Portfolio is the first thing any client asks a freelance writer. Even before the client sees your portfolio, he will judge you on the fact whether you send a direct link portfolio, or keep uploading DOC files of your work.
Pro Tip – Do not send DOC files, it looks unprofessional and it’s messy. Use direct links instead. Here are some websites that allow writers to create free portfolios with personalized links.
But what happens when you are applying for your very first paid gig?
Here are some ways you can create a sparkly portfolio even when you don’t have any samples
1. Use your personal blog as a sample
If you have a personal blog where you write occasionally (and you are proud of the content), share it with your clients to show your ‘personal style of writing’.
When I first started out, I literally had nothing but my personal blog Indian Screw Up helped me get the first few gigs pretty easily. Funnily enough, I still get contacted by clients just because they like what I write on it.
2. Write for non-paying websites
There are many websites which don’t pay writers, but they do publish your work, which means – sample clippings!
Huffington Post is just one of them.
Though I would only suggest going this way when you are really desperate for samples and there is no other way. I personally don’t like websites that make enough revenue and yet don’t pay their writers. By the way, Write Freelance does pay writers.
3. Make your own samples
Why not just write some articles on your own to showcase your best work?
With no editor working aside, this can be really tricky since you could end up making mistakes. That is why, make sure you proofread the content multiple times.
4. Pitch clients article ideas
There were many established websites I wanted to write, but of course, I didn’t have the suitable samples to showcase my talent. So, I put forward a simple proposal for the client – I will write an article, and if the client likes it, he can hire me. If he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t have to hire me or pay me.
But that also meant he couldn’t use my content free of charge (Make sure you mention this very clearly to your client).
And you know what? I got some of my best clients with these kind of proposals. After all, it’s just about pushing yourself forward and not restricting yourself to certain niches.
What to include in your portfolio and what to leave it
Do not include every work you have done in your portfolio. The idea is to add your best work in it, which will compel the clients to hire you. Just because you don’t have much to display doesn’t mean you should put up even your worst work in the portfolio. Even if you have only 2 samples, make sure they are good enough.