Freelance copywriters make their living by selling their expertise and writing skills to clients. Finding new clients is one of the most challenging aspects of freelance copywriting; having an excellent reputation is vital to a copywriter’s career. Today, we’re covering the importance of a portfolio in building your copywriting reputation.
Let’s start with the benefit of having a portfolio in the first place.
Why Does Having a Portfolio Matter?
A copywriting portfolio is the easiest and most efficient way to show prospective clients what you can do professionally. Finding clients in your area of interest is easier if you can show them that you’ve written about their field in the past. It also proves you can produce the work your clients need. There are many reasons to prioritise making a fantastic portfolio as a copywriter.
Demonstrate Your Skills
The perfect portfolio shows off your skills as a copywriter. A range of samples covering various aspects of content, like blogs, email campaigns, social media posts and more, displays the breadth of your talents. Equally, a specialised portfolio focused on a specific subject area - like health and wellness - can help you secure clients in that field.
Shows Your Progress
Having a portfolio allows you to keep track of your career progression. Over time, you can swap out the work in your portfolio for new pieces. It’s plain to see your improvement when you have a record of your past work. Anytime you need an ego boost, you can look at the first version of your portfolio and see how much you’ve grown professionally.
Gets New Clients
There’s no greater tool for getting new business as a freelance copywriter than having a top-tier portfolio. You can send it in your pitches to new clients so they can instantly get a sense of your abilities. If you maintain multiple portfolios, you can keep different ones for your various niches and send the most relevant one to each prospective client.
Creates Experience for New Copywriters
If your copywriting career has just begun, you can use your portfolio to create examples of the work you can produce. Showing off your writing if you’ve never had a professional copywriting contract is challenging. You can write pieces for briefs you set yourself to create a beginner’s portfolio to help you get those first crucial contracts.
So, having a portfolio for your copywriting work is essential to succeed in the field, but how do you make the perfect one?
How to Build the Perfect Copywriting Portfolio (In 7 Simple Steps)
The perfect copywriting portfolio is slightly different for each person, but they all need several core features to be effective. Join us to review the 7 steps you should take to ensure you build the perfect copywriting portfolio for your freelance career.
Let’s start with the basics.
1. Don’t Forget Writing Samples
The most obvious thing you need in your copywriting portfolio is samples of your writing abilities. The trick is not to stuff your portfolio to the brim with every piece of writing you’ve ever written. Instead, take 5 - 7 samples of your best writing to highlight your skills the most effectively. If your work is mainly long-form blogs, use around 500 words for your sample rather than the whole piece.
Equally, decide if you’re trying to go for mass appeal or want to work in a specific niche or content style. For example, if you want to write about DIY projects, use samples in many content styles that are about DIY. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to write email campaigns, you can use samples of email campaigns surrounding different topics in your portfolio.
2. Add a Bio
Include a short biography about yourself to give clients a better understanding of who you are outside of copywriting. It’s also helpful to include a professional headshot so clients can get a clear idea of who they’re hiring.
A few paragraphs of personal information, like your hobbies, favourite books and films, and any sports you enjoy - along with a picture of your face - makes it much easier for prospective clients to trust you. It also starts the journey of developing your client relationship if they know something about you as a person.
3. Include Your Academic Background
A portfolio is like a resume for copywriters, so you have to include your academic background as part of it. Keep it separate from your writing samples to avoid confusing clients or leaving your portfolio cluttered and disorganised.
You should include your degree information and anything else relevant to your work as a copywriter. Perhaps you have a qualification in marketing or copywriting that clients should know about. Or, if you’ve worked in a full-time, part-time, or internship role related to copywriting, include that information too.
4. Remember to Link Socials
Your portfolio allows clients to learn more about you and your writing abilities. If you have professional social media accounts like LinkedIn or Instagram, you should link to them in your portfolio. Clients who get a fuller picture of your skills, interests, and writing history are more likely to reach out to you for work.
If you’re maintaining a blog about any aspect of your life as a copywriter, you should also provide a link to that in your portfolio. Beginner copywriters can really benefit from operating a blog to bolster their portfolio, especially if they haven’t secured paid work yet.
5. Add Contact Information
It’s easy to overlook the need for contact information in your portfolio, but don’t forget it. Use a contact page that’s separate from your samples or your bio to keep your contact information clear and understandable. You can link to your relevant social media accounts on your contact page if you find it neater.
If you link to your socials, include whether you accept direct messages on your accounts to make it easier for clients. Include any telephone numbers or email addresses your clients might need to contact you, and provide an estimate for when they can expect to hear back from you.
6. Include Your CV
Although we’ve said a portfolio is like a CV for copywriters, most copywriters have a CV in addition to their portfolio. You should include a link to the PDF of your CV so clients can get a more in-depth look at your academic background. You can feature more information about your work and academic history in your CV.
Include any higher education you have, as well as any internships or work placements you’ve undertaken - regardless of whether or not they’re relevant to copywriting. You can also include a more expansive section about your strengths and hobbies in your CV. That way, clients can read it if they want to know more about you.
7. Choose a Suitable Layout
You don’t have to be a web designer to create the perfect portfolio for you, but having an eye for web layout will help. When clients look at your portfolio, they should be able to navigate it easily. Focus on keeping it simple and neat without making it bland. Ideally, a copywriting portfolio should have the following pages.
Writer’s Bio (with Headshot)
Contact Page (with Socials)
CV (with Academic Background)
Choose a design for your portfolio that represents your work and personality in a clean, professional way. The landing page for your portfolio should be a simple welcome page rather than opening straight on your writing samples. You can easily use tools like Squarespace or WordPress to create your portfolio.
A tool as powerful as a copywriting portfolio is crucial for writers to develop their professional reputations. You can gain new clients and network more effectively with a well-developed portfolio that helps you put your best foot forward. If you need any help or advice about your portfolio, check out The Author’s Pad blog for more information. We’re committed to helping copywriters thrive at every stage of their careers.
Check out our responses to some common questions about copywriting portfolios.
How Do I Grow My Copywriting Portfolio?
One way to grow your copywriting portfolio is to start a blog about your writing experiences. You can also reach out to local businesses to offer to write content for them, either for free or at a significantly reduced price. You can use this method to get more samples for your portfolio and nurture it into something more substantial.
How Do I Make a Portfolio if I Don’t Have Experience?
You can create a portfolio even without experience by creating your own prompts. Writing for a brief you give yourself lets you demonstrate your abilities as a writer. You can also submit unpaid writing contributions to other websites to gain more experience you can use in your portfolio. Once you have some samples in your portfolio, you can pitch yourself to prospective clients for paid work.
What Should Be Avoided in a Portfolio?
Avoid using too many samples in your portfolio; it can quickly look cluttered. You should also try not to write to go overboard in your writer’s bio. It’s important to include some information, so you come across as trustworthy and genuine, but divulging too much is unprofessional. Ensure your portfolio’s layout and design isn’t messy or complicated also.