You need a portfolio as a freelance writer if you want to be able to show off your work and land new clients. There are many online portfolio platforms that are ideal for freelancer writers to use, but you may also want to create your own website. In this guide, I’ll teach you how to create a winning freelance writing portfolio.
The 7 steps you make a freelance writing portfolio are:
- Collect examples of your writing
- Highlight your best work
- Write your bio
- Choose your platform
- Build your portfolio
- Regularly update it with new samples
I’ll go through each of these steps in more detail below. I’ll also highlight the best freelance writing portfolio sites that you can use for free. But first, what should your freelance writing portfolio include?
What Should Be In A Freelance Writing Portfolio?
A freelance writing portfolio is a collection of your best work. It showcases your skills, the topics or niches you are most interested in, and previous clients you’ve written for. But there are some key things you should have in your freelance writing portfolio, including:
- Diverse range of writing samples: Include a mix of writing samples that showcase your versatility. Whether it’s blog posts, articles, product descriptions, or press releases, let your potential clients see that you can handle a broad spectrum of writing tasks.
- Industry expertise: If you have expertise in a particular field, flaunt it! This demonstrates to potential clients that you don’t just have excellent writing skills, but you also have the ability to provide valuable insights within their industry (see note below).
- Your best work: It’s better to have a few outstanding pieces than a mountain of mediocre ones in your writing portfolio. Handpick your best work, the pieces that truly represent your writing prowess. More is not better – many potential clients likely won’t have time to look through more than a handful of samples anyway.
- Results you achieved for past clients: While understandably you might not have much to go with here as a total beginner, adding results you achieved for your clients through your writing is a great way to back up your skills. Did you increase traffic for their blog? Did you help grow their business’ revenue through effective copywriting?
- Diverse writing styles: Demonstrate your ability to adapt to different writing styles and tones. Include samples that range from formal and professional to conversational and friendly. This versatility can be a significant selling point for clients with diverse content needs.
- Testimonials and client feedback: Don’t be shy about displaying positive feedback from satisfied clients. Testimonials add a human touch to your portfolio and offer social proof of your capabilities. Just make sure to obtain permission from clients before sharing their feedback!
- Contact information: Your clients need a way to get in touch with you after all! Include your email address, LinkedIn profile, and potentially a phone number. Alternatively, just include your social media links along with a contact form if you don’t want to put your contact info out there.
A Note On Expertise
Point number 2 above mentions you should include industry expertise. I do recommend picking a niche or industry you’re passionate/knowledgeable about, as it’ll be easier to write about for one, but it’ll also be easier to stand out from the competition.
Becoming a freelance writer can be tough, as it’s a very competitive industry. You might be able to thrive as a generalist freelance writer taking on everything and anything, but niching down is how you’ll likely be able to increase your rates in the long run and gain a reputation as an expert in your field.
Some Things You Don’t Need To Include
Things to avoid including in your freelance writing portfolio include:
- Your early work if you’ve improved a lot since then
- Spelling and grammar mistakes (obviously!)
- Hundreds of samples when 10 or 15 will do
7 Steps To Build A Freelance Writing Portfolio
1. Collect Examples Of Your Work
Creating a simple, well-organized spreadsheet with all your published pieces helps with planning the final version of your portfolio. Add links to each piece of work and organize them by topic and date so that you can easily select the ones you want to showcase.
It’s okay if you end up with a very long list at this stage – step two involves trimming it down to the best of the best!
2. Highlight Your Best Work
You don’t want to clutter your portfolio with every single piece you’ve ever written (as I said above, your clients have limited time to devote to reading potential freelancers’ samples). Focus on quality over quantity by choosing only the best pieces. Between 10 and 20 examples is ideal, but don’t worry if you don’t have that many yet.
Top Tip: If you’re struggling to put together published pieces, consider writing on a platform like Medium.com. It’s free and an easy way to get published pieces out there with your name on it!
Also, it’s best to feature your most recent work in your portfolio (more on that in step 6).
3. Write Your Bio
It’s not always easy to write about yourself, but clients want to know something about the person they’re hiring. Let them know who you are as a writer, what you can offer them, and why they should hire you. This is also a great place to highlight any relevant achievements.
Your freelance writing bio should primarily contain information about why clients should hire you for your writing skills. But you should also provide some background, such as industry expertise, experience within a certain niche, and perhaps professional experience or qualifications that might be relevant. You don’t need a degree to become a freelance writer, but if you have qualifications you can definitely include them here.
4. Choose Your Platform
So, you’ve chosen your best work, you know what you want to sell, and how you want to present yourself to potential clients. All that’s left to do is pick where you want your writing portfolio to exist. There are many dedicated writing portfolio sites to choose from, and I will go through them in more detail later in this article.
But you may wish to create your own website instead. I’d recommend this if you can, as it gives you far more customization options and it can look a lot more professional as well. There are lots of great website builders out there (many of them free or very cheap), but something like WordPress would give you a lot of freedom.
It’s not a must, but it’s definitely worth considering. It’ll allow you to have separate pages for your portfolio, about page, contact page, and more.
5. Build Your Portfolio
The next part is to actually put your portfolio together. Collate your best work, organize them in a logical way, and put the focus on the absolute best pieces you want clients to see first. Regardless of whether you’re creating a full website or just using a portfolio page, I recommend having contact info somewhere on the main portfolio page so it’s easy for potential clients to get in touch.
If you don’t have many pieces to feature in your portfolio yet, I recommend creating some mock pieces. If you’ve built your own website, you could create a blog roll that hosts some articles you’d like to use as writing samples. You can also write on websites like Medium.com, and then link to them as samples.
You don’t need to have experience as a freelance writer to have writing samples for your portfolio – you can create your own!
6. Add Your Contact Information
I recommend having a contact form that’s easy to access on your portfolio, or a full contact page if it’s your own website. As I mentioned above, you can include one of these instead of putting your contact details out there, but I do recommend at least linking to your LinkedIn and any other social media platforms as well.
7. Regularly Update It With New Samples
The final step is one that you’ll continue to do on an ongoing basis. Keeping your portfolio fresh is key, as your writing will improve over time and you always want to show off your best work to potential clients. You’ll also gain new samples as you gain new clients, and potentially testimonials to go with it.
Tips For Writing Your Freelance Writer Bio
Your bio is one of the most important parts of your freelance writing portfolio, and it’s your chance to show potential clients who you are. Below are some tips to create the best first impression with yours:
- Highlight your skills and experience: Mention your years in the industry, any relevant degrees or certifications, and the types of writing you excel at.
- Define your niche: If you specialize in a particular niche or industry, make it clear in your bio. Clients often look for writers with expertise in their specific field.
- Show, don’t tell: Rather than simply stating that you’re a ‘great writer,’ provide evidence. Mention any notable publications you’ve written for, awards you’ve received, or impressive statistics, such as increased website traffic or engagement due to your writing.
- Inject some personality: Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Clients want to work with real people, not robots!
- Keep it concise: While it’s important to provide valuable information, keep your bio concise and to the point. Aim for around 150-200 words. If you have your own website, you could create a separate about page that contains more detail.
The 4 Best Writing Portfolio Sites For Freelancers
Clippings.me is one of the largest writing portfolio websites and it’s easy to see why. Creating an account is quick and easy (if you choose to connect via Twitter/X, you can even automatically import a bio and avatar). You can also customize your page with pre-existing themes or by using your own pictures.
Uploading your pieces to the portfolio is as easy as pasting the URL for your work. The website then automatically uploads the date, title, and any image related to your clip to your portfolio page. Clippings.me is completely free to use for showcasing up to 10 articles. If you want to add more pieces to your portfolio, you’ll have to upgrade to the premium package for around $9.99 per month.
Contently lets you create a minimalist and appealing writing portfolio with ease and for free. Setting up an account is quick and easy. However, the platform is limited when it comes to customizing your portfolio. Every Contently portfolio has the same design, and you only change your posts, name, picture, and bio.
But a major plus is that there’s no limit to how many pieces you can have in your portfolio. Plus, the website also works as an online content agency. Contently surveys each portfolio and tries to match potential clients with the best freelancers. I can’t say you’ll definitely get work through the platform, but it’s an opportunity not all writing portfolio sites offer.
3. Journo Portfolio
If customization is important for you, then Journo Portfolio might be a good choice. It allows you to personalize colours, images, and fonts, and you can choose from many themes and blocks. You can add a bio, your social media accounts, contact and about pages, and more.
Adding pieces to your portfolio is also very easy. You just enter the URL for the piece and the website does the rest. Plus, you also have the option of publishing your articles directly on the platform. Journo Portfolio is free for up to 10 articles. If you want to include unlimited writing pieces in your portfolio, you can upgrade to a Plus version for $8 per month, or a Pro version for $12 per month (it’s cheaper if you pay annually).
Finally, we have Medium.com. This is a writing platform with millions of monthly users, and it’s a place where you can share writing about everything and anything. It’s not a traditional portfolio website, as it’s more like a personal blog roll. You can add a short bio and about page, but the focus is on the stories you share.
You can even earn some money for your writing on Medium through their partner program. I can’t tell you that you’ll get rich from it, but it’s an extra potential bonus to bear in mind. But the main benefit is simply being able to write unlimited stories (for free) that you can use as your own personal writing portfolio!
Do You Need A Freelance Writing Portfolio?
You do need a freelance writing portfolio if you want to be able to get clients. As a freelance writer, you have your own style, your niches, your way of engaging with readers – you are your brand. A writing portfolio acts as the best marketing tool for your brand.
A portfolio makes it easier to sell your work to potential clients. Instead of telling them everything about yourself and your achievements, you can simply show them. An appealing writing portfolio grabs clients’ attention, and quality writing will make them want to hire you. Plus, having a writing portfolio means you can potentially turn up in search results when a potential client googles you – which is obviously a good thing!
The more you put your work out there, the more likely you are to attract new clients. Take advantage of social media, post your portfolio link on job boards and forums, and include it in the signature on your email. Don’t be afraid to show off your hard work!
If you’re still in the early stages of your freelance writing career, check out our article all about tips for beginner freelance writers.