There is a common dilemma when you are just starting out as a freelance writer. And you are trying to get your first freelance writing client. You need samples in your freelance writing portfolio to be able to get clients. And you need clients before you can have these writing samples.
So how do you build your freelance writing portfolio if no one will hire a writer without samples?
This is the point where a lot of people give up on earning an income from freelance writing.
If you are not going to get someone to hire you without writing samples, then how will you find any clients?
I’ve been down that road. And I want to show you the things that worked for me to get me the writing samples that I used to build my freelancing writing portfolio.
Build a freelance writing website
Believe it or not, your website is sometimes good enough as a writing sample for your portfolio.
Imagine that you are a copywriter with excellent knowledge of SEO. And you wrote your website copy so well that it ranked high in Google searches and brought a client to your doorstep.
The client wouldn’t need proof of how good you are with copywriting. They already see the proof in the copy on your own website.
Your writer website is also the place where you put up a sample of your writings on other websites. So that prospective clients can see all the awesome writing that you have done outside of your own website.
It is easy and cheap to build a freelance writer website. At least compared to what you probably expected.
Well, except if you decide to hire a web designer to put all the nuts and bolts together for you.
But as a new freelance writer that was bootstrapping three years ago, there wasn’t so much money for me to shell out to designers, so I had to DIY a lot of things.
I highly recommend Bluehost as a web hosting company that offers stress-free and affordable hosting for websites.
With less than $5 a month, you can get your writer website up. This fee will become very small to you when you start getting well-paying clients.
And if you are a stranger to setting up a website, Bluehost has a one-click setting that let you sign up for web hosting and install a WordPress website in a few breaths.
Start a blog
Most times, what new freelance writers do not know is that starting a blog is good. It is one of the best ways to build your portfolio.
You want to get paid to write. So how about having a blog where you write consistently on a topic that you love and know something about?
You can direct prospective clients to this blog and have them decide if your style of writing is good enough for them.
Your blog does not have to be in your client’s niche, even though that is better and makes things easier.
Imagine being a weight loss blogger looking for writing clients in the health industry.
But if your blog is not in your prospective client’s niche, that is still okay. I blog mostly about writing and I am a freelance writer for Muslim start-ups.
The most important thing is to have samples that show your prospective client how well you write.
A lot of writers set up a blog as a page on their freelance writing website.
For me, my writer website is different from my blog majorly because they are in different niches and I do not want to mix up my audiences.
If you are setting up a blog, you may choose to get a separate domain for your blog or make it a page on your freelance writing website.
This is one of the most common ways that new and experienced writers build their freelance writing portfolio. When you write a guest blog, you are contributing a post to someone else’s blog.
Guest-posting has multiple advantages. You have an actual link that you can send to a prospective client as your published sample.
By writing for someone else’s blog, you become visible to that blog’s audience and you can get clients from the audience, or even get people to check out your own blog and become loyal followers.
To get guest-blogging opportunities, make a list of blogs in your niche with a sizeable audience, craft a good pitch and offer to write for them.
The debate that however comes up with guest-blogging is the issue of writing for free. It is very common to find blogs that expect writers to write for no pay or even a by-line.
And freelancers ask: is writing for free worth my time?
I like to think of the answer as yes and no.
Yes, guest-posting is worth your time because it puts you in front of an audience that will be interested in you. And it gives you the writing samples that you need to land well-paying freelance writing clients. Don’t forget that it also gives you readers for your blog.
The part where I am against guest-blogging is when it will not serve any benefit to your freelance career.
When you see a guest-blogging opportunity that does not allow you have a by-line where readers can know more about you and what you do, and there is no money involved, then you may consider walking away.
Because often times, websites try to blackmail freelance writers into writing for free just so they can generate more free content for their website.
If you can’t at least get a by-line, how will prospective clients believe that you wrote it?
As a freelance writer, you are a business owner and whatever decisions you make should serve your freelance career in a good way.
To quickly build your freelance writing portfolio, these are some of the proven technique that can help you get those much-needed writing samples that will help you land your dream clients.
Do you have any difficulty getting published samples for your freelance writing portfolio? Share with me and other readers in the comments and let’s see if we can help.