You’ve figured out which type of writing you want to do online. Yay! Now comes the hard(er) part. Organizing yourself.
Have Writing Samples Tailored to Your Target
You should have at least 2 samples you’re proud to have attached to your name, and if you don’t- then it’s probably time. Focus on the type of client you want to attract, and write to that target.
For example, if you want to do fashion blogging, then write a trends or review piece. Or if you’re looking to write white papers for business, do a sample. A few other ideas on what you can write to add to your portfolio, with examples of each:
- An ‘About’ piece for a friend/business you know: ‘12 of the Best About Us Pages on the Internet’
- A short news post: ‘How to Write a News Story’ (PDF)
- An in-depth piece about a fresh topic in the area you’re interested, i.e. ‘Marketing Tricks in 2016’ -include links, numbers, references and images: ‘How to Write a Profile Feature Article’ and ‘How to Write a 2,000-Word Article in 2 Hours’
- An opinion blog post pro/anti: ‘Write an Opinion Post’ (Podcast)
- A SM (social media) sampler: a Facebook post; G+ post; Pinterest pin; Tweet/RT: ‘Be the Shakespeare of Facebook’
- A press release of a fictional product: Press Release Template
- A sales email: Sales Email Template
- A flash fiction story in your favorite genre, to highlight creative writing: ‘Storyville: How to Write Flash Fiction’
Once you have a few writing samples for your portfolio, you can start building it. I’ve used the free Clippings as a base of referral. When I need to add portfolio pieces to online job platforms, I jump there. It’s also a place I can send clients.
Update and professionalize your LinkedIn.
Creating Your Priceless Platform Profile
It’s time to sign up* for your job platform and get your profile out there.
You’ll need a few things:
- An updated profile picture that shows you as a professional, not the cropped party dude, nor the selfie sex kitten (yes, showing off your assets might help get a few gigs, but…nah.)
Try Photofeeler to get unbiased feedback on your profile image.
- A great summary of relevant skills- and how they can help clients. Only those relevant skills. Yes, you may have been a marathon champion, but it shouldn’t be mixed in with your writing skill set. Unless you specialize in sports writing-?
- Live links (if possible) to articles written posted to the platform portfolio
- Connecting your social profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn) helps to add credibility
Familiarize Yourself with Payments & Details
One of the main reasons freelancers use online job platforms is for fresh cash, also known as quick money. So how much will you earn? Each platform handles freelancers differently.
When in Rome, do exactly what the platform tells you in the way they tell you.
For example, Upwork encourages taking their ‘Skills Tests,’ to prove your proficiency in specific areas. There’s some debate about how good (or bad) the tests are, but if your portfolio is scant, it can help with visibility.
Guru allows space for testimonials to help bolster your profile, while iFreelancer kind of gives you full artistic freedom.
*In choosing which platforms to use, take a look at all of the ‘fine print’ as far as getting paid. A short checklist to go through:
- What percentage is taken out from your earnings? Each platform is different, and charges 0% (iFreelancer, but $7/month to bid on jobs) to 15% (People Per Hour) of your total earnings. That’s not including bank or Paypal fees.
- How are disputes resolved if a client refuses to pay you? Is there any support or escrow system in place? Check out the forums and reviews from writers that have experience on the platform.
- How long does it take to process payment on the online job platform? Again, each is different. For ‘fixed price’ contracts, 6 days (Upwork) to 3 days (Guru).
Some platforms charge a monthly fee; others hold onto your money for weeks during a ‘trial period for your account.’
It’ll pay off in the long run if you know what you’re getting into before painstakingly adding a brilliant profile. There’s nothing like the shock of missing a chunk of your hard-earned cash.
A Note on Online Freelance Job Platforms
For each success story at an online job platform, there is usually a freelance horror story to match. There are several sites I’d never personally recommend: Freelancer; Fiverr; and Textbroker are well known for low pay rates and scrappy service.
This is a great list for checking out the different platforms, with ratings and reviews included: 2016 Best Freelance Platforms. Do your own research so you feel you’re making an informed decision.
A few other good sites for online freelance writing jobs:
- Freelance Writing Jobs: A writing links site that’s a wealth of sites to check out, but check it often for new gigs. The competition’s quite fierce.
- The Writer’s Job Board: Not all, but many listed are for freelancers.
I hope this post has been useful in helping you create a great profile on the platform(s) of your choice. Maybe it’s even inspired you to write a few extra pieces to help flesh your portfolio out-? Fantastic!
Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, so I also hope I gave you a little food for thought about paying attention to the small print on online job platforms.
What about you? Any tips or advice to add about making a great profile? Do you have any experience with a freelance (writing) platform you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Coming Soon: How Not to Bid on an Online Job Platform