What is a writing portfolio? Three golden rules for 2024.

Written by Monica Shaw

Back in the day before the widespread adoption of digital platforms, writing portfolios were a physical (potentially cumbersome!) collection of a writer's work presented in a tangible format. With the advent of digital technologies, particularly websites and blogs, the shift to online portfolios has brought about a more dynamic and accessible way for writers to showcase their work. They've also widened the purpose of a writing portfolio. As you create a writing portfolio of your own, bear these three things in mind and make sure you're using them to best advantage as you use your portfolio as a both a marketing tool and an organizational tool for your growing bounty of work. You'll see that your portfolio is more than just a portfolio, and definitely something you don't throw away once you get the job.

1. Writing portfolio = Website

We talk all the time about "writing portfolios" but what we really mean is "websites for writers". The word portfolio is defined as a "set of pieces of creative works." But professional writers should go for something more comprehensive: alongside your "creative works" is your biography, resume, blog, home page, testimonials, contact information... the list goes on. Your writing portfolio website is a comprehensive view of who you are and what you do. It's your brand. This in turn helps you...

2. Define yourself as a professional, not a wannabe

We were recently featured on journalism.co.uk in an article about making the most of portfolio platforms. I'll tell you what I told them:

"For writers, especially new ones, you're trying as hard as you can to portray yourself as a professional and one of those things is having a website that is tailored for you and doesn't look like everybody else's."

Professionals in any industry, be it a writer, graphic designer or plumber, have a proper website with their own domain name. That website should encompass your portfolio, plus deliver those little extras that tell the world that you're a pro who takes their job seriously.

3. An ongoing catalogue of your clips and writing samples

One of the things I've appreciated most about my own portfolio is that it's helped me keep a record of my best writing and published works over the years. It's an archive of my publications and also a pretty solid motivational tool - I love looking back at what I've done and seeing how far I've come. It's a little extra push to keep me going for the next gig, and the next writing sample to add to my portfolio.

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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