New freelancers always ask me how they can convince clients to pay for their services if they have no experience. What can they use as a portfolio if they haven’t ever been paid for work?
The great thing about living in the internet age is that you don’t have to send samples of your work to random editors in the vague hope that they might read it, let alone like it.
The “democratization of information” means that you can get your stuff out there without needing any validation from outside sources. You may not get paid for this but if you want to get your name out there, it’s not all that difficult – even if it can be tough to stand out from an increasingly crowded field of online bloggers, journalists, and social media experts.
In particular, I tell new freelancers to create a website for their business and use its blog as their portfolio. The thing about freelancing is that you are not applying for jobs. You are offering your services. That’s what separates you from a part-time employee. And when offering a service you don’t need to show your CV. You simply need proof you can provide the service.
This is perhaps the most crucial bit of advice I can give any up-and-coming writer (or any other freelancer working in the creative field): writing is not a normal job so don’t treat it as such.
Who needs a CV when a good blog shows that you can provide the service that any potential client is looking for – writing that is engaging, informative, and shareable? Post, if not often, then at least as regularly as possible as it shows an ability to hit deadlines – even if they’re of your own making – and a solid work ethic. Exceptional writing is crucial, yes, but so is dependability. Especially when you’re starting.
Still, many freelancers don’t know what to put in their blogs. What follows is what you need for a freelance blog that works as a portfolio.
Before I continue, I do need to emphasize the importance of data security as a freelancer. I have had friends lose their entire businesses because of hackers stealing their data and even their identities. A VPN is a basic necessity these days. If you are not sure whether you want to commit to one, at least learn how to get a VPN for free. After all, the last thing you want is to have some malicious hacker ripping apart all of your hard work, because, let’s not kid
ourselves, writing is hard work.
Blog about your niche
A successful freelance writer needs to pick a niche. Without one, you will struggle to convince anyone that you are the right person for a big job. But picking a niche is not what this article is about. For that, check out some other resources.
By blogging about topics in your niche, you are proving you can do the work your clients want. Informative, engaging articles that provide value show that you have what it takes to write the content they need. So, if you are in the healthcare niche, write about current healthcare trends. If your niche is financial, write about economics.
How do you find which niche would suit you best? First, ironically enough, stop thinking about it in those terms. The first and most important thing you should be thinking about isn’t which niche will bring in the most amount of money or, even worse, what a “person like me” would write about, it should be based purely on what interests you the most, what you have the most to talk about and what will genuinely interest you enough to keep going.
This isn’t just about “doing what you love” but is about giving you the best chance to prove yourself within a chosen field. If you don’t, for example, care about finance, which is known as being one of the best-paying writing works out there, it’s pointless to try and compete against those who do and who have dedicated years of their own lives to learning the in and outs of the field. That would simply be setting yourself up to fail.
Blog about marketing
All of this does, however, take time. While building up your name, your craft, and your reputation – as well as exploring your chosen niche and learning as much about it as possible – it is possible to bring in a decent amount of money by applying your skills to marketing. Your niche may be in marketing itself, but even if it’s not, you would do well to blog about it. This is because what you are selling as a freelance writer is content that can be used in a marketing strategy. In other words, companies want blogs to bring in customers with inbound clicks, as well as to prove that they have expertise in the field.
Blogging content marketing shows potential clients that not only are you good at writing about your niche, but you are savvy enough to write strategically as well.
Marketing may not be what you want to write about at all, but freelance writing is not about writing what you want. By choosing a niche, you are putting yourself into a position to get jobs that coincide with your interests, but ultimately, you write what is best for the client. The same should apply to you. In your website’s blog, write what is best for your freelance business. The quality of the jobs you get will make up for any frustration you feel at having to
write these blog posts.
Your website’s blog can serve as the perfect portfolio and almost negates the need to prove you have prior experience. Use it to position yourself as the person to take potential clients’ businesses to the next level.