Tag Archives: freelance portfolio

Going Up: What’s Your Elevator Pitch?

By Amanda Smyth Connor

You’re at a lovely party with lovely guests and lovely music and things are just terribly lovely from floor to ceiling. All of a sudden, a friend grabs you and introduces you to a hot shot business owner who is in need of compelling and highly engaging content. You have 30 seconds to pitch this stranger and to nab a new client.


Spotlight is on you, bud.

Do you have an elevator pitch ready to go?  Are you confident in telling this stranger what your strengths are as a writer? Do you even know what your strengths are as a writer? Can you call to mind some of your recent achievements as they relate to this client’s needs?

Don’t get caught unprepared. That’s money that you’ve just left on the table.

Preparing a great elevator pitch:

1. Keep a professional journal of accomplishments, complete with project details, the date you completed each project and the contact information for the respective client, should you ever need a reference.

2. Keep your portfolio up to date at all times. Whether you keep a hard portfolio or (preferably) a digital portfolio, you can’t let this portfolio become outdated because you have the time to update as you went. A great review from a client, coupled with an excerpt of the work you did, becomes a highly effective resume.

3. Take note of your top three most impressive accomplishments as a freelance writer and have those at the tip of your tongue at all times.

You elevator pitch should look and sound something like this:

“I’ve created SEO-friendly feature articles for X company, I’ve developed blog posts for Y company that generally attract [blank] number of hits/traffic, on average, and I frequently work with W company on various marketing projects, such as the [blank] campaign. Tell me more about what you’re looking for in terms of content.”

Having a great elevator pitch ready to go at any time is invaluable. You don’t want to be that guy who can’t sell himself when given the opportunity to do so.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Freelance portfolio theory

ugly dogBy Jake Poinier

“Modern portfolio theory” is a Wall Street expression about maximizing your returns on stocks. A freelance graphic designer friend and I long ago came up with a freelance portfolio theory. It, too, is designed to maximize your returns (in attracting and finding new clients instead of winning stocks), and it runs something like this:

You reserve the right to *not* put crappy samples in your portfolio.

We came up with this concept out of frustration. You’ve written a knockout headline…which gets changed to something mundane. You’ve designed a clever ad layout…that the client thinks is a little too racy for their audience. You edited a whitepaper…and the author STETs their original gobbledegook. You’ve shot original photography…and the client decides they want to use a dopey stock image of two people shaking hands. It’s as bad as the irony Alanis Morissette famously whined about a few years back…don’t ya think?

But you can’t get mad, and you usually aren’t well served by trying to change a client’s mind once it’s set. So this theory allows you to take a step back, refocus, and say to yourself:

  • It’s a bummer that this didn’t come out as cool as I thought it would, but I’m still going to get my check.
  • If I don’t disclose the fact that I was involved in this project, no one will ever know.
  • Aw heck, it just doesn’t matter in the long run. What’s my next project?

Let’s be real: When you’re starting out, you’ll take what you can get. I know this will make me sound ancient, but my first portfolio for job hunting in the magazine industry was a hideous, baby-blue binder with yellowed clips from my hometown newspaper. (Mercifully, the internet has made portfolio presentation a lot slicker.)

Once you have a critical mass of good stuff, however, it’s time to start getting choosy rather than going for sheer volume. Five hundred samples shows that you’ve done a lot of work, but no one wants to slog through everything. If they want more samples in a given industry, they’ll ask.

In the end, prospective clients will judge you on your best work, but an ugly sample might also have them questioning your judgment — in an “Ugh, why is *she* dating *him*?” sort of way. Dump the dogs, and stick with your best in show.

Have you ever had a client that turned a sure-fire portfolio masterpiece into a disaster you’d never admit to? Share your horror stories in the comments!

Contributing writer Jake Poinier also dispenses freelancing advice at DoctorFreelance.com a few times a week, and you can follow him on Twitter: @DrFreelance…and he promises he’ll follow you back!