If you’re a new (or newish) freelance writer, you may be wondering:
- How to create a content writer portfolio website?
- What does a writer portfolio look like?
- How to create an online writing portfolio without a website?
You’re likely unsure if it should be online, offline, and how many samples you need to include.
You may even be wondering…
“Do I even need a writing portfolio at all?”
The answer is… it depends.
You hate that answer.
But, here’s why it depends.
It depends on:
- Who your clients will be
- How they are finding you
- What they’ve already seen
Let me explain.
The first, and MOST important rule of marketing is to adjust your message to who you’re talking to.
If you decide to become a copywriter in the future, you’ll be sifting through surveys, copying and pasting language directly from buyers, and constantly testing what the market wants.
Don’t let this overwhelm you. The point I’m trying to make is this.
You only NEED a writing portfolio if your target market will want to see one.
‘Kristi, what the heck do you mean. Won’t they ALL want to see a writing portfolio?’
Here’s an example.
When I first started my freelance career. I reached out to every person I knew that ran a business and asked what sort of services they would need, even if they weren’t looking to outsource. I asked for advice, instead of selling to them.
My very first client knew me well, knew my work ethic, and hired me on the spot.
Here’s another example:
I immediately implemented one of her tips for attracting clients to me.
I started participating in conversations on social where Elna said to and BAM, my first client. The client never asked for a writing portfolio.
If you intend to do a lot of networking or have done a lot of networking in the past, you could build your business on a referral system.
Referrals are a very powerful resource.
When someone refers you, they are saying ‘I know this person and I vouch for the quality she provides.’
My biggest client to date was a referral and did not ask for a writing portfolio.
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- An Honest Review of Elna’s Write Your Way to 1K Course
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Here are some examples of when you SHOULD have a writer portfolio:
- You intend to do cold pitching
- You want to send a portfolio with your pitch
- You’re using a blog or website to attract people to you and want to display your portfolio
- You’re asking for referrals and want your referral source to have access to your portfolio so they can promote you
- You’re brand new to freelance writing and it’s not clear if you need one
When you’re selling your services online, you want to reduce as much friction as possible.
In the world of marketing, friction means small tasks that are annoying or take time. Things that will cause someone to give up.
Friction can look like…
… Searching for your portfolio and having to email you for it.
… Or a really long contact form.
… Or a slow website.
When a client is choosing between you and another new writer of equal skill, if they have a writing portfolio and you don’t, they will likely win the deal.
I realize all of this can be a tad overwhelming.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you should have a writer portfolio…
… find out how to create a writing portfolio and just do it.
What Does a Writer Portfolio Look Like
You’ve probably looked around the web and tried to find a writer portfolio.
So, why can’t you find one?
Well, you may be looking in the wrong places.
Many writers have a series of “portfolios.”
A writer can showcase their work just about anywhere on the web.
Every writer does this a little differently.
For example, a writer could:
This is the beauty of running your own freelance business. You can do WHATEVER YOU WANT.
For example, my business model is like this:
- I write in various places (including this blog)
- I network a LOT (I’m building a referral based business)
- I focus on giving my clients the best quality for the price because a VERY happy client is the best referral source
- I keep a portfolio in a Google drive for when it’s requested
I do it this way for two reasons.
- I have a non-disclosure agreement with one of my clients and I can’t have my work out for the public to see.
- Some of my clients ask that I make their emails look like they’ve written them, so I wouldn’t want to give away their trade secrets.
As an email marketing copywriter, my priority is my clients, ALWAYS! Keeping them happy and doing what’s in their best interest is my top priority.
So I don’t have a public portfolio.
When I was a content writer, I had a public portfolio of posts I had written displayed on my website.
So, How Do I Build a Writer Portfolio?
Here are the top options (in my opinion) for creating a writer portfolio.
1. Create a Writing Portfolio on Your Website
Use your website to create a portfolio page of your work from all over the web.
Creating a portfolio on your website allows you to link out to other websites.
- If you add your published work, it shows your potential client that someone else thought your work was good enough to publish
- You can link to any guest post you’ve done
- Shows potential clients you know how to run a website (in case they ask you to take over)
- Gives you an online presence
- Takes a bit longer than just writing up a sample
- Can be done in less than a week (or a weekend with proper guidance)
2. How to Build a Writing Portfolio With Your Blog
A blog is located directly on your website and will usually be only content published by you.
If you are only creating samples without guest posting on other blogs, using your own blog is a good option.
You can create a portfolio site using your blog posts as your entire portfolio.
- Can look very professional
- Can easily add new pieces to your portfolio (just write and publish)
- You can showcase your writing AND your expertise
- Shows your potential client that you know how to run the backend of a blog
- Takes a bit of tech knowledge
- Glitchy websites can be frustrating
- You can get lost in the details of setting up a site – best to take a minimum website approach in the beginning
Check out this step-by-step Writer Website in a Weekend course by Elna Cain. She will walk you through each step of creating a writer website, fast.
3. How to Make a Writing Portfolio using Google Docs
If you plan to write a few samples, you can forgo the website completely and create a shared Google drive.
Write your writer portfolio sample in a Google document save to a folder and share the link.
*How to share a folder in Google drive?
Right click on the folder and click share.
The click “Change to anyone with this link” and leave it as “viewer.”
Copy the link and save it somewhere (or in your pitch templates).
When you send your pitches, include the link to your shared drive.
You could also create a list of links to guest posts you have done if you want to include other samples.
- It’s easy and simple to do
- It takes minimal tech knowledge
- Shareable links make it easy to include in a pitch
- It doesn’t look as professional as a website
- There’s a sense of legitimacy that comes with having a website
- It doesn’t showcase that you can use the backend of a WordPress website
Do you need step-by-step help getting your freelance content writing career off the ground? Get answers and EXACT step-by-step tutorials in the Write Your Way to 1K course for freelance writers with little to no experience.
4. How to Create a Writing Portfolio Offline
When you just need a writer portfolio FAST, there’s nothing saying you can’t whip up a quick piece, throw it in a Microsoft Word document, and send it off with your pitch.
This is the easiest way to create a writing portfolio.
However, it’s the least professional.
If a potential client has a choice between someone with a beautiful website and someone with a Word Document portfolio, they will chose the beautiful website 100% of the time (if price, skill, and everything else is the same).
That doesn’t mean you can’t land jobs this way.
If you’re pitching to new clients (you’re going out and finding them yourself) and you have a fantastic pitch, your writing is stellar, and you communicate well, then your primitive portfolio will likely be a small factor in their decision to hire.
If they are referred to you AND someone with a beautiful online portfolio, they’ll likely choose the other person.
(Remember earlier when I said “It depends on where your clients are coming from?”)
- The easiest way to write a portfolio and lets the writing speak for itself
- You need almost no tech knowledge (email and word processor)
- You can create a portfolio as quickly as you can type out the content
- The least professional way to build a writer portfolio
- Doesn’t show your tech skills (an asset to someone wanting you to take over)
- It shows you’ve put in minimal effort
- If you only use this method, you won’t have an online presence
Step By Step Guide to a Freelance Writer Portfolio
If you’re overwhelmed by trying to figure this out and just want someone to tell you what to do, step-by-step, here are some links to my favorite resources.
Need your writer website up and running, right now?
Writer Website in a Weekend is a step-by-step tutorial that will walk you through every detail.
Need some writer samples RIGHT NOW?
Writer Samples Starter Kit was created for new writers to get up and running faster.
Are you a new writer and need a little help with everything?
Do you want to go from…
“I have no experience and I’m totally overwhelmed with the entire process”
“I just made my first $1,000 as a freelance writer!”
Then Write Your Way to 1K is for exactly what you need.
I took this course when I was a brand new writer with no client experience.
It launched my career and it can launch yours.
I now work as full time freelance writer and blogger. Without the guidance I received from this course, I wouldn’t have been able to build my business so quickly.
And I’ll let you in on a secret.
I didn’t even do EVERYTHING in the course.
I was a bit lazy.
I cherry picked what I wanted to do and did just that.
Just one tip landed me my first client.
But I go back to it regularly when I want to try:
- New ways of finding clients
- Better ways to attract clients
- Refreshing my skills