Yesterday, I had my weekly zoom therapy session with my best friend, Amy (thank you, Covid, and lockdown measures). In between coffee and laughs, or maybe wine and whine – can’t swear which one – Amy started complaining about the drop in her writing gigs. As a freelance writer, our work has its ups and downs for sure, but as of late, Amy’s was on a particular downhill road. Granted, it is a tough time to be a writer, with coronavirus and all, and we could all use some guidance.
The truth of the matter is that your only way to land more and more writing jobs is if you put yourself out there. But if you do not have any writing projects, how exactly do you do that? It’s like the never-ending cycle of any job: you don’t get hired because you lack experience, but you will never have the experience if you don’t get hired. So what do you do? You build and grow your writing portfolio to maximize your customer acquisition.
If you are looking for ways to increase your clientele as a freelance content writer, building your writing portfolio and growing an existing one are the most bulletproof methods for succeeding. Following a very lengthy discussion with Amy, I have put together my list of all the things we have talked about (well, not ALL) that deal with just that: how to grow your writing portfolio in 2021.
Ready to take a glimpse into our coffee-wine-infused wisdom? Here are several options you can follow to develop content for your portfolio.
Option #1: Write A Free Sample
I have personally met zero people that will decline a freebie. No matter what that freebie is, money talks. And no money speaks louder than money not spent.
So, make an offer to write a free sample for a potential client. Search job listings that require content writers and offer to do a piece free of charge. Worst case scenario, your work gets ignored. Best case scenario, your piece gets published. Awesome case scenario, your piece gets published AND lands you a writing job.
If you are wary of handing out your work for free, consider it as your paid dues for entering the arena of online marketing. There are thousands of content writers out there, so if a free piece is a ticket that will get you a spot in the arena, so be it.
Option #2: Write A Mock Piece
If you do not want to write a free piece directly for a client, you may opt to write a mock piece for a marketing agency. Research marketing agencies that have a good reputation and send them a couple of mock pieces. You can do a blog post, a white paper, or a newsletter. You can include 2-3 different writing samples of your liking but make sure that each has a different voice, style, and language tone to show your full range of writing abilities.
Even if the agency is not actively seeking a writer, chances are they may like your mock pieces and start offering you writing jobs along the way. Send mock pieces to several writing agencies, and your chances of landing a job increase exponentially.
The more you write, the more your portfolio grows. By sending pieces to marketing agencies, you not only improve your content (in quantity and quality), but you also put yourself and your writing out there and in front of future clients.
Option #3: Write For Non-Profits
Writing for non-profits can be a win-win situation for several reasons.
For starters, doing something good feels good, and non-profits are just that; they put the We before the I in a selfless, altruistic manner. (if this does not convince you – Amy wasn’t either- I have some more practical advantages to suggest below).
Second, non-profits have a great network. If you get your connections with a non-profit right, you are well on your way to branch out and connect with more and more potential clients.
Thirdly, non-profits present an excellent opportunity to practice writing several content pieces and grow your portfolio in variety and style. Non-profits typically require a range of content from advertising, e-books, grant proposals, newsletters, questionnaires, landing pages, web copy, and blogs.
When offering to write for a non-profit will be like writing for several different clients, all neatly tucked under one. You get the experience of different types of writing without having to report to numerous people. You also learn to write about a specific topic from different angles and perspectives of writing.
Option #4: Write As A Contributing Blog Author
I absolutely love blogs. I love reading them, and most of all, I love writing them. Blogs have a way of reaching out to their readers. They are more personal; they are easier to read; they engage their audience and pass knowledge seamlessly and less pretentiously. Research shows that 86% of content marketers use blog posts as part of their marketing strategy. Moreover, 60% of consumers admit that blog posts are valuable in the early stages of the buying decision, and
brands that use blogs have an average of 65% more conversion rates than brands that do not use blogs.
Even without the statistics, the evidence in favor of blogs is astonishing. There are 31.7 million bloggers in the US, rendering blogs one of the top mediums of communication between writers and readers. Therefore, it is reasonable to argue that writing a blog post is a safe go-to-method if you want to grow your writing portfolio.
“What if I do not have a blog?” Amy asked, desperate for answers. Well, the obvious solution would be to create one, but this would take a lot of time until it becomes known and earns a fair amount of traction. What you could do instead is write as a contributing blog author. If you have a specific niche in a particular area of writing, try to find a blog that is a match for your niche. For example, if you like writing about fashion, try to find a fashion blog and write a contributing blog about the latest fashion trends, or how to dress on a budget, or how to remain stylish during lockdown (damn you, Covid).
Whatever you do, try not to fall into the trap of ghostwriting. Remember, what you want to achieve is growing your portfolio AND getting yourself known as a writer. If you write fantastic pieces, but you cannot really claim them as your own, then there is no point in writing them in the first place. (Unless, of course, you are getting paid for it, in which case you could discuss with your client whether or not clippings of the said blog post can be included as samples in your writing portfolio).
Growing Your Portfolio
At the end of our long zoom meeting, Amy had a clear idea of how to maximize her customer acquisition by growing her portfolio. There are several options available. You can write free samples for potential clients, send several mock pieces to a dozen marketing agencies, offer to write content for a non-profit organization, or even write as a contributing blog author.
However, if you find yourself feeling burned out and stuck in dreadful writer’s block, you can always enroll in a writing academy course to boost your energy, deepen your knowledge, and refresh your skills. Check out our writing academy here.
Are there any other options you can add to this list that can help Amy, and the likes of Amy, to grow her writing portfolio in 2021? Make sure to write your suggestions in the comments below!