Your freelance writing portfolio: three top tips to get it right

three top tips for freelance writing portfolio

As an experienced writer and mentor for other freelance writers, I often get asked about putting together a portfolio. In fact, I had a message in my inbox seeking pearls of portfolio wisdom just yesterday. As with everything freelance writing, there is a lot of guidance out there. I’m a believer in assessing all the information on offer and doing what is best for you. 

Today, I’m going to share how I put my portfolio together, and will offer some top tips for how you could showcase your own writing collection (whether you are a health or medical writer, or in another niche).

My portfolio: What does it look like? Where does it live? What’s in it? 

Firstly, let’s talk about the what, where and how of my portfolio. This may sound like common sense, but I rarely see other writers talking specifically about where their portfolio lives. 

I personally prefer having several ‘portfolios’ that serve different purposes. 

Firstly, my website contains a regularly updated list of documents and web pages that display my writing, with some kind words from clients alongside to showcase what people thought of working with me. I organise this list by project or client. Sometimes projects are one-offs, but often there are multiple pieces of work for each, which showcases my versatility.

I also have a PDF made in Canva that I can share with clients. This contains case-study-style examples of my work and results. I used this a lot in my early days as a freelancer, before I finished my website. I still use it now and again as a handy document to forward, alongside my C.V, to prospective clients and recruiters.

I also use my socials to keep my followers updated on my work. Every month end, I post summative round ups that cover what I have written that month, as well as regularly sharing examples of my work. I have saved these stories (Instagram) and pinned a featured portfolio post (LinkedIn) so work examples are readily accessible to potential clients.

What about your portfolio? 

There are so many options. Different clients can call for different scenarios. And different specialisms might need different things:

  • You could keep a G-Drive folder and separate your work into categories, ready to copy and paste the doc whenever the time arises. 
  • You could use a simple web page to allow your potential client to browse
  • You could copy exactly what I have suggested above! 

So now we’ve covered what a portfolio could actually look like, let’s get into the tips.

Portfolio tip number one: Just write! 

Even if you don’t think you have anything to include in a portfolio, just write. If you’ve read my top tips for any freelancer, you’ll know I like to advocate for this. 

In the early days, you may want to showcase your talent, but haven’t had a paying client yet. Show what you can do by writing a blog of your choice. Make it a weekly (or monthly) project. This practice fine tunes your approach to research, writing style, SEO skills, and blogging processes, and prepares you for what it feels like to write words for a paying client.

If you don’t have a website to house your blog, there are lots of platforms you can choose (think: Squarespace or Wix as a starting point). 

Portfolio tip number one: Save everything you write. 

That’s right, save everything you write. Even when you’re first starting out and it’s just practice.

Here’s an issue I ran into early in my freelancing career… and it is quite common: some of my previously published online work had been removed by the company (this could happen for any number of reasons as priorities change over the years), so here is to always saving your online work as a PDF! 

Here’s another issue I faced… this time quite specific to medical writing. 

When I decided to go freelance, much of the extensive work I had done during my career was deemed ‘confidential’, so couldn’t be publicly shared. I had to be creative, think carefully about the work I had done for different clients during my agency career, and choose a small selection of things that could be shared (and that I had access to!). I saved all of these public pieces so I could share them in the future, making sure to seek permission from their ‘owners’! 

Nowadays, it’s common practice for me to ask clients whether it is ok to share their materials in my portfolio; I even have a line in my contract about this. If permission is not granted then I ask for a testimonial, which allows me to showcase my work for the client in some form. 

You can be creative with examples of your writing too. If you have done a Life Sciences or English degree, then you will almost certainly already have examples of your writing to share. Save these pieces down, ready to add to your shiny new portfolio, giving some variation to your own blogs and any client work. 

Portfolio tip number three: Show your results

While it’s amazing to showcase a range of writing, there’s one important addition you should include when designing your portfolio. That is: the results. The, so what happened? 

I’ve used my PDF case-study-style portfolio to show what each client’s problem was, what solution I implemented, and the difference my work made. 

You can do this too. Did your website copy mean new leads for the client? What was the response to your whitepaper? Do you have any statistics that can add real value to what you achieved for your client? Add a paragraph that introduces each portfolio piece and provides details like this. It will impress before the reader even gets to the actual content.  

I hope you found these portfolio tips useful and can implement some of them into your strategy for showcasing your work. There is no one way to present a portfolio. I always try to imagine I am the client – what would be the easiest way for me to see quality of writing and the potential impact of that work?

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss your portfolio:

  • Head over to my website now and take a look at how I format my online portfolio for visitors, or you could request my case study file!
  • Drop me a message and we can look at your portfolio in detail on a mentoring call.
  • Take a look at my previous blogs to learn a little bit more about my story and some of the freelancing topics I’ve already written about. 
related posts

Let’s talk.

Drop me a line to find out more about me, my rates and availability, and how we could work together. 

You can find me on:
A note from me:

I work Tuesday through Friday. I’ll aim to get back to you within 24 hours during the working week.