As a copywriter, your portfolio is your shop window. A place you can highlight your talents and showcase your work, it’s important if you want people to see what you can do. However, many writers, whether they’re new to copywriting or not, panic when they hear the words ‘copywriter portfolio’. Although it doesn’t have to be a scary thought, collating a collection of your pieces and showcasing them for others to view and criticise can be daunting. But it’s essential if you are to prove your skills and impress your potential clients. That’s why we’re sharing our tips to make sure your copywriter portfolio stands out from the crowd for all the right reasons.
Choosing your portfolio pieces
The top myth when creating a portfolio is that you have to include everything you have ever written. However, this simply isn’t true. A strong copywriting portfolio emphasises quality over quantity. It should be focused, lean and represent your speciality or field.
Select your best work
When it comes to copywriters, there isn’t one person who doesn’t have a piece that is close to their heart. However, when it comes to designing your killer portfolio, think about your strongest pieces, the skills required to write them, and how well your copy fits the client’s brief or industry. It’s essential you push all nostalgia to the side; your favourite piece isn’t necessarily your best.
If you find yourself torn between a couple of pieces, consider for each who the end client was, how big their audience (and influence) is, and whether you are able to assess the performance of that particular piece of work. Was it liked and shared? Did it generate a buzz or a discussion?
In terms of the copy you include, we advise you choose an array of pieces to showcase your skills and talents. However, don’t just select a range of subjects, be sure to include a variety of styles too. By this, we mean a selection of blogs, press releases, articles, product descriptions, eBooks or research papers, to name just a few options. Usually, the more diverse your portfolio is, the stronger it will be.
However, if you are hoping to specialise in a specific industry, or you have specialist knowledge of a particular sector, be sure to include examples that relate to the industry in question. It’s important the pieces you select reflect the work you are applying for.
How big should your copywriter portfolio be?
Typically, the number of pieces to include in your copywriting portfolio can vary, and it generally depends on your personal preference. You may feel it is better to keep it to 8-10 quality pieces, or you may prefer to provide more options (between 20 and 30). Remember, you can easily switch pieces out of your portfolio if you feel you have something stronger later on down the line. For job applications, you should stick to a maximum of five pieces. This gives the client a good idea of your skills as a writer without boring or overwhelming them.
Make sure your work is current
Ideally, you shouldn’t include any work in your portfolio that was written over two years ago. The top pieces in your portfolio need to be what people are most likely to read, which means they need to be current and relatable.
If you aren’t sure what to include, a top tip is to create a spreadsheet of your published pieces, making sure you include titles, publication dates and relevant links. Having this for your own personal record enables you to categorise and keep track of everything you’ve accomplished.
Do you need permission?
This is a tricky question to answer, and it isn’t something many people think they even need to consider when it comes to creating their portfolio. On one hand, it’s your work. However, once a project is signed off, the copyright for the work is transferred to the client.
To be certain, we advise asking the client’s permission to showcase the work in your portfolio. This way you’ll know for definite before you begin.
Get the presentation right
It may sound odd, but getting the presentation of your copywriting portfolio right matters too. It’s also important you have both an offline and online portfolio. According to entrepreneur and blogger Julia McCoy, online copywriters are in demand. Therefore, it’s likely that the majority of your copywriting work will be for online clients, so it makes sense to have samples available on your website. It also means you can easily send a link to a potential client who asks to see your portfolio.
When it comes to your presentation folder, make sure everything’s represented neatly and clearly. Use quality paper and clear wallets to keep the pages clean and to stop them from ripping. In terms of your online portfolio, make sure it is simple to navigate and access. It’s also important that the font is easy to read and that the design highlights the copy, as opposed to any images or graphics. You need to remember you are being judged for your words, not the images you’ve chosen to include. Content creator Rachel Solomon recommends the top six online content writing portfolios, including Pressfolios, Contently and About.Me.
Keep your biography short
When it comes to writing about ourselves, we are our own worst enemies. When it comes to your portfolio, the biography should summarise what you do and the skills you have. However, it’s important to keep your integrity. Don’t get over-personal, this is about your professional abilities. Instead of revealing your age, mention how many years you’ve been writing for. If you’ve had a successful copywriting career, summarise your accomplishments by focusing on the most impressive or relevant achievements. Equally important, ensure you include your current job title as well any links to your social media profiles that represent your professional brand. LinkedIn is a great example here, but your personal Facebook page may not be a great idea.
Fact: Bad spelling and grammar, as well as clichés, won’t impress. Don’t overload on buzz words and make sure you sound confident by avoiding self-deprecation.
New to copywriting?
If you are new to copywriting and you don’t have many pieces to showcase, creating some samples is a great starting point until you gain more experience.
Create your own brief and do the work as if you were being paid by a client. It could be anything from a blog post or pages for a website, just be sure to set yourself something you know you’ll be good at. When it comes to showing the piece of work in your portfolio, make it clear it is conceptual rather than a commission. Not only does this demonstrate great initiative, but it allows you to showcase your strengths.
One final tip
Don’t shy away from creating a killer copywriter portfolio for the fear of being judged, it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase your abilities. Although one person may not like your work, there are bound to be many more that do. There’s just one final point to remember: don’t reveal your entire collection. Keeping clients intrigued by what else you can or have achieved can go a long way.