If you’ve been writing for awhile you may have heard you need a portfolio. You may be asking yourself why you need one, especially if you’re still selling your work at some of the low-end article directories. Before we get into designing your portfolio, let’s discuss what it is exactly and why you need it.
A portfolio is a platform designed to emphasize your work. It should be dynamic and highlight your major works, show your skills as a writer, and present you as a professional in your field. This is the only way a potential client can get to know who you are. In the online writing world there are no in-person interviews. Your portfolio has to convey everything you need a client to know about your work. Since you can’t be there to explain your work, your work needs to explain itself. Everything in your portfolio needs to be tight.
When you decide to start tackling bigger publications and higher-end clients, your portfolio will come in very handy. Not only does it give you an online presence highlighting your work, but it’s much simpler to give a potential client a link so they can look over samples of your work.
Having an online presence also makes it easier for new clients to find you and for established clients to refer you to their friends and colleagues.
In these economic hard times, a writers’ portfolio may be more important than ever. Content buyers will need good quality content and be more willing to pay for material that holds a high standard. Buyers will want to get as much bang for their buck as they can.
One of the first things you should think about is your target market or audience.
Who’s Your Audience?
Defining your target audience will make it easier to decide who you’re trying to sell too. This should be done before you even begin designing and implementing your portfolio. Ask yourself,”Who’s my target audience?”, and then define who that is. This sounds like a simple task because as a freelance writer you’re looking for clients of course. But you need to break that down into the types of clients you want to write for. What are your niche topics? Those are the buyers you want to target. Knowing who your audience is will help you choose the best material to showcase.
What Do I Highlight?
The second step in designing your portfolio is to decide which material to share. You want to pick your best work and get it out front. Potential clients are often in a hurry trying to skim through as many writers’ portfolio’s as possible. Get your best material on the front page. All you need is one eye-catching piece on the front page. The rest of your material you can add links to on subsequent pages. If you grab a client’s attention right out of the gate they are more likely to click the links to your other materials.
One suggestion you may want to consider is to use a style that has a sidebar. This way you can put your best work up front and center, but have a side area to highlight accolades and affiliations. You want to keep things clean and simple.
Pretty backgrounds and flashy designs are nice, but clients’ are looking at tons of portfolios each day, make sure yours shows professionalism and is easy on the eyes. The cleanest and simplest layout is black text on a white background.
What Buyers Are Looking For?
Buyers will be looking for quality content that is well written, has good keyword density, and material that is grammatically correct. They will be looking for someone who can write well for the type of material they are looking for. One thing they will not be looking for is a lead-in to your work. Get straight to the point. Save the long bio for another page. Your first page needs to have your name, contact information, and samples of your best work. A buyer will more than likely not spend a lot of time scrolling for this information, unless you catch their attention right off.
You need to include links to websites where your work has been published. If you have written for sites like Associated Content and your best work has been accepted there, be sure to include that link as well.
What If You’re A New Writer?
You may be asking yourself how you can build a good online portfolio if you’re new to writing and only been published a few times or only on websites like Associated Content. Well there is a simple solution. You can post articles that you’ve written but not yet published. Many buyers simply want to know if you write well and aren’t necessarily looking to see how many times you’ve been published. Be sure to include enough material that a buyer can get a feel for your writing style. Take some time each day to write material specifically for your portfolio if you don’t have enough published pieces to include.
How Do I Get Accolades?
One way to get accolades is to join writing groups or writing workshops. Other writers will critique your work and give you suggestions on improvements. Simply use the best things said about your work as an accolade. Be sure to ask permission before using their name.
Other Useful Things To Include.
If you’re a member of any writing groups or affiliations, include those as well. Provide testimonials if you have any. Any positive little ditty about your writing can be a testimony.
But, I’m a Blogger. Where Do I Fit In?
Being a professional blogger doesn’t mean you can’t have a blogger portfolio. You need all the same elements as a freelance writer, but your material will be in shorter form. It’s probably easier to gather up good blog content than it is content material. If you blog daily you’ll have no trouble finding good material to use in your portfolio.
I mentioned in the beginning about economic hard times. It may be more important than ever to get a killer portfolio online. Buyers may not be looking for content right now, but once the market stabilizes, they will seek out quality content to rebuild and market with.
Digital Web Magazine- Creating the Perfect Portfolio
Smashing Magazine- Creating a Successful Online Portfolio
College of Design Computer Labs Digital Coffee Break- Creating an Online Portfolio
Freelancewritingtips.com- Monica Shaw’s Tips on Starting an Online Writing Portfolio
Writer’s Portfolio Building- Daily Freelance Writer’s Tips