How to Make a Copywriting Portfolio
One Step at a Time
Before we get into finding out how to make a copywriting portfolio, let’s look at why you need one in the first place.
A portfolio is your shop window, the place where you showcase your writing and highlight your talents. It’s especially useful if you’re just starting out, because people need to be able to see what you can do. It’s unlikely that you’ll find work without being able to demonstrate your skills. Once you’ve got a few samples together you can direct potential clients straight to them. And if they like your style, they might be willing to send some work your way.
The other thing to remember is this – it’s possible that the majority of your copywriting work will be for online markets. The demand for web pages and articles is positively huge, and still growing, so it makes sense to keep samples of your work online as well. Then, whenever clients want to see what you can do, simply send them the link. It saves you the trouble of finding and collating the work you’ve done, which might otherwise be stored on your hard drive, on backup files, or even in your desk drawer.
Copywriter Portfolio Building
Your copywriting portfolio should contain some or all of the following:
- Short copy
- Long copy
- Web pages
- Product descriptions
- Sales pages
Don’t let that list scare you, though. Just as your skill grows with every piece of copy you write, so does your portfolio. You have to start somewhere, so just get started.
Remember that copy refers to text written to highlight a product, an idea, a service, a person or a company. It’s meant to sell the benefits to a certain sector of society or to the public in general. But it doesn’t have to be Shakespeare.
According to Wikipedia, copywriting is:
"... the act of writing copy (text) for the purpose of advertising or marketing a product, business, person, opinion or idea. The addressee (reader, listener, etc.) of the copy is meant to be persuaded to buy the product advertised for, or subscribe to the viewpoint the text shares."
If you’ve written a review of the latest movie or gadget – or your favorite restaurant – that’s basic copywriting. Or maybe you’ve written the text for a brochure or a local event. It’s all copywriting, so as long as it’s the best you can do, you should be able to include it in your portfolio.
Portfolio Piece by Piece
How can you make sure your portfolio hits the mark with potential clients?
The best way to do this is to make sure it contains as many pieces of standard copywriting as possible. Spend some time reading web pages, product descriptions, articles and sales pages to get a feel for it. Select one example from each that you think you might be able to improve upon, and go for it. That’s how I got my first copywriting job, and I’ve been working for the same company since 2005.
If you’re just beginning, you might be working your way through an online copywriting training course, which will probably provide you with a collection of samples to place in your portfolio. If your career is already under way, you simply need to make sure you put your best work on display.
A great way to find copy you can improve on is simply to keep your eyes open. I recently spent some time in Italy and used the local guidebook to find my way around. It was written in pretty rough English, and I knew that I could do a better job if I had the time. If you spot anything like that, try to improve on it and then offer your services to the company in question.
Storing Your Copywriting Portfolio
Once you’ve made your copywriting portfolio you need somewhere to put it. There are a number of options available depending on your own preferences.
If you’ve got a blog or web site, you could store it there on a separate page. You might consider putting it on a Facebook page, or including it in your LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as you can link to it directly.
You could place links in your e-mail signature, which is particularly useful if you have a separate business e-mail account. Then, every time you send an e-mail to a client or contact, they’ll see the link to your work, which means they might take the time to browse and check out your credentials.
Using It to Get Work
Getting work as a copywriter can be a challenge. There are plenty of good writers available, so you need something that sets you apart. You need to able to show clients how good your work is without necessarily telling them.
One way to achieve this is by getting testimonials from satisfied clients. Place them on your portfolio page with clearly labelled titles such as “Testimonial” or “Feedback.” If you can demonstrate that your writing is top class, that you’re easy to work with, and that you complete projects on time, then potential clients will be more likely to take a chance on you.
Your copywriting portfolio can help you secure one job after another if you take the time and effort to do it justice. Avoid throwing in any work that’s not up to scratch – quality is always better than quantity.
As your experience grows, your writing will improve. Try to update your portfolio regularly, replacing older work with fresh, new copy when convenient. Keep your portfolio current by making sure any links are still active and relevant, and as your list of writing samples grows consider organizing them into folders or generic topics for ease of navigation.
Follow these simple steps to create the best copywriting portfolio you can:
- Keep a copy of everything you write
- Read examples of copy online and off
- Rewrite copy that you think could be improved
- Compile samples of copy in as many categories as possible
- Upload your best work to an online storage area
- Include links to your work in client communication
- Edit and update your portfolio when necessary
Your copywriting portfolio should present you in the best light possible. It should demonstrate your ability across a wide range of writing and give potential clients a clear idea of your abilities. It doesn’t have to vast, but it should contain enough quality material to show what you’re capable of. If it does that, it will be just a matter of time before work wends its way to your door.