How To Build Your Writer Portfolio for a Successful Freelancing Career

I was a toddler when I first decided I wanted to be a writer. I remember the moment distinctly. It was after learning that writing was the name of the process of putting bedtime stories on paper. Thirty years later, 90% of my business income comes from creating content for clients.

I’ve been freelancing as a writer for 15 years and can tell you that no matter how brilliant of a writer you are, you can only prove that by building a portfolio that impresses future clients. But, how do you get started?

1. Create Your Own WordPress Blog

WordPress has a built-in community, so it’s much easier to build your fanbase and get your first few subscribers. When you build on platforms that do not provide this back-end community, you have to start building from scratch. This is a lot harder than people first think it is.

My most active subscribers today are the ones who followed me years ago within the WordPress community. If you use our affiliate link to sign up and purchase your plan, we both get $25 credit toward the cost of our plans!

2. Try Revenue-Sharing Websites

Clients love when you have an engaging blog. However, they also love seeing your work on other platforms. So, once you build up your own blog, it’s time to search for a new audience. These three platforms have caught my attention:

Vocal

This is my favorite one because it’s the only one I made money from. I’ve made about $300 since I first started using it earlier this year. I have a Vocal+ plan because it allows me to compete in their challenges. Cash prizes range from several hundred to several thousand. If you join using my referral link, we both get $20. You can post just about anything, but the company will review it first. Approval can take up to 48 hours.

Medium

Like Vocal, you can publish just about anything on Medium, but it has no approval process. It also allows you to monetize your content, but you need to have at least 100 followers and these can be hard to come by when you only have a few articles. I have a paid membership here because I hate the four-article-per-month paywall. You can subscribe to my Medium blog and hopefully become a member here. If you need help hitting that 100-follower count, just leave a comment on one of my posts. I can give you one—mine!

Quora

In 2015 and 2016, I spent a lot of time on Quora. I then abandoned it sometime around 2016. In spite of this, I have racked up 2.7 million in views and have consistently brought in 23,000 views per month, while not posting at all. I recently signed up for their monetization program and launched a Space called FREE RAMEN. It’s dedicated to helping writers become self-employed and plot their full-time travel journey, as I did. That’s not an affiliate link, by the way!

3. Look for Work

Some people recommend Upwork, Freelancer, and other such websites. I do not. The pay is low and the companies do not protect their freelancers from potential scams as well as they should. I also don’t recommend Craigslist unless you have a keen eye for spotting scams there. So, where should you look?

Local Brands

Do your friends or family members have brands you can write for? What about small businesses within your local community? Do they need their website copy updated? Can you pitch them on the benefits of an active blog updated weekly? These will often make up your first clients, which was the case for me.

Newsletters

When I first moved my business from Jamaica to America, I got most of my decent-paying jobs from a newsletter I had signed up for. They sent out offers every Monday. Search online for newsletters you can sign up for, so you can avoid cold-pitching companies that have never met you and might not need your services.

Professional Organizations

If you belong to a professional organization, it likely has entrepreneurs who want to focus on their business, not marketing. Pitch them. A perfect example is a CPA or attorney. These professionals handle very specific types of work and likely have no time to run a website, blog, or social media page, though they recognize the value.

Indeed

I started using Indeed to find clients for Alexis Chateau PR last year. We had lost a lot of our “fun” clients during the pandemic. So, even though we had many high-paying projects coming in, I was stifling under the monotony and needed some diversity. This is now my go-to method for finding clients.

In 2015, I quit my corporate job to travel and write. After spending five years growing my business, I took off in 2020 with my cat and my FJ Cruiser to travel full-time. Alexis Chateau PR is now 100% mobile and serves clients around the world. My business is my sole source of income.

I often get asked how I did it and find that free one-on-one coaching is time-consuming. So, I’ve now launched a newsletter called FREE RAMEN to share all the details. Whether you subscribe or not, I hope the free tips you found in this article were helpful. You’re welcome to ask questions in the comments below.

Alexis Chateau is the founder of Alexis Chateau PR. She travels full-time with Shadow the PR Cat and creates content for our clients from her tiny house on wheels.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Great steps here. Building your own website is so key, especially if you’re looking for work. It shows that you’re really interested in the craft. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome! I’ve seen too many people build their entire careers around a platform, only to see that platform go defunct or lose its popularity. Social media and revenue-sharing sites are a great idea, but they can’t replace your own website.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      — Alexis Chateau

      Liked by 1 person

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