Written by Steve Aedy
Starting any new career is difficult. Branching out on your own as a freelance writer is often the most challenging of them all. There are many things you must do before you can even start looking for clients. Building an online portfolio is one of them; learn more about that and get other new career advice in this article.
Where to start
Every freelancer must have an online portfolio. Basically, you have two options. You can establish a dedicated portfolio, or you can build a website/blog.
If you choose to use a simple portfolio without all the “extras,” check out CarbonMade. If you would rather embellish your portfolio a bit, launch a blog or website. There are quite a few online resources that make the task pretty painless. Try Weebly, Tumblr, Google Sites, or Posterous Spaces.
You should note the following: a blog or website is fairly easy to get started and an essential low-t0-no cost small business expense. However, over time, it will demand more and more attention (if you want to do it right, that is). On the positive side, though, your site could draw attention from potential clients. You wouldn’t always have to hunt for them; they might come looking for you.
How to make your portfolio awesome
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you build your portfolio. If you already have one, take a second look at what you have launched. Are there areas for improvement?
As a beginner freelancer, you probably want as many job offers as possible. As you try to cater to so many different people, your message might get lost in the shuffle. Therefore, it is important to keep things simple.
If potential clients are interested in what they see, they will have one question in mind: how do I hire this person. This is where you need to put your simplicity into action. Slap a “Hire Me” button on the front page of your site. It may seem bold, but it is what you both really want. Why play games?!
Enhance your “About” page
This is probably the first place clients will stop. If they don’t like what they see, they won’t go any farther. As they read all about you, clients will probably be looking for answers to the following questions:
- Who is this person?
- Is this person qualified for the writing job I have?
- Has this person completed a similar writing job in the past?
- Is this person available for hire right now?
- Can I see examples of what this person has accomplished in the past?
- Does this person seem trustworthy and reliable?
As you fill out your “About” page, make sure you address all of these questions. Often times, people struggle with how to appear trustworthy and reliable in an online portfolio. One great way is to include testimonials of previous clients. If you haven’t had the chance to work for any clients yet, include information that will make you seem like a “normal” person – mention your family, hobbies, etc.
Share your contact information
It is a good idea to put your contact information at the bottom of you “About” page. However, you might want to consider adding a “Contact Me” page too. Again, think simple. Make the hiring process as painless and effortless as possible.
As a beginner, you may be tempted to showcase any and all projects you have completed that might appeal to a potential client. Newbies (and even some veterans) think this is the best way to snag someone’s attention. However, if you don’t plan to actually provide the services you advertised, don’t mention them. How frustrating would it be for a client to spend valuable time reading all your social media marketing posts only to learn you are not longer interested in penning articles on the subject?
Also, remember the client might have a different outlook on project success. The client is looking for a means to an end – more traffic, more profits, more sales. Therefore, as you build your portfolio, you need to focus on the end results too; link to a featured post on a prominent website, mention articles that received lots of page views, and point out posts that had tons of comments.
How to use your portfolio
Once you have your portfolio ready to go, you need to share it with potential clients. One of the best places for newbie writers to begin the hunt is a freelance job board. Here are some great freelance job boards. Most offer jobs for a variety of freelancers –writers, designers, etc. No doubt you will be able to find the perfect writing job on one of these job boards: Pro Blogger, Freelance Switch, oDesk, Go Freelance, Elance, People Per Hour etc.
If you don’t know what to look for, try searching for topics like resume/CV writing services, business letters, blog writing, academic writing services, or SEO articles.
You may be tempted to skimp on your portfolio design in order to advance more quickly to the main event – searching for paying clients. However, building a quality portfolio requires some effort. Don’t rush the process; your online portfolio could make or break your writing career.
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