How to Make Your Freelance Writer’s First Impression Count
I always got caught up on the technicalities when it came to perfecting my writing portfolio. I quickly realized that the perfection I sought out didn’t exist. I learned the hard way that not every piece I include will somehow resonate with my prospective clients because there was a time when none of them did. I followed every how-to article, compiled a list of everything I’d need to land my first client, but I quickly got swept away by the idea that it wouldn’t take much work to start.
I was consistently applying to all writing positions, scouring job boards looking for my first gig, and all the while, I was sure that my portfolio was at the best it could be or at the very least good enough to interest a potential client.
Though the longer I searched, the more I worried that I would never land anything, and it made me rethink the way I viewed my writing portfolio. The more I looked at it, the more it appeared to be a jumbled mess that somehow screamed, “Hire me! I’m desperate.” I hadn’t given it a fresh look in far too long, and I wanted to make it a bit more cohesive. I wanted it to have a purpose.
Building a Portfolio That Reads Like an Album
I noticed that while writing samples and compiling articles, I felt as though they were missing something. By spending all of my time cultivating favourable ideas and executing them the way I believed my clients would want, I lost my ability to let my writing tell a story collectively. I decided I needed to fit my samples together like a puzzle because I wanted to give my potential clients a vast catalogue of work to browse.
Your writing portfolio needs to showcase your creativity. It needs to show that you’ve been branching out, challenging yourself, and honing in on your growth.
Do you ever think about how a musician compiles a list of songs that somehow tell a consistent story? That’s the concept I wanted to apply to my portfolio. While I included a vast amount of different topics, ideas, and thoughts — I had to make sure that they all sounded like me. Each of us has a writer’s voice that is specific to us, and we have to remember to tap into our creativity, especially when we’re trying to put our best foot forward.
You know, you’re allowed to have fun with what you write. If what you’ve written, worked on, or drafted, doesn’t bring you some satisfaction — why do it? I grew so overwhelmed when I focused more of my attention on creating work solely for the reason of doing well instead of writing about the things that matter to me. When I reconstructed my writing portfolio, I aimed to tell a story. I wanted my work to display precisely who I am as a writer, as well as what my strengths are.
When I landed my first client, we had a quick conversation about the upcoming project I was about to start, and she said, “I loved your clips. That’s exactly what I’m going for. You’ve got style.” The comment made me happy mainly because I chose clips or writing samples that were dear to my heart that challenged me as I wrote them, and that I’m undoubtedly proud of.
Building a portfolio means summing up all of the fantastic pieces you’ve written, showcasing steady development, and learning to sell yourself to a prospective client. The samples you choose, the portfolio you create are your first impressions — and if you want them to hire you, you’re going to have to give them a reason to remember you. Write something that’s going to spark interest and hold it until the end.
The one thing I want you to ask yourself is, “What does my writing say about me?”Learn to let loose, write about the things that matter, and tell perfection where to stick its unrealistic expectations.