Your Freelance Writing Portfolio

For beginners, the whole concept of getting a freelance writing portfolio is a lot like the old chicken and the egg question. You need a portfolio to get a paying gig – but you need a paying gig to build a portfolio. Right?



At least on that second part. You do need a portfolio, of course – but the pieces you put in it don’t necessarily need to be paid works.

I usually recommend that new writers start out by adding articles to their portfolios. Articles are some of the most common writing projects out there, and if you can provide good sample articles to potential clients, they can get a good look at your style and voice.

What should you write about for your freelance writing portfolio?

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter. The goal is not so much to show how much you know about any particular subject. Freelancers are famous for being able to do quick research to be able to write intelligently about nearly any topic.

What’s more important than the topic is having an understanding of what your prospective clients are looking for, why they need articles in the first place. My guess is that 9 out of 10 clients who order articles are using them as guest blog posts or in niche publications – a very effective, relatively inexpensive way to draw traffic to their websites.

From that quick description, what kind of articles do you think clients want to see in your freelance writing portfolio?

  • Written well: If the article is a literary disaster area, nobody is going to want to read it, much less follow it to find out more!
  • Interesting reads: If readers, known for 3-second attention spans, click away after the first paragraph, they’ll never end up on the client’s website, much less buying anything.
  • Conversational voice: Unless you’re specializing in technical writing, the articles your clients want most read like people actually speak (okay, depending on the person in question – profanity is usually risky).

Now, for the “pad your wallet at the same time” part

If you’re going to create articles for your freelance writing portfolio, why not do it in a way that can earn you some money while you’re at it? There’s an entire realm of Internet marketing called affiliate marketing. You can try your hand at it and build your portfolio at the same time. Basically, you pick a product or website that has an affiliate program in place, and join the program. Then you write articles to promote the product. Publish them (and include them in your portfolio!), and before long, you’ll have people clicking and buying because they read your article.

When I ask freelance writers what the first item on their wish list would be when it comes to learning how to make more money writing, it’s almost always about learning how to create passive writing income. No wonder! Who wouldn’t want to make money writing – without having any clients at all? Set that sucker on autopilot, and it’s nearly as good as bacon. We’re talking mailbox money, folks.

Of course, no business is truly passive. But I like how Pat Flynn describes it: “You put in a lot of effort up-front so you can reap the rewards later.” (or something like that)

Affiliate marketing can be the sleaziest thing going – or it can be done well, with complete integrity, helping people find products that solve their problems. Nothing beats the honest recommendation of someone you trust, right? Who better to spread the word about an excellent product than people who actually USE it?

Done right, affiliate marketing helps everyone involved. Buyers benefit because they can find out about products and services they need and want, and get the benefit of hearing about your experience before they make a decision. Sellers benefit because their very best salespeople – their own happy customers – spread the word for them (and they’re happy to give a financial reward to those customers). Affiliates – and especially writers – benefit because they get paid to do what they love to do… write, teach, share information, and spread the word about products that will help others.

Why not get started as an affiliate today?

Did you know that if you’re a student in Working Writer, Happy Writer, you could start earning 50% affiliate commissions right now? You can find your affiliate link by logging into your student account at


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