One of the most essential tools at a freelance writer’s disposal is the portfolio in which they display their abilities. It’s not just a collection of your best work, though it should certainly be constructed of your best. A successful freelancer writer needs an effective portfolio to showcase their area(s) of expertise while highlighting the strengths that make this expertise valuable to the client.
If you haven’t already begun your portfolio or if you are struggling with optimizing it, here are some invaluable tips that you’ll undoubtedly find useful.
Know Your Skillset
Freelance writing careers often begin with a writer accepting any work that they can. This is natural and to be expected when you begin as a content creator. As you gain experience and collect a mass of work, you’ll have the ability to sift through your previous work and discern where your expertise truly resides.
This is a vital step that you should make into a habit. Overlooking this step leads to dissociation from your work. That can make it more difficult to gauge where you are versus where you should be in your career. Discovering your expertise comes with a ton of extra benefits too.
Why Knowing Your Expertise is Beneficial
Firstly, clients are far more likely to hire you if you present yourself as sure of what you can do. If a portfolio has all of your best work but it all happens to be sporadically categorized, you’re going to lose business. Take note of all of the specializations within the writing industry and be sure that you know which one(s) you excel at.
Diversity works but what you’re aiming for is mastery. Setting your sights on a specialization or even two shows potential clients that you know what you’re great at and you’re confident in your abilities within those forms of writing. You’ll be amazed when you see what can unfold from specificity.
Making this a habit allows you to see how far you’ve come with your craft. Not only can this be eye-opening but it also keeps your portfolio up-to-date with your best quality material. Note: Honest self-critiquing is crucial for you to realize what you do best.
Narrow Applicable Content
After you identify what you specialize in, find examples that prove your prowess. Choose no more than five of your best works if you are specializing in only one form of writing. Six, if you are dual-specializing. You want to show clients that you are knowledgable and are the best freelance writer for the job.
Find options that are either relatively brief or pieces that can be shortened without losing their value. You want to showcase your range of tone, style, and delivery. It’s best to do this without overflowing with extra content that might seem out of context without the entire work.
Never use anything too bland! Clients are always searching for what makes a writer stand out from the rest. If you are producing work for a specific niche or industry, try giving it an angle that isn’t common. Providing unseen perspectives on something is a surefire way to gain an interested client.
What Do You Do if You Can’t Select Content?
Assuming you don’t have any content that you can use, (i.e, all of your material has been written as a ghostwriter) this is okay! This will allow you to create your showcase exactly as you want it. Choose a niche and a writing style, then stay on point. The rest will find its place through self-assessment (which is a highly valuable tool) and editing.
You might also want to check for websites, blogs, and other media outlets that accept guest posts- even better if they are in your realm of expertise. For every few that decline, one will always accept- just as long as the work you provide them is up to their standard.
This is a great way to get your name in more places than just the portfolio, which will ultimately add to your credibility as a freelance writer. It’s always a bonus for a client when they can search your name and see that you have previously published material. It allows them validation to be comfortable with hiring you.
If you have ever completed a job and had a satisfied client, don’t be afraid to ask their honest opinion of your work. Be sure to ask the question, “Would you be willing to write a testimonial/review of my work/services?”
There is an astronomically low chance that a happy customer will say “no” to this request- which is the worst-case scenario. Try not to take it personally if the client declines. Remember that some people simply don’t want their name out there no matter how good the work was.
Testimonials can go a very long way with clients, so always be sure to ask for them upon successful completion of a job. A client is more likely to oblige your request with the satisfaction you’ve provided still fresh in their mind. This will add unimaginable validity to your body of work.
Get Yourself Seen
Not every freelance writer has the marketing know-how to get themselves noticed by potential clients. This is easily fixed by a person’s willingness to become active on social media. Let people know what you do, who you are, and how to reach you for work. Show them examples of what you’re capable of.
Get yourself into the light of the industry and you’ll be seen- even if it starts slow, there’s always momentum to be gained. The important thing here is just putting yourself out there.
Another viable option, which will almost certainly still require social media activity is to build your own website. You can build it as a portfolio itself or add your portfolio to it along with any other information or material you may want a potential client to see.
The most important part of getting where you want to be in your career is just starting the path in that direction. From there it all tends to fall into place if you keep your eye on the goal and your persistence intact. Becoming a successful freelance writer is an achievable goal with the right practices and habits. If you choose to utilize the insight discussed here, you should be off to a promising start!
About the Author: As marketing director at the Content Panel, Jade Bloom oversees all marketing and communications strategies of the company to create and ensure a reputable image and brand for the company is shared and communicated.