Writers are artists. Just like painters or graphic designers, we writers find a thrill in showing off our creative prowess. And, more importantly, we need to trot out our work in order to get more of it. How else would prospective clients know how great we are? However, for ghostwriters who work with confidential clients or are published under assumed names, our work is harder to showcase. Follow these tips to build a portfolio and snag your next big ghostwriter contract:
Be Your Own Client
If you have no samples published under your own name, you’re about to get a new client: yourself. You’ll have to write some samples that you will not sell to any other clients, which can then be used on your website or in ghostwriting service profiles as examples of your work.
Create samples that are representative of the writing that has been most successful with your clients in topic, voice, and length. Consider at least three samples—ideally five to 10—that showcase different strengths and can be used for different purposes, for example:
- An edgy, humorous blog post on a marketing topic
- An informative, authoritative 500 to 1,000-word article on a scientific topic
- A press release about a new service from a favorite or fictional company
Only write samples with topics, voices or lengths that you wish to write in the future. If you hate writing news articles, don’t include any in your samples.
With each sample, note the style guide you used, your references and the types of work you think the sample represents. Work over each piece with a fine-toothed comb: you are the writer, editor and proofreader!
Generalize Your Clients
An artist’s portfolio typically showcases proud achievements, cream of the crop projects. Even if your top work is confidential, you can boast about it in generalities. Create bulleted lists, as long as you like, grouping work you’ve done in the past by category (such as topic or usage) and classifying the type of client .
Did you write a totally top-secret training manual for the latest Apple gadget? Call it “Internal training manual for Fortune 100 computer company.” Do you write weekly blog posts under an assumed name for Amalgamated Widgets? Consider “Weekly blog marketing for noted widget manufacturer, over 50 articles published.”
Never jeopardize your client relationships or ghostwriting contracts by including identifiable information—just generalize, categorize and boast away!
Pimp Your Profile
As a ghostwriter, the profile you use with your favorite ghostwriting service is a key part of your portfolio. When potential clients can’t see your full body of work, they use your profile to make a judgment about your ability and your personality. Always include a professional photograph and fill out all available features of the portfolio like education, awards, industry experience and even personal interests.
Your clients want to see a real human being who will care as much about their projects as they do. Update your portfolio and profile regularly and collect that ghostwriter contract!
Tara M is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.