As a freelance writer, your portfolio can either help you or hurt you…
It’s what impresses clients, draws them in and makes them pay the big bucks.
Or it can be what turns them off and prevents them from working with you.
Your freelance writing portfolio is your biggest marketing piece, and aside from word-of-mouth and client referrals, it’s what will help you land the bulk of your jobs – and your money.
Take a look at your portfolio now. Does it say “successful writer?”
Or are you simply sending out random links and attachments with every proposal you send off? If so, it’s time to make some changes – and fast. And, I can help.
Here’s how you can create a killer freelance writing portfolio today and start locking down those high-paying clients:
1. Get a Website
In today’s digital age, there’s no excuse for not having your own website.
As freelance writers, the bulk of our work is done on the web, so if you want to look web savvy enough to take on these jobs, you need to have a secure online presence. Sure, a printed out binder full of clips may have worked in journalism school, but today, your portfolio needs to be online and accessible from anywhere, any time.
To do this, you have two options. First, you can get a domain name and hosting account and install a template-based content management system like WordPress. This requires some technical know-how, but if you can manage it, it will give you the most customized solution and it won’t break the bank.
Your other option is to use a site like Clippings or Wix where you can upload your clips, choose a look and the rest is done for you. These tend to be a little more expensive and less customizable, but they’re a good option if you don’t feel comfortable with WordPress. If you’re still in doubt, ask a freelance web designer for some help. You may even be able to trade services instead of using cash.
I prefer WordPress because it isn’t too difficult and it allows me to add some customization to my site and make it my own. It may be worth the slight learning curve for you.
Have you checked out my “30 Days to $1K Action Plan” for freelance writers yet? It outlines my strategies for setting up your portfolio/website and also reveals my personal 30-day Action Plan for earning $1K as a freelance writer in 30 days. Get it here.
2. Gather Your Best Links
Once you create your site, it’s time to start pulling links.
Review your past clients and projects, and assemble a master list of your best work. It can be anything – web content, blogs, sales pages, product descriptions or anything else you produced.
Just make sure that 1) it has your byline on it and 2) you have permission to share it. Some clients may have asked you to sign a NDA up front, and if so, you may not have the legal right to display some samples on your portfolio. If you’re not sure, check in with the client before putting it on your site.
3. Prep Your Print Pieces
If you’re one of the lucky freelance writers who’s still writing for print, it’s time to start gathering those pieces, too. This may take a little more work, however.
Start by looking on each publication’s website for digital or e-versions. Most magazines offer this, and some newspapers do too. Once you find your piece, take a screen shot, save it as a PDF and voila! You may need to go into Adobe Acrobat to combine pages if your piece takes up a lot of space.
If the publication doesn’t have an online version, take a physical copy of the issue, scan it, crop it and save it as a PDF. If you don’t have a scanner at home, your local FedEx Office store should have one you can use by the hour.
4. Organize it
Now that you’ve assembled your best work, organize it and make it digestible.
Consider grouping your work by industry – like real estate, web design or legal, for example – or you can categorize by type of work, like marketing collateral, web content, product descriptions, etc. Either option works; just make sure it’s easy for your potential clients to navigate and understand.
5. Create an Awesome Bio
Next, create an awesome bio for yourself.
Your bio should be short and sweet, but also show off your skills, experience and expertise. Include your qualifications, education, highlights of your work experience and any recognizable companies or publications you may have written for. A great headshot is a must, too! People want to know who they’re working with.
6. Promote it
Once your freelance writing portfolio is at its best, start promoting.
Add it to your LinkedIn headline, your Twitter profile, incorporate it in your resume and email signature, and get that website as much exposure as you possibly can.
Also, include a contact form on your website. If you’re not sure how to add a contact form on your site, simply put your email address at the bottom of your content, and encourage clients to contact you directly for job inquiries. But, a contact form is ideal.
Well, there you have it: some important pointers on how to create a killer freelance writing portfolio. I hope it helps you snag those high-paying clients!
Keep going! Here are some more blog posts on writers’ websites. And, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.