You know what you want.
You want to be a freelance writer.
You’ve done your research and you know this is the creative outlet you need and help you quit your 9-5 job for good! But, now, you have no clue what to do to get started.
Do you pitch first?
Do you start a blog?
With anything new, there will be different ways to get to the same end goal. For me, I had absolutely no experience writing for businesses or being online. Sure, I went to Facebook or Pinterest, but I did that for personal reasons, not to market something.
I didn’t know what to do or how to do it once I realized I wanted to freelance write.
I made mistakes in the beginning too and had to learn the hard way what tools I needed to start freelance writing.
But, I’m here telling you what you do need first. You need a writing portfolio.
This is a sample of your writing in the niche you want to get paid for.
Oh, dear. Did I open up a can of worms when I talked about a niche????
Technically you need to have a niche to write samples, but it’s not required.
A prospect typically won’t hire you unless they have read your writing in the niche they require. You can click the image below to view it better.
A recent inquiry let me know that they read my samples on my site. My samples told them that they liked my style and wanted to hire me this year.
Having a solid writing portfolio filled with your best writing can really make or break you as a writer trying to make this a business.
So, let’s dive into all of this and see what the best way is to build your portfolio.
A Writing Portfolio Example
There are many ways you can display your freelance writer portfolio.
It’s typically a page on your writer website.
While you can just add links to your Portfolio page, it’s much more attracting if you use a plugin.
In my course, , I show you how to install a plugin for your portfolio:
To me, this is the most professional way to display your portfolio to potential clients.
What Type of Content to Use in Your Freelance Writing Portfolio
So, do you only put blog posts in your writing portfolio?
No. You put the type of content you want to get paid for. This might mean sample emails, mock-ups of white papers, site content for an About page or a blog post.
I typically write blog content, so my portfolio is made up of blog content. I also think this is the easiest type of content to create and to market for your business. You can land regular work as a freelance blog writer.
But, should you just draft up samples in Google doc or is there a better way to build your portfolio? Yes!!
Do This to Build Your Writing Portfolio
The best way to create a sample for your freelance portfolio is to guest post.
This means your post is published on someone else’s blog. It can be paid contributions, but more often than not, it’s a free opportunity for you to market your business in front of a brand new targeted audience.
Guest posting also gives you the ‘street cred’ as a professional freelance writer.
My first three samples were not really in my niche, nor were they at all related to each other.
The first was for A Nation of Moms. I wrote about gut health for toddlers. I thought natural health would be a good niche to get into. My second was for Social Media Today.
This post is in my portfolio currently because it has helped me break into the digital marketing niche – the niche I currently write in.
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Finally, the third sample was for Psych Central on how to improve your mood. I was ecstatic for this sample as it was on a very prestigious platform, even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about mental health.
As you can see, not defining a niche didn’t stop me from writing about things I knew – natural health, mental health and social media (the last one I was learning at the time and wanted to write about it).
So, how do you guest post?
1. Run a Google Search
The easiest is to run a Google search on the niche you want to write for + “write for us.” Here is an example of dog blogs!
You can search for literally anything + write for us to get guest blog opportunities.
2. Read The Guest Blog’s Guidelines
Every place you guest blog will have a different set of guidelines to submit your post. Some may want a Google doc while others want you to send an attachment via email.
There may be strict rules on what types of links to include, who you can mention in your post and how to write your post and the length of the post. Here are Brazen’s guest guidelines.
3. Create Your Guest Blog Pitch
Now comes the fun part – crafting your pitch based on the guidelines you just read!
Again, different blogs want different things. Some want 3-5 topic suggestions while others want an outline of one post idea. Figure out what they want and come up with a great topic or list of topics.
Here is my pitch for A Nation of Moms:
I suggest you research how to craft a pitch for guest blogging. It’s important that your pitch comes off personal and sounds like you know the blogger’s content. Simply using a template for your guest pitch, won’t work in landing any guest posts.
Instead, read the blog you want to guest post and learn about:
- How long their posts are
- The format for their posts
- Their popular high sharing topics
- Their headlines
This information can help you stand out in your pitch. The blog owner will know you did your research.
4. Write the Guest Post
When you get accepted, it’s time to write the guest post. One thing to note – don’t pitch the SAME topic and outline to multiple guest blogs.
If you pitch the steps to eat paleo to five health blogs and two of them accept your pitch, you can’t write that post. And you can’t swap another idea either.
Instead, think of similar blog topics to pitch. So, for the health example, if you want to guest post on a health site, come up with several ideas that can be similar if you have a hard time coming up with blog topics:
- 5 Steps to Get Your Family Eating Paleo
- Why Paleo Eating Isn’t Just a Fad
- 25 Easy Paleo Snacks to Take on The Run
- 5 Easy Ways You Can Start Eating Paleo
5. Craft Your Author Bio
One of the best reasons you want to build your writer portfolio using guest posts is you get an author bio.
is the place to market your freelance writing business!
A good bio has these components: what you are offering, what type of content you provide, how to reach you and some kind of way to tell your personality.
My author bio has evolved over the years as I’ve grown as a freelance writer. Here is my most current author bio:
6. Submit Your Post And Wait
After you submit your post (via the way the blogger indicated in the guest post guidelines) it’s time to wait. You will probably get a response from the blog owner saying that they received it and give you a timeline of when your post will be published.
Other blogs may want you to edit and revise your content before they publish your post.
Once all of that is handled, you wait until your post is published. During this time you can pitch for more guest spots, work on your writer website and start pitching to job boards.
As a new freelance writer, you gotta hustle every day. Figure out the tasks you need to do to get your business up and running!
It’s your turn – have you started your freelance writing portfolio? Let me know in the comments!