To book the freelance writing jobs you want, you’re going to need writing portfolio pieces to share with potential clients. But what do you do when you are just getting started as a writer and don’t have the writing samples needed to book the jobs you want?
I recommend that you begin with this simple 3 step approach.
Pick your writing niche
Find 3-5 companies or publications that need your writing support - even if it’s unpaid
Leverage your initial samples to book new clients and update your writer portfolio along the way
Pick your writing niche
You want to ensure that you have a niche for your writing business when you get started. While this isn’t a requirement, it is easier to have a focus from day 1.
With a niche, you establish yourself as an expert in the writing you do. Instead of being a general freelance writer, you can choose a lane to dominate and grow from there. Clients will often feel more comfortable working with a writer with a focus.
This could be an industry niche such as a personal finance writer, mental health writer, HR writer, or pet care writer. Alternatively, you could choose to focus on one type of writing: email sequences, blogs, white papers, or sales page copy.
Keep in mind that this niche doesn’t have to be your forever focus.
Most freelance writers will change their niche overtime or add additional niches after establishing themselves.
However, starting having a focus can help you build a better portfolio and make it easier to book clients once you start marketing your services and pitching yourself to companies.
Find companies and publications
Once you have a niche, you will seek out publications and/or companies that need writing support. This might be free or paid help. You have to decide whether you’re willing to take on free work when creating a portfolio.
While you don’t have to accept free work, it can be easier to get your pieces quickly, so you can start booking quality paid writing gigs.
I’ve found the easiest way to get your portfolio pieces quickly is to target smaller businesses and publications. Starting off, here are some ideas:
Network: Reach out to your network of friends, family members, and acquaintances who own businesses or work for smaller companies that could benefit from content support.
Social Media: Put out a call on social media that you’re looking to connect with businesses or publications that fit your niche to build your portfolio.
Facebook Groups: Facebook groups or other networking groups can be a diamond mine for finding companies to get pieces for your portfolio. Make a post in a group stating that you’re looking for companies or publications, and you’re willing to do free work or discounted work in exchange for a testimonial. Many Facebook groups don’t want you to promote your business, so be careful with your wording and check the group rules.
Google: Google is the ultimate resource for freelance writers. You can look up “write for us (industry niche) blog” and get a list of bloggers looking for writers. Start with smaller, lesser- known blogs for a greater likelihood of being accepted as a guest post writer.
Local Businesses: You can reach out to local mom and pop businesses and let them know you’re looking to build your portfolio and would like to offer writing services free of charge.
Start a Blog: Blogging is another excellent way to showcase your writing skills - though I recommend that you secure published works from other companies and publications, so all of the work you send to others when pitching isn’t just your blog posts.
By using any of the strategies listed above, you should secure 3-5 pieces of work within your niche for your writing portfolio.
Leverage your initial writing portfolio pieces
Once you have your initial writing portfolio samples, you can leverage them to book paid clients.
Over time, your portfolio pieces will improve, and you can replace your initial pieces if they aren’t a reflection of your best writing, or keep them if they are.
Bonus tip for your writing portfolio
Here’s a bonus tip to remember when building your portfolio.
Whenever possible, get a testimonial or review from a member of the company. You can collect the testimonial via email or have them leave a review on your Facebook page, LinkedIn page, or Google business page.
This is powerful social proof that you can utilize as you build your freelance writing career.
Now that you know the gist of building a writing portfolio, it's time to put the steps into action.
Turning information into action is often where the breakdown happens as you strive to achieve your freelancing goals. Just know that action can be the difference between making money as a writer, being on your vision board, and seeing it come to fruition.
So, it's time to create a writing portfolio, but like step 1 said, you want to establish your niche.
If you don't yet have a niche, I recommend that you download my free Start Your Freelance Writing Business Toolkit.
You'll get all the things needed to help you pick a niche and get started growing your freelance writing business in the toolkit.