time to read through everything. 

2. Learn the language

Writing as a profession uses different terms and jargon that you might be unfamiliar with as a fresher. You have to prove your capabilities as a writer and your familiarity with the field. Learn the lingo and jargon and use them actively in your portfolio so that the publisher/client is assured that you know about this field.

3. Try to make different portfolios for different niches

Try to make different portfolios for different niches as you try to navigate different industries. It is going to make your portfolios less confusing and more promising for your clients. Compiling all of your freelance portfolio samples in one place can add to the burden of your client, and they will have to fish through irrelevant samples, which might not reflect well on you. 

4. Choose easy plugins and neat website designs

Make your freelance portfolio easier to navigate for your clients. Make the layouts easier, fonts bigger, and make sure the links are working. You have to make your freelance portfolio as simple as possible. 

5. Write on-spec clips

On-spec clips are pieces of writing that haven’t been shared with publishers. It is short for “speculation”. Including them in your freelance portfolio can do wonders. They can act as work samples, or you can also get paid for those pieces if any publisher finds them convincing and decides to publish them. 

6. Keep the portfolio up to date

You have to create a portfolio and maintain it with constant retouching and updating, both in terms of format and content. If you hand out the same old portfolio that doesn’t mention your latest work and has a three-year-old layout, it will fail when it comes to creating a good impression on your clients. You have to make an effort to update your portfolio every once in a while. 

7. Share it on different platforms

Once you have curated your freelance portfolio with the latest work samples, you must share a link to it on different platforms where you have your professional presence. You can use social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. This will ensure wider visibility for your work. 

What Should You Include in Your Portfolio?

Although a freelance writing portfolio should include your writing specimens and bio, it can become quite confusing as a young writer to decide what other elements can be included in it. 

One of the freelancer portfolio tips is to make your domain interesting to look at. Plus, you can use symbols and good design to convey messages in a manner that makes it interesting for the reader. Apart from these points, here are a few more tips on how to build a portfolio for freelancing. 

1. An interesting bio

It is always a good idea to give the client an idea about what they will find in your portfolio. Describe your work and the kind of writer you are as a professional in two sentences, in the beginning, to market your skills and make yourself stand out. 

Your client/publisher would want to know your name, age, and educational qualifications to hire you, but many writers like you might have used the same language and tone to describe themselves. Using an interesting tone and describing only your most significant awards and achievements can make you come across as a unique candidate, and the client will be more likely to hire you. 

2. Recommendations

This tip on how to make a portfolio for freelancing matters the most. Getting recommendations from past employers and clients works in your favor by improving your credibility in the industry. It also assures the client that you are a reliable professional. 

3. Work samples

Most of the time, freelance portfolios carry more of the bio section than the work samples. It makes the entire exercise of making a freelance writing portfolio redundant, as a portfolio should be about your work. You can elaborately mention your education qualifications, awards, medals, and skills on your resume but not in your portfolio. Keep everything else limited and focus more on your work samples. 

Writing Portfolio Templates

Portfolios can be built on different websites and platforms. You can use websites like Contently, WordPress, Journo Portfolio, Writerfolio, Muck Rack, and Canva. There are a wide variety of designs available online, which you can refer to in order to make a portfolio that is relevant and concise. You can pick any suitable template and build your portfolio from scratch. Mentioned below are a few portfolio templates for your reference. 

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How is a Writing Portfolio Different From Other Portfolios?

A portfolio is primarily something that has a collection of work that you have done as a professional. Content writers, graphic designers, PR professionals, social media marketers, etc., are relying more and more on on-site portfolios to market their skills. However, every portfolio style is distinct. As a freelance content writer, your portfolio will be different from designers and marketers, in terms of the structure and content included in it. Here’s how your portfolio as a freelance writer is different from other portfolios:

Quite obviously, the content of a writing portfolio is going to be vastly different from that of other portfolios. Your portfolio will also include a short biography and then your work samples as a writer. A writing portfolio needs to have clippings and links to articles, blogs, and other forms of written content. 

As a freelance writer, your portfolio should demonstrate your language and writing skills, be it copywriting or content writing. If it’s a journalistic portfolio, it should be good when it comes to storytelling. A writing portfolio can include links to articles published online or soft copies of content pieces. 

Your portfolio is unique to you. It includes your own work, niche, and areas of interest. Hence, it is going to be different from other portfolios in all aspects. For this reason, you must carve out a unique and convincing portfolio for yourself. 

If you keep all these points in mind, whether it’s about the content, style, or format, you will definitely end up with a portfolio that showcases your talent and expertise as a writer. You have to put great effort into making it a unique portfolio that speaks for you and only you. Focus on your samples and a little on your bio so that it is a convincing freelance portfolio overall. 

Conclusion

Creating a writing portfolio from scratch can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are a fresher or beginner. However, by following effective freelancer portfolio tips and exposing yourself to designs and ideas online, you are sure to create a portfolio that clients will love. Not to mention, the above guide on how to build a freelance portfolio will help you in your journey of collating your work samples and showcasing them to your clients in the best of ways. 

FAQs

1. How many work samples are necessary to be included in a writing portfolio?

As mentioned earlier, you need to focus more on quality than quantity. Refrain from including all your work and choose only what’s the best.

2. Can you include school essays and college essays in a writing portfolio?

School and college essays are academic. Hence, they hardly make an impact. They will be an unnecessary addition that will make your client believe you don’t have enough professional experience. Include them only if they have been published by a well-known publisher or are related to the role you are seeking.

3. What kind of website design should one go for?

You should go for a website that is easy to work on. If you go for an elaborate setup and complex design, clients will find it difficult to decipher, and they might end up focusing on your work less.

4. What kinds of work samples should be included in a freelance portfolio?

The kind of work samples you must include totally depends on the work you have done in the past and the role you are applying for. If you are a writer who wants to write blogs for your client, only include your blog samples. If you are a ghostwriter, ensure that you have the necessary rights to use the work samples in your name.

5. How can building a portfolio help you get work?

A portfolio is a collection of your best work. It is a way to market yourself. You do not have to settle with one single portfolio; it can be tailored according to the needs of your clients and the roles you are applying for. Hence, by showcasing your best work, you can easily prove your capabilities and get jobs more easily.

6. Do you need to create separate portfolios for different niches?

It is always advisable to have your portfolios customized according to different niches. If you are comfortable writing in more than one niche, you can make separate portfolios and briefly mention all the niches you have written in previously.

7. What can I do with the portfolio after I am done making it?

You can send the link to your portfolio to your potential clients and publishers. You can also attach it to your social media accounts like Instagram and Twitter. You can use it on LinkedIn to get more jobs and create your professional presence. It is basically going to act as a tool to get more opportunities and visibility.

8. How often should you update your portfolio?

Updating your portfolio is not a task that you do every day. It is a fairly simple process that you can do after you are done with a role you think you want to include in your portfolio. The only rule that you need to follow is to add only your most significant work. This is also one of the most important freelancer portfolio tips.

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