Do you remember Sheryl Crow’s song “All I Wanna Do”?
“This ain’t no country club, and it ain’t no disco”…
This loosely applies to freelance writing. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t written since high school or are a highly praised technical writer, writing for the web (which many freelancers do) is different. There are rules to follow, rules to break and lots to learn.
That’s ok, like any new skill it takes a while to find your voice and settle into the “new” way of writing. I’ll admit, I’ve been writing on the web for two years, and I still haven’t gotten it down pat! That’s the beauty of it; you only get better if you stick with it.
Let’s talk about how to get freelance writing samples ready, even if you’ve never written anything for the web.
Where to Store Freelance Samples
When you start writing samples, make sure to keep them all together so you can find them easily. Don’t have them on Google, Dropbox, Microsoft Word and a napkin in your purse (ask me how I know this)!
No really though, make sure you start out organized, it’ll save so many headaches as your freelance journey continues!
I suggest having Google Drive (most of the clients I’ve written for use this) as well as the files organized on your computer. I would go so far as to suggest having them in a third location… just in case.
How to Write Freelance Samples
For the most part, most web writing and blog posts should follow the typical Intro – Point – Point – Point – Conclusion you likely learned in school.
However, there are some differences.
For example, sentence and paragraph length. Sometimes, we write sentences that go on and on; there are commas and semicolons involved; kinda like this one. For web writing, you want short, concise sentences.
You’re probably used to a paragraph being around four sentences long… right? In web writing a paragraph can be one line, I know it’s crazy!
Use headings, bullets and other formatting techniques to make it easier to read on a small screen (since so much web content is viewed on mobile devices).
One last tip, be sure to include a CTA (call to action) in your blog posts/web articles. For most web writing you want a response from the readers. The most efficient way to do that is by making it easy for them by asking a question, telling them to do something, reminding them to do something, whatever, just include them!
I could go on and on about web writing techniques. I want to share a book I used (who am I kidding, I still use) when I started blogging and freelance writing. It’s the Yahoo Style Guide. This guide is jam-packed with techniques that will help you learn and improve your writing style for the web.
I’m also sharing a few bloggers I feel have the web writing thing down and yes, they’re all freelance writers!
Jorden Roper (WritingRevolt)
Horkey Handbook (www.horkeyhandbook.com)
2 Places to “Publish” Freelance Samples
Now, hopefully, you feel more comfortable with the writing part, you may be wondering what to do with the samples once you have them.
Of course, you’ll store them on your computer, but here are a couple of places you can publish your posts. The great thing about these publications is that these articles will have a “web home” that you can include in your portfolio and pitches.
Pro tip: Having published articles makes you seem more established when you pitch than including word docs.
Do you know about Medium? It’s a groovy place to “read, write and interact with the stories that matter most to you.”
As an online “blog” where everyone can publish articles, it’s a great place to post your writing and begin building a tribe.
This guide from Hubspot is packed with info all about how to get signed up and write on Medium.
Here are a few key points:
- Sign up for Medium with your Twitter or Facebook account (your contacts on these platforms will be following you once your account is set up)
- You get a 160 character bio (helpful to start describing yourself in a few words)
- You can follow people, publications, and tags, which helps you narrow down what you see on the platform (yay!)
- Many ways to engage exist on this platform, claps, recommendations, sharing, bookmarking and more.
- Medium’s built-in editor is amazing.
- Use headings, bullets, and lists
- Make sure to add images (people LOVE images)
Another great reason to use Medium is that you can include them in your portfolio. You can “pin” them to Pinterest too, and this all helps get your name out there!
Do you have a LinkedIn profile? As a freelance writer, you should.
LinkedIn is an active social media sites for freelance writers, and there are many opportunities there.
A great way to build credibility and enhance your growing portfolio is to publish articles on LinkedIn. You get practice writing on a different platform and has the ability to be seen by many eyeballs!
This article on The Muse outlines the steps of writing a LinkedIn article if you’re not a writer or a newbie web writer!
Another reason to consider publishing on LinkedIn is that you’ll have an “online” sample that you can put in your portfolio and include in pitches.
There’s nothing wrong with including Google Doc’s in pitches, but it’s more impressive if you can show you have published on the web.
Want to Publish on Living the Diagnosis?
To end this post, I have a special offer for you. I run the website “Living the Diagnosis”, a patient story sharing site. The site contains articles about all types of medical conditions.
If you plan to write in the healthcare or wellness niche or pursue medical writing, I’d love to include an article from you. If your idea fits the site, I’ll publish it, and you’ll have a sample for your portfolio! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk!
I hope this helps you feel more comfortable taking that next step to being a freelance writer!
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