As a copywriter, your portfolio is your number one tool for selling your services. It’s what differentiates you from other writers and what prospective clients will use to decide if they want to work with you. It’s often the first impression you make on a potential customer.
If you’re just starting out as a copywriter, though, chances are you have one big problem: you don’t have a portfolio. Not to worry! Every writer has to start somewhere. In this article, we’ll show you how to build a copywriting portfolio in ten minutes or less.
Before You Start: Why Build a Copywriting Portfolio?
Copywriting is different from other service-based businesses in that no two jobs are alike. Each will have a different set of requirements, length, tone, format, and style. As such, you need a way to demonstrate your versatility as a writer. This is why you need a copywriting portfolio.
Selling copywriting isn’t the same as selling a physical product like a pair of pants or a car. What you’re selling as a writer isn’t something prospective buyers can try on or take for a test drive. But like any shopper, a prospective copywriting customer will want to get an idea of what they’re buying before they sign a contract with you. Your copywriting portfolio helps give them a sense of your work style and peace of mind about the quality of the product you deliver.
Building a copywriting portfolio is useful in helping prospective clients find you online. Think about it: unless a former client directly refers others your way, how will you land new work? These days, the internet is the first place a person turns when they’re in need of a service. You need a spot online where someone searching for your name and services can find you and get in touch. This is a huge reason to build an online writing portfolio.
Step 1: Start By Picking the Right Style of Samples
Your copywriting portfolio should contain a diverse assortment of samples that demonstrate your best work. If possible, include many different styles, like technical writing, marketing writing, and long-form content. You should also aim to show your versatility–short and long pieces, humorous and serious pieces, B2B versus B2C writing, etc.
Depending on what type of work you’re looking to land, it might make sense to create different portfolios for different types of writing. For example, you might create a sales copywriting portfolio, a print copywriting portfolio, and a web copywriting portfolio. Of course, this is only feasible if you have the work experience to support it. If not, simply focus on including as much variety as possible that pertains to the writing work you’ll be seeking.
Step 2: Include Several Different Types Of Work
There are as many different types of copywriting as there are businesses. That’s why it’s important that your portfolio is filled with different styles of copywriting. Your goal is to show that you’re adaptable and will be able to create the type of content your client needs.
Some examples of the types of copywriting you might include in your portfolio are:
- Website copy (example)
- Advertisements (example)
- Marketing materials (example)
- Social media posts (example)
- Product descriptions (example)
- Blog posts (example)
- Articles (example)
- Scripts (example)
- Speeches (example)
- Press releases (example)
Don’t get hung up on trying to include too many types of content in your portfolio. Just as it’s a good business strategy for companies to pick a niche, it can also be beneficial to narrow down your copywriting work to just a few categories.
For example, you might position yourself as the web copywriting expert and include SEO work, home page copy and e-commerce product descriptions in your portfolio. Or, if you wanted to position yourself as an ad copywriting expert, you might include a magazine snippet, a radio commercial script and a Facebook ad in your portfolio.
The most important thing is to tailor the contents of your portfolio to the work you’ll be seeking.
Step 3: Fill In The Gaps By Creating Additional Samples
It’s one of the most common questions among new copywriters: what do I do if I don’t have writing samples to fill a copywriting portfolio? Believe it or not, this isn’t as big of a problem as you think. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to exercise your imagination and skills as a writer.
Nearly anything can be turned into a copywriting sample if you get a little creative: a cover letter you wrote to help land your last job. A technical paper you wrote for a college class. A funny Christmas card you penned for your family.
It’s likely that you write things all the time, you just don’t think of them as writing samples. Reframe your thinking and go back over what you’ve written in the last year or two. Taking a look through old emails and files on your computer is a great way to go about this.
With a little editing and possibly some re-formatting, anything you’ve written can be made part of your portfolio (and you have the added benefit of being able to polish up your old work!).
Step 4: Do Spec Work
Another way to go about filling your copywriting portfolio if you don’t have samples is to do free work or spec work. Granted, spec work is not ideal – you want to be paid for your hard work, and many companies will use contests or other practices to solicit free work from someone for the promise of a job – but if you’re just getting started, the best way to show off your stuff is to write for a job you don’t have, so you can get paying jobs later.
As outlined in one video about spec work by Topic Simple, “If you are a designer, you just shouldn’t work for established companies for free, period.” Instead, write copy for a friend’s business, or a local charity. You can even write a series of sponsored posts for a friend’s blog.
You can also have a little fun with it and do spec work for “dream clients.” Pick a brand you love and write an ad for one of their products. Or, if you’ve noticed a brand that’s lacking in their marketing copy, create a document that shows how you’d update it. You don’t have to be getting paid for a piece of writing to make it a great sample of your abilities.
Step 5: Create a Clippings.me Account
Now that you’ve rounded up a stellar set of copywriting samples, it’s time to set up your portfolio. You can do this in ten minutes or less using Clippings.me.
Clippings.me is a free platform that allows writers, bloggers, and journalists to create beautiful online portfolios without any coding. Used by 80,000 writers, it’s a fast and easy way to upload clips and compile them into an accessible portfolio. You can add a bio, upload media clips and customize your portfolio’s look and feel.
The free version of Clippings.me has everything you need and then some to start showcasing your work. However, if you’d like additional features, like the ability to use a custom domain or access to detailed analytics, you can upgrade to a premium membership for a small monthly fee.
Clippings.me is the best platform for creating a copywriting portfolio because that’s exactly what the site was designed for. Other portfolio platforms are meant to serve not just writers, but photographers, developers, designers, etc. Clippings.me was made specifically for writers, so it has only the features you need and nothing you don’t. The interface is simple and intuitive for a copywriter looking to showcase his or her work and for clients wishing to browse it.
You can sign up for a free Clippings.me account in under a minute and get started building your portfolio right away. You can upload files with a click and add complementary materials like photos and videos to be displayed alongside each piece of writing.
First, just go to Clippings.me and click “Sign Up,” and register your portfolio, name, email and password:
Then you can add your bio:
Then you’re all set!
Step 6: Upload And Categorize Your Work
You can upload your samples to Clippings.me in the form of links, like the link to a published blog post that you wrote, or in file form, like a PDF document that will live online. Clippings.me also allows you to separate your samples into categories so viewers can easily toggle between your different types of work.
Step 7: Add Your Bio
Round out your portfolio by adding a short bio and summary of what you do. Your Clippings.me bio is a great place to get specific about what sets you apart from other copywriters and why a client might want to work with you.
Use your bio to expand on the type of work you specialize in (i.e. health and fitness content, B2B advertising content, or whatever you do best). You might share the names of past clients and references or a testimonial quote from a satisfied customer. You can link additional accounts like your LinkedIn or Twitter accounts to help potential clients get to know you better.
Clippings.me gives users the option of adding an email address in their bio, but recognizes that some writers prefer to keep their email addresses private. That’s why the platform offers a built-in messaging system portfolio viewers can use to get in touch with writers. Communicate with prospective writing clients in a simple messaging interface while keeping your personal email address to yourself.
On the Clippings.me blog, you’ll find a wealth of articles on topics pertinent to writers, like how much the average freelance writer makes and quick tips to improve your writing. They also do profiles on successful freelance writers who share advice for others looking to break into the field.
Some Solid Examples of Copywriting Portfolios
Here’s a strong portfolio courtesy of SMcLeod Copywriting — the description is short and sweet while demonstrating a clear, irreverent personality and the variety of copywriting services they provide. Divided into fun categories like “Too Long; Didn’t Read: Polysyllabic Book Reviews” and demonstrating a wide variety of copywriting samples, this portfolio shows off Clippings.me’s versatility.
Janette Marie Novak
Janette’s portfolio is clean and efficient, several categories (but not too many) delineating the variety of copywriting samples she has at her disposal. It’s a little more boilerplate than SMcLeod’s, but it’s much more focused on straightforward efficacy, which is valuable if you want to attract more serious-minded recruiters.
Sometimes, a longer, more detailed description goes a long way, and Gina’s portfolio makes a beautiful case for that approach. Her introduction is informative but demonstrates personality, and cites her many accolades (she’s an award-winning copywriter and best-selling author) right off the bat to assert authority. Her samples are also wonderfully varied, opting for a short portfolio of 9 solid, diverse examples so as not to overwhelm prospective employers.
When crafting your own copywriting portfolio, feel free to take inspiration from the examples above, or go off in your own direction. Depending on what type of copywriting you want to do – whether you want to specialize, or be a jack-of-all-trades – crafting a slick, accessible portfolio through a service like Clippings.me is absolutely essential.
Musings and updates from the content management team at Clippings.me.