Writing Portfolio Checklist: 5 Must-Haves For An Attention-Grabbing Online Portfolio

Written by Monica Shaw

If 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 Then here are a few ways to use unpublished writing clips as writing samples.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 customizable 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.

Monica Shaw

I founded Writer's Residence alongside my own journey as a professional writer in 2008. Today, I continue to work as a writer among other side hustles that contribute towards my freelance lifestyle. I write for other businesses - white papers, research reports, web content, and other forms of copywriting - as well as for pleasure on my own personal websites, eatsleepwild.com and smarterfitter.com.

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