How To Create A Writing Portfolio

As a freelance writer, one of the best ways to attract new writing work is to show off examples of work you’ve already done. When I started out in journalism, that meant rigorously collecting copies of every newspaper, newsletter, journal or magazine in which I had a bylined piece (and even, in the early days, some pieces that weren’t bylined). I cut them out, put them in a scrapbook and lugged that around with me every time I went for an interview. Things are easier now.

notebook How To Create A Writing Portfolio

Since most of my work is now done online, I now collect links to my work. I usually have the original articles stored on my hard drive and backed up to an external source. Even with offline publishing, it’s a simple matter to scan the article in and create a PDF. But how do I make this collection of writing and blogging credits make sense to anyone?

I faced this issue recently, as I was moving my main business site from doublehdesign.com to sharonhurleyhall.com. I looked at a lot of writers’ sites to see what they did. Here’s what I found:

  • Some writers chose one example of each kind of writing they did and included it as an article on their site or blog.
  • Some writers made PDF or Word samples available for download or viewing.
  • Some writers said they would provide samples on request.
  • Some writers listed all their stuff so potential customers could find what they needed.

That last approach was the one that made most sense to me, but when I listed all my stuff, the list was long, so I decided to make it more reader friendly. The result of that was my new resume page, which lists my skills, the topics on which I’m an expert (with links to examples), as well as other topics and examples of writing. At the end I give a short summary of my education and career.

I chose to do it that way because I figure that if people are looking for a writer, then the first thing they want to know is what you can write. Of course, as a ghostwriter, I can’t show examples of everything I’ve written, but I have an answer for that, too.

If you are a skilled writer, then why not do another version of an article or an ebook chapter that you’re particularly proud of? You won’t be flouting your ghostwriting contract, but you will be showing what you can do.

My writing portfolio is a work in progress, as I am adding to it all the time. It’s not really practical to have a blog page that goes on forever, so eventually I might have to create a page for each category and link to it on the main page. How have you handled your writing portfolio? I’d love to hear your tips and the reasons why your writing portfolio looks the way it does.


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About Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall has been mentoring writers here at Get Paid To Write Online since 2005 to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Check me out on sharonhh.com. Feel free to connect with me online on Google+.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the mention!

    Putting together a portfolio does take some thought. Choose your best pieces, and make sure they’re work that is currently in demand. You can post up a sample of everything you do, but remember that buyers don’t have a lot of time. They want to see you can write, and write well. An article, a blog post, a press release… all are good choices.

    Another good idea is to come up with a free report that anyone can download from your site. It shows off what you can do with a longer document, how you put everything together, and gives something of value to the reader.

  2. Great info. Thanks for sharing. I agree whole heartedly about having examples ready upon request.

  3. thanx a zillion sharon.Really a timely tip as I’m a beginner and my next task is to create a portfolio
    aruna

  4. I’m always looking for new ways to make my portfolio more user-friendly. I love James’s idea about a free report and I’d like to put something like that together too.

    At the moment I’ve been taking screen shots of my online clips and site designs. I haven’t got any of these on my site yet however, but I will eventually.

    It takes a lot of time for this sort of thing but I’m sure it’s worth it.

  5. Yes, one of the things on my list for this year, Rebecca, is to do more writing for myself. It does take times, but it will be rewarding.

  6. Hi Sharon!
    Its a great article. There is so much information to launch my online copywriting career. Thank you!
    Solomon

  7. I’m glad you’ve found it useful, Solomon.

  8. Sharon,

    Very helpful post! And your resume page is quite impressive! Thanks for sharing these excellent tips on preparing a writing portfolio!

    I haven’t actually created one yet, myself, but usually send writing samples or links to my published work, as well as to my blog, when responding to ads for writing jobs. At Constant Content, where I also sell some of my work, the articles I have for sale on the site serve as my writing portfolio, showing potential clients the various types of writing that I can do–though not all articles are presented in their entirety on the site.

    You’ve given me some great ideas for creating a portfolio of my own.

    Thanks!
    Jeanne

  9. I find it hard to keep up, Jeanne, especially now that I’m blogging so regularly, but having a one stop shop where people can check you out helps with winning bids. I may have to do some more tweaking – and I definitely have to remember to put things in multiple categories. I’m waiting for my host to upgrade WP, then I can use tags, which will make it easier.

  10. gracepub says:

    I find that blogging can be tiring. I have just made a website for myself and now I have to fill it. For the longest time I used my ifreelance profile. I don’t like bidding, and hope that maybe this will make it so I don’t need to bid as much.

  11. Thanks so much for the tips! I wonder if this will also work for a beginning writer though? I don’t have anything published but I have written tons of things from poetry, to short stories, to a blog about weight loss, to pieces on infertility. I just finally decided to put on my “brave pants” and I want to put myself out there and really give it a go. I’ll keep searching but thanks for the tips.

  12. Sarah said: “I don’t have anything published but I have written tons of things from poetry, to short stories, to a blog about weight loss, to pieces on infertility.”

    @ Sarah: If you really would like to get started with your own Writing Portfolio online you could self e-publish your best poetry, articles, and stories by creating web pages on your own site. This is a great way to showcase your work and you can still query those articles for their other available rights (not first rights or exclusive online rights). This is a great way to fill your portfolio while you’re gathering clips. You can also use an article directory that allows people to then purchase non-exclusive use of these written clips.

  13. Thanks for the tip, Rebecca. Always a pleasure to see you here. :)

  14. Andrew says:

    Your resume is looking good…I think I may have to “borrow” that concept if you have no objects to that. :D

  15. Borrow away, Andrew. THat’s why it’s there :)

  16. i am planning to create a portfolio online..

    thanks for the info Ma'am..

    It is important for me coz' i'm an IT student..

    thanks2x…

  17. My portfolio includes some of the emails, articles, sales letters, info-products and PDF reports I wrote for my clients and for myself.

    Graphs help as text alone is too boring.

    P.S. probusinesswriter link is going to an error page

  18. My question is to build a portfolio of poetry, acrostics and also some script work. How many of each genre and a overall range of quantity. There are also poster designs that I would need illustrated as well. To keep only new work or best of work?

  19. Good tips, James, especially about the report. It’s one thing I plan to add to this site.