If you’re getting started as a copywriter, or you want to grow your business and get more (and better) clients – having a copywriting portfolio is essential to prove you can deliver what clients need.
Copywriting as a career has exploded in recent years. Part of that explosion has to do with the continual expansion of the internet and its insatiable need for content. Another major contributing factor comes from the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant lockdowns.
The Great Resignation brought people home from the workplace, and copywriting stood out as a suitable replacement for the income they’d just left behind.
But to get copywriting jobs, you have to go out and find them. To land them, you’ll have to have more than your word that you know what you’re doing, so a copywriting portfolio stands as the best way to showcase your writing abilities.
Here’s how to create one for yourself and start making money from something you already enjoy doing.
- 10 Of The Best Freelance Copywriter Websites & Portfolio Examples
- How To Become A Freelance Copywriter
What Is Copywriting?
At its core, copywriting is the production of words designed to compel readers to take action. But it’s more than the persuasive essay you learned to write in high school. We find copy all over the web, where it appears on landing pages, in ads, blog posts, on product descriptions on commercial sites – and in printed media such as flyers, brochures, and posters.
It takes practice to get good at it, like anything else, and it calls on specialized skills. For example, when a copywriter writes Search Engine Optimization (SEO) content, he needs to incorporate keywords that help search engines find the website. Well-written SEO copy can propel the page it’s on to the first page of search results.
Someone Needs Copy
The hardest part of copywriting for many writers isn’t stringing the right words together in the right order, but rather finding paying jobs. You could be the best writer in the world, but if no one knows your name, how to contact you, or that you want to land a job, you won’t be getting hired.
There are websites out there for freelance copywriters to find and book gigs, but even when using one of them, you still need to be able to show potential clients that you can do what you say you can do, and we show that with a copywriting portfolio.
A portfolio should be a collection of your work that shows:
- Some of your best work.
- That you can write in a variety of styles.
- Your particular way with words.
- Knowledge of different kinds of copywriting.
- A variety of work covering many subjects and media.
If you’re already a copywriter, you probably have what you need for a copywriting portfolio on hand already. You’ve likely churned out a lot of content over the past weeks and months and should have plenty to choose from.
While we address beginning writers next, you can consider the pieces you’ve written recently and come up with some of the best ones.
You’ll have to get some words written so you have something to put in your portfolio. The way you do this is to get some work. Sure, there’s a catch-22 situation here (how do I get work to put in a portfolio when I need a portfolio that I don’t have to get work?), but you have some options.
You can go to many websites for freelance copywriting jobs and pitch yourself for a gig. Since websites always need copy, the jobs are out there, and many content provider companies will hire you on a trial basis even if you’ve never written a word of copy.
After writing a few of these jobs, you’ll have some copy of your very own to start putting in your copywriting portfolio.
You could also just make up some assignments for yourself. You won’t get paid for them, but you’ll be able to write some copy and have it available to show potential clients.
This route involves choosing a website or business and then writing something for it. Maybe you write a new landing page for a website you visit often or write a commercial script for a local business. The point is that you write some valuable content that showcases your abilities.
Next, you’ll want to get some feedback on your copy. Look on Twitter and explore relevant groups on other social media platforms. Ask around— would anyone take a look at my writing and give me some guidance? Despite the current state of the world, people willing to help others still exist.
What To Include in a Copywriting Portfolio
A key word here has already come into play: variety. Think about it in terms of a dying medium, the newspaper. If you wanted a reporting job for the sports page, you wouldn’t bring your potential employer 16 articles you wrote about Australian Rules Football. You’d give off the impression that you could only write about that one sport, and unless the paper has an extremely niche audience, they’re probably not going to hire you.
Along those lines, you’ll want to include as many kinds of copywriting as you can: blog posts, Facebook ads, SEO content, the works.
What you should not include is a massive pile of pieces. Choose five of your best articles to serve as a representative sample of what you can do.
Any more than six or so examples of your work will overwhelm the potential client. Why would they slog through your 60-page portfolio? Everyone else they’re looking at has a streamlined portfolio that takes them much less time to read.
While you want different kinds of writing (web pages, ads), you also want to include short and long-form work examples. If you’ve got a humorous piece to throw in there, do so. Again, you’re looking to showcase your versatility, so giving the potential client the chance to see different kinds of writing from you can only help.
This may go without saying, but make sure your examples are high-quality.
- No typos.
- The content is engaging, as boredom is a killer for a reader.
- Easy-to-read is a must— avoid those five-dollar words and bulky paragraphs.
When building your copywriting portfolio, keep the goal in mind. If you know the kind of work you want to do, tailor your portfolio’s content to fit your desired result.
If you don’t want to get work writing ad copy, don’t include a bunch of well-written ads in your portfolio. Life is too short to work a job you hate, so if you don’t want to write ads, don’t advertise in your portfolio that you can write ads.
And while we mentioned earlier the bit about Australian Rules Football, there is something to be said for niche writers. If you have a field of expertise, there’s a good chance someone out there needs you to write for them about that field.
Include one or two pieces you’ve written in that niche market. This will show potential clients that you can write that sort of piece and that you know enough about copywriting to show them that you know about those niche markets.
Your portfolio is like a resume— it exists to highlight your skills and make your potential clients aware of your knowledge and abilities.
Getting Your Copywriting Portfolio Out There
In the old days, newspaper and magazine reporters kept clip books. These were collections of all of a writer’s published work. The idea was that you could look through them and find stories in a certain style or covering a specific subject since they’re all in one spot.
When a feature writing job came up, you’d dig through your clip book for some features you’d written in the past, choose the best three, and submit them along with your resume.
That’s what a portfolio essentially is— the clip book of the 21st century. But since the days of handing your hard-copy resume to a potential client or employer are almost entirely gone, you need to take a different route to get your stuff out there.
Many writers post their portfolios on LinkedIn and Pinterest, while more advanced writers often have their own websites. If you’re already an established copywriter, you probably have the skill set to write copy for your website that will help drive traffic to it.
Jazz It Up
Once you’ve chosen your portfolio pieces, you’re ahead of all the copywriters without one of their own. But you’ll still be in a crowded market.
Enter testimonials. If you can include client testimonials with each piece in your portfolio, you show potential clients that your work was so good, clients took the time to write down some nice words about you and your capabilities.
Sure, you may have asked (or cajoled, or nagged) the client to write a line or two about your work, but potential clients don’t need to know that. They’ll see praise and think, “My business is in the same area, and this writer did good work for them. Maybe he can do good work for me, too.”
Also, if you set up a website, make sure it’s a good one— well-crafted, well-written, and an overall quality site. First impressions matter.
If your site is riddled with mistakes and is hard to navigate, potential clients may not look any further, and that terrific portfolio of yours won’t get any eyes on it.
Conclusion – Creating A Winning Copywriting Portfolio
Thousands of copywriting jobs need writers to write them. Why not you? Tons of copywriters make $15 for an article, and others make six figures annually. Why shouldn’t you get paid that well?
Putting together a good copywriting portfolio is all that stands in your way of opening some of those doors. Remember that a good portfolio is about quality rather than quantity, and it shows potential clients that you know what you’re doing and can produce copy that meets their needs.