Why a copywriting portfolio is crucial to freelance success

copywriter portfolio

Do you have a copywriting portfolio? If you’re a freelance writer, then you absolutely should.

As a consumer, whenever you buy something, you want to know whether the product works as advertised. It’s a perfectly natural urge and, sometimes, it’s easy to do. You can trial software. You can try on clothes. You can size up trainers.

In other circumstances, sampling a product is impossible. You can’t go to the cinema and watch 10 minutes of a movie. You can’t go to a fruit stall and take a bite out of an apple. You can’t join a gym to see if you lose weight.

Service-based industries face similar challenges. And that includes copywriting.

To make things worse, your copywriting services will probably represent a significant outlay for a business (particular if it is a start-up). As a result, the client’s urge for reassurance is only heightened.

For freelancers, having a copywriting portfolio will help bridge that gap and remove potential barriers.

A portfolio plays a huge role in landing roles, not to mention the rates and salary you can expect to pocket.

They’re ideal. They sit online, so clients can access your portfolio at their leisure. And once you’ve done the initial hard work, that’s it. All you have to do is add copywriting examples to your portfolio over time.

But now that we’re aware of the need for this online visualisation of your copy skills, we can turn to the big question:

What does a good digital copywriting portfolio look like?

Trawl the internet and you’ll see a variety of portfolio styles. The effective ones are all designed very nicely, with clear labeling and sensible navigation.

Much like actual copywriting, a portfolio must always have the user in mind. A portfolio isn’t a dumping ground for every project you’ve worked on. Nope, it’s a place where leads can quickly ascertain whether you’ll be a good fit for them.

What to put in a copywriting portfolio

The mistake that a lot of freelancers make is to put a lot of the same kind of thing inside their portfolios.

Let’s use an example of a common situation that occurs with a copywriter portfolio.

Suppose you have a portfolio set up that displays 10 images on a page. You can upload as many examples as you need to and go as deep as you want, but each page will on surface 10 examples.

Many copywriters complete a brief and just quickly upload an example or extract regardless of the nature of the job. You might have worked on a lot of different projects for a wide range of clients, but they’ll struggle to discover that.

The end result is a messy assortment of copywriting examples. If a lead requires website copy and all they see is 10 brochures, you’re relying on them to do the digging join the dots together.

Don’t see your portfolio as an online CV

Copywriting portfolios shouldn’t document your working life. A portfolio is a tool to showcase handpicked examples of your skillset.

Yup, while finding a niche will help you make more money, your portfolio should take the opposite approach: it must be widened, not narrowed.

Taking this approach should help with the other big problem with portfolios – that of bandwidth. Uploading dozens of images, brochures, flyers and the like will seriously hit the productivity level of your website.

Do you really want to risk your portfolio page taking an age to load up?

Limit yourself to a handful of eye-catching examples; stuff that clearly covers off every element of copywriting that’s relevant for your audience.

You can have a text-only portfolio (and these can certainly help with regards structure and ordering). However, some sort of imagery is always welcome.

And if you’ve got a WordPress site, then it couldn’t be easier - there are actually a few plug-ins that offer a range portfolio layouts and display options.

Creating a copywriting portfolio when you have no experience

Everyone has to start somewhere. As such, portfolios are built up over time.

If you’re a junior copywriter or you’re new to the freelance world, your portfolio will obviously be thinner than that of someone who’s been writing for years.

Just be authentic and honest. You’re building your brand and your reputation – your portfolio should reflect that.

Don’t worry if you only have a couple of copywriting examples to shout about right now, because you’ll be surprised at how quickly they’ll build up.

Think about whether you signed an NDA

It’s quite common to be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) when undertaking a copywriting brief. Basically, this is a legal document that outlines how you’re not going to shout from the rooftops about any secret projects.

Remember which jobs you signed an NDA for, since you don’t want to stick anything in your portfolio that needs to be kept private.

A copywriting portfolio is a marketing tool

A portfolio will help you to earn a living from writing; it’s as simple as that.

It is one of the first things that an interested prospect will look at before they take that next step and get in touch with you.

They clinch the deal.

Try not to resort to using a third-party site to house your best work. It’s hard enough finding traffic and leads so you don’t want to have to send a lead away from your site to somewhere else.

However, I understand that you may have website restrictions that prevent you from developing your own portfolio area. Or you might just be a bit of technophobe.

If that were the case, then I’d recommend creating a copywriter portfolio on LinkedIn, because that’s an accepted place for professional profiles and examples.

LinkedIn allows users to add content links to thumbnails, slideshows, PDFs, videos, case studies, ebooks and suchlike.

And there are millions of companies on LinkedIn that are often searching for freelance writers, so if you’ve got a search-friendly profile that’s packed with amazing copywriting examples, you could land some extra work.


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