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Your Guide to Creating a Freelance Writing Portfolio

Your Guide to Creating a Freelance Writing Portfolio

If you’re a freelance writer, you must have a portfolio. 

No ifs, ands, or buts. This is non-negotiable. A freelance writing portfolio is an incredible platform to showcase your skills and talent to potential clients, and if you don’t have one, you’re missing out on countless opportunities. 

If you haven’t built a portfolio before, it can be difficult to know where to start. Which pieces should you include? Will your clients allow you to include them? What does a portfolio even look like?

Today, we’ll answer all these questions and more. As you’ll see, building a freelance writing portfolio shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Done right, that’s a time investment that will pay serious dividends, helping you to win new business and grow your freelance writing practice. 

What is a Freelance Writing Portfolio?

If someone is a chartered accountant or has passed the bar, a hiring manager knows that person has certain skills. But as a freelance writer, there isn’t any meaningful certification that serves as proof of your skill level. 

This makes it difficult for clients to judge your skills. A resume can only tell you so much about a writer: the proof is really in their writing. That’s the whole point of a freelance writing portfolio: to demonstrate your skills as a writer. 

A freelance writing portfolio is a collection of your best writing work, neatly packaged in a way that’s easy for potential clients to read and understand. In it, you’ll feature a variety of different written content: blog articles, pillars, white papers, marketing emails, social media posts, and so on. Potential clients read these samples to determine whether you’re a good fit for their business. 

Five Steps to Creating a Freelance Writing Portfolio

If you’re just getting started out in your professional writing career, creating a portfolio should be right at the top of your to-do list as soon as you’ve got your first few projects under your belt. It’s an indispensable tool in your ongoing, never-ending quest to close new clients for your business

Here are five simple steps you can follow to create your freelance portfolio in a couple of hours or less. 

1. Choose a Platform

Your first decision is the medium you’d like to build your portfolio on. You have all sorts of choices here: you could build a personal website, use a specialized service, or just create a simple PDF. Here are some pros and cons to consider for each option:

Build A Personal Website

Pros: this option offers you a lot of control over how you’d like to organize and present the information in your portfolio. You can also create additional website pages, such as a description of the packages you offer, pricing information, and your very own blog. 

Cons: building a website takes time, can be complicated, and will cost more than the other options on this list. It’s fine to aim for a website once you’re an established writer, but assuming you’re creating a portfolio for the first time, it’s best to keep things simple. 

Use a Specialized Service

Pros: these services, like writerfolio and Portfoliobox, are essentially website builders that are designed solely for creative professionals to create portfolios. This limits your design choices, making it easier for you to create a portfolio using a pre-built template. 

Cons: you’ll have to pay to use these services, although the monthly fees tend to be relatively affordable compared to a full-bore website. However, if you want to expand your portfolio into a full-service website later on, you might run into some challenges. 

Create a Simple PDF

Pros: This is the most straightforward method, and probably the one that makes the most sense for the majority of writers. Remember, clients aren’t hiring you for your ability to create a website – they’re hiring you to write. A simple, well-organized PDF or Google Doc can do just as good a job at showcasing your work as a website. 

Cons: provided you put a little bit of effort into designing your portfolio document, there aren’t really any drawbacks to this approach. 

2. Write a Short Bio

A portfolio isn’t just a bunch of hyperlinks to your work: it’s another opportunity to sell your skills and talents as a creative professional. Make sure you include a short bio that tells potential clients a little bit about yourself. 

You likely included all of this information in your application already, but having it with your portfolio puts your writing in context. You can also use this bio to convey additional information, such as the industries you specialize in and the types of content you prefer to write. 

3. Select Portfolio Pieces

This step is perhaps one of the most important. Your portfolio should be a well-curated collection of a variety of different writing samples that demonstrate your ability as a writer. 

Include pieces that cover a variety of industries, writing styles, content types, and more. Don’t include any more than ten or so pieces in your portfolio. Even if you have hundreds of thousands of words under your belt, you don’t want to overwhelm potential clients with a huge list of content. Just share the best of the best instead. 

Ideally, the content you include in your portfolio should be bylined under your name. But with the way freelance writing works, that’s not always possible. Don’t hesitate to include pieces that you’ve ghostwritten for your clients, so long as your contract with them permits it. Prioritize your most recent writing over older pieces wherever possible. 

4. Organize Your Portfolio

Potential clients should be able to quickly skim your portfolio and find the writing samples that are most relevant to their project. That means it’s important for you to think through the informational design of your portfolio. 

Pick a way to organize your writing samples and stick to it. You might choose to organize all of your blog writing samples under one heading, short-form copy under another heading, and so on. Alternatively, you could organize by the content topic: one category for writing for tech companies, another for writing for professional services firms, etc. 

5. Publish Your Portfolio

It can be uncomfortable putting your work out into the world for open judgment, but if nobody reads your portfolio, it isn’t benefiting you in any way. As soon as your portfolio is ready, publish it and begin using it in job applications. 

As your career progresses and your skills continue to develop, update your portfolio with new, better work. Your portfolio is a living, breathing document, and it’s important to update it regularly with fresh content that demonstrates your capabilities. 

Get More Freelance Writing Tips from Hire a Writer

If you’re an aspiring freelance writer just setting out on your career, you’re standing on the brink of an exciting journey. Along the way, you’ll meet fascinating people, work with interesting businesses, and digest an unfathomable amount of

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