“Can you send me your writing samples?”
Chills spread through her body. She opened the files in her computer.
Freelance > portfolio > writing samples
Over the next half hour, she sifted through the dozens of pieces she had written over the past couple years to find…something that she felt decent about.
Ohhh, a blog post! …Ehhh I write better than this now.
A LinkedIn post! …Ugh this wouldn’t work today.
A press release! …This just plain sucks.
Finally, she discovers two articles that were good enough…not great, but good enough
Attach, attach, send.
There has to be a better way.
There is! For some reason, it took me way too long to create an actual online portfolio with writing samples I felt good about that could be easily accessed at any time, by anyone.
I know, I know. It sounds like a lot of time, knowledge of websites, and money to get something like that up.
But let me tell you that it really can be easy if you keep things simple.
So, why have your portfolio online instead of just having a bunch of samples handy in your computer to share whenever you need? Because:
- You’ll have all of your best, up-to-date writing samples all in one place
- It is way easier to share a link than attach several documents to an email each time
- You’ll likely be discoverable thanks to SEO, so prospects could find you without even talking to you
- You may come off as more professional when you have a website
And these are just some of the benefits.
Where can I make a portfolio online?
For my portfolio, I use Wix, but I’ve also used WordPress to make some other websites, mainly blogs. Wix is just super user-friendly and very easy to customize their pre-made templates to make your own. They have a free basic package, so you may not even need to spend any money at all! I think I only pay for a custom domain and that’s it.
These are some websites you may want to consider:
- Contra (I have some experience with them, and they are more of a job platform with a built-in portfolio feature)
- Squarespace (I have some experience with them)
- GoDaddy (I don’t have experience building a portfolio with them, but I have worked with them in other capacities and have heard good things about their website building services)
It doesn’t hurt to ask around or just pick one and see for yourself!
How do I make a website?
Luckily, you need exactly zero coding or web design experience to make your own website. Honestly, most platforms should have a really easy step-by-step process—at least Wix and WordPress definitely do. They’ll have templates you can choose based on what kind of website you’re looking to make (blog, portfolio, restaurant, etc.) and you simply add or change out the template’s content with your imagery, text, and colors/other branding elements.
I wrote a blog post on how to set up a blog website on WordPress, which would be a similar process for a portfolio website (or any website really). Take a look for an idea of what happens behind the scenes to get started!
Once you have your website set up, you’ll want to make sure it’s organized properly. And would ya look at that, I have a blog post all about that as well:
What makes a good online portfolio?
As with any website, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when creating yours:
- Make your website easy to navigate. Have a clear menu at the top of the page so people can find what they’re looking for the fastest.
- Explain who you are, what you do, and who you write for within 7 seconds. People bounce quickly if they can’t find what they’re looking for, so make sure you cover these details as quickly as possible!
- Have a simple home page that directs the viewer to important pages. The home page can function as a really essential tool to show the visitor where they should go. Make it clear, brief, and as simple as possible.
- Include a range of writing samples. If you want to show how versatile you are, have a couple writing samples for every type of writing you do. For example, if you write blog posts, social media content, and website copy, have samples for each of those things. If you only focus on one type—like if you just do blogging, make sure you have a good amount of blogging samples to show your expertise.
- Have clearly displayed contact information. Just like you don’t want to make people work too hard to figure you out as soon as they land on your website, you don’t want them to work too hard to figure out how to contact you! Have your contact information on your header and/or footer and on a contact page.
- Speak to your prospect directly. Even though it is your portfolio talking about your writing, it actually isn’t all about you. The main focus of your portfolio website is to show your prospects how you can solve their problems through your writing. What’s in it for them? Why would hiring a freelancer help their business? Why do they need a blog or social media presence? Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes.
Mainly, you don’t want people to work too hard to find what they’re looking for and you want to make sure that your visitor feels like you’re speaking to them directly.
What if I don’t have any writing samples?
I was stuck on this for a while…I thought writing samples had to be pieces that I was either paid for or that I wrote in college or that someone assigned me to write in some capacity. But I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at all. Because guess what?
We’re writers, so we can just write! We don’t have to be asked to write something or paid to write something in order to write, we can just do it!
So that means that if you want to build your blogging skills, write a blog post! You don’t even have to start a blog, just write a blog post as if you had a blog or if you were writing for someone else’s blog.
Want to show how you’d create social media content? Write some social posts or ads.
Want to be hired to write video scripts? Make up a video and write a script for it!
For more examples on what you can write to create a portfolio that you’re proud of, check out this guide:
You’re more in control of setting up a solid foundation for your writing career than you think.
I asked my fellow Twitter writers if there was anyone who’d like me to review their portfolio, and Kachi was willing to let me do it! Take a look at my portfolio review at the top of this post where I discuss different aspects of her portfolio and offer praise and suggestions. Good job, Kachi!
“Can you send me your writing samples?”
[shares portfolio link], send.