Be a Freelance Writer: 3 Steps to Building Your Portfolio

As a new freelance writer, you want to get noticed, right?

This is your time to shine, attract your ideal client and make some money.

You know the best way to do this is to show what you’re capable of  – and the easiest way to do this is with a portfolio.

Be a Freelance Writer: 3 Steps to Building Your Portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of all your clips, or published work, in one easy to find location for prospects to view.

While there are many different ways to display your portfolio, I feel the best way is on your writer website.

So, now that you know you need a portfolio – if you are freelance writer – how the heck do you secure clips if no one is hiring you?

This post is part of a series called Be a Freelance Writer. If you are a SAHM, WAHM, part-time worker or someone who just wants a change, then my step-by-step approach can help you become a freelance writer.

I kicked off the series with 3 key steps you need to break into freelance writing.

Be a Freelance Writer: Do You Have It in You? tells the hard truth about being a freelance writer.

Be a Freelance Writer: Your Writer Platform gives you the key ingredients to start building your platform and brand.

My most recent post, Be a Freelance Writer: Your Writer Website gives proven tips on how to create a writer website to attract high-paying clients.

And, in this post, I will give you the three steps I used to start building my portfolio. It didn’t take me long to have a couple clips to showcase and once I did, it was much easier to prove to prospects that I was a freelance writer.

So, let’s get started. How can you build your portfolio if you don’t have any clients? Here’s my 3 step approach.

1. Start a Blog

One of the easiest and fastest ways to find clips for your portfolio is with your own blog. If you already don’t know, having a blog for your freelance writing business is a must.

A blog can not only help you build your portfolio, but it also can help you:

  • Land more clients
  • Become a better writer overall
  • With getting your page ranked on Google and other search engines. Incorporating SEO tactics like using industry related keywords will help you get your post indexed
  • With having content to promote. Social media is one of the best places to promote your content and if you have a blog, you immediately have something to share
  • Build a loyal audience. People will start to come to your blog because you update it regularly and have interesting and share-worthy content

So, you see, a blog is a lot more than clips to promote.

*** To help you start a blog, I have a great post + video tutorial to help you so check it out!

Before starting a blog, decide what you want to write about. Some freelance writers choose to write about other things besides their business. Their niche may be parenting, so their blog focuses on different parenting techniques.

Other freelance writers choose to have a business blog and write about their business. My blog primarily discusses freelance writing, blogging and being a WAHM – topics around my business.

Still others have a blog targeted for their clients. They provide useful tips for small business and start ups.

Whatever you do end up choosing, pick a niche or a theme and stick to it.

Once you have a couple posts up, use those as writing samples when you pitch to various job ads while you build your portfolio in other ways.

2. Guest Post

Do you know what guest posting is? It basically is having a blog post with your author bio on someone else’s blog.

Ideally, you want to guest post on sites that:

  • You enjoy reading
  • Are in your niche
  • You eventually want to get paid for writing (so, if you want to get paid for writing about health topics, pitch to health sites)

Most guest post spots don’t pay for your content. There are some, though, that do pay and here are some links to get you started:

Personally, all my guest posts have been unpaid and I haven’t yet explored paid guest posts.

I chose not to because for me, I was more interested in popular sites with high authority like Psych Central or Brazen Careerist to guest post on, not sites that paid.
But, it’s still a great way to build your portfolio and make some money from it too! A definite Win-Win.

Besides paid guest posts, you can contribute your content for free on many websites. Here is a small list:

3. Contribute Regularly to a Site

The final thing I did to build my portfolio is to contribute blog posts to various niche sites. What this means is, I provide content on a regular basis to sites that I enjoy writing for.

I’ve been a contributor for FreelancerFAQs and TweakYourBiz.

FreelancerFAQs is a great place to show my credibility as a legitimate freelance writer. It’s a new site and I’m passionate about it since I’m the owner. So, I feel it’s necessary to contribute.

TweakYourBiz is a high authority business news site that provides marketing advice to B2B and B2C companies. Since I enjoy writing about digital marketing, my contributions have been mostly about that.

What’s great about these types of guest posting is you get an author page with your author bio and links to all your contributions for that site.

So, it’s pretty easy to give a link in your pitch to various sites you contribute, showing them all your work in one or two spots.

If you’re interested in contributing make sure:

  • It’s fairly high authority (i.e. the site gets a lot of traffic and social shares)
  • It’s something you want to get paid for. So, if you contribute to a health site, you will probably receive queries for health writing
  • It’s your best writing since many people will view it

 Show Clients Your Best Work

Building your portfolio shouldn’t be difficult. With lots of websites offering guest posting and the ease at which starting a blog is, securing a clip hasn’t been easier.

These three steps are the exact steps I took to start building my portfolio. It’s a great feeling when your first guest post is accepted and published.

So, if you need to build your portfolio, start with these three steps! Soon enough you will land your first client and be able to showcase your client work on your portfolio too.

So, what are you waiting for? Put up a blog post, write a guest post and contribute to a blog!

Tell me, how did you start building your portfolio?

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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15 Comments

Launching a blog to develop your portfolio is your first step to getting started as a freelance writer. My page on How to Start Blog will teach you how.Reply to find-way.net
Great advice Elna. Being a contributor to an authority blog has multifacet advantages, it really helps to develop long term relationship with other blogs in selected niche and helps to directly come in contact with niche influencer. Words of wisdom every freelancer should follow.Reply to Abhishek
Great tips. Thanks. I am an aspiring screenplay writer. I want to start a blog as well as be a freelance writer and get paid for it, because, I’ve decided to go into writing fulltime.Reply to Peter
Thanks for sharing these tips!Reply to Chari
No problem Chari! I’m glad you enjoyed my post. ElnaReply to Elna
This is all amazing advice. I truly enjoyed my peak into your site, as well. I can’t way to start reading more. As someone just “hanging my shingle” in the writing world, I appreciate writers who are willing to help others like me.Reply to Susan
Hi Susan! Glad you found this post on building your portfolio useful. Learning to freelance write takes time but I hope with my advice it goes a little quicker and smoother. ElnaReply to Elna
Great tips! Thanks for sharing.Reply to Lisa
Hi Lisa! Thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked my post on how to build your freelance writing portfolio. I hope you found it useful. ElnaReply to Elna
Thanks for the useful tips! I saved the links to the sites that I can guest post on…do you know if the content I submit has to be original or can it be syndicated? (I have a feeling it depends on the site…)Reply to Dana
Hi Dana, Be sure to grab me free list of 120 more guest posting sites! There are some great high authority and lucrative niches on my list. Most posts, once you submit, you don’t have authority to re-publish it. You can, however, provide a link on your portfolio page. ElnaReply to Elna
Great post!Reply to Rosevine
Thanks Rosevine. I hope you found my steps to building your portfolio helpful! ElnaReply to Elna
Great advice, thanks Elna! There is so much information out there and so many different forums and opportunities that getting help finding such great ones is very helpful.Reply to Mariken
Hi Mariken, Thanks! Glad my info is helpful for you. There are a ton of freelance writing opportunities out there. With the right portfolio, you can be highly successful. For me, I found guest posting on high authority sites to be the game changer when I pitched. Suddenly, clients found me valuable. Thanks for stopping by! ElnaReply to Elna