How to build your freelance writing portfolio from the scratch

Your portfolio is a showcase of your work that will help you get hired for getting hired.

In business, everyone wants their services to be well received by their target market, reach a larger audience, and make them a lot of money. Your clients want to make sure that your work will help them achieve that.

Click here to join a freelance writers’ boot-camp and find your first client in their exclusive job board

WRITERS DEN

Your portfolio is a showcase of your competencies that can help a client make a decision to hire you.

Can you use words to persuade prospects to buy in on your client’s service or idea? Can you paint a vivid picture of a person or scenery for even the lamest of people to comprehend? How do people interact and respond to your work? Is your writing engaging? Can you compel people to keep reading?

Your client will use your portfolio to assess these things. Whether you are qualified or not, beginner or expert, if your work speaks to your client, you’ll get the job.

So a portfolio is pretty important and this article will help you build it up with no experience at all. So Get cosy and let’s create your portfolio step-by-step.

Finding your first few projects

At this point, I’m assuming you have picked a focus topic and hence ready to create a portfolio. If not, don’t worry, this article will take you step-by-step through that process and also give you some suggestions on which are currently profitable.

The first step is to find your first few projects so you can use them for your portfolio.

You have two options here. Paid project or unpaid projects.

Paid projects

Unsurprisingly, paid projects are a little harder to secure compared to unpaid projects. Since you do not have any work to back up your claims of being a good writer, it is hard to find someone who is willing to trust you blindly and pay you. That being said, it is not impossible. I know some people that started their businesses on paid gigs (sadly not me). The list you will find as you read through has plenty of places where you can find some paid gigs. The only thing you’ll need to have is a pitch, but don’t worry, I have linked examples of those here too.

Unpaid projects

Unpaid projects are easier to find and hence are the most popular way to start. Many blogs, websites, and start-ups will offer you publishing opportunities if you are doing it for free. You can find unpaid gigs by approaching websites that could use the help and offering your services. You can also register on bidding sites like Guru and freelancer and bid at no price, letting them know that you’re building your portfolio.

Important: Never make it sound like you are a clueless beginner. No one wants to work with someone who does not know what they are doing.

Besides that, you can register for a free medium account and publish a few articles on your niche there. This is easy and fast since you won’t need to get any permission. As soon as you register your account, you can start publishing.

DON’T MAKE A HABIT OUT OF WORKING FOR FREE THOUGH.

Do not get entangled in that web! Do a few projects for free and then start charging for your services.

There are a lot of places online where you can find writing opportunities. I’m going to talk about three categories and then give you a list of platforms that you can register and find writing opportunities.

Where can you find your first few gigs?

A simple google search can take you a long way, but it is not always convenient. Goldmines are not easy to find.

Jobs boards and content mills

Jobs boards and content mills are the most popular ways for writers to find paid work. The competition is very high and there are a lot of professionals selling their services. As you become a professional freelance writer, you want to steer away from content mills and build your own client base. As a beginner, however, it is a good way of finding clients and making money.

Job boards, I find are much better than content mills. You find people who are willing to pay you right for your work. This means that it might by harder to secure a job, but it’s not impossible. So take a look at job boards as well.

Tip: Learn how to market yourself and your services from the very beginning, that is how you’ll make a lot of money.

Facebook Groups

I also recommend Facebook. Join a freelance or freelance writing group in your area and introduce yourself. Mention that you want to build your portfolio and are offering your services for free. Be specific about what you’re offering. E.g. say your offering two people two articles each for free, on the niche, you want to be paid for.

Don’t only join groups with freelance writers. Find out where your clients hang out and join those groups too. A group of bloggers can be a perfect place for you to find clients since their business is literally posting stuff on the internet. If you’re not already, get in Facebook groups now and leverage the free client base and connections you can make.

Linkedin

Linkedin Is a very good platform to get high paying clients. Because it is, in itself, a job-finding platform, you are equipped with multiple tools and options to help your job-hunt. LinkedIn brings you face-to-face with your prospective employer. You can send them a message and introduce yourself. That is too good an opportunity.

LinkedIn can also perform a search for you and send you relevant jobs to your email making it easy to apply. If you are looking for a more detailed article about Linkedin (You should), click here.

Again, it will often have high ticket clients and hence it might be slightly harder to get a gig as a beginner.  

Local businesses

Another very good way to find clients is to contact some local businesses and find out if you could do a project with them for free. This includes local magazines, newspapers, school newspaper, the jewellery store – literally any establishment where your writing is relevant. You can form partnerships with them and then you can even ask for a recommendation. Business people know other business people, and just like that, you are growing.

Here is a list of platforms where you can find writing gigs

  • Linkedin
  • Facebook
  • Freelancer
  • Fivver
  • Guru
  • Upwork
  • People per hour
  • ClearVoice
  • Online magazines
  • Problogger job board
  • Craigslist
  • Indeed
  • Simplyhired
  • Medium

ACTION: Pitch to 5 clients for paid writing gigs in your niche and 3 for unpaid.

For some, you may need to write a pitch, and If you are wondering how to craft a good one, find some examples here.

P.S. Do this now, save this post on Pinterest, and come back when you are ready to proceed.

Decide on how you are going to host your portfolio

So hopefully it hasn’t been two months since you started. (or two seconds, because that will mean you did not take the action above). Let’s move on to the next step.

What options do you have when it comes to hosting your portfolio?

There are a couple of options here. You may host your portfolio on a portfolio site like journo, make a website portfolio, or create a google doc portfolio. All these have one major advantage and that is a link. When a job calls for a portfolio, all you do is send them a link where they can access all your work. It’s just convenient.

Google doc portfolio

Creating a google doc portfolio is easy and does not take much time. It is therefore recommended when you are starting out. If you’ve only worked on a few projects, a google doc is the best way to showcase those projects. I found my first few projects using a google doc because I didn’t have enough samples to put on a website… and I didn’t have time to create one.

Website portfolios

Website portfolios should be your goal. They take much longer to create, and you may need to pay for hosting, but they are perfect. You have control over everything regarding your portfolio and you can easily market yourself. Essentially, that is your spot on the internet.

ACTION: Decide where you are going to host your portfolio and proceed. Here are some examples. If you want a simple google doc template, click here.

Compile your portfolio

Once you decide on how you’ll be hosting your portfolio, it’s time for the fun part. Making a great representation of your work.  If you are anything like me, you want to make your portfolio easy on the eyes and user friendly. The former is a preference thing, but the latter should be compulsory. Don’t make your potential client struggle to locate what they need in your portfolio, you’ll lose them. If you have accumulated a lot of work, only put your best work on your portfolio. It is not necessary to put everything. Choose the ones that gave the best results, and the ones you feel were the strongest. Only put your work if you have a few samples.

ACTION: Write your introduction and link your all the articles you’ve written. Again you may refer to some examples here. If you want a simple google doc template, click here.


As you go through your journey, remember not to get hung up on the details. Be aggressive, relentless, and proactive and most of all, don’t give yourself time to hesitate.

Get to creating your portfolio now because if you wait, you probably won’t.

If you still can’t get around creating your portfolio, click here and we’ll create your portfolio together step-by-step. I’ll send you prompts and companies that are currently hiring.

We don’t miss out on opportunities because we do not know, we do because we don’t take action. (tweet that:))     

3 thoughts on “How to build your freelance writing portfolio from the scratch

  1. Oh, this was very informative. I’m so glad I came across this. I just had to pin it for future reference. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: