To get started landing clients as a freelance copywriter, there’s one thing you’re probably going to need: a killer copywriter portfolio.
Portfolios can be intimidating, especially when you don’t have any experience. Think about it: You need to have had at least one client to have stuff to put in a copywriter portfolio… but you need a portfolio to land a client. So, what do you do?
In this blog, we’ll cover two main things:
- How to build your freelance copywriter portfolio, even if you have no professional experience yet.
- Awesome examples of other writers' portfolios that you can use an inspiration.
Let’s do it!
How to Build Your Copywriter Portfolio (Even as a Total Newbie)
If you haven’t yet had a single gig, don’t panic. The purpose of a portfolio is simple: Show people you know what the heck you’re doing.
I’ve been on both sides of this equation: I’ve used my portfolio to land clients, and I’ve hired professionals based on their portfolios. And I can tell you very confidently that your potential clients mostly don’t care about whether or not your work has been published. They just want to see what you can do. No client is going to be like, “This copywriter is SO DANG AWESOME but they haven’t been published so that’s gonna be a no for me, dawg.”
How to Get Those First Copywriting Samples
Now, to get very quick samples to include in your copywriter portfolio, you could offer to work for someone for free. I’m not a fan of working for free, period, but some newbies really want that client experience, even if they don’t get paid. So, I’ll leave that decision up to you.
If you go this route, be transparent! You can say something like:
I’m building my business as a freelance copywriter and am looking to gain experience. I’m reaching out to offer my services for free, in exchange for your permission to use the work I produce for you in my portfolio. I’d also love a testimonial, if you’re open to that!
Yes, ask for a testimonial. Why not?!
If you choose to offer free work, don’t make a habit of it. You only need three to five high-quality samples in your copywriter portfolio for it to do its job.
Another option is to simply make it up! Come up with your own samples, from scratch, even if they’re for fictitious companies. Again, clients. Don’t. Care. They just want to see your writing.
The types of samples you come up with will depend on the copywriting services you’re planning on offering. Once you’ve narrowed that down, make up three to five samples reflecting that service (or services) and bam — there are your samples.
So, those are your two options for coming up with the content: offer to work for free to get them quickly, or make them up.
What Should Your Copywriter Portfolio Look Like?
Again, this will largely depend on the services you offer, but do keep this in mind: You want your portfolio to display what the finished product looks like, even if you made up your samples.
Let’s run through an example.
Say you’ve decided to focus on product descriptions as your copywriting service. So, this is what your copywriter portfolio will hightlight.
As opposed to only including the text, use an image of the finished product description — even just a screenshot. You want to bring your copywriter portfolio to life and really make it pop. If this was published online, include the link to the finished product, if possible.
If you’re making your samples up, you can use something like Canva to easily create a mock-up of what the finished product would look like.
What Other Things Should Your Copywriter Portfolio Include?
If you really want to stand out (which you should), here are a few more ideas.
For each sample, include details like (1) the objective, (2) any challenges, and (3) your solutions to those challenges.
This gives potential clients the bigger picture and a little more context, which is always helpful. Think of it as sharing the highlights of each project.
If this was work you did for actual clients, whether free or paid, include testimonials.
Remember when I told you earlier to ask for a testimonial? ;-) Here’s where you can include them. You can talk about how amazing you are until you’re blue in the face. But when you get other people to talk about how amazing you are, that’s gold.
How Do You Publish Your Copywriter Portfolio Online?
You’ve got quite a few options here!
For starters, you don’t have to have a website. If the mere thought of building a site gives you the sweats, please know that you can use something like Google Drive to showcase your work, and just send potential clients the link.
Or, once again, use Canva and download the document as a PDF. There’s your copywriter portfolio.
If you do want to build yourself a website (which you’ll eventually want anyway), these days, you can do it fairly quickly and easily, and for cheap (sometimes free!). Platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress make it possible for people who aren’t the slightest bit tech-savvy (hi, it me) to have a lovely website.
Listen up: Don’t make this harder on yourself than it needs to be!
Give yourself a deadline for getting your site up and stick to it.
Now, in building your site, you have two options:
- Use a template where the portfolio is the entire site.
- Use a template to represent your business as a whole, and make the portfolio one page of your site.
I’m going to encourage you to go with the latter. Here’s why. If you’re a freelance copywriter, you’re a business owner. Your website needs to reflect your business, not just those samples. You’re going to want a homepage, About page, Contact page, a blog, and drumroll a portfolio.
These days, you can find templates that are still optimized to showcase your copywriter portfolio but also include the other elements I mentioned. This is great! Just don’t have a one-page site that’s nothing but a portfolio. Get those other pages in there, too.
3 Examples of Copywriter Portfolios That Deliver
Examples always make things easier to understand, so let’s look at some copywriter portfolios that knocked it out of the park.
1. Elna Cain
Freelance writer Elna Cain knows exactly what she’s doing. Here’s what you’ll see when you land on her current portfolio:
At the top, she offers a quick introduction so that visitors have a better idea of what they’re looking at. Then, she keeps it super simple: on the left, a thumbnail image representing that sample, and on the right, the website, title, and URL reflecting the sample.
Clicking on any of these takes you to that published sample. (Remember, you can do your own variation of this if you’re making your samples up!)
The power of this copywriter portfolio is in the simplicity. I get the vibe that Elna understands that it’s not about trying to convince people that her work is great. She puts it out there in an easy-to-digest way, and it just shines.
2. Anders J. Svensson
Anders gives another great example of a quality copywriter portfolio in action. Here’s what his looks like:
Compared to Elna’s, Anders' is more image-driven. When you click on any of those images, it opens another page still on his site, where he offers a brief description of the project. Similar to Elna, Anders includes a brief introduction to his work for each client. And what I absolutely, 1,000% love is that he uses this bit of text to further demonstrate what an incredible writer he is.
Check out this page on his site for Nova Cannabis and tell me I’m wrong.
He takes every opportunity he can to show off his skills as a wordsmith. Perfect.
3. Christine Parizo
I wanted to show you an example of a copywriter portfolio that uses no images, just so you can see how effective this still is. Christine Parizo is a good example of that. Because she offers different types of content, she broke it up into sections.
When you click on any of these samples, they’ll open up as a PDF so you can see the finished product.
What’s awesome about her portfolio is that’s very clean and efficient. It’s effective. No, it’s not using images to bring the page to life. But here’s the thing. White papers and case studies (which she writes) are pretty text-heavy, long-form types of content. We wouldn’t want to compare her to someone like Anders, who seems to write a lot more advertising-style copy, which is much, much shorter and aimed at selling something. They’re two different objectives.
Importantly, Christine makes it a piece of cake to contact her from her portfolio page, by including a CTA in the introductory paragraph.
These are just three examples. Three of many. You’re a copywriter. It’s in your blood to get creative! You want a copywriter portfolio that shows off your incredible skills as a writer, and you also want it to show off your personality as a professional.
Don’t be afraid to have fun with it, like Anders did. And don’t be afraid to keep it simple, like Christine did. If you want to list your samples almost like blog posts, then don’t be afraid to do it like Elna did.
All that matters is that your portfolio accomplishes this one goal: It shows potential clients how good you are at what you do.