11 Tips for Creating Your Online Writing Portfolio Website
Back in the day writers would have a folder, carrying their best pieces around as their writing portfolio. Although it sounds easy to just print out a few of the documents piling up on your computer, that simply won’t cut it anymore. Now you’ll need an easy-to-navigate online writing portfolio website that looks good and showcases your very best pieces. In this post, we’ll share 11 practical tips to help you make that happen, and we’ll answer all of your burning online writing portfolio questions.
Our best tips for creating an online writing portfolio website that converts
What do we mean by a “website that converts”? When it comes to your online writing portfolio, it’s not enough to have a bunch of samples up somewhere, with no goal and thus no conversion-optimized copy in place.
If you’re not sure how you could achieve that, don’t worry. Just read until the end of this post and follow our tips. Checking them all off your list when revising your finished online portfolio at the end, you can be confident your writer website will stand its ground amongst the competition.
1. Use images to make your online writing portfolio visually appealing
Spend a little time looking at online writing portfolios and you’ll easily see a common mistake too many of them share. They look… well, not really pleasing to the eye. But doing just a few simple things will make sure that your portfolio website is visually appealing.
One of those things is using images throughout your portfolio. Firstly, we recommend using carefully chosen thumbnails to represent each of your writing projects. You can either use a screenshot or photo of the finished writing piece (you could even add it into a mockup if you want it to look extra polished) or something that illustrates the topic of it. Just two quick tips for these:
- If you choose one or the other, follow that approach for all of your project thumbnails, so your page looks cohesive overall.
- If you go with the second approach, either use your own images or make sure to have the right to use them. Stay away from the simple Google image search and use a royalty-free stock photo site instead.
But project thumbnails shouldn’t be the only images on your site. Especially when you have more text on a page, it’s a good idea to include images to make the page overall more attractive. A quick tip: try to choose pictures that have a similar color palette for a more cohesive look.
2. Limit the number of writing projects you include in your portfolio
A lot of writers get this wrong: you don’t need to show a thousand writing samples to prove that you’re an experienced writer. It might be a cliché but that doesn’t make it any less true: go for quality over quantity.
The visitors of your online writing portfolio won’t have all the time in the world to go through dozens of your projects anyway, so make sure you choose the very best ones. We recommend selecting 6-8 writing samples, showing a variety of formats or topics, depending on what you’re specialized in.
If there’s any piece in your repertoire that has won an award, get lots of great feedback, or was done for a famous, big brand, consider adding that to your portfolio.
3. Write about each project as a case study –here’s what you should include
Another thing that gets writers working on their online portfolio stuck, is writing about their showcased projects. A common mistake you can see often is just adding a never-ending list of references and not writing about any of the projects at all. And while that makes it possible for the reader to click through and read each of the samples, it doesn’t give them any insight into their background or the creative process.
As we already recommended, it’s best to have a limited number of projects, each represented by thumbnails on a portfolio page. Once the portfolio website’s visitor clicks on a thumbnail, they should get to a separate page detailing the writing project as a shorter case study.
In the case study you should write about:
- how the project started,
- who the client was that you wrote for,
- what were your instructions, what was the brief you got,
- and your creative process while working on the piece.
At the end, you should show the finished result too –but don’t paste the whole piece, as it could be overwhelming. It’s best to include a photo or screenshot (illustrate with images as we discussed earlier), and link to it if it’s available in full somewhere else.
4. Add recommendations and testimonials for more credibility
The first three tips will help you create an online writing portfolio that is easy on the eyes and will help your readers understand your work better, in the most efficient way. This fourth one is to give you more credibility in the eyes of whoever is visiting your site.
If you get any professional recommendations or testimonials after completing a job or project, you should showcase them on your website. Depending on the quote itself, you can feature it on the page of a specific writing piece –or on your about page.
In the age when anybody can say anything on the internet, reading testimonials from real people will help us feel more at ease about reaching out to someone. To make sure it feels reliable and real, include the name and ideally the photo of the person whom you’re quoting, and link to their website or LinkedIn profile.
5. Keep your online writing portfolio website organized for quick and easy browsing
No matter how good the content of your online portfolio is if your readers get lost on your website. To make sure they will go through all of the important pages you want them to see, you’ll need an organized site.
What do we mean by that? That you should…
- Separate your content to multiple pages by topic. Don’t just dump everything on your home page, creating a never-ending one-pager everyone’s too lazy to scroll through. Shorter pages that are quick to read will do much better.
- Use clear page titles and headlines. Make sure you label each page and project in a way that doesn’t leave the reader confused about its contents. We also recommend using headlines throughout each page, so people can find out the most important pieces of information even if they just skim through the page.
- Be consistent. If you used the brand’s and campaign’s name to label a project (e.g. Copyfolio Early Access Launch), don’t skip to naming the next one based on its format (e.g. email marketing automation campaign). Choose one approach for labeling things and stick to it.
If your online writing portfolio is easy to go through, that will leave your readers with an additional boost of satisfaction once they’re done reading. Which, of course, increases the chance of them making a conversion.
6. Have these on your portfolio home page to make sure it converts
Although we don’t recommend making your home page too lengthy, there are a few elements you definitely should have on there. Home page must-haves if you like.
The very first thing you should have on your home page is a short bio of yourself, ideally accompanied by a photo too. Now for the short bio, we don’t mean a few paragraphs, but only a sentence or two. What you do and what makes you unique in one catchy sentence. Yes, it’s a challenge, but especially if you’re a copywriter, it’s one you can conquer.
Another essential thing to have on your portfolio home page is a clear call-to-action. Because even if somebody likes your page, if you don't tell them what you want them to do next, there's a good chance they will just close your page and not think of it anymore.
So choose just one action you'd like them to do and add it to the page. It could be asking them to get in touch with you, to check your projects or to share your site with a friend. Whatever you choose, just make sure it's the only one on the page. Because if you have more, your visitors might get confused or overwhelmed and not convert at all in the end.
7. Craft the perfect about page: make it a mix of an introduction and a sales page
When it comes to about pages, most people writing one think it’s just an introduction –and most people reading one just think it’s boring. But that’s because they’re not written with the right approach.
The truth is that you should think about your about me page as a mix of a traditional introduction and a sales page. Because after all, your writer website has a goal. A goal of showing your expertise and getting your visitors to take an action: reach out to you with feedback and new opportunities.
And as with every copy that wants to inspire action, the text of your about page should also be written with that action in mind. So think about your ideal reader, what their most burning problems are and how you can help them solve them. Then as you introduce yourself, reflect on those.
Whenever you talk about a skill or experience you have, include how that will make a difference when it comes to providing service for them. It might take a little bit of practice to master this kind of writing, but you’ll get to it for sure.
8. Make it easy for your portfolio website visitors to get in touch with you
Once you inspired the reader with your brilliant copy to take action, you need to make doing so as easy for them as possible. There are two things we recommend to help you with that.
- Have a contact page and display it in your navigation bar. By now most internet users are used to having a “Contact” option in the top menu of every website they visit. So it’s no surprise that if they want to reach out, that’s where they’ll expect to find it. So make sure your contact page is displayed in your menu and always up-to-date with your current information.
- Always add a call-to-action. Yes, reaching out if one’s interested is a logical step, but sometimes people need just a simple nudge to really do so. Adding a simple call-to-action to your pages (whether that’s your about page, the home page, or a project in your portfolio) can drastically increase the number of people taking action and getting in touch with you.
9. Add a services page too, if you’re a freelance writer
Having an eye-catching home page with your projects, a well-written about page, and an easy-to-find contact page is the most important for your online writing portfolio. But if you’re a freelance writer, you should consider adding a page detailing your services too.
On this page, you can write about the kind of assignments you can be hired for and the prices of them if you feel like sharing them. You can also give your readers a little glimpse into how it is to be working with you, what they can expect if they write you a message.
Just like on your about page or while writing about your writing projects, it’s a good idea to add a testimonial or two onto this page as well.
10. Get writing samples ready, even if you haven’t had any paid writing jobs yet
It goes without saying that you’ll need writing materials to fill up your writing portfolio. And that you’ll have to get them ready and select the best ones to add to your website.
When you’re an accomplished writer who’s been producing content for years, collecting a pile of samples to choose from won’t be the hard part. Selecting the very best ones will be. But you have to be strict and narrow it down to around 8 samples. Because remember: quality over quantity is our motto when it comes to those samples.
But if you have no clue about the types of pieces you should include in your online writing portfolio, don’t worry. Read our article on what you should include in your writing portfolio. There we go into details on the question, separately discussing it for copywriters, content writers, and creative writers or authors, so you can find help no matter what kind of writing it is that you do.
11. Use a website builder to make building your online writing portfolio quick and easy
And to make all of that happen, you should choose a website builder that will make it easy for you.
There are many builders available these days, some offering such a wide variety of features, most of which you’ll never even use, that you get lost trying to navigate between them. You’ll spend as much time trying to figure out how it works as you would finishing a whole portfolio website with another builder.
Here’s what you should look for in a website builder for your online portfolio instead:
- Easy to use and loads fast
- Offers different templates or styles
- Saves you time by offering one-click bulk design actions
- Makes creating your portfolio easy by offering project pages
- Gets you started with a set of pages, so you just have to fill them out to have the base of your website
Look for a website builder that ticks all the boxes –like Copyfolio, which even helps you write your case studies above all that. Because the easier it is to do the website building itself, the more time you can spend focusing on doing what you actually love: writing.
Q&A: Answers to all of your online writing portfolio questions
Just to make sure that we don’t leave any questions unanswered, let’s also go through the most commonly asked ones about writing portfolio websites. Of course, if you have any others that we didn’t answer here, you’re always welcome to send us an email or reach out to us on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Why should I have an online writing portfolio?
Whether you’re a freelance writer or one working in-house, you’ll be asked to tell people more about yourself and your work, and to show them samples of it too. When that happens the most professional reply is sending over a simple link to your website.
Trying to present a pile of hard copies or just sending people to a bottomless Google Drive folder with tonsils of documents just won’t cut it anymore. It doesn’t feel inviting and they won’t want to go through them all.
Having an online writing portfolio will make sure they can easily browse through your writing samples and find out everything they need to know about you. Then it will also give them an easy way to take the next step and get in touch with you again.
Should I have my own website or sign up to a marketplace platform?
A lot of freelance writers use websites like Fiver or Contently, where you can create a profile, add pieces of your previous work and find new assignments. These platforms are also very competitive though, so it takes a long time to build up a reputation and get decent jobs through them. Sure, they’re free and offer to connect you with clients, but only a smaller percentage of writers actually make it on there.
The other disadvantage is that it’s not very professional if you want to use your profile on one of these marketplace sites as a portfolio to send someone else, who has nothing to do with the site. Especially if you work in-house or if you’re an author, it’s best to have your own personal website.
Of course, being present on these platforms and still having your own site (which you can link to from your profiles on them) is also always an option.
What should be the name of my writer portfolio website?
The best practice is to set your name + occupation + your specialization (if you have any) as the name of your website. This is what will appear on the visitor’s browser tab and also how your site will show up in Google. If you’re working locally, it’s a good idea to add your location in there too. Let’s see a few examples:
- Jane Smith – Freelance Content Writer – Health & Fitness
- David Harrison – Advertising Copywriter – San Antonio
- Anne Jennings – Business & Marketing Content Writer
What pages should my online portfolio website have?
The must-have pages you should have on your writer website are the home page, about me, contact, and your portfolio –though the latter can be included on your home page. Additionally, you can consider adding a page for testimonials or references, one for your CV or resume, and a services page if you’re a freelance writer.
How to choose which writing projects I should include?
The first thing you should consider is your expertise. If you’re specialized in either a topic or form of writing, make sure that the projects you choose reflect that. Or if it’s the opposite and you prefer a more general approach to writing, choose a wide variety of writing samples.
Getting good feedback from colleagues or clients is also an indication that the project might be worth including. Similarly, if your piece won an award or was featured in a well-known publication, it most likely has a place in your writing portfolio.
What should I write about my writing projects in my portfolio?
Think about describing your project like writing a short case study. Keep it brief but cover the most important aspects and write about:
- The background of the project
- The company or client you wrote for
- Your creative process while working on it
- Any challenges you faced and how you overcame them
- The finished result, illustrated with photos or screenshots
- The impact it made if you have data about it
Just keep in mind that your reader will have no more than 5-10 minutes to read about your project, so make sure that each case study is short enough to finish in that time frame.
How do I create an online writing portfolio?
The first and most important step in creating a writing portfolio is to stop procrastinating and putting it off. Next, choose an easy-to-use website builder like Copyfolio, which helps you create a beautiful portfolio in a matter of minutes. Once you have your profile set up, add your basic pages (home, about, and contact) and fill them with your copy and images.
Having the base for your website will give you more time for adding your projects if you need to. You can start adding them one by one: choose an eye-catching thumbnail, write a conversion-optimized title, then start writing the mini case study we outlined earlier.
If you’d like some inspiration, check out our blog post with 19 writing portfolio examples.
Breaking up the online portfolio building process into smaller chunks will make the task feel much more manageable and much less overwhelming. And especially if the builder you choose is easy to learn and work with, you’ll be done much faster than you would’ve expected.
Build your online writing portfolio with Copyfolio
Copyfolio is a free portfolio website builder that was designed specifically for writers. It not only makes website building a breeze with taking the design and coding troubles out of the equation but also gives you help with creating a portfolio that converts. Copyfolio will…
- always load fast, saving you time in the building process,
- make finding and applying a style that suits you quick and easy,
- set you up for success by adding the most important pages for you,
- help you write your case studies with prompts and guiding questions.
Once you create your account, you’ll also receive daily portfolio building tips to make sure that you get the most out of your writer website.
Get started for free with Copyfolio today and create a stunning writing portfolio!