Does the thought of a potential client checking out your freelance blogging portfolio make you so nervous, you get the hiccups?
When you’re freelancing, your portfolio is one of your biggest assets. It can get you hired on the spot, or dumped on the pile of instantly forgotten applicants who failed to impress.
So let’s ask the obvious question: what does your portfolio say about you?
It’s a tough question to answer for yourself, and there isn’t always someone around who’s qualified to give a second opinion. (Your parents and friends will always tell you that your freelance blogging portfolio looks great – that’s their job!)
Only your potential clients and blog editors really know what goes through their minds when they look at your portfolio.
And the biggest problem with that is, you don’t often get feedback from the people who chose not to hire you. So you’ll never know why they made that decision, or how you could have used your portfolio to win the dream gig that got away.
This might make me sound kinda mean, but as a professional blog editor I’ve rejected pitches from a lot of freelance bloggers whose portfolios weren’t up to scratch.
They weren’t all bad bloggers –in fact, some were already well-paid freelance writers– but without a strong blogging portfolio to support their query or job application, I simply couldn’t justify hiring them.
We don’t want that to happen to you, so let’s figure out what you can do to make your portfolio more impressive.
Here’s how you look to your potential clients right now:
The Blogger Without a Past
If you don’t have a portfolio at all, you risk being judged unprofessional by the vast majority of your potential clients.
Don’t expect to win a high-paying gig without some kind of proof that you can deliver what your client wants!
Here’s your best bet to boost your chances of winning good blogging gigs:
- Find yourself some blogging work for clients in your target markets or niches, at any pay rate (or even as free experience-building work)
- Set up a portfolio page on your freelance website, or use a service like LinkedIn or Contently to hold your portfolio if you don’t have a website of your own yet.
- Every time one of your posts goes live, add it to your online portfolio.
- Next time you query an editor or answer a blogging job ad, invite them to check out your portfolio and give them the URL.
The Blogger of Broken English
Whatever language you plan to blog in, it helps if you make sense to your readers!
In this wonderfully global economy, it’s kind of a downer to realise that although your skills are crazy awesome compared to the people who live on your block, you’re just one more blogger in a world of millions.
Clients have their business head on when they shortlist freelance blogging candidates.
It doesn’t matter to them if you’re a great listener with a friendly personality and a cute puppy. They don’t care that you came top of your class in English at school. When they look at your portfolio, if they see too many grammatical errors, typos, sentence fragments, and mangled metaphors, they’ll run for the hills.
If you’re blogging in English and that isn’t your first language, try to find a fluent English reader who can check over your writing before you submit it! You need to fill your portfolio with your best work, and demonstrate the same high standard of English as your blogging competitors.
Even bloggers born and raised in an English-speaking environment don’t always use the language as well as they could. If you suspect that your English language skills might be letting you down, get a piece of your writing reviewed by a professional and consider taking a writing class to help boost your blogging skills.
The Hobby Blogger
Are you using your own blog as a portfolio?
Your posts can make great writing samples, but there’s something missing: you need to prove that you can work with editors and clients.
As a freelance blogger, you may be expected to pitch ideas for approval before you start writing, or your client may set a topic and title for you to work with.
You’ll work to somebody else’s specifications and deadline, instead of choosing your own path at your own pace. And your client has to be pleased with the results, or you lose the chance of winning repeat work.
When your potential clients see that your own blog’s the only place you’ve been published, it leads them to doubt your professional status. They don’t want to be the first to hire you, because newbie freelancers are prone to making mistakes on their first few jobs.
So what do you do if you’re just starting out as a freelance blogger and you don’t have any posts published elsewhere yet? Well, you get some published!
If you haven’t got any paying clients yet, get yourself some clips by guest posting on other blogs that are relevant to your target markets. Guest blogging is much easier than you think, and it gives you more credibility as a freelance blogging candidate.
The Pro Freelance Blogger
Do you already have an online portfolio? Is it good-looking, easy to navigate, and populated with awesome blog posts that clients have paid you to write?
Great! Then you don’t need me to tell you that you rock.
A good selection of posts published by paying clients and well-known blogs goes a long way. It gives your potential clients confidence in your ability and professionalism, as well as showing them the topics you cover and the types of project you work on.
The only thing that you might have neglected is to tailor your portfolio to attract the clients and projects you want.
If you’re bored of blogging about haircare and you want to find work for gadget blogs instead, make sure that your portfolio highlights your best technology blogging and hide all the haircare stuff. Sounds obvious, but a lot of writers simply throw every piece they’ve ever created into their portfolio and leave it up to potential clients to dig through the heap!
If you’re ready to take this concept a step further, break your portfolio down into a selection of sub-portfolios, each targeting a particular type of project or client. Once that’s done, you can refer your leads to the portfolio page that’s most likely to appeal to them.
Even for pro freelance bloggers, there’s one more thing to bear in mind when you think you’ve got your portfolio all set:
Your Other Portfolio is the Internet
Remember that your work samples aren’t limited to the collection you carefully curated on your own website.
Your potential clients can choose to get a rough-and-ready portfolio of your work simply by searching the internet for your name and other keywords.
Go ahead, Google yourself right now. I’ll wait. How does the first page of the search results look?
If you don’t see yourself anywhere on the first couple of pages, even when you search for something like “Your Name freelance blogger”, then you need to increase your web presence.
If you do see your own work in the first page or two, which posts have the top rankings? These are the ones your potential clients are most likely to end up visiting if they look you up through a search engine. While you’re there, check out the image results – sometimes the most surprising photos can pop up in image searches!
There’s another kind of online portfolio you might not have considered, too: your social media portfolio.
Freelance blogging clients in 2013 often want to see more than writing samples. They’re looking for a blogger with a ready-made digital audience.
Some of your potential clients will want to know how many social media fans and followers you have, and how much you promote your freelance blog posts on your own social profiles. A large and active following can help you to win better blogging gigs at higher rates of pay!
Whether your portfolio presents you as a pro or an amateur is your call.
It’s your portfolio. Take control and make it work for you.
I’d love to hear more about how you use your portfolio – share your tips or worries in the comments, and tell me your portfolio URL so that I can take a quick peek. 🙂
P.S. Need some help to start building *your* portfolio and the blogging business to go with it?
Check out this step-by-step training for beginners:
Get Started for Freelance Blogging Success.