Your freelance writing portfolio should feature your best work only. Yet, some people fall into the trap of trying to stuff as many articles and credits within theirs, without thinking about the image they’re projecting. If you’re not selective about what content you feature, then clients might not be able to find your best work.
In my experience, some types of articles are a better fit for your freelance writing portfolio. In-depth pieces, for example, show that you’re not afraid of research and you can follow the thread of a narrative from beginning to end.
For today’s article, we’re going to talk a bit about why your freelance writing portfolio is so important. Then we’ll go over what kind of content it should feature to maximize your chances of getting hired. Let’s get to it!
Why You Need a Freelance Writing Portfolio
We’ve gone over this in the past. However, it’s always worth it to drive home just how important having a freelance portfolio is, particularly if you’re new to this line of work.
Every time you see a job posting for writing gigs online, go ahead and assume that hundreds of people are going to apply to it. Plenty will offer their work for pennies. In other cases, you’ll get passed over for people that know how to sell themselves better.
That last part is critical – getting hired as a freelance writer is all about knowing how to sell yourself. If I were looking for a writer, I’d want to hire the guy that has plenty of experience and is an expert in the field I need. However, there’s no way for me to find out if people online really have the expertise they claim short of stalking them. That is a big no-no in my book.
The best way potential clients have of figuring out if you’re right for the job is through your portfolio (unless someone refers them your way!). If you don’t have one or if it feels like it was put together in a hurry, you’ll miss out on a lot of work.
Previously, we’ve talked about the elements your portfolio should include and what to do if you don’t have much work to showcase yet. Now, let’s go over what kind of articles your portfolio should feature.
4 Types of Articles You Should (And Shouldn’t) Include in Your Portfolio
When you’re putting together a portfolio it pays to be picky and showcase your best work. Let’s talk about what should make it to your shortlist, and what shouldn’t.
1. Do Include In-Depth Pieces
These days, a lot of online publications are doing long-form content as a way to improve their ranking. In a lot of cases, long-form articles tend to convert better. Visitors will usually flock to the most thorough articles they can find.
That means, as a freelance writer, you want potential clients (on job boards, for example) to know you’re capable of tackling a +1,500 word piece. That’s an arbitrary line, but once you get to 2,000 words and beyond, that’s quite a read you have on your hands.
If you’ve written articles that you consider to be the ultimate resources for a specific topic, they should get first billing in your portfolio. That is unless you were hired as a ghostwriter. Sadly, those are the kind of articles you shouldn’t include in a portfolio since you usually relinquish all rights to them after publication.
2. Do Include Roundups
Chances are if you do five Google searches, you’ll run into listicles or roundup-style articles for all of them. For example, here’s what comes up when I search for how to cook pasta:
That’s the kind of search that you wouldn’t expect to return with list-style articles. After all, cooking pasta couldn’t be simpler – you salt the water, bring it to a boil, throw in the pasta, wait until it’s al dente, and that’s it. However, you have a couple articles claiming there are four and even six different ways to cook your pasta. I was so curious, I ended up clicking on both.
That’s the reason why lists and roundups work. They spark curiosity, and they tell potential visitors “You can find more information here than you would somewhere else.” If you can write a compelling roundup, a lot of clients will take that as a definitive plus, so include those in your portfolio!
3. Don’t Include Opinion Articles
There’s nothing inherently wrong with opinion articles. However, I don’t think they have any place in a freelance writer’s portfolio. Let’s say, for example, I published an article about how adding pineapples to pizza is an abomination. The sane among you will probably agree, but there are always going to be people that hold differing views.
Jokes aside, relying on opinion pieces to get you hired as a freelance writer is a gamble. At some point, you might have a client on the hook, but they get scared away because they don’t like one of your opinion pieces.
This rule isn’t set in stone, of course. It might be your best work happens to be an opinion piece, in which case, you’ll want to highlight it. Just remember that it might ruffle some people the wrong way!
4. Don’t Include Pieces That Don’t Deal With Your Niche
During one of my earliest freelance writing gigs, I worked as part of a team with a guy that was an absolute machine. He penned well-written articles in record time and had time to self-publish several books. He even ran multiple blogs at the same time. If I’d been his client, I would’ve been mightily impressed.
However, even with all his talent, he still had a hard time landing new clients. His portfolio was a reflection of all his different interests. He showed off his books (mostly science fiction), some of his articles, and linked to his blogs as well.
The problem was, that portfolio lacked focus. Being able to write several science fiction novels is impressive, but it doesn’t pertain to freelance writing. The same goes if all the articles you decide to showcase are for different niches or if your blogs aren’t related to your work.
When it comes to freelance writing, you want clients to think of you as a specialist. There are plenty of people who will write about any subject you assign them for a couple of dollars an hour. You want to set yourself apart from that.
In my experience, it’s better for your portfolio to feature a small handful of your best work instead of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. You can always highlight the best work on your portfolio’s homepage and add a library with more pieces on another page, which clients can browse at their leisure.
If you decide to go that route, you’ll need to consider which pieces you want to show off. Here’s what I recommend:
- Do include in-depth articles.
- Do include roundups and list-based articles.
- Don’t include opinion pieces.
- Don’t include pieces that don’t deal with your niche.
Do you have any questions about what kind of content you should feature on your freelance writing portfolio? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Article image: Pixabay.