If you’ve been considering starting your career as a freelance writer after reading my recent post on 33 online business ideas, then you must have done a bit of research on how one actually goes about becoming one.
Your research would tell you that one of the most crucial things you need to start getting freelance writing jobs is a portfolio. (Even if you haven’t figured that out yet, now you know!)
In reality, it makes sense. Virtually every job requires experience, even the online ones.
Still, if you’re just starting out, getting experience can be hard. I know the struggle.
For those of you who don’t know, the biggest way that I make money online is through writing. I started out as a freelance writer, and now I have my own copywriting website where I work one-on-one with entrepreneurs over by DreamWrite.
But, there was a time when I was I had no prior clients, no testimonials or reviews and definitely NO experience! (You can read about my journey on the about page; I was lost.)
It can feel like an impossible situation. Luckily, back then I found a client who was willing to bet on me with no experience, no portfolio, nothing. Since then I’ve found three solutions that actually involve creating a portfolio, just not through the conventional route.
I’m going to share it with you right now, cause I know it’s going to help you kick start your freelance writing career.
How do you get experience? You create it!
Unlike other technical work, writing is fairly straightforward when it comes to creating your own experience. Most potential clients who ask for your portfolio aren’t trying to find out who you’ve worked for, they want to see what you can do.
There’s no rule ANYWHERE that says all the work in your portfolio has to be work you’ve been paid for. In fact, your portfolio is just supposed to be your best, most relevant work. After seeing your portfolio, no client is going to ask you, “were you paid to do this?”
You see where I’m going with this? You can put together a pretty solid portfolio before you even get your first paying job! Sweet!
That being said, I know you’re dying to jump into the fun stuff. Let’s talk about three ways that you can build your writing portfolio when you’re just starting out in the freelance writing world.
#1 – Reach out to friends & family who have businesses and offer to work for free
This is a concept I’ve alluded to many times in the past, including one of my most popular posts about the connection between cold showers and success. You have to do things sometimes that you don’t like, in order to be able to do what you want in the future.
That includes working for free. (Bleh, I know it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. But it’s essential, trust me.)
One of the easiest ways to build your writing portfolio is to contact friends and family who have businesses and offer to do some kind of writing for them for free, on the condition that you can put the work you’ve done for them in your portfolio.
Nobody turns down free writing services. Trust me. Plus, if they’re friends or family they’ll be more than happy to help you. Even if they don’t explicitly need writing services.
#2 – Exchange services with another freelancer
The second method isn’t so much working for free. It’s actually bartering. Essentially, what you can do is connect with another freelancer or online business owner who needs content, whether for their website, blog, email funnels or landing pages. The most ideal people would be website designers or affiliate marketers.
You’d write content for them, and they’d provide you with a service that you want like tweaking your website or promoting your freelance writing services. In this scenario both of you can use each other as “work experience” to add to your portfolio. That’s pretty useful for both parties involved.
This is a strategy that I’ve personally used. It works like a charm, and can lead to some pretty cool business relationships in the future.
#3 – Write content for your portfolio using your own prompts
If there’s no way you can make the other two methods happen, this one is by far the most fool-proof way to gain writing experience to build your freelance writing portfolio. I know how intimidating it can feel reaching out to people when you’ve just started a business, so here’s a pretty introvert-friendly solution.
Just write content for your portfolio using your own prompts. This method is my absolute FAVOURITE way to build my writing portfolio. I love using my imagination, and this gives me the opportunity to flex it in all the ways imaginable. Fun fact: I have a TON of written pieces that I’ll never shown to anyone – I just think things up, and write them down. It’s helped me flex my writing muscles in the most amazing ways.
The concept is pretty simple. All you do is create imaginary clients and scenarios and write corresponding content for the scenarios you’ve created. Cool right?
I know that most of you will want to try this method first, since you don’t really need anybody else but YOU to get started with it! Therefore, I went ahead and created a free worksheet with three writing prompts that you can use to start building your freelance writing portfolio.
You’re one step away from your portfolio prompts!
We’ll talk soon.