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How to Create a Freelance Writing Portfolio

The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.
Published Jan 01, 2001

The job market for freelance writers is a competitive one--and if you're looking for work, a portfolio that's no less than stellar is your ticket to success. A top-notch freelance writing portfolio will showcase your creativity, skills, and range as a writer, and will allow potential clients to see for themselves that you have the passion and talent that it takes to do your job well. If you're ready to make a name for yourself as a freelance writer, here's what you need to do to create a freelance writing portfolio that will get you noticed.

  1. Take Inventory of Your Work
  2. Select Pieces for Your Portfolio
  3. Edit Your Work
  4. Make an Online Portfolio
  5. Creating a Hard Copy
  6. Make Updates Regularly

Take Inventory of Your Work

Before you can put together a sensational freelance writing portfolio, you need to take inventory of the work you have under your belt so far. Organize it by filing your pieces into categories--creative and fiction work would fall into one category, for example, while commercial pieces would fall into another. When you're creating a portfolio you'll want to show a little bit of everything, and the best way to find the gems you're going to put on display is to organize and file your work and pick out the highlights from there.

Select Pieces for Your Portfolio

Selecting your best work for your portfolio is extremely important if you want it to stand out. Choose work from every writing category you possibly can so that you can adequately demonstrate your flexibility, showing that you can adapt to the various projects you might be hired to work on.

Edit Your Work

A portfolio filled with errors is one that will be passed over without a second glance. Once you've selected the pieces you want to put in your portfolio, edit them very carefully. Read each one over multiple times, correcting mistakes and re-writing, if necessary. Spelling errors, poor grammar, misuse of punctuation, and sentences that simply don't flow are some of the types of mistakes you should be on the lookout for. Once you've proofed your work and made all edits, have a second set of eyes review each piece to make sure you didn't overlook anything.

Make an Online Portfolio

An online portfolio is the best way to put your work out there for others to see. Online portfolios are convenient, too, because prospective clients can view them at any time as long as they have an address or link to your website. If you don't feel comfortable building your own online portfolio from scratch, there are many hosting websites that can guide you step-by-step until you have a portfolio that you feel proud of. Online portfolios should be crisp, clean, and easy to view. Avoid using excessive graphics--after all you want potential clients and other readers to focus on your writing without a lot of distractions. If possible, include information regarding the publication of your pieces. Clients will be interested to know who has published your work, when it was published, and where it can be found. Provide online links to your published pieces if you have them. Contact information including your name, email address, and phone number should be easily displayed on your online portfolio making it easy for potential clients to get in touch with you.

Creating a Hard Copy

In addition to an online portfolio, it's a good idea to create a hard copy that you can tote around with you. Whenever you meet with someone in person that is interested in hiring you, you'll have something that you can hand over for them to look at. The process for creating a paper portfolio is similar to making an online one, the main differences being that you'll be printing your samples out and organizing them into a portfolio binder. You can purchase a portfolio at your local office supply store or shop for one online. Look for one that isn't too bulky, one that's easy to handle when it's being reviewed. Print the pieces you've selected to put in it on high quality paper and organize the samples by placing them into labeled categories. Like your online portfolio, your paper one should be neat and clean, free of color and graphics, and it should include complete contact information.

Make Updates Regularly

In order to keep your portfolio fresh and current, update it periodically by adding new pieces and deleting ones that no longer rank among your best work. Regular maintenance on both your online portfolio and your hard copy will only increase your chances of success when it comes to your freelance writing career.

First impressions can make you or break you, and in many cases your portfolio will be making those first impressions for you. By putting some time and effort into the creation of your freelance writing portfolio, you'll be sure that the end result will put you in the spotlight with a well-polished display of the pieces you're most proud of.

Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes about business topics for a number of online publications, including

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The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.

The most successful people in the world have coaches. Whatever your level of writing, ProWritingAid will help you achieve new heights. Exceptional writing depends on much more than just correct grammar. You need an editing tool that also highlights style issues and compares your writing to the best writers in your genre. ProWritingAid helps you find the best way to express your ideas.

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