So you’ve decided to become a freelancer. You’ve journaled about it. Talked to your mom about it. Even made a pro and con list on sticky notes you put on your wall. And in the end, you’ve decided to just friggin’ go for it — to become a freelancer!
CONGRATS! The hard part is over.
Next step: you sit down at your computer, pull up Indeed, LinkedIn, Upwork, Problogger, or whatever comes to mind, and type in “freelance writer,” only to discover that a lot of these potential clients want you to have things like “writing samples” and a “portfolio.”
And then the questions begin:
- What counts as a writing sample?
- Will they accept a Microsoft Word Doc?
- Does my college English essay count?
- Should I cut my losses while I still can and go back to grating cheese at Olive Garden?
It can certainly be daunting applying for freelance jobs when you don’t have a portfolio yet. But luckily, nobody has to know that.
Why? Because you can just make something up.
No portfolio? No problem. Open up a Google Doc and start writing. This doesn’t have to be super involved. Keep it short, light, and easily skimmable.
Here are some ideas I would use if I was just starting out and needed writing samples
- An email promoting a sale for a fictional company
- The front page of a website
- A blog post on a topic that interests you
- A social media post promoting a fake webinar
The list really goes on, but you get the idea. Make something up, write it, and then add it to your “portfolio.”
Some clients will want to see your writing samples in a Google Doc, which is nice and super easy for us writers! But if you want to add a little more pizzazz, try copying your samples into a Canva document and making it look all cute. (Still, keep it minimal — less is often more with Canva!).
And there you have it. It’s not lying, it’s just being smart. And we love being smart. Being smart is the best. Being smart is so much easier than being frustrated and desperate for work.
So the answer to whether you should go back to grating parmesan cheese? It’s definitely a no.