Freelance FAQ #5: Should You Use Unpublished Work In Your Portfolio?

Whenever we hold a Q&A session, we almost always get this question. It’s on a lot of new writers’ minds, and so I wanted to answer it conclusively in this video.

While having a large portfolio and lots of experience is great, you don’t need any of that to get started. You can get published without any prior experience––you just need to find the right publications.

Typically, you’ll want to look at small- to medium-sized blogs. There’s a certain sweet spot to look for. You want to find blogs that don’t require previous experience, and ideally, you should get paid for your work. (If you’re still working for free, watch this.)

If you’re struggling to get started, don’t worry––we’re here to help! Here are 3 tips for getting published without any experience at all.

1. Refine your search.

When most writers start out, they don’t exactly know where to look, so they end up looking all over the place.

However, it’s much better to take a targeted approach. This will save you a lot of time and effort, and you’ll have a higher chance of getting published.

First, consider your niche. Try to find blogs that are directly in your niche to start with.

Second, don’t consider the top tier of publications. I’m talking about publications like the New York Times and Better Homes & Gardens. (I’m not saying that you can’t ever get published at this level, but when you’re starting out, these kinds of places are simply out of your reach.)

Third, make use of keywords and search operators. (I go over these in the webinar linked at the bottom of this post.)

2. Browse blog lists.

Many writing-based sites will compile tens and sometimes even hundreds of blogs into one big list. This makes it much cleaner and easier to find the right blog for you. Many of these lists are even organized by industry, so you can easily find blogs in your niche.

Freedom With Writing has hundreds of blog lists, and it’s a wonderful place to start your blog hunt. Our members also have access to a database of over 1,200 publishers.

Also – if you sign up for Thursday’s webinar, we’ll be sending you a very relevant bonus after the webinar. (Yes, you’ll have to wait a bit!)

Sign Up Here.

3. Don’t make a big deal out of your lack of experience.

When you pitch your ideas, it might be tempting to include a note explaining your lack of publication, but don’t do it!

As I mentioned earlier, many editors don’t mind if you don’t have experience. If you draw attention to it, you’ll only be needlessly emphasizing your shortcomings.

Instead, lead with a fantastic pitch. If your pitch is compelling, it’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

So don’t be discouraged! You don’t need years of experience to get published.

One last thing: Pitching is mostly a numbers game. You have to do it over and over to get good at it. Even great writers can get rejected 9 times out of 10. The more you pitch, the better off you’ll be, so get out there and start pitching!

If you’d like to learn more about blog writing, check out our free hour-long webinar:

8 comments on “Freelance FAQ #5: Should You Use Unpublished Work In Your Portfolio?

  1. "CaT" on

    Debra I am a professional artist an can draw almost anything u can think of me an my husband were traveling tattoo artists for about 8 yrs was out own business I drew out all the patterns an did everything else(whatever business magement needed)while he tatted. I tried to reply to ur msg but site wouldn’t let me….if u are interested or read this give me a hollar drop me a line: GIVEMEJESUSB4THEWORLD@GMAIL.COM

  2. Debra on

    Hry there,
    I’m a former History/English teacher who later became a librarian. I’ve always written poems and finally wrote a children’s book. The problem is the book needs: 1. to be translated into Arabic so I can present it as a “dual” language book, and 2. it needs to be illustrated. How do I go about that? I spend half my time in Dubai and the rest Stateside. Thanks for any and all help.
    Cheers, Debra


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