How To Create an Online Writing Portfolio
Job experience works a bit differently with freelance writing. While a history of working with well-known clients and companies certainly doesn’t hurt, a writer’s ability to get future jobs depends heavily on the quality of their portfolio.
A writing portfolio shows a potential client who you are and what you are capable of as a writer. While we all may have good writing samples scattered around our hard drives and the cloud, compiling them all in a polished online format is a step every professional writer should take.
How to Choose a Portfolio Site
If you are like many writers, you have skipped out on creating an online writing portfolio due to uncertainties about how to set up a website. Let’s face it, if someone can write code, they are probably not working as a freelance blogger—at least not full-time.
Luckily, you don’t need to know how to code in order to set up your online writing portfolio—there are many websites set up for this very purpose. Portfolio sites usually have customizable layouts and are designed to make uploading content easy.
One such website is Contently. Designed with content creators in mind, sites like Contently offer a versatile platform for displaying your best writing samples.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Site Like Contently to Setup Your Online Writing Portfolio?
Great question. The main advantage of using a site like Contently to set up your online writing portfolio is that it is typically a quick and easy option. There are fewer steps you have to take before you can start uploading your writing samples.
Many sites of this type are free, so there is usually no financial cost to get started. While simplicity is a good thing in some ways, it can also be detrimental to your goal. The main con of this option is that you are limited by the site’s design.
By creating your own website, you get to be more creative. Using a site like WordPress, you can upload and manage your content with ease. Having your own site gives you greater control of your result, allowing you to get exactly what you are looking for in an online writing portfolio.
If you’re looking for quick and easy, Contently can help you get the job done. However, if you want to grab the bull by the horns and really knock the socks off your potential clients, why not try creating your own online writing portfolio site?
How to Create Your Own Online Writing Portfolio
Set up Hosting
When setting up a website for your portfolio, the first step is to get hosting. Bluehost is a popular option for freelance writers due to its versatile nature and seamless compatibility with WordPress. If you are new to web design, think of a host in the literal meaning of the term. When you’re paying for web hosting, a company is giving your site a home on their servers.
Choosing the Right Type of Hosting
The most popular type of hosting is the shared option. This could be thought of like living in an apartment complex. You’ll have neighbors nearby, and you will likely share resources. You and numerous others will have your sites stored on the same server. Seem risky? Not really — this option is the most popular due to its reliability and affordable nature.
Looking for a bit more control? VPS hosting could be your best bet. This option could be thought of as more of a condominium than an apartment complex. The server your site is stored on will be home to other sites, but you’ll have your own assigned resources and you’ll have more responsibility for keeping them up.
The final option is dedicated hosting. You could compare this to having your own house. Your site will be the only one on the server, and you’ll have the comfort of knowing all the resources available are yours and yours alone.
Choosing the Right Features for Your Online Writing Portfolio
Most writers expand their portfolio steadily and over time. I recommend getting unlimited space and bandwidth so you don’t box yourself in. Additionally, opting for email addresses can help homogenize your portfolio and contact information, which looks more professional to prospective clients.
Choosing the Right Domain Name
When you set up hosting, you will also need to choose a domain name. This is the URL link you will be sticking on your resume, cover letter, email signature, social media profiles, and more.
Keep it concise, professional, and somewhat personal.
Something like www.highqualitycopywritingsolutionsfromyournamehere.com is too wordy and comes off as a bit impersonal.
You would be better off going with something simple like www.firstnamelastname.com.
Setting Up WordPress for Your Online Writing Portfolio
Every account with Bluehost offers 1-click WordPress installs. This, combined with the 24/7 support makes it easy to see why WordPress has recommended Bluehost as a domain service for over a decade. You don’t need to know any code to install the plugin, and once it is all setup you can begin uploading your writing samples immediately.
How to Put WordPress to Work for You
Your website may contain a biography or a list of previous clients and completed projects, but the real bulk of it will be your writing. WordPress is an industry-standard tool for managing copy and content on the web. This content management system (CMS) will be your best friend as you build up your online portfolio. Using the “Widgets and Appearances” option, you can take off all of the features that don’t add to the purpose of your portfolio.
How to Structure Your Online Writing Portfolio
A writer’s online portfolio should be a focused representation of their skill-set. Think of it like a more in-depth resume annotated with examples. Every writer has different specialties and backgrounds, so every portfolio is unique.
Since the person viewing your online writing portfolio may want to send it to a manager or another department, the link is always mightier than the file. After you’ve gone through the above steps and you’re ready to setup your online portfolio, it is a good idea to include:
- A Short Biography: Let prospective clients know a bit about you. Talk about your education, experience, and areas of expertise.
- Contact Information: Make sure anyone who wants to reach out to you can do so. If you have multiple phone numbers or email addresses, list them—better safe than sorry.
- At Least Six Writing Samples: Every portfolio should have a good selection of writing samples—a half-dozen is a solid minimum to shoot for.
Many writers keep their best writing samples in a folder or a list of links to published pieces in a single document. You can have offline backups, but the online format is quickly becoming the industry norm.
While an online portfolio makes it easier to apply for jobs, it can also help make the jobs come to you. My advice: take the time to create an online writing portfolio that works for you.