No matter where you are in your writing career, a robust portfolio can make or break your appeal to potential clients. New writers may wonder where to begin, and more seasoned wordsmiths may worry about how to keep up with the changing demands of a highly fluid field. Developing a strong body of work is often the hardest part of launching an independent writing business, but you can do it successfully with a smart, practical strategy.
This article will serve as a guide to building a writing portfolio that will allow your independent writing career to blossom over time.
Your writing portfolio: What it is and what it should include
All types of writers should look at an online writing portfolio as a tool to advertise their writing skills to prospective clients. In addition to samples of your work, your portfolio should include a brief, informative (but not overly promotional) biography and any testimonials you may have from former clients regarding your writing skills.
The goal of your writer portfolio is to showcase unique gifts and contributions that only you can bring, so it should harbor only high-quality writing work that you feel will advance your writing career. One frequent mistake that new independent professionals make when building their portfolios is believing that every piece they’ve penned needs to go in there. Keep your writing samples current, relevant, and top-notch at all times.
The following list highlights a few key characteristics that any solid writing portfolio should contain.
Characteristics of a strong writing portfolio
- Diversity of writing: If you are a seasoned independent writer with multiple writing jobs under your belt, you need to ensure that your portfolio includes your strongest pieces and demonstrates the various genres, styles, and publication types you can tackle. Even if all you’ve done is blogging and served as a copywriter here and there, think about creating pieces for the types of writing that are of interest to you professionally. As you grow your freelance business, you can shuffle pieces in and out as needed to show your best writing work continuously.
- Professional content and tone: You should keep your portfolio professional. Even if you write for a brand that has an off-beat tone, be mindful to present the content in a professional manner. Although one goal of your portfolio might be to showcase your range in writing for different verticals, you want to prioritize presenting this content in a polished manner.
- Clips oriented to your target audience: Freelance writing jobs are not all the same, so wherever you choose to host your portfolio should offer the capability to feature your best work in different segments. For example, if you’re interested in serving as a ghostwriter for a lifestyle blogger, a year’s worth of formal grant applications you wrote for multiple nonprofits doesn’t show your writing skills in their best light to this audience.
- Clips that reflect the way you present your brand and focus: Every professional writer has a distinct style and focus. Ensure your writing samples reflect yours by choosing pieces that offer insights into your writing style, versatility, or other marketable attributes.
How to build a writing portfolio in 5 steps
If you’re in the early stages of building your career as a freelance writer in hopes of making it your primary source of income, you need an online portfolio that attracts clients by speaking for itself. Ndiwano.com is the perfect platform for launching your writing career, as you can pursue an endless array of opportunities while also seeing how other successful self-employed writers structure their portfolios.
The following six steps will help you design your professional writing portfolio in a way that shows your writing services in their best light.
1. Decide on a domain name and where you want to host your portfolio
The first step you should take in building your online writing portfolio is to decide on and purchase a domain name. A good rule of thumb is to use your name and add “.com.” If this isn’t available, though, you can get creative and expand it to “yournamewrites.com” or something similar. You can use sites like GoDaddy.com to see what domain is available. Whatever you choose, the goal should be to have a domain that is concise and makes a direct connection to you.
From there, you’ll want to decide on where you want to host and build your online portfolio. There are many portfolio sites available where you can build your brand as a writer. Sites like Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress offer easy-to-use templates that allow you to build a web presence for your freelance writer’s portfolio without having to start from scratch.
To expand your reach to potential clients, you can also consider building your online freelancer presence through platforms like Ndiwano.com. Ndiwano.com is continuously evolving and developing new ways for independent writers to feature their work and attract paying clients. We also offer areas to highlight testimonials and reviews from previous clients as well as your rate to make working with a new client that much faster.
2. Review all prior work for potential writing samples
Once you have a space set for your writing portfolio, you’ll want to look for pieces that can serve as your foundation. The challenge might be identifying your best work within existing writing samples. Look for pieces that are well-structured, achieve a professional tone, and have been particularly successful for past clients.
3. Seek out guest post opportunities
If you don’t have many pieces to add to your portfolio just yet, look for opportunities to increase your visibility as an independent writer. That could mean reaching out to your LinkedIn network to see about producing content for their company pages or guest posting on a friend’s established blog. New content is one of the best ways to enhance success of your freelance writing portfolio.
4. Consider writing for nonprofit organizations
Nonprofits can be a great place to get your copywriting feet wet if you’re a new writer because these organizations often need support. Consider reaching out to nonprofits you admire and ask if they need a copywriter or other content creator. You may have to work pro bono, but you can gain great experience.
Being affiliated with a nonprofit also lends your writing work a level of purpose that can help promote you in interviews.
5. Revisit and update your portfolio regularly
Keep in mind that potential clients not only want to see your previous writing samples, but they want to know that you’re still actively writing and available. Be sure to revisit your portfolio and update it when appropriate. For instance, if you’ve recently taken on a client in a new vertical and want to expand your business within that industry, you’ll want to ensure these clips find their way on your online portfolio.
Check out more tips on creating a robust portfolio in this Building Your Portfolio course from the Ndiwano.com Academy.
Reach the clients you need to launch your writing career
Building your freelance writer’s portfolio should be an inspiring experience that you’re excited to show off. Making early decisions about what type of writing you’re interested in will help you figure out what to put in your portfolio at various stages of its progression. Ndiwano.com is the best place to find and win writing opportunities of all kinds, no matter your area of passion or current level of expertise.