Build your writing portfolio. It’s something no one told me in the beginning, which is why I’m tell you now. Spend time on this task because it’ll be the difference between you getting a job or client, and not.
A portfolio is the single most important thing a writer can have in their career – and I didn’t have one.
It’s not difficult to build a writing portfolio.
When I first started writing seriously I scoured the internet, and printed off a million places I could submit to, but I rarely ever did. I didn’t realize that there were a lot of different ways I could publish my writing and build my portfolio.
Don’t waste time wondering. Start with the easiest things that are actionable.
Here are 6 ways you can strengthen your writing portfolio today.
Publish on LinkedIn
Did you know you could? A lot of folks don’t.
Publishing on LinkedIn is a great way for potential publications or clients to find your work, regardless if you want a blog or not. Repost your blogs with a link back to your site or publish articles that will attract potential clients. If someone you’re hoping to nab as a client is a tech company then publish articles about how tech companies can better sell their products.
I have a few of my blog posts on LinkedIn, which you also read here on my site.
Clients as well as readers can find you on LinkedIn, but make sure to post your best content there. That way your writing portfolio can be visible to any potential clients or jobs. A lot of people think that you should hoard your good writing for your website, but it’s easier to see it if it’s posted on other trusted sites – like guest posts – and you pull in readers by linking back to your site.
All you have to do is go to your LinkedIn profile, and click the button right below your name and picture that says to write an article.
Guest posting is a great way to connect with other writers, capture emails for your personal use, and get your work out there to other audiences.
Find people in your niche, or a similar field to pitch to.
When you pitch, don’t lie and say you’re a big fan of so and so blog post, but really you’ve never read any of their work. It’s insulting and definitely will not get you published. Read their sites, share their work and build a relationship before you pitch.
Also, the actual email pitch should include how your writing will benefit their readers – because this isn’t about you. It’s about how you can help their audience.
Building your writing portfolio like this opens your readership as well because someone else’s site already has an audience and you’re putting your work in front of them.
Start an Email Newsletter
It’s as easy as setting up a page and collecting emails.
You send out your work privately – like Colin Wright does – and get loyal readers in the process. Promote it on social and through your friends by simply sharing the link and talking about what they’ll read.
Giving out sneak peeks and helpful tips on social can help draw your readers to you. Another way to promote this would be to write for others, and make sure the link to sign up for your newsletter is included in the work they publish for you.
You can add this to your writing portfolio by simply stating that you run a successful newsletter with # number of subscribers, and include some image captures if you prefer.
Blog/Submit for Free
I cringe as I’m writing this, but sometimes blogging for free is okay.
**Cringe** **Double Cringe**
It sucks. I hate it, but sometimes it’s okay to write for free when you’re starting.
To. A. Point.
There’s a difference between beefing up your portfolio and bleeding yourself dry. Be weary.
I wrote for a travel blog and a travel magazine during college, as an “internship” without credit when I studied abroad. It was fun, added to my portfolio, and I got “published.” There was also an online publication called Creative Control Mag, which is focused around music, which I wrote for without pay.
There are several others, but the reason I didn’t mind not getting paid was because I was a novice. I wanted to strengthen my writing portfolio and see if I enjoyed writing about the subjects. It also helped cultivate great relationships, which is something you need to get anywhere in life.
Don’t let that go on forever, though.
Your writing deserves payment, so if you’ve been submitting to a publication for 6 months… it’s time to ask for more.
Start a Blog | Showcase Your Writing Portfolio, too
Hold up. Don’t click off yet.
Creating your own website doesn’t have to be this huge thing, filled with a million to-do lists and things you hate.
Blogging gets a bad rap because the thought is, “That’s one more thing I have to write…”
Technically yes, but it’s actually not ANOTHER thing to add to your list.
Think about it this way – It’s another way to talk about things you love.
That’s all. Doesn’t sound so scary. You can talk about things you love, right? This distinction drastically changed the way I thought about blogging.
Another option for a blog is for you to also publish your work on your site. Short stories, snippets, poetry – the site is yours so make it what you will.
Blogging is a lot like self-publishing. Take advantage of that freedom.
I use Bluehost and wordpress.
Submit to Publications/Contests
There are plenty of sites and contests that take novice writers – and when I say novice, I mean not yet published.
Do you have a site you read a lot, like Buzzfeed or anything in your niche? They almost always have a contact or write for us page. Pay attention to what they’re looking for, and read the directions on how to submit. You can write for fellow bloggers, magazines, and journals to get your name out there.
Writing contests are also a great way to put your work out there, and get feedback. Google “writing contests” and you’ll get a lot of options to choose from. I found some at Poets&Writers and a few other sites.
None of these options have to cost YOU money. You might even make some along the way, but don’t let your writing be controlled by that. I got lost because I put pressure on my writing to make me money. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
The last thing – take action. Seriously. You can hunt for a million different ways to publish, but never actually do it. It’s easy to get lost in research and never take the leap. That’s what I want you to do now…
I want you to do this TODAY. List 5 different places you can publish, and submit at least one thing. If it’s LinkedIn, publish your work. If you’re pitching a guest post, then read what they’re looking for and start building that relationship. Start your blog, publish on social – just do something that gets your work out there.