How To Create an Online Writing Portfolio in Five Easy Steps
Written by Monica Shaw
I created my first online writing portfolio over 15 years ago using Wordpress, a great tool if you’re a techie but let’s face it, most writers would rather be writing than messing around with a website. That's why I created this five-step framework for writers who want to create an online writing portfolio but don't really know where to start. In this step-by-step guide, I’ll walk you through the process of creating a writer portfolio that will grab attention and open doors for exciting opportunities. This guide will also help you organize your thoughts and structure your portfolio without getting overwhelmed in the technical minutia.
- What should be in an online writing portfolio - features that all great gig-getting portfolios share
- Online writing portfolio pre-prep - things you'll need before starting your portfolio
- Five steps to creating an online writing portfolio - and guess what, with this five-step framework, you can have your portfolio up and running in less than thirty minutes
If you're eager to get started, you can plunge in with a 30-Day Trial of Writer's Residence now where we'll walk you through the five-step process as you build your portfolio. Or if you're not sure, read on...
Writing Portfolio Checklist: What Should Be In An Online Writing Portfolio?
Whatever type of writer you are - be it a journalist, content writer, technical writer, freelance writer, or anything else - your online writing portfolio should speak to your abilities and your professionalism. There's no one-size-fits all formula for all types of writers, but there's a few key elements that all great portfolios share. Use this as your writing portfolio checklist before you start using it to market your work:
✅ Clean, Simple Design That Puts the Writing First
In today's world of flashy websites, too many creators favour design over functionality. Your portfolio should highlight your work, not distract from it. That's why I advocate for a minimalist designs that makes it easy for readers to navigate your writing samples and makes the writing samples a joy to read (plenty of white space, web friendly fonts, etc).
✅ Powerful but Concise Professional Writer Bio
It's time to sit down and think those deep thoughts about your focus and what sets you apart from other writers. Your writer bio should show off your unique value proposition (USP). What are your specialisms? Why are you great at your craft? Focus your author bio on your expertise, experience, and personalitiy. Keep it short but impactful, letting potential editors, clients and hiring persons know exactly what you bring to the table.
✅ Superior Writing Samples - Opt for Quality Over Quantity
Focus on showcasing your very best work. Include a variety of writing samples that demonstrate your range and expertise. Remember, it’s about showing the breadth of your skills, not just the volume of your work. To that end, diversity can be a good thing here! As long as it's easy for readers to find the work that's most relevant to them. On that point...
✅ Clear Organization, With Categorized Writing Samples
Help potential clients find exactly what they’re looking for by categorizing your samples. Whether it's by industry, content type, or theme, organization is key.
✅ Easy to Find Contact InformationDon’t make clients search for a way to contact you. Include clear, visible contact information on every page of your portfolio. This should ideally include your email address and a link to your LinkedIn profile at the very minimum.
✅ Client Testimonials and Case Studies
If you have them, include testimonials or case studies from previous or current clients. They provide social proof of your skills and professionalism. Case studies are even more powerful, demonstrating social proof. If you can measure the benefits that your writing brings to your customers, it's time to show that off!
Before You Get Started...
Before you take the plunge and start building your online writing portfolio, there's three things you need to do. Don't skip these steps!
Pick a platform for hosting your writing portfolio.
Naturally I recommend Writer’s Residence as the easy way to get a beautiful online writing portfolio out there quickly and easy. There are other portfolio websites for writers out there, and I've tried and tested them all. My issue with most other portfolio sites is that they over-emphasize design. The problem with that is you end up getting bogged down in choice. We're writers, not web designers, which is why we've created pre-built themes that are designed to take the headache out of design so you can focus on your writing. Our themes are designed to make your writing samples look good and read well for editors, clients, and other hiring persons. You get a generous 30-day trial to give it a go, as well as personal support from me if ever you get stuck.
All this being said, if you use a different platform, that's ok! This process applies regardless of what platform you use.
Gather a few of your best writing samples
These could be links, scanned articles, PDF documents, newspaper clippings, reports, emails, newsletters, or anything else that shows off your writing. If you have a huge portfolio of work, consider trimming down the task to just your ten very best writing samples - you can always add more later. The goal here is to make it manageable. If you're struggling to gather writing samples because you're a new writer, check out my guidance on how to create a writing portfolio with no experience.
Write your writer bio
This is probably the most time consuming step, but it's absolutely essential. How would you introduce yourself to editors and clients? What’s your unique selling point (USP)? Learn more in this post: how to create a compelling writer bio.
My writing portfolio has evolved over the years, but it’s always been built on this simple five step framework.