According to the latest SEMrush report, 40% of the companies outsource their content creation to freelance writers. If you want to get noticed then it’s important to create a freelance writing portfolio.
It might be at a networking event, on the streets or through a friend. Regardless of where you meet a potential client, having an online portfolio that clients can circle back to will benefit you in the long run.
Your portfolio website acts as a place where you can showcase who you are, what you do and what kind of services you offer.
It allows potential clients to get a taste of your personal writing style and build a relationship even before you meet them.
Many freelance writers have seen a considerable increase in their income after building an online portfolio. It can be a game-changer for your professional writing career.
Creating one isn’t as hard as you think especially with the software and tools we have at our disposal.
In this article, we’re going to dive in to see a step-by-step process of creating a writing portfolio website.
What You’ll Learn
- How to create a writing portfolio
- How to choose the domain name
- How to find the perfect web host for your site
- How to professionally design your site at a budget
- What the essential pages of a website are and how to create them
What to do if you don’t have any samples?
Fresh writers usually face this problem of not having published work samples to add in their portfolio.
One of the best ways to tackle this problem is to write guest articles for a blog. It is a great marketing strategy as it helps you gain exposure.
Another easy way is to brush up on previous writing that you have done and add them to your portfolio – these could be old high school or college essays.
If your friend is running a website, you can offer to write a bunch of writing samples for free. The most important thing is to get your name out there.
While you may not be earning from writing these blogs, all of this will help you establish an excellent and professional online presence.
8 Easy Steps to Create A Successful Writing Portfolio
1. Choosing Your Domain Name
A domain name is a virtual space where your website lives.
Some people do not think of it as an essential step for your branding and choose a name that does not reflect your business accurately.
I disagree. Your domain name is what people type and people have to remember to arrive at your writing portfolio.
So a little brainstorming is necessary to come up with your domain name that is simple, unique and reflects what you do.
Your domain name should preferably be concise and memorable.
It should not be full of hyphens or capital letters. For SEO purposes, Google prefers websites without any hyphens so if you are using certain keywords such as “writer” or “writing” you can rank higher.
Let me present a few examples what a professional domain name sounds like:
Some writers develop expertise in a specific niche over the years like food, business, gardening, travel, pets, etc. If this is the case you can choose domain names like:
This gives the impression that you have an in-depth knowledge of that subject and is more interesting for clients who want a freelancer who can write for them in a specific niche.
Using domains with .com is proven to improve SEO rankings.
I recommend taking some time brainstorming a few ideas for your domain name at this stage.
Changing it later can cause you to lose traffic and website rankings.
2. Choose Your Hosting and Register Your Domain
Whenever your website crashes, it’s usually due to a poor web host so it’s important to pick well. With 330,000 web hosting providers which one should you choose?
You need to consider certain factors while choosing your web host like price, speed, and customer support.
I would say Bluehost wins the competition in all three areas.
It’s a popular web hosting service that many blog owners use to run their websites. It’s cheap and has reliable customer support. Not only that, but it is also relatively easy to set up WordPress, which we will discuss in the next step.
Other services are also available in the market that provide all the features for web hosting but are usually a bit pricier. You don’t want to spend too much.
Bluehost will give you pretty much everything you need to run your writing portfolio website without compromising on quality.
To start with the process, click on the ‘Get Started’ button as shown on their main page above.
This will take you to their pricing packages, as shown in the image below. Select the ‘basic’ pricing tier.
This tier has all the bells and whistles you need to set up your online portfolio.
They offer you a free SSL certificate, unlimited bandwidth, 50GB of website space and 5 free email accounts. For a small site, you don’t need more than this.
After selecting the ‘basic’ package, you will come across a page where you need to enter your domain name.
If the one you type is unique, it will take you to a page where you need to enter your credentials and payment information to create your account.
Otherwise, just enter another domain name for the same procedure.
Now that you have obtained your domain, we are ready to go to the next step, which is setting up your WordPress.
3. WordPress Set-Up
WordPress is free Content Management System (CMS) where you can construct a full-fledged website and publish your blog.
It gives you a large library of templates, layouts and plugins that you can use to make your website attractive and functional.
To provide you with a broad perspective, blogging giants like CNN, People magazine and TechCrunch also use it to power their websites.
Moving on to our process, you’ll be taken to the Bluehost dashboard where you will see a list of platforms to install regarding email, marketing, and website.
Locate the ‘Install WordPress’ option to install it.
Select the domain name you just purchased and click ‘Next.’
You will be required to enter your website information like admin password, admin email address etc.
Once you’re done, the installation process will take a couple of minutes.
When it’s complete, Bluehost will show you the full link to your WordPress that you can click on. You can also access your website by adding /wp-admin/ to the end of your domain name as well. For instance,
Your blog is ready. Now is where you need a little creativity. You will be designing your website so that it mirrors your unique writing style and personality.
4. Logo Design
They say that the logo is the face of your company. It’s the first thing that creates an impression on your prospective customers as it represents your style, personality or genre.
It’s important to have a good looking logo but don’t stress too much about it – logos can be easily changed.
Here is my advice.
Go over to Fiverr and type ‘logo designer’ in the search bar. Hire a logo designer you think has an attractive portfolio and suits your needs. Just keep a few things in mind.
- Guide the designer about what you do and your specific niche (if you have any). You want your logo to be a reflection of your brand. So give them your preferred choice of colours and ask for three to four variations of your logo.
- Ask if they can provide three variations of your logo – share this with your friends and ask for their opinion on the best one.
- Check if they accept revisions – oftentimes, you will need one or two revisions to perfect the logo.
Remember you don’t need a masterpiece right now – just something that is good enough and that looks clean and professional.
Don’t fret too much over it but don’t ignore it.
5. Choose A Theme And Make A Writing Portfolio
The great thing about WordPress is that you don’t need to hire a professional designer to make a good looking site.
All you need are WordPress themes.
While WordPress offers a few themes by default, if you want to showcase your professional writing portfolio, you’ll need something more upmarket.
I recommend purchasing premium themes from Themeforest in the Envato marketplace.
You can filter the categories according to your requirements and budget. Purchasing a theme will cost you between $30-$60.
I recommend you look for these features before finalising your selection:
- Responsive design
- Clean design
Having a responsive design will ensure your portfolio is visible on mobile devices as well.
Customisation options will allow you to make a few tweaks like adding your logo or changing the colour scheme.
Since this is a writing portfolio and not a graphic one, it’s essential to focus on straightforward typography and minimal design.
Going overboard with design elements can make your page look scattered.
You want your readers to stay on your website and read your pieces.
That’s how you’ll get an opportunity to attract clients for more work.
A professional looking theme will play its role by giving you good value for money.
Note: An alternate route is using a free theme in combination with a page builder. This website uses the Astra theme and Elementor Pro. This makes my website both lightweight and highly customizable – a rare combination.
6. Creating 5 Essential Pages For Your Website
Every freelance writing portfolio should have at least these five pages on their website:
- Landing page
- Portfolio page
- About Me page
- Services page
- Testimonials page
These pages have their requirements that are different from the others. Let’s discuss them one by one to see what they are.
Landing Page – First Impression
Your landing page is where you will make your first impression on your clients.
Think of this page as a chance to capture opportunities.
Make your landing page count as you only have a few seconds to convince them.
Your landing page should contain some essential elements like the main headline.
This is the first thing clients will read on your landing page and so it should be what your website is about.
Make it short and digestible.
You can add a supporting headline underneath to explain your goal further.
Next, you can write your introductory content, your goals and what you will do for your clients.
Here is an example of Holly Helscher’s landing page.
On the sidebar, you can see further pages that you can visit about her specific services, testimonials and social proof.
She branded her site well by adding her picture to connect with her clients.
She also bolds the text which she wants to highlight (e.g. editor, ghostwriter) – this makes it more scannable by the viewer.
If you are a sort of person who wants to take a more detailed approach, then Art Anthony does this well.
Notice how conversational and emotional his writing is.
How it pulls you in.
If you are marketing your services then it’s important to showcase your writing style and immediately ‘hook’ the viewer in.
It is good practice to add some sort of visual (image or a gif) that supports what you offer.
You don’t need to copy the exact rules I’ve outlined – just use it as a guide.
Feel free to add your unique twist to the landing page.
These are just examples to give you an idea of how a writer’s landing page looks like.
Portfolio Page – Writing Highlights
Your portfolio is the main page where you highlight your best work and where clients get to know your writing style.
If they are interested in you after reading your landing page, this is the page they typically go to after.
The most straightforward approach of building your portfolio page is to add links of your writing samples along visuals to support them.
Kristi Hines takes this approach and it is the most common one.
You can add statistics of where your blog was published and how many times it was shared.
It is a more practical approach that adds a hint of authority and lends credibility to your work.
If you are a writer who works in multiple domains, you can create categories like volunteer pieces, social media blogs, email series and case studies.
So if the client is looking for expertise in a specific area, it is easy to find highly relevant samples.
Holly Helscher has taken this approach as you can see in the image below.
You can use your creativity here to try out different layouts and find the one that clicks your style.
You can always improvise on your portfolio style later as there is no hard and fast rule.
It is best not to add every writing piece you’ve done. Instead hand pick the best pieces which have received the most engagement.
It just takes one bad sentence or unintended typo to damage your credibility – so create a good first impression by taking time to curate your best pieces.
The Services page is where you convert your visitors into customers.
Here is where you specifically talk about what you offer and what your unique selling points are.
Write about what makes you different than others and the overall benefits your clients will receive while working with you.
In short, your services page should have the following basic elements:
- Talk about your services
- Overall benefits you provide
- Your qualifications
- What to expect from you
- A link to your best writing
- A link to a raving testimonial
To see a visual representation of the above mentioned points, take a look at Leize Boshoff’s services page where she has created sections of what she offers, why to choose her and the links to her work samples and testimonials.
While talking about benefits, you can mention your qualities like fast turnaround, high-quality work and flexible rates.
Some people choose to talk about their rates, but some people open up only in personal communication.
If you choose to talk about your prices, you can make packages just like you would see in a Fiverr gig or a software website and write what you provide in each of these packages.
When you wish to buy a product from Amazon, you most probably check out their reviews to see how happy they are with the product usage.
This is known as social proof and one of the strongest factors in convincing someone to buy something online.
Here is a sample of what a good testimonial looks like:
You can ask your clients you have worked with to provide you with feedback about their experience with you.
Having a dedicated page for testimonials that you can link to in your cold pitches helps build trust and credibility from the get go.
About Me Page
Your about me page is where you describe who you are and tell your personal story. Make it human and try to let your writing style and personality come through the writing.
Don’t just brag about your achievements – try to also highlight moments of vulnerability and doubt in your journey. It just makes you much more relatable.
Keep a conversational tone. Know your audience and build a story that connects with your readers.
7. Writing Compelling Copy
Writing great copy is perhaps the most important aspect in the online writing portfolio process.
Everyone has doubts about their writing ability, but you don’t need to perfect – just make sure it is error free.
It’s more important to find your own unique voice.
For example, I’m not the most emotional or expressive in my communication, but I do like to think that I’m concise and deliver value to my readers in the shortest amount of space/time (I really hate fluff in sentences).
I’m not going to tell you what to write or how to write.
You need to find that yourself. Just put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and let it out.
Don’t get paralyzed by your fear of being perfect.
8. Add Logos To Your Landing Pages
We’ve seen that social proof goes a long way. One other trick I’d like to share is to include logos of the clients and businesses that you have worked with.
This creates instant credibility especially if you have worked with big online publishers such as Forbes or Business Insider.
You don’t need to do this at the very start but as you work with more clients – add to this list.
If you’ve read this far, then you are probably ready to take the next step. It really isn’t that hard to do. To summarize you need to:
- Select your domain and buy hosting through Bluehost.
- Work with a designer on Fiverr to design your logo.
- Choose a theme from Themeforest.
- Create your key pages.
- Craft compelling copy.
An online freelance writing portfolio is an excellent platform to both market and sell your services from.
Don’t skimp on the opportunity to create one – from personal experience, it is a very worthwhile investment.