How to write a portfolio as a content writer that will blow your client’s minds
You are in talks with a marketing manager of a company you want to work with, and it seems like they want to hire you. But suddenly, they ask for a link to your samples or writing portfolio, and you don’t have one. You don’t know how to reply, and you lose the client. Let me tell you a secret: most content writers find themselves in your shoes, and it’s completely normal to lose a client just because you didn’t have a content writer portfolio. It is not okay to do anything about it and keep losing more clients. We will discuss the basics of how to write a portfolio and end up with a writer portfolio that will blow your client’s mind (in a good way). Let’s dive into how to make a portfolio for content writers.
What is a content writer portfolio?
A content writer’s portfolio is a collection of samples that showcase their writing skills. Since the barrier to entry into the content writing industry is low, it becomes increasingly challenging for recruiters or marketers to onboard content writers on their teams. Moreover, when they post a vacancy, many applications come their way, and the recruiters have to interview all applicants to assess.
However, with a portfolio, they can read the content piece and assess whether the skill and writing style suits them or not. The recruiters don’t have to conduct individual interviews and save time and effort.
Advantages of a portfolio for content writer
There are several advantages of a portfolio for content writers and marketers/recruiters alike. Since we already discussed how it makes the firing process easier for recruiters, let’s see the advantages content writers have once they prepare a top-notch portfolio.
- Gets high-intent inbound leads: Inbound leads are leads that come to avail of your services. People usually use social media channels to get inbound leads. A crucial part of getting inbound leads is to make your portfolio accessible to anyone who lands on your profile. Therefore, when you get an inbound lead, there are high chances of them already having a look at your portfolio. Consequently, they already like your work and therefore have a higher intention of hiring you.
- Makes you seem professional: A portfolio makes you seem like a professional content writer that takes their job seriously. Most portfolios need some money for maintenance and development. Thus, when a freelance content writer has a portfolio, the client takes the freelancer seriously and gives a very professional vibe.
- Demonstrates consistency: Making a portfolio is not a one-time effort but requires continuous effort to keep it updated and remove any redundancies. Writers improve over time due to practice and upskilling. Therefore, your old samples will soon stop representing your improved skill set, and therefore you need to enhance it consistently. Thus, the consistency you show in improving your portfolio will also be a testament to your constant upskilling and staying updated with the current times.
- Does all the talking: Not all of us have strong verbal communication, which does not mean that our writing communication is not strong. Therefore, some writers may find themselves putting their foot in their mouth in front of the clients and lose them (sad emoji face). But, your portfolio can do all the talking while you work on your verbal communication. It can often communicate stronger and help you get the writing gigs you want.
Different types of content writer portfolio
Since a writing portfolio has so many advantages, you want to make a portfolio that shows your skills and is in the most acceptable format. Many people end up sending their portfolio in one way and receive no reply. They wonder why the client has not replied and does not understand the critical role the type of content writer portfolio plays in the selection process. Therefore, we have discussed the four different types of portfolios, their popularity, cost, and professionalism.
- Google drive folder: A google drive folder is the easiest way to make a portfolio and doesn’t cost you a dime. You can write your samples in Google Docs, gather them in a drive folder, and share them with your prospects. Voila! Your portfolio is complete. However, it does not give a professional vibe, and there are high chances that someone may steal your sample and use it on their website without paying you. Therefore you are prone to getting your work stolen, giving a non-professional vibe, and sharing it only when you have the prospect’s email ID and attention. Therefore, I do not suggest you go ahead with this type of portfolio.
- Website portfolio: A website portfolio is a perfect solution for all the problems with a Google Drive Folder writing portfolio. There is no chance for people to steal your work since it is published on the internet, and they cannot copy-paste. Moreover, a website portfolio gives a professional vibe and gives off the impression of someone serious about their freelancing services. Additionally, anybody can look at your portfolio since it’s public, and all they need is a link to look at your best work. Therefore, you can put the link on your social media profile, so anybody who lands on your profile sees it immediately and checks your work out.
The only disadvantage or the barrier for a website portfolio is the initial investment and yearly maintenance cost you need to pay. Since you need to buy hosting for your website, it is a recurring expense, and therefore you need to pay it to keep your website up and to run. Moreover, you need to pay for the domain name and the development of your website, although they are one-time costs. Therefore, many people do not get a website portfolio for these reasons. However, a website portfolio is worth the money given you actively hunt for leads or build a personal brand to attract potential clients.
- Published articles/guest posts: Clients may also ask for published articles on other websites, and therefore it is wise to reach out to websites as a guest blogger. You can also start a Medium blog and post your articles there, but reaching out to reputed blogs and getting your blogs published there will help increase your credibility. How? Since there are specific criteria that you need to follow in terms of skill and knowledge base, getting your blogs on guest blogs reflects that you are a content writer with an excellent skill set. Whereas when you post on Medium, anybody can make an account and start posting. Therefore, reaching out to other blogs will help you seem a better content writer and also help you gain an organic backlink for your website.
- Notion: Notion is a productive all-in-one workplace, team collaboration, and writing tool. Many teams and companies use it, which is free for individual creators. You can add people quickly if they have a notion account, and thus you can make your portfolio for free on Notion and share it with the concerned person given they have an account. Notion slight upgrade from Google Drive, although it has limitations as a Google Doc portfolio.
I suggest that you go with a website portfolio and a few published articles to give maximum professionalism, which will increase your chances of getting hired. However, if you cannot get them due to accessibility issues, you can also prepare a Google Drive folder portfolio. At the end of the day, people will look at your skills and decide whether to hire you or not. Therefore, if a Google Doc portfolio is all you can access, go ahead. But remember to level up and get yourself a website eventually.
How to write a portfolio?
After discussing the types of portfolio styles and picking one that suits you best, let’s discuss how to write a portfolio to win your clients over and earn big money.
- Decide which type of portfolio you want.
It is the first step because each type has its requirements. If you decide to go with a Google Docs portfolio, you need a professional ID. So if your ID is something along the lines of [email protected], you need to make a new email ID. Something more professional like [email protected]
If you decide to build a website instead, you need to decide on a domain name and see if it is available. The best domain name is yourname.com. But if you have a common name, there are high chances that the domain name will be unavailable. But if your name is an unusual one, you might be good to go. After you purchase a domain, you need to buy the hosting for your website. Hostinger is a website that provides decent hosting at affordable rates.
Next, you need to decide if you want to use WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix for your WordPress. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. I suggest you use WordPress because you can practically get your website at no cost due to so many free plugins and themes. You can hire a developer to get your website up and running, or you can DIY it by watching YouTube. However, not everyone has the patience to learn and make a website, so hire a freelancer and chill if you can afford a developer. A developer may take 5K-10K for a portfolio website. But prices may vary too, so do not haggle much and pay what the freelancer is quoting. We, freelancers, gotta stick together, so do not fight for a few thousand and get it done. You can check their previous projects and portfolio to see if they fit the bill.
After so much work and spending money, you may start daunting making your portfolio. You just got to know that every business requires some initial investment; the money you spend on your website is an investment too.
- Choose the writing samples.
If you have worked before with clients, you can look at the writing pieces and see if you can add them to your samples. But what if you didn’t have clients before? Or if you are changing niches? How to prepare a portfolio then?
There is a solution: you write your samples. You don’t need to work for clients to prepare your portfolio. Yes, it helps if you have worked before and have published blogs. However, there might be cases where the client does not give you credit for the blog post and may even make you sign NDAs not to reveal you worked for them. Thus, preparing samples and putting them up is a better option to avoid any complications.
I suggest that you pick the niche(s) you want to work for and write five samples for each niche. You can vary the length of your samples to give the client an idea about the topics you can cover. Definitely include a 3000-word long sample if you want long-form blog clients. Long-form content is valuable and works better in terms of SEO; therefore, clients are looking for content writers who can write long-form content. Thus, including long blogs will help the client assess how good you are at researching and writing lengthy blogs.
It would be best to use heading tags and graphics to make your samples look like an actual blog. It will make you seem professional and give an impression that you have the knowledge and experience of how blogs are written and published. Overall, it will help you position yourself better as a content writer.
- Seek out guest post opportunities.
As I suggested, you should have a website portfolio and many published articles. You should reach out to other blogs looking for guest bloggers and ask them what the criteria for submissions are. After receiving the requirements, write a blog according to the conditions and submit your blog. Follow up if they do not reply, and leave if they reject your request for submission.
How do you find guest blogging opportunities? You search on Google [niche] + write for us. For example, your niche is fitness, so you should explore fitness + write for us.
You may even ask them to link back to your website since guest blogging may also help you find clients. Some blogs are strict about it and do not allow a backlink; therefore, always ask before putting a backlink in your content.
- Work on the rest of your website
A website should just not be your sample; it should also be about you and your services. It would be best to have a section that shows your personality and expertise. The about us will help you establish any testimonials, achievements, experience, etc., to your potential clients. Moreover, mentioning your services will communicate clearly what your services are so that you don’t get clients who expect other services from you.
Do not mention your current service charges; those details should be discussed on a call since your rates will depend on their expectations. You should always mention your contact details, either a phone number or an email so that the client can reach out to you. There is no point in making a fantastic website when the client cannot reach out to you.
- Revisit and make change
Always remember to check your sample after three months and revise them in case new information is available about the blog topic. You may also see more errors or have a better way of writing than before. Thus, checking your samples will help you not miss out on clients and showcase your skills in the best light possible.
- Get your freelance friends to check your portfolio.
If you don’t have freelance friends, you need a few in your life. Go out there and build a network of a few friends to who you can reach out in case you encounter a roadblock. If you have freelance friends or content writer friends, send them your portfolio and ask them for their feedback. Their feedback will strengthen your portfolio further.
- Link your social media
Social media is much more than just a place to keep up with your friends. Businesses understand the importance of social media and have started establishing their presence on the platform. Thus, they are also looking for any new talent they can hire to better their digital presence. If you do not have a business account on social media, you are missing out.
But if you do have a presence on social media where you often share valuable content, you can link your handles to your website. It makes them easier to reach out to you via DMs.
Avoid these in your writing portfolio.
- Any grammatical errors in your portfolio should be avoided at all costs.
- Not checking the plagiarism of the sample before uploading it.
- Not indexing your samples on Google Search Console. If your samples are indexed, it will save them from people stealing them and claiming them as theirs. You need to connect your website and Google Search Console to index your samples. Talk to a developer or search it on Google to join them.
- Sharing irrelevant, personal, and unprofessional information about yourself on your website. You can share your personality on your website, but it is vital to keep it professional and contextually relevant.
- Sharing testimonials without explicit permission from the person who sent you the testimonial. Consent is crucial in these cases, and asking it in email or written format protects you too. Therefore, be smart and ask first.
- Posting samples of all niches together. Have separate pages for each niche, and post the relevant piece on that niche’s web page.
- Putting no contact details is a big no-no because it would mean losing clients ready to work with you. Therefore, a separate contact page with your email, phone number, and a Calendly link will make it convenient for people to reach out to you. (Calendly is a tool that lets people book video calls with you. You can choose how long the meetings will be, and the days you will be available for the call. It is a pretty cool tool for freelancers).
How to send your writer portfolio
You have made your portfolio, and you are applying for freelancing jobs and cold emailing prospects. You get replies back, and they are asking for your portfolio. Please do not send your entire portfolio and instead, send a few links to the samples themselves. Why? Because sharing links makes it easier for them to read instead of searching your portfolio for the relevant pieces. Moreover, if your portfolio has more than one niche’s samples, sending links to your samples is a better choice too.
To sum up the blog above on how to write a portfolio content, we first discussed what a content writer portfolio is and how recruiters use it to hire content writers and why it is better than hiring through a content writer bio. Next, we discussed the advantages of a content portfolio and how the freelance portfolio samples help freelance content writers look professional and consistent. Moreover, portfolio writing does all the talking and gets high intent leads. Next, we discussed different portfolios and why it is better to have a writer’s website instead of a Google Drive Folder portfolio. We also discussed how to write a portfolio and what to include in your website. There was also a way to find guest posting opportunities and get some published articles out there. Lastly, there were things to avoid in your portfolio and the right way of sending a portfolio to a client.
You are all set to impress and wow your clients with a fantastic portfolio. Go ahead and use it to get more clients and start making a consistent income. If you want to enhance your revenue as a content writer, check out how to become a high-paid freelance content writer. We hope the blog gives you tips and advice that will help you in your journey as a freelance content writer.