01 Dec How to Create a Freelance Writing Portfolio [Without Experience]
There you are, sitting at the bus stop with your coffee and dog-eared copy of Pride and Prejudice for what feels like the fifteenth time. As you sip your lukewarm joe and flip through Austen’s pages, a thought occurs to you: “What if I could be an editor? Or a writer? Or even just get paid for writing outside of school assignments?” Your mind begins to wander as the bus pulls up to take you home.
Then it hits you—you can be! You can write anything that comes into your head and get paid for it—all while wearing pajamas or whatever else suits your fancy. You think about all those other writers out there who make money doing what they love, whether it’s freelance writing, blogging, or running their own bookstores (if only!). If they can do it, so can I!
If you’re anything like me, you may be wondering how to start freelance writing but are skeptical about how you’re going to sell yourself as a confident entrepreneur. When I was first getting started in the industry, I had no experience and very little confidence in my abilities as an entrepreneur. In fact, I was so nervous about showing off my work that at one point I accidentally sent an old resume instead of sample work (oops).
Not only did sending out resumes make me feel like an impostor—and not only did it result in zero responses—but it also made me feel like everyone else who sent them out must be more qualified than me. This feeling of inadequacy kept me from sharing anything I wrote online until I finally decided to put myself out there despite my overwhelming fear that people would judge me.
In the digital age, more writers than ever are turning to freelance side hustles. But if you want to stand out from the competition, you’ll need a portfolio to show off what you’ve got.
What Is a Freelance Writing Portfolio?
A freelance writing portfolio is a collection of samples of your writing. A freelance writing portfolio can be in any form you want, and it can function as either a website or as a digital one-pager. You may even decide to create both!
Let’s find out how to create a freelance writing portfolio, even if you don’t have experience.
Step 1. Identify Your Niche
The first step in creating a freelance writing portfolio is to identify your niche. This will make it easier for you to create your portfolio later on because you’ll know exactly what kind of content to include.
For example, if you’re interested in writing about travel, then consider how many different angles there are to explore within that topic. Does it matter whether your stories focus on budget travel or luxury? Do you want to write about destinations around the world or just one country?
You may not know exactly what you want to focus on just yet, but consider the industries that pique your interest—you can always adjust your niche down the road.
Step 2. Understand Your Genius
There are a lot of things to consider when creating your portfolio, but one of the most important is understanding your Genius. You need to take time and think about who you are, what you’re good at, what makes you unique, and how that can be applied to freelance writing work.
To start figuring out the unique skills you have as a writer, try using this method:
- List all of the skills that come naturally to you that no one else seems to have in their repertoire (or at least not as well). These should include everything from writing style, grammar skills, and organization—all the way down to personality traits like being funny or creative when it comes time for brainstorming ideas.
- Write down which ones are stronger than others so they stand out more prominently when someone reads through the list—these will likely become assets in future projects!
Step 3. Know Your Audience
To build a portfolio that attracts clients, you first need to know who your audience is. What do they want and how can you speak to them in a way that’s meaningful and engaging, while also making sure they know exactly what to expect from you? Can you think of someone who would pay money for these services?
As I mentioned earlier, even the best writers have trouble selling themselves if they haven’t done so before. This is especially true when it comes time for freelancers to pitch their work. Make sure that when selling yourself as an asset through writing samples or resumes, you’re able to convince potential clients why they should hire someone like yourself over someone else.
Once you understand who your ideal audience is, you can work on how you’re going to land freelance writing clients.
Step 4. Gather Examples (Or Create Spec Work)
This step is where the real work begins. If you’re a new writer, it’s likely that you don’t have any examples of your freelance writing to show off yet. You can create spec work (writing samples for free), or choose to use the examples that you’ve already created if you have some. Either way, this activity will help you build up your portfolio.
If creating spec work sounds like an intimidating task, take some time to reflect on why it’s important for potential clients to see your writing in action before they hire someone new. They want reassurance that their money won’t be wasted on something generic and boring—and they’ll only get that reassurance if they see what kind of quality writing experience comes from working with someone like yourself!
Spec work also gives them an idea of how well suited their project could be for someone as talented as yourself—and then maybe even convince them that there’s no one else who would do better than hiring someone who understands exactly what needs to be done so well.
Step 5. Choose Where to Host Your Portfolio
The next step is choosing where and what type of portfolio you want to showcase your work in. For this purpose, the best option would be creating an online portfolio on one of the many digital builders out there like Squarespace or Wix.
These hosting sites are all simple enough for beginners but come with a variety of features so that they can look exactly how you want them to. Just remember, spend more time on the copy than on the design—after all, you’re a writer!
Step 6. Add Your Portfolio to Your Social Profiles
Add your freelance writing portfolio to your social profiles and email signature. This is the easiest way for potential clients to get a sense of what you’re about and what you can do for them. You want this information to be easily accessible, so don’t put it at the bottom of a long list or in an obscure spot where people won’t be able to find it.
Make sure you have a professional profile on all channels that are important for connecting with clients (LinkedIn, TikTok, etc.). Having one is almost mandatory these days—and if yours isn’t up-to-date and professional, both freelancers and employers will pass over your qualifications as unprofessional or sloppy.
Have a clear call to action that leads people into reading more about their project with specific details like the budget amount and due date before they even reach the end of your email signature!
Freelance Writing Portfolio FAQs
While there are many things to consider, we’ve outlined the core questions below. Read on to get your answers!
Where should you host your freelance writing portfolio website?
Choose a host that offers a free trial. If you want to get started with the website, but aren’t sure how it will work out, choose a hosting provider that offers a free trial. This way, if things don’t go well or there are some issues with your site, then at least you won’t be stuck paying for something that isn’t working out for you.
Choose an easy-to-use host. A good freelance writing portfolio website should be simple enough for anyone on your team or client roster to figure out without breaking their brain trying too hard at first glance—and so should be the process of setting up your site!
Why would you create a freelance writing portfolio?
A writing portfolio gives you an online presence that will make people want to hire you based on your work rather than just relying on word-of-mouth referrals or personal recommendations. Simply put, it’s a way to show off your writing skills and experience so that you can land more clients.
Should you start with a physical or digital portfolio?
You’ve made the decision to create a freelance writing portfolio. The next step is choosing whether to make your portfolio a physical or digital one. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important for you to consider which one best suits your needs—and budget!
If you choose to go with a physical portfolio, you’ll have more work on your hands (literally). You’ll need to design and print out all of the materials yourself and then assemble them into some sort of binder or folder. This can be tedious, but the end result will be something that’s hardy, professional-looking, and valuable in showing clients what kind of writer they’re hiring in person.
However, opting for an online digital format may be more appealing than spending hours making photocopies or designing an elaborate presentation book.
Do I really need a freelance writing portfolio website?
Yes, you do. Why? Because it helps you to stand out from the crowd. When potential clients see your website they can get a sense of who you are and what kind of work you’re capable of doing, which will hopefully make them want to hire you.
How do I create one? That depends on how tech-savvy (or not) you are. If you’re a pro at making websites, then go for it! But if not, there are plenty of website builders that offer easy drag-and-drop options for creating portfolios—including Squarespace and Wix. The important thing is that whatever platform or tool fits best with your needs (including cost), pick one and stick with it so that everything stays consistent throughout all aspects of your freelance writing portfolio website.
Creating a freelance portfolio isn’t as hard as you might think!
If you’re ready to create a freelance writing portfolio, then you’re in the right place! We hope we helped you get started with understanding what it means to be a freelance writer and how to build an effective portfolio. Keep in mind that this is an ongoing process of self-discovery and growth—the best way to learn these skills is by doing them!