Hey! You’ve made it here. You’ve decided that freelance writing is a great career option. You might have just started out as a writer, or you already have writing experience. Nevertheless, in a world of increasingly hide and seek work opportunities, you probably realize the value of building a good freelance portfolio. Putting a snapshot of your work in one place definitely provides you an edge in getting freelance writing jobs, and gives clients a fast way to learn about your skills.
Build your Freelance Writing Portfolio with these tips & guidelines
In this blog, we share ideas to help you build a portfolio from scratch that’ll reflect your work and methodology, and help you get your foot in the door. We also share tons of examples of good freelance writing portfolios to inspire and lead you with ideas.
Here are the top questions lots of new writers grapple with:
- What should my writing niche be?
- How do I start a portfolio when I have no writing credits?
- What kind of freelance writing work can I show?
- What are the best websites to create my online writing portfolio as a beginner?
- Can I include writing work (in my writing portfolio) for which I do not have authorship credit?
- What should I include in my freelance portfolio?
- Where can I see examples of good freelance writing portfolios for inspiration?
What should your writing niche be?
This is the starting point – there are lots of freelance jobs and opportunities available for good writers and even more writing niches to choose from. So go with where your strength lies to find your niche. If you have done diverse work so far, narrowing down is good because it helps you establish your expertise. Do you like blogging or crafting short stories? Or maybe you’re a whiz at creating how-to manuals.
Getting clarity on the type of freelance writer you are, helps you create a relevant body of work for your portfolio. It also helps to know whether you are a freelance content creator or a freelance copywriter.
Although there is some overlap between the two, a freelance copywriter’s job is the creation of marketing copy, with one primary goal – sales. A content writer, on the other hand, is responsible for content that educates, informs, or entertains. Put simply, copywriters drive sales while content writers build trust.
Identifying your end role early on can help with both the direction of content creation as well as the categorization of your portfolio.
Struggling to identify your online business niche? This awesome guide can help!
How do you start a portfolio when you have no writing credits?
Most bloggers and writers start with writing for themselves before they get any clients. Any writing portfolio demands only one key thing – quality content. Good work is easy to create when you write what you know and care about, which you can then either share as text or as a link.
If you want to get hired as a potential blogger for travel websites, you would possibly write informative, engaging articles on holiday destinations. If you want to work as a copywriter instead, you might create short, persuasive marketing copy examples.
When you start, keep these pointers in mind:
- Be clear about your niche and target audience.
- Purposefully create content that showcases your voice and displays your versatility within that niche.
- You can include both long-form and shorter content so clients and readers know about your range.
With a new portfolio, even 2-3 pieces of your work can suffice. Ensure that they are clear, compelling, error-free, and show your voice and depth of subject matter expertise.
Keep reading for tons of awesome examples of freelance writing portfolios below.
What kind of freelance writing work can you show as a newbie?
As a new writer, you can grow your credits from any of the sources listed below. If you already have writing credits, create your Portfolio by linking or sharing your work from these sources.
Here are 4 kinds of writing work you can share.
If you have a blog, then a link to the entire blog or your best articles from there is what you can share. More than the topics, what matters is the clarity and quality of writing, an organized blog structure, and whether you can create engaging content. It is always a good idea to run it by a few people. Take feedback on your writing from family and friends, or a mentor. You could even request opinions on your writing within relevant Facebook groups.
Learn : Don’t have a blog yet? Get the best free tools to learn How to Start a Blog from Idea to First Post.
Another way to build credible writing work is by guest blogging for external websites that you can then link to. Most blogs have wait times from a few weeks to even months so look for multiple pitching avenues. It is important to craft and refine your pitch to make a favorable impression.
Plus : You can use the category filter and find good guest blogging opportunities on Maroon Oak.
When you are just starting out, pairing with a nonprofit organization by volunteering to do their copy work, is another great way to build your freelance writing portfolio. Organizations such as Taproot Foundation and Catch A Fire match professionally-skilled volunteers with nonprofits and social enterprises.
You can also create dummy work (called ‘clips’ in industry-speak) of self-published work. Creating samples to showcase your work lets you depict both your methodology and writing style.
How can you create writing samples?
You could do case studies showcasing your persuasive writing by highlighting an email that was successful at your job. Or you could create a sample piece specific to the freelance writing job you are looking at. If the job is for social media writing you could do social media copy for a fictional product, with a note on your strategy and reasoning.
In your portfolio, try to include samples of the kind of work you are looking to do. The more the relevance to the needs of potential clients, the better your chances of getting the writing gig.
Guest Bloggers sharing expertise on Maroon Oak!
Posts by Guest Bloggers shared over 7K times on Social Media!
Where can you create an online writing portfolio?
If you have your own website, then simply add a portfolio page. Else, there are lots of great options to consider to create your freelance writing portfolio.
You can share your body of writing work right away on Linkedin and Medium. These two self-publishing platforms allow you to publish and get going in just a few minutes. Although not exactly a portfolio, being published on these two platforms offers more credibility than submitting Word Docs or PDFs to a client.
Here are popular portfolio websites used by freelance writers to showcase their work in a visually-appealing way.
- Contently – You can create a free portfolio on Contently. Their search tool automatically pulls all of the articles that were published under your name into the portfolio.
- Clippings.me – It claims to be the world’s largest journalism portfolio site. Their free tier is perfect for displaying a small selection of clips.
- Clearvoice – Creating a free portfolio on Clearvoice is also the first step in joining their Talent Network.
- JournoPortfolio – Their free plan allows you to share up to 10 articles.
- Carbonmade – Built for all creatives, it offers a free trial and you only pay when you choose to go live.
- WordPress – If you’re tech-savvy, then creating a writing portfolio on your own self-hosted WordPress site, can offer you complete control over the branding and layout. Plus, all the traffic you direct, will be towards a piece of web real estate that you own.
Learn : You can grab this free course to learn how to make a WordPress website from scratch. (scroll down to #4)
As a creative writer, I maintain a writing portfolio on our website of the work that I publish on the web, Medium, and Linkedin. The venue you choose depends on where you’re at in your freelance career, and your goals. Don’t get caught up in a complex portfolio setup, to begin with. Choose the method that also allows you time to write and pursue clients.
Keep reading for tons of awesome examples of freelance writing portfolios below.
Can I use writing work for my portfolio for which I do not have authorship credit?
If you don’t have usage rights (via a contract), the prudent thing is to ask permission before sharing a link – or a few excerpts – to that work.
If you still need to, you could mention the company name along with a short description of the type of work you did for them. Or you can leave out identifying details and say what the results were
e.g: With the changes I made in their landing page copy, I helped a major media company achieve a 257% increase in conversions.
Alternatively, if that comprises a major chunk of your work, and you are not at liberty to disclose, then you could talk about and present this work as a screen share on a discovery call.
What should you include in a client-winning freelance portfolio page?
Beginner or seasoned writer, every portfolio starts with the 1 question- what does a prospective client want to see in a writer’s portfolio?
It’s pretty straightforward. They want to know you, your work ethic and your talent. It is your job to make that easy for them. So even 2-3 sample writings or actual jobs will suffice as long as they deliver on the above.
The ultimate objective of your portfolio is to convince and impress, and encourage your clients to hire you.
If you approach your freelance writing portfolio page as the best opportunity to make an impact on a potential client, then it would do well to have a structure as below:
- A brief headline and summary that shares who you serve and a description of the type of writing services/or niches you provide. Make it creative – tell a story!
- Link to 2-3 highlight projects (this can keep updating as you get more experience)
- Some testimonials that strengthen your case
- A CTA or in other words, what action would you like them to take – how to contact you, read more, etc.
I recommend following this structure even if your portfolio is a part of your website which already has a Contact and About Me page. This way you lay out all the required information on one page and make it easier for your client to say yes, without having to traverse multiple pages. Once it is set-up, also remember to add your portfolio link to your email signature and your social pages.
Persuasive, Not Pushy!
Can I see some examples of good freelance writing portfolios?
As diverse as there are writing styles, there is no single, true way to showcase your freelance writing portfolio. You could do a text-only, or you could enhance with visual elements like images, provided you keep it simple and let your writing work speak for itself.
Here are 12+ examples of freelance writing portfolios that will surely empower you with ideas:
- Sharon Hurley’s writing portfolio, clearly encompasses all the relevant information as an organized list (albeit missing visual details). It starts with who does she help, what can she do, followed by examples of her diverse writing, her recent work, and ends with 3 optional CTAs.
- A good way to structure your portfolio is into easily identifiable categories. Journalist & essayist Ann Friedman’s writing portfolio, is both visually appealing and clearly categorized.
- Freelance copywriter Tanvi Dasaur has a well organized, easy-to-create writing portfolio on Google Drive.
- Sales Copywriter for coaches, Amy Matos, displays sales pages on her portfolio as visual cards that clearly showcase her coaching niche in one glance.
- Health and nutrition writer Ana Reisdorf shows off her extensive writing portfolio with easy to read categories.
- The Literary Co’s writing Portfolio starts with the audience it serves, followed by where they have been featured, their case studies, client stories, and a CTA.
- For some awesome case studies in a copywriter’s portfolio, check out the awesome work of Conversion Copywriters Kallie Falandays and Annie Maguire.
- Michal Eisikowitz’s copywriting portfolio has a clickthrough to her projects via testimonials and images showcasing her clients.
- Content Creator Alex Petrowski shows an email newsletter as a scrolling example in her portfolio website created on Wix. If you are not comfortable sharing a client’s entire email, you can share an excerpt of the copy along with details like the subject line and the open and click stats.
- Jamie Baker’s copywriting portfolio displays her writing prowess as a combination of visuals categorized by end-use – direct mail, brochures, digital etc.
- Ghostwriter and Website Copywriter Kayla Hollatz’s Portfolio has some great detailed walk-throughs on her website copywriting methodology.
- Content Strategist & Copywriter Lucia Ward’s portfolio showcases her skills in writing product descriptions.
- Emily Matra’s writing portfolio distinctly shares examples of both her copywriting and content writing prowess.
Convince potential clients of your creative writing abilities with an online portfolio that adds credibility and allows you to display your work and talent. Freelance writing jobs are highly contested – but one foot in the door is all you need. The best way to start is to write often and share more. Also remember that a freelance writing portfolio always requires thorough proofreading. You do not want to be the writer who undermines their worth due to typos.
And most importantly, your freelance writing portfolio is a continuous work-in-progress. You should revisit and update as you grow and gather more experience!
You got this! Have fun, because writing is its own reward!
You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.