What to Keep in Mind When Building Your Online Writing Portfolio

From in-person networking events and online job boards, to creating a masterful LinkedIn profile, there are several ways to land a job as a writer.

If you’re currently a freelancer, or want to become a professional writer, there’s something else that you can’t overlook: your online writing portfolio.

A portfolio allows you to show prospective clients what you’re capable of creating, and the value that you can provide.

Why you need an online writing portfolio

Just as artists and designers need a way to display their work, so do writers. An online portfolio allows you to display your best writing samples in one place, making it easier for you to establish an online presence and for clients to find your work.

If you know anyone who writes professionally, they’re probably asked to submit writing samples when they apply for jobs or network with potential clients. Having an online portfolio makes it easy to fulfill this request. All you need to do is share your online portfolio’s URL.

Luckily, you don’t have to create a portfolio from scratch. Plenty of websites offer templates to use as your foundation. For example, if you have a WordPress.com site, search for specific themes from your admin dashboard. Searching for “portfolio” or “writer” yields dozens of free and paid themes that you can choose from.

What you should include

Creating an online portfolio doesn’t mean cataloging everything that you’ve ever written. Instead, keep the following items in mind:

  • Brand yourself: With a portfolio, you’re essentially curating an image and branding yourself online. So, think about the message that you want to send. For example, if you write about personal finances, the samples that you include within your portfolio should reflect that. If you’re a generalist or essayist, highlight your best works, which could be the pieces that you’re most proud of, or the ones that received the most praise and attention from readers.
  • Keep it current: There’s no hard-and-fast rule about showcasing older writing samples. In general, it’s best to include relatively recent works. Put yourself in your prospective clients’ shoes: if the majority of your portfolio is composed of articles from seven years ago, they might assume that you haven’t written anything since. This is one of the reasons why many writers maintain a professional or personal blog. Even if you haven’t been published nationally, posting to your blog still counts.
  • Don’t forget visuals: Just because your portfolio focuses on the written word doesn’t mean that it has to be overly text-heavy. You can use images as links to your articles. When people click on them, they’ll be redirected to your actual written pieces. You’ll also want your design to be clean, simple, uncluttered, and adorned with typography that reflects your style — so keep this in mind when picking a theme.

Get started with your online portfolio

Being a professional writer is about more than just the words that you put on a page. You also need to market yourself. Along with networking and being active on social media, you should build an online presence, and an online writing portfolio is one of the best ways to do this. A portfolio also makes it easier for potential clients to find you.

As the saying goes, “you never get another chance to make a first impression.” So, make it count by creating an awesome portfolio.


Satta Sarmah Hightower

Satta Sarmah is a writer, editor and content marketing manager who launched her first personal website a decade ago — on WordPress, of course.

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