Want to do freelance writing? A writing portfolio is a must-have for every freelance writer. When researching how to create your writing portfolio from scratch, you’ll find numerous options and opportunities.
If you’re wondering what that is, you’re not alone. Many writers do not realize they need a writing portfolio when applying for writing jobs. A portfolio allows you to build trust and to come across as authentic with prospective clients.
According to ZipRecruiter, a freelance writer earns an average of $68,000 annually. It is one of the most popular work-from-home job options in 2022. Naturally, competition is rife – hence having a winning writer portfolio will give you an edge over your competitors.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing these points:
- What a writing portfolio is
- Sites that allow you to build your writing portfolio quickly
- Tips to showcase your writing skills on your own website, and
- How to create a writing portfolio from scratch if you’re a beginner.
What Is a Freelance Writing Portfolio?
If you’re planning to advertise your services on job boards and reach out to businesses to hire you to write for them, it goes without saying that they’ll want to see previous work, your best pieces, and whom you’ve written for in the past.
A writing portfolio allows you to do just that by creating a space where you showcase your best work, writing skills, research abilities, and your experience as a writer.
Let’s go through how you can start building your online writing portfolio from scratch.
Portfolio Building Sites to Showcase Your Writing Skills
Using digital portfolio sites is a great place to begin if you’re a beginner starting your freelance writing career. It gives you a plug-and-play platform to build a writer’s website without the hassles of coding or design.
There’ll also be multiple templates you can choose from, and all you will have to do is add in the text, graphics, and writing samples. Some sites even allow you to create a contact page, an about me page, and link these pages to your social media profiles.
Excited? Let’s check out 6 of the most popular portfolio sites you can use!
Medium has between 85 to 100 million monthly users, providing your stories and articles an opportunity to be seen and read by anyone worldwide.
Writing on Medium allows you to build a collection of writing samples that you can use as a representation of your work and experience.
Medium is also a great way to build trust and authority. It behaves like a social media platform where you can follow writers you like and vice versa. Your readers can also leave likes and comments on your page in response to your articles.
Make use of the profile on the right: Source – Medium.com
Readers can clap for and comment on your articles. Source – Medium.com
Another great way to get your work seen on Medium is by offering to write for the numerous publications available on this platform. Some publications have more rules than others, but generally, they accept all stories and posts as long as you follow their stipulated guidelines.
There are over 300 publications currently active on Medium, and most of them accept guest posts and articles from freelance writers. Popular publications have between 20,000 to 640,000 followers.
Simply go through the guidelines and submit a request to write for them.
Creating an account and writing on Medium is free, but free users are limited to reading 2 articles a day. Readers who want to read more than 2 articles on Medium daily will have to subscribe to a $5 monthly membership fee which provides unlimited access to its content. Authors with more than 100 followers on Medium will also have the means to monetize, enabling them to make money based on how many views each article receives.
Once your article is published, Medium lets you directly share your latest work on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is your digital online resume. It’s a platform where people talk about getting hired, fired, and their journey from studying to graduating to landing a job.
LinkedIn has 830 million members (as of October 2022), of which over 58 million users are registered companies.
Therefore, you must create an excellent freelance writer portfolio on this platform. You can include links, showcase past working experience, and even blog on LinkedIn. This allows prospective clients to check out your profile and read your work.
Another good reason you should use LinkedIn is that it allows you to share your past triumphs, achievements, and testimonials from people who’ve worked with you. This helps your target clients to know you better and trust you faster.
Source: LinkedIn Blog
If you have an optimized Linkedin profile, the chances of you landing consistent writing gigs significantly increase!
Clippings.me caters to copywriters, bloggers, journalists, and aspiring writers. It has 2 subscription plans – one free for life and one paid, at $9.99 per month.
The free plan allows you to have up to 10 writing samples on display. The free version is an excellent way to start for new freelancers with less than 10 written works.
You can easily create a portfolio with their templates without having design or technical skills. Simply upload your articles from your computer or plug in the link (if you have it published elsewhere). Clippings.me will automatically populate your title, images, date, and text.
After uploading your most recent work or favorite pieces, you can categorize your articles into different niches, making your portfolio more organized.
Note that the detailed stats, spam-protected form, and using your own custom domain name options in the portfolio are only available on the paid plan.
Here are some portfolio examples one can create on Clippings.me.
Fancy creating your own portfolio in just minutes? Journo Portfolio is a portfolio site that caters to journalists, copywriters, photographers, illustrators, artists, designers, and authors.
This platform has helped over 250,000 creatives design their portfolios. It offers free and paid plans, but the free plan is the best way to go if you’re new to the freelance writing business.
You’ll need to pick a theme and a template, upload your best writing samples and embed necessary links from YouTube, Vimeo, Spotify, and more.
With the free plan, you’ll get a Journo Portfolio URL. Once your freelance writing career takes off, you’ll be able to upgrade to the pro plan and utilize your own custom URL.
To be honest, the Pro plan is incredibly affordable. It offers extras such as article backups and password-protected portfolios to increase your portfolio site’s security. If it is in your budget, I’d say go for it!
Contently is a 2-in-one platform. Not only is it a portfolio site, but it is also a marketplace where clients look to get quality content creation for their businesses.
Contently matches the clients with the freelancers available on its platform based on the type of content they require. If your portfolio is highly optimized, you may meet your ideal client in no time.
Contently is free and, as such, an excellent place for new freelancers to create their first professional writing portfolio. However, to be considered for writing gigs, Contently requires you as a writer to have at least 7 projects on your portfolio.
There are no limits on the number of projects and work samples you can upload. There is even a rates database you can refer to to get an idea of how much you should be charging when you land a gig.
Rates Database. Source: Contently
Contently also offers case studies to potential clients. Watching these case studies gives you a good idea of how to create and word your portfolio and what to say when pitching your services to new clients.
Pressfolios offers a free trial for 14 days, after which you pay for a monthly subscription.
The Lite plan costs $9.99 monthly and allows up to 250 stories to be shared via Google Docs.
The Pro plan costs $14.99 and offers extras such as a customized domain name, unlimited uploads, and the ability to upload PDFs.
What makes Pressfolios unique is that it offers a clean-cut portfolio where you can showcase your header, your writing samples, and an About Me section.
Pressfolios also does automatic backups of all written work, keeping them safe.
Tips When Hosting Your Portfolio Page on Your Own Writer Website
Using a portfolio site is excellent if you’re just starting out, but when you have more writing samples, more social proof to share, and more stories about yourself you want to add, the obvious next step will be to have your own writer’s website.
Why is hosting your portfolio on your own website the preferred choice? It’s because you can post as many articles as you want on a custom website designed in a way that suits your brand.
A personal writer website is a great place to showcase your blogging skills and build an email list that you can nurture over time, build a relationship with, and even monetize!
It doesn’t have to be daunting, though. Here are 6 tips to get your own professional online portfolio highly optimized!
Clear Headline and Subheadline
When it comes to basic design, visual hierarchy is one of the most essential things needed to increase readability and conversions.
A clear headline doesn’t mean you make the words and meaning clear – it also means that it’s the first thing your target clients see the moment they land on your page.
Not the image, call to action, or anything else – but a clear headline that boldly states what you do and a subheadline detailing how you can help them.
These are the 2 main things that will keep any prospect scrolling.
It also immediately showcases your ability as a good content writer!
Here is where you expand on the ways you can help your target audiences and why they should hire you to write for them.
List your strengths, experience, skills, and how you can create amazing content and overdeliver. Your main portfolio page is also a landing page (the page your readers land on). Using great landing page copy is essential because first impressions matter.
Strong Social Proof
If you have testimonials or feedback from previous clients, do add them to your portfolio site. You can dedicate a whole section to testimonials or have them scattered across the page.
Testimonials help visitors and prospective clients to build more trust in you and have more confidence in your personal brand.
Your Best Writing Samples
Allocate a section where you can display your best work and articles you’re most proud of.
Only upload your best articles, and edit them over time. Uploading every single article you’ve ever written may cause your readers to miss out on the best ones.
Instead of displaying the whole article (which isn’t the best for design), show the titles and excerpts of each sample and, if possible, a nice image that complements it.
Having a minimum of 5 to 10 rockstar samples hooks your clients into reading these articles and gauging your writing skills and style to see if they like it enough to hire you.
Well-written articles and samples form the basis of an extremely solid writing portfolio!
Mobile Optimized Design
More than 50% of internet traffic on the web comes from mobile phones. It naturally makes sense to have your portfolio website as mobile-optimized as possible!
It’ll never do to have funnily sized images and missing text – your readers will immediately opt out of your page.
User experience is also essential in getting found on search engines, especially Google. Therefore, put your best foot forward and have your site highly mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.
You also get bonus points from search engines (making your domain more easily searchable) if your site loads quickly. Statistics show that any site that takes longer than 2 seconds to load loses half its potential traffic immediately.
If you’re unsure how to do all these, there are great plugins you can use (easily searchable on the internet). You can also hire a web designer or a graphic designer to get all these done for you in no time!
Clear CTA Button (Call to Action Button)
Now that your target clients have read your portfolio and gone through your writing samples, the next step will be to have them take the desired action by clicking your CTA button.
The CTA button is one of the most essential things on a website. It is the final push the reader needs to get in touch with you. Many sites try to have CTA buttons in as many places as possible and use these buttons to display compelling copy, such as ‘Let’s do this!’ or ‘Great content awaits!’
Check out some examples below!
Both CTA buttons above have clear actions they want the readers to take – to either book a call or hire the copywriter. The clearer your CTA button copy is, the better your chances of your potential clients becoming real!
Now that you know where to create your first writing portfolio and how you can optimize it for your clients let’s work on getting your first post out!
Build Writing Samples for Your Freelance Writing Portfolio
How do you get started writing your first article? Here are 2 of the quickest ways to start writing!
Write for Publications on Medium
As mentioned above, writing for publications on Medium is a great way to start building your portfolio. Here are the reasons why:
- These publications have an existing steady stream of traffic. Many times writers have been ‘discovered’ on these publications by employers who are actively checking out articles and gauging content quality.
- Writing for these publications is free.
- You improve from the feedback and comments from readers.
- When publications accept and feature your articles by pinning them to the top of their feeds, it shows potential clients a better impression of you and your brand.
How to get started:
- Go through the list of publications that are on Medium and check out the ones that fit your niche and style.
- Read their guidelines and what they require from you when you submit your articles (every publication has its own set of guidelines)
- Apply via email or leave a comment depending on their guidelines
- Once you’ve received a thumbs up, get started on your first article.
- Submit your article and wait for the approval.
- If you did good work, the editor will usually leave a comment commending it.
- Your article gets published. Yay!
- You repeat the process until you have different articles across several other publications.
Guest posting is more challenging but also more fulfilling. It is also the quickest way to get backlinks to your site, so your site becomes more authoritative over time.
Here are the reasons why:
- Guest posting helps you to network by reaching out to businesses and other bloggers to offer to write for them
- Sites with higher domain ratings linking back to you will help to increase your own website’s domain rating as well
- Your work will be more closely scrutinized versus the ones on Medium, and you will get more genuine feedback
How to get started:
- Check out businesses, digital marketing companies, and bloggers within your niche.
- You can also use the search function ‘niche’ + ‘guest post’ or ‘niche’ + ‘write for us to find people who are looking to have guest posts written for them in exchange for backlinks
- Once you land a guest post opportunity, please do your due research and see what content their site needs that they haven’t written about before
- Propose several ideas and have them pick one
- Write the best post you can, overdeliver.
- Link to their other posts in your article, and one or two links back to your website, depending on their writing guidelines
- Submit, and wait for publishing
- Repeat until your site has significantly grown in authority and domain rating. Then, focus on churning out great articles on your own site to showcase more writing samples.
Create Your Awesome Freelance Writing Portfolio Today!
The steps have all been laid out for you. All you need to do is implement them as soon as possible.
Step 1: Create an account with one of the portfolio sites suggested above
Step 2: Create your freelance writing portfolio
Step 3: Reach out to publications on Medium
Step 4: Start writing for Medium (make it bombastic)
Step 5: Do guest post outreach or use the search terms listed above
Step 6: Write your guest post (and make it exceptional)
Step 7: Rinse and repeat
Step 8: Add those writing samples to your portfolio site
Step 9: Build a repertoire of 5-8 writing samples
Step 10: Start reaching out on job boards to land writing gigs
Even if you’re new to this, the very act of creating your own portfolio and getting 2-3 articles written on Medium (while doing your guest post outreach) will bring you amazing results in as quickly as 30 days.
Get going! There’s money to be made and a lasting career to build!