How to Build a Writing Portfolio

Do you have a way with words that gets people to sit up and take notice? Do you like working at your own pace and don’t wish to be tied down in a full-time 9-5 job? Do you want to save money by taking advantage of write-offs on your freelance writer taxes?

If you’ve answered yes to both questions, then freelance writing is something you should consider. Online writing for freelancers is very lucrative no doubt, but it comes with its own set of challenges. To turn your side hustle into a profitable freelancing career, you need to have a steady stream of new clients and writing gigs coming your way. But you can only do that if you have a portfolio.

If you don't know how, don't worry. The team at Keeper Tax will walk you through how to build a writing portfolio.

It is a limited collection of your best writing works that can be made available to prospective clients.  It needs to hold some of your best works especially on the topics or subjects that are your writing niche. In other words, your writing portfolio is your calling card and it gives clients looking to hire writers, an idea about your skills.

YOUR PORTFOLIO CAN EITHER MAKE OR BREAK YOU, SO IT NEEDS TO BE BUILT WITH A LOT OF THOUGHT

If you've decided you're cut out to be a freelance writer, you'll need a solid writing portfolio that showcases your writing skills in the niche you are proficient in. No matter how good you are with words, you will need a portfolio to increase your presence and visibility.

The idea behind a portfolio is to present your work to prospective clients so they can understand your expertise, writing style, and writing skills. If you're new to the freelance writing industry, you might be wondering how to build a portfolio with minimal or no experience. These simple tips will help you build a portfolio even without any prior experience.

Strategies for Building a Freelance Writing Portfolio

Start Your Blog

Blogging is an effective way of creating an impressive writing portfolio site. You can blog about a specific niche, a cause you are passionate about, or even a subject you consider yourself an expert on. Ensure you publish pertinent articles regularly.

These blog articles could be the building blocks of your portfolio since you can use them to showcase your writing ability and online writing portfolio. The appealing aspect of a blog is that you can produce a customized portfolio without relying on other people or companies. Furthermore, you have the freedom to write on whichever topic and experiment without following anyone's style.

For instance, if your specialty is personal finance, a great way to begin portfolio building is by launching a blog on finance. Simply buy a domain name, a content management system, and start writing away. WordPress is the easiest content management system to use to host your own website. They have cheap templates you can install to make your writer website look stunning.

Make Sure Your Blog Addresses Common Or Related Pain Points

If you are a blogger, this could make your blog increasingly popular over time, leading to business opportunities. Your blog won't merely showcase your best work, but instead, you could also generate a regular income stream via advertising through content marketing.

Article Marketing

You might also want to consider writing free with the goal of maximizing the marketing value of your written articles. For instance, you might want to submit your pieces to huge article directories. This strategy is ideal when you've built a reputation and are simply seeking increased exposure.

You'll want to send free pieces or guest posts to sites or blogs that are in the same niche as you. In turn, you can link potential clients to the articles. You could also send them links to your online freelancer portfolio by uploading your work to clippings.me.

Find Clients on Freelance Websites

Working on various freelance sites is a great method of developing a writer's portfolio. However, numerous writers avoid this strategy because these sites typically demand consistency and determination. But, if you're seeking long-term rewards, you must be willing to put in the extra work. Therefore, consider signing up on freelance websites such as Upwork and include the necessary information.

For instance, you'll need to develop an attractive profile, respond to various job offers, and complete all the orders promptly. Ensure you work sincerely to earn good profile rankings and after a couple of months, you'll probably have a successful portfolio. Once you secure good ratings and reviews, your account will showcase your experience and professionalism as a writer.

Pitch to Blogs and Publications

Guest posting could land writing opportunities by pitching ideas to blogs and publications even if you are a newbie copywriter. This is similar to spec work except you gauge their interest before you work on a piece. Typically, a pitch comprises a proposed headline, story idea, and a summary of why the idea is a good match for a particular publication.

Here, you'll want to use bullet points. Don't concentrate too much on narrating your story. Rather, show why it would interest the publication's audience and indicate the approach you would take. You might want to begin with minor outlets such as niche blogs and websites instead of pitching to renowned outlets such as the New York Times. With some practice and commitment towards refining your pitch, you could land a couple of guest posts.

Work With Agencies for Content Production

This strategy will help you gain considerable exposure while simultaneously helping you develop a diverse portfolio. While some agencies don't pay well, you'll certainly learn a lot from them.

Keep in mind that different agencies have unique prerequisites for hiring writers. If you lack previous experience, you'll probably write a test article, which will most often be unpaid. If you lack a portfolio, an unpaid test article might come in handy; you can use it as a sample later.

Once the test article undergoes approval, the agency will discuss their payment terms and you could start working with them if the terms suit you. While working with those agencies, you might want to try various kinds of writing. This way, you'll gain considerable exposure that will help you develop a varied writing style as well as a diverse portfolio.

Make sure you save the pieces you've written, so they could serve as samples. Just ensure you aren't breaching any NDAs. You should only include their content in your portfolio once you obtain the appropriate permission.

Elements to Include in a Writing Portfolio

There are no rules when it comes to what to include in a portfolio. Ultimately, the objective is to make prospective clients and business owners confident that you can deliver the necessary work to generate results with your online writer portfolio. You'll do this by including the following elements in your portfolio.  

Biography

This section will offer a brief explanation of who you are and the type of copywriter you are and what type of copywriting or writing services you deal with.

Your Biography Sets The Stage For Your Samples

Just ensure you keep it brief. If you desire to provide additional information, link to a more comprehensive resume or portfolio page. Alternatively, you could include an FAQ section or a segment with more links to your samples as well as screenshots or videos of testimonials or case studies.

Social Media Links

Make sure you emphasize your online presence using links to social media profiles such as Twitter and LinkedIn. This industry demands constant brand building, so you can use social media as a means of building your authority and credibility, giving prospective clients a sense of confidence.  

Ensure that your social media profiles offer more information on the type of work you do. Don't link to something like Pinterest or Instagram unless they equally serve your freelance writing objectives.

Writing Samples

While this might seem obvious, your portfolio must integrate sufficient samples to give people an idea of your writing expertise. However, they shouldn’t be too many. Potential employers should be in a position to go through your portfolio easily without having to scan through a huge volume of everything you’ve written.

Establishing the balance will depend on your area of expertise and your experience. Although 10-20 samples is a good average, don't restrict yourself to a particular number. On that note, don’t go overboard either!

Site Navigation

If you want potential clients to get through your portfolio easily, a simple design and organization are crucial. Employers shouldn't struggle to locate content that's most applicable to their business.

Make Sure Your Site Navigation Is Great Besides Being SEO-Optimized

SEO-optimization will yield higher search engine ranks while helping marketers assess your work. Keep in mind that SEO will increasingly play a crucial role in your capacity to land a writing job. At the least, you should demonstrate that you've mastered the technique of on-page SEO to help clients pursue their target keywords.

Call to Action or CTA

Visitors should identify how to contact you. Terming it as a call-to-action instead of merely listing your contact details will increase the conversions your portfolio obtains.

Recommendations

For many freelance writers, their success lies in the high-value recommendations and reviews integrated into their writing portfolio. Building your portfolio with social proof lets potential clients know that you can be trusted to accomplish the task.

It's important to note that not all freelance writers are fortunate enough to have a range of recommendations at their disposal. Consequently, you need to adopt the practice of requesting assessments after project completion to boost your portfolio's value.

Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Freelance Business

Grammatical Errors

Although it might appear minor, something as seemingly trivial as a typo could damage the professionalism you've developed in your writing portfolio.  Therefore, grammatical errors or misspelled words diminish your work while giving your site a shoddy vibe.

If you were in a different occupation besides writing, occasional grammatical errors would be inconsequential. However, even a single error could turn off potential clients when trying to demonstrate your writing prowess.

Additionally, visitors to your site won't give it their full attention as long as careless errors are there to distract them. Ensure you edit your work repeatedly and send it to external sources such as friends or hire a paid editor.

Inadequate Contact Information

The mere thought of posting your name publicly can be nerve-wracking, especially with the ongoing emphasis on privacy and internet safety. While it's advisable to be prurtdent, remember your portfolio acts like a website, so you should treat it as such. In the same way, you wouldn't choose a service provider with insufficient or no contact information, clients will not choose to work with you if there’s no way they can reach you.

Ineffective Design

These days, numerous tools exist, which can help you create a successful portfolio at an affordable cost. Although the design isn't the most crucial constituent of a writing portfolio, you must consider it as part of the package.

You'll want to avoid overdone sites and instead opt for a streamlined and sleek website that's easy to load. Remember, potential clients are probably busy, so the last things they want to encounter are slow loading or graphics-heavy websites; these could be the difference between a click to your page or another website.

Insufficient Personal Information

The “About US” section on a website is one of the most clicked on a portfolio website, so make it worthwhile. Ensure you include a personal and genuine bio instead of a rigid introduction that readers will disregard as soon as they've read it.

Paul Koullick

Paul Koullick

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Paul is the co-founder and CEO of Keeper. He has been in the tax and financial industry for more than half a decade. In his free time, he loves to go jogging, playing chess, and helping people find tax write offs.

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Note: at Keeper Tax, we're on a mission to help freelancers overcome the complexity of their taxes. That sometimes leads us to generalize tax advice. Please reach out via email if you have questions.

Discover the tax write-offs you've been missing

Keeper Tax automatically finds tax deductions among your purchases. On average, people discover write-offs worth $1,249 in 90 seconds.

Download Keeper Tax→

Discover the tax write-offs you've been missing

Keeper Tax automatically finds tax deductions among your purchases. On average, people discover write-offs worth $1,249 in 90 seconds.

Download Keeper Tax→
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