Section Three: Crafting a Compelling Portfolio

It’s not as easy as it seems. Creating an impactful portfolio requires thoughtful selection and organization. I know you’re probably tempted to showcase every single thing you’ve ever written, but clients don’t want to see that. Trust me.

Just pick the top projects you’ve created or worked on and showcase those. Basically, it’s not about quantity but the quality and relevance of the work you choose to include.

Here are a few tips for curating your portfolio:

  • Diversity and Depth: Try to showcase a range of work that highlights your versatility and depth in your areas of expertise. This demonstrates your adaptability and your mastery of specific niches.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Go with pieces that you’re most proud of—those that have garnered positive feedback or have achieved notable success. When you’re passionate about it, it comes through, and clients want to see that.
  • Presentation Really Matters: How you present your portfolio can be as important as the content itself. A well-designed, easy-to-navigate portfolio enhances the user experience, making it easier for clients to view and appreciate your work. Don’t create something that’s hard to navigate or understand.

Just remember that your portfolio is the bridge that connects your past experiences with future opportunities. It’s a visual and interactive representation of your professional work and how it’s evolved, embodying your passion, dedication, and commitment to excellence in writing.

What to Do if You Have Nothing to Put in a Portfolio

Starting from scratch? We’ve all been there! It’s one thing for me to say, “Just build a portfolio!” but it’s another to actually do it. If you’re new and just starting out, there are ways to create a great portfolio with little to no experience to show off. Here’s what I did when I first stepped into the industry:

  • Write for Free or Low Pay: Consider guest posting on blogs, writing for local newspapers, or contributing to online forums and websites. I spent about three months crafting professional resumes for people for free so that I could curate experience and testimonials.
  • Medium and Similar Platforms: Write your own content and publish your work on platforms like Medium to gain visibility. You can also create your own blog on your website and do this.
  • Volunteer Your Services: Nonprofits and small businesses often need writing help. This can be a win-win for portfolio building and could even get you an in with certain employers.
  • Create Spec Work: Write articles, blog posts, or copy for imaginary brands or projects just to showcase the possibilities of what you could do.
  • Write Book Reviews: This was one of the very first things I did! Join some ARC teams or sign up for platforms like NetGalley, where you can receive free e-books to read and review. Spend the time to make your review compelling and thoughtful, then include them in your portfolio!
  • Guest Post for Grammarist: If you complete this course and submit the exercises, reach out and ask about guest posting opportunities. 

Don’t beat yourself up over this. I’ve seen amazing writing portfolios with just three examples of work. I’ve also come across ones stuffed with dozens of examples. Every writer’s portfolio is different because every writer’s career journey is different!

Although I’ve been around for a decade and a half, my portfolio is fairly small because I’ve focused mainly on my favorite projects that I’m most proud of. I feel that it showcases each corner of my skill set and niche experience. You can check it out here if you’d like to get an idea of how to build yours.