Archive for the ‘Writing Portfolios’ Category

5 Must-Haves For Your Online Writing Portfolio

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Writer's Residence WebsiteIf you’ve just create an online writing portfolio website to market yourself and your work, then you’re probably eager to get it up to snuff as quickly as possible so you can start using it to land some gigs. To that end, I put together this list of bare minimums to get done before you start sending your portfolio to editors, clients and potential employers. After all, it’s a competitive world out there, and our goal is to help you stand out from the crowd with a stellar portfolio that really shows off your work.

Make the homepage shine.

This is the first page people see when they visit your website – use it to make a good impression and grab their attention. Summarise what you do in a paragraph – the shorter and snappier, the better. Focus on your ultimate selling points and why you’re the best at what you do. And don’t forget to upload an image – a great headshot adds personality to your page (for our customers, you can do this easily when you edit your homepage on Writer’s Residence).

Add your best writing samples.

This best way to show off what you can do is to upload a few writing samples, be they magazine articles, book excerpts, copywriting examples or newsletters. Make sure the sample is easy to access – ideally, text on a page or a link to the original article online. But you can also share documents if that makes more sense (in which case, use a thumbnail to provide a snapshot of the document, see my London Calling article for an example). In Writer’s Residence, you can add a writing sample in any type of format: text, PDF, jpeg, Word doc…you can even upload video and audio clips. Feeling at a loss for writing samples? Then here are a few ideas for new writers on using unpublished writing clips as samples.

Make it easy for people to contact you.

Make sure you have a contact page and fill it in with all of the relevant details: name, email address, phone number, social media links… different people prefer different modes of content, so give them as many options as you can to encourage them to get in touch. Also, call out your contact details on other pages in your website. For example, on the homepage, a simple sentence like “Contact me if you’d like me to write some amazing copy for you” with a link to your contact page can be a powerful call to action. That’s what this is all about, after all: getting people to see your stuff and think, “yes please, I’d like some of that.” Don’t make them have to hunt and dig for your contact details.

Choose a fantastic theme.

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to have a web design agency create super custom website for you, but you do to need an online writing portfolio that looks nice. Our advice: work with a platform with pre-built themes that makes it difficult to create an ugly website. Writer’s Residence comes with 16 beautiful pre-designed themes that let you personalise your website with the click of a button. You can also create a custom theme with your own header and colours to truly personalise your website.

Think Beyond the Portfolio.

Get your writing portfolio out there. Link to it in your email signature. Add it to your social media profiles. Put it on your business card. Use the blog feature to keep your website fresh and give people a reason to keep coming back. (A regularly updated website also improves your ranking in search engines.)

A great website is your opportunity to tell the world that you’re a professional writer who takes their work seriously. So make sure your writing portfolio fits the part and not only represents you, but also stands out against the competition.

8 new themes and a fresh look!

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

8 New Writer's Residence Themes

Rob and Alice, the lovely folk at Wired Canvas—a multi-disciplinary, full service design agency in London—have done a smashing job over the past couple of months producing 8 wonderful new themes for our writers to choose from.

To check them out click the “Theme” tab after you log in to Writer’s Residence.

We think these new themes will show off your writing beautifully.

Wired Canvas refreshed our website at the same time and we’re delighted.

HOWTO: Adding a video clip to a writing sample

Friday, November 12th, 2010

We often get queries about adding video clips to Writing Samples.

For this we recommend using a specialist video hosting service like YouTube or Vimeo, they’re specially geared up to host video, both encoding it nicely for the web and they have lots and lots of bandwidth so your videos will load quickly on your reader’s computers.

To add a video into your Writer’s Residence site follow the steps below:

1. Create an account at a video hosting provider

2. Upload your video

3. Find the embed code they supply for putting a video in another site

4. Log in to Writer’s Resisdence and add that embed code into the body of your new writing sample and fill out the rest of the fields

5. Click save and view your writing sample.

Hope this helps and as ever, do get in touch if you have any questions.

Thanks,

-Tim

New server. New feature: categories

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Hi all,

we moved the service over to our new server this morning. This should mean better service for you all. If you have any concerns about the move or notice anything that isn’t working quite right please let us know.

We’ve also introduced a categories feature for your writing samples.

In the writing samples tab you can now create categories. When you edit or create a sample you can add it to one or more categories. Any categories that contain samples will be displayed on your portfolio so that customers can filter your samples by category.

Of course you don’t have to use categories at all, it is just there if you want it.

Thanks,

Monica & Tim

Your Website as a “Calling Card”

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

In writing my last blog post I happened upon the MPA’s How to Become a Freelance Writer, a 4-page PDF with some good tips for new writers.

The article includes advice on how to send clips and writing samples with query letters to editors:

Most magazine editors receive queries via e-mail, although you can send a query letter by mail or fax depending on your target magazine’s preference. When querying via e-mail, it is suggested that you use one of these formats
to send your clips:

* Copy and paste text into the bottom of your e-mail
* Send the editor links to your work at other sites
* Create your own website as a “calling card,” posting several of your articles online to show editors

Do not send an editor an e-mail attachment unless it has been
requested.
More often than not, it will be deleted, sight unseen.

One of our goals with Writer’s Residence is to give writers a place to host their writing samples so that it’s easy to send editors links to their work on the web. It’s good to hear that the MPA encourages writers to use the web in this way. I also like their “calling card” metaphor for an online portfolio. After all, online portfolios are pretty much replacing business cards as more and more writing work becomes entirely virtual.

What if My Writing Samples are Unpublished?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

I received an excellent question today from a fellow freelance writer:

I am making my way into freelance writing and I have been rather lost as to what my first steps should be. I am very interested in setting up an online portfolio and was wondering if you could help me figure out the best way to showcase my writing samples. I haven’t yet been published and am not sure how my samples should look in order to appear professional.

Unpublished writing samples should be given the same treatment as published writing samples. Particularly:

  • Your writing sample should have its own page in your online portfolio
  • It should be displayed in plain text (not as a Word or PDF attachment)
  • The text should use a friendly font that’s easy to read

In a nutshell, you’re writing sample should look as professional as a published writing sample, but without the small detail of a publisher’s name included.

The good news is, many publications won’t mind this approach. Take this piece of encouraging advice from The Magazine Publishers of America:

When editors look at samples of your work, they are primarily interested in your writing style and mastery of journalism, rather than where the sample was published or how much you were paid.

In fact, some editors actually want to see unpublished work. For example, HowStuffWorks asks for “a mix of published writing samples and unpublished writing samples (work that has not been through an editor)” in their submission guidelines.

The other option: get published!

The email got me thinking about getting published without published writing clips, and it’s worth noting how easy it is to get published in today’s multi-media world of blogs, web copy, community newsletters, and press releases.

Getting published is not as hard as you think. In fact, you may already have published writing samples that you haven’t considered:

  • Do you have a blog? If you’re blogging is of a high enough standard, you can always use blog posts as writing samples. Here’s an example of a restaurant review I posted on my blog, and how I presented it as a writing sample in my online portfolio.
  • Have you written business reports, technical manuals, or press releases? These are perfectly legitimate writing samples. For example, I wrote a technical manual for one of my former employers and wanted to use a sample chapter as a writing sample. The chapter was in Microsoft Word format, and would have been a beast to convert to HTML. To get around this, I wrote a little blurb that described the writing sample, then a link to download the writing sample as a .doc file. You can see how I did this here.

For more ideas on writing samples, checked out a guest post I wrote for The Freshman Writer: Getting Published Without Writing Clips.

Writers’ Websites that Rock: Mark Bittman

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Here at Writer’s Residence, we’re all about creating content and services designed to help you market your writing online. A well-presented writing website is a large part of that package. So to help you better understand what makes a good writer’s website, we’re going to start featuring writer’s websites that rock. First up: Mark Bittman.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman.jpg

Food writer Mark Bittman is best known for his New York Times cooking column, The Minimalist. He also publishes web videos, has a daily blog, is the author of several cookbooks, and appears regularly on both commercial and public television, where he has his own series.

Bittman has had a pretty long career, and it might seem like a mess to consolidate it all into a website. But he’s done a very fine job of it at markbittman.com.

Here’s why his website rocks:

His URL tells you who he is

It’s a simple thing but having a good URL really matters. What if instead his url was thefoodwriter.blogspot.com? This doesn’t really tell you what sets him apart from all the other food fans out there. Furthermore, the blogspot.com address would make him seem like just another blogger.

Instead, Bittman’s opted to register his own domain name, using his own name as the url, to make it crystal clear that this website is about him. This makes his URL simple, straightforward, and totally not generic.

His website is clean and the navigation is obvious

When you visit Bittman’s website, you know immediately how to navigate to other parts of the website. Furthermore, the background is plain white and the fonts are standard making all of the text easy to read. Finally, his use of images are tasteful – he keeps images to the minimum, but uses those that are of high quality and reflect his career.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman-2.jpg

His website is well organized and comprehensive

This is reflected in the navigation. He’s got all of his content separated into obvious categories: about, articles, video, recipes, schedule, gallery, contact and store. This is not only good organization, but it also provides all the information that the reader needs to know who Mark Bittman is and what his writing is all about.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman-5-3.jpg

He uses his name as the title

Like the URL, he puts his name at the top of the website to make it clear that this website is all about him and his career. This is a good approach for just about any writer’s website.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman-1.jpg

The front page contains obvious links to his favorites

It’s always good to call out the “highlights” of your writing portfolio on the front page of your website. That way, you point people in the direction of the work you’re most proud of. Mark Bittman does just this on the left hand side of his website.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman-5-2.jpg

His writing samples are well presented and clearly organized

The Bittman Archives | Mark Bittman.jpg

The Articles page contains links to his favorite writing samples. Not only does he present the articles in a clear list, but he has a little introductory paragraph that describes them.

Here’s a selection of recent articles I’ve written, some with recipes, some not. For more stories by me in the Times, check out my Times Topics page or my blog Bitten.

This type of paragraph is good practice for writing portfolios in general – it gives people some context. Note also that Bittman uses this paragraph to link to his blog and The New York Times, which tells people how to find more writing samples if they wish to read further.

His “About” page tells his story

All writers have a story – Bittman tells his on the About Mark page.

About Me | Mark Bittman.jpg

The story gives us an idea of how he came to be a food writer and what his writing is all about. It’s brief – about five paragraphs (enough to digest on a web page without being too much). Note also that he includes a pretty nice picture of himself. It’s important – if you’re going to include a picture of yourself on your website, make sure it looks professional (even if it isn’t!).

He tells you how to buy his stuff

For all the writers out there who have books to sell, I’m often surprised by how few of them include a link to where they can buy the book on their website. Mark Bittman does this pretty clearly by including a Store with links to where readers can buy his books on Amazon and BN.com.

Store | Mark Bittman.jpg

His contact details are easy to find

Every writer’s website should make their contact information easy to find so editors can get in touch with those high paying gigs. Mark does this on his Contact page, also including a link to his agent.

Contact | Mark Bittman-1.jpg

Do Writers Need an Online Portfolio?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Today, I’m thrilled to bits to be guest blogging on one of my favorite writing blogs, Tumblemoose.

Tumblemoose is George Angus, a professional writer who lives in Alaska and has an amazingly smooth bald head that I swear tells the future. In fact, his head just told me that you’re going to head over to Tumblemoose to read my guest post about why writers need an online writing portfolio.

Here’s a snip to whet your appetite:

There comes a time in every writer’s life when she asks herself if she should set up a website. For me, that was in early 2008 while I was still working full-time at a bank but dreaming of going solo as a freelance writer. I decided to register a domain and hack together an online writing portfolio to promote myself as a writer. Although I would have rather spent the time pitching articles and writing stories, the effort paid off – I got my first commission, for a national newspaper, after sending the website address to an editor who asked to see some writing samples.

Do all writers need an online writing portfolio? My short answer: absolutely. This fact only becomes clearer as my career progresses and I build up my portfolio with clips and samples. Here are just a few benefits of putting your work online…

Read the rest of my post at Tumblemoose. And while your there, have a look around – George has written plenty of helpful articles for aspiring writers to learn from!

Taking Care of Your Writing Clips

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

We’re in the business of helping writers create online portfolios, so naturally the subject of writing samples comes up a lot. Even so, we don’t often discuss the challenge of managing printed writing clips such as those that have appeared in newspapers and magazines. Specifically, how should you store your printed writing samples so that they’re easy to find when you need them?

Terreece Clarke has a few suggestions on today’s Freelance Writing Gigs. Her key point is: make sure you have electronic versions of all of your articles stored in a convenient place so they’re easily accessible when it comes time to send them to editors or job employers.

Specifically, if your article appears on the web, save it as a PDF. If your article appears in print, save a JPEG scan of the article and store the prints in flat folder or file.

Whatever your style, you need to develop a system. Save time with web articles and keep a list of links and the PDF versions easily accessible to cut down on the amount of time you spend Googling yourself to find your clips. Keep your print article clips organized and in good condition – no one wants to look at a rumpled piece of paper in a submission packet.

My advice is to save all of your electronic writing clips on your website so they’re easily accessible to you and anyone else who wants to read them.

Taking Care of Your Writing Clips [freelancewritinggigs.com]

Andrew Crofts on Writer’s Websites

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

skitched-20090204-122044.jpg

Ghostwriter Andrew Crofts is my personal hero of the writing world. His book, The Freelance Writer’s Handbook, is perhaps the single most influential book in convincing me to take the plunge into freelancing. More than a mere how-to guide, The Freelance Writer’s Handbook manages to deliver a solid dose of motivation along with all the essential tips on finding markets, making contacts and pitching stories.

skitched-20090204-122701.jpgOne of Andrew’s key messages in his book is the importance of marketing. Marketing is how you persuade people to pay you to write. Recently, I was very fortunate to have an email discussion with Andrew about marketing and how a website should fit into an aspiring writer’s marketing machine. Here’s what he said:

Setting up a website was the best marketing move I ever made. It has brought in a host of interesting enquiries and leading to a dozen number one bestsellers and trips to a variety of places from Bermuda to Lahore. Within a year of starting it was virtually my only marketing tool, permanently out there in the ether waiting to be discovered and followed up by potential clients. I firmly believe that every writer should have one.

Unsurprisingly, Andrew is using his website as a marketing tool to promote his new book, The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride. In this case, Andrew is taking web marketing to a whole new level by creating a website for Steffi McBride herself, with a Twitter feed and Facebook page to boot. Some say it’s going a little far, but even so, he’s getting attention and that’s what marketing is all about. But it also proves that marketing is tough and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it right, even with a simple website. No wonder so many people are nervous about biting the bullet and building a website – what if it doesn’t work?

One of our goals with Writer’s Residence is to take this worry out of the website process. As such, I was very happy to read Andrew’s kind words about our product:

A website can be expensive and time consuming, and seem a little daunting to a newcomer. What Writer’s Residence has done is create an easy to understand and easy to afford package which removes every excuse for avoiding taking the plunge. A brilliant concept, beautifully presented.

Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew Crofts
The Freelance Writer’s Handbook