How To Create an Online Writing Portfolio (With Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In an increasingly online media environment, writers benefit from maintaining a high-quality digital presence so clients can review their work and reach out to them about opportunities. Online writing portfolios enable writers to present their best work in a centralized, visually appealing format. If you're interested in sharing your written work, as an artist or creative professional, you might benefit from reviewing the best approach for creating an online writing portfolio. In this article, we define online writing portfolios, explain what they should include and provide the steps for creating one of your own.

What is an online writing portfolio?

An online writing portfolio is a website that hosts a writer's best work so that the public and potential clients can review it. Typically, freelance writers who accept individual assignments with various publications and websites depend on their online writing portfolio to secure consistent opportunities. However, all kinds of writers might enjoy or benefit from having an online writing portfolio. For example, a creative writing student hoping to publish their first short story might create one, or a published novelist might have a personal website that acts as a portfolio, listing all their publications and credentials.

Read more: How To Freelance Write: A Guide To Getting Started as a Freelance Writer

What to include in an online writing portfolio

Successful online writing portfolios not only showcase your work but also present you as a personable and reliable collaborator. Here are the key components you can include in your online writing portfolio to convince clients you'd be an excellent creative partner:

  • Personal information: Online writing portfolios provide some information about who you are and your credentials, often as an author bio.

  • Your field or specialty: Online writing portfolios make clear what kind of writing is your specialty. Literary critics, poets, copywriters, journalists and speechwriters all may have online writing portfolios, but they each serve a different clientele.

  • Your best work: Online writing portfolios present several of your best pieces for your audience to read. Most writers benefit from emphasizing quality over quantity, covering the breadth of their work without cluttering their websites.

  • Contact information: Online writing portfolios make it easy for potential clients to connect with you so you can convert leads into paid assignments.

Related: The Writing Process: Over 45 Tips on Writing

How to create an online writing portfolio

Here are the steps to follow if creating your own online writing portfolio:

1. Decide your writing niche

When searching for freelance writers, publications and companies prioritize candidates who already have experience writing for their audiences. To attract more clients, most writers choose a niche that reflects their expertise and background. Even if you write several types of pieces—such as poems and list articles—you benefit from orienting your portfolio toward one of them unless your work consistently addresses a certain topic. For instance, a writer whose work covers a specific geographic region might have a portfolio that includes personal essays and journalistic reporting about the area. Here are some common niches writers target with their portfolios:

  • Copywriting: Copywriters create written work to promote an organization, product or brand, often contributing their work without attribution. They might raise awareness of their client company by writing the text for ads or full-length articles.

  • Journalism: Freelance journalists often report on a specific topic for various publications, conducting independent research to present new findings or perspectives. They might cover politics, food and restaurants, travel or pop culture, among other subjects.

  • Literature: Literary writers include fiction and nonfiction writers, essayists and poets. They often use their online portfolios to help them secure more prestigious publications or book deals.

  • Ghostwriting: Ghostwriters work with clients who want to publish a book or written project but may not have extensive writing experience. They help individuals present writing with a consistent voice that is also technically correct.

Related: How To Write Articles

2. Research similar writers

Once you have a niche selected, you can research similar writers who already have established online portfolios. While you can use your search engine to conduct a broad search, you might benefit from also looking up the names of the writers whose work you enjoy. You might have some favorite publications to refer to, or you might come across a great article related to your niche and find its author's portfolio.

As you view these writers' websites, focus on the design choices they make and consider how they correspond to their niche. For example, travel journalists might emphasize portfolio layouts with ample space for images since their subject benefits from vivid imagery. If you can align your website with the design choices successful writers in your niche make, you might make a more professional first impression with clients.

3. Determine your website format

Applying insights from your research, determine how you want to format your online portfolio. Consider which website hosting and design service meets your needs, the best layout for presenting your work and the additional functions you might want, such as being able to monitor traffic to your site. Whether you have web design or coding skills also might affect which web hosting service you use.

Your website's overall style should match the type of writing you do and the subjects you cover. If you write articles on fashion and pop culture, you might use more vibrant colors and energetic fonts, whereas if you write research-driven articles on current affairs, you might take a more minimalist approach.

4. Select your best work

With your website's format in place, you can focus on preparing the pieces you want to share. Your portfolio should focus on presenting only your best work within your niche. Clients want to see that you can write well about the subject you claim as your area of focus and that you're actively producing work. If possible, highlight recent work in reputable publications.

If your content is unpublished, you can host your written work on your website. However, if your work is published, check the terms and conditions of your agreement with the site or publication that accepted it. Often, by accepting publication, you agree not to post the same work elsewhere, including on your own site. You can simply provide links to your published work on your portfolio, specifying who published it and when.

5. Write your author bio

Your author bio serves to introduce you to potential clients and people who have appreciated your work and want to learn more about you. As with your website's design, the tone and content of your bio should align with the tone and content of your work. Most bios typically contain some mix of the following components:

  • Where you're originally from

  • Where you currently live

  • Academic writing credentials

  • Most notable publications

  • Awards and accolades

  • Themes or subjects you cover

You might feature your author bio as the homepage of your website, or you might place it on an "About" page. Including a photo of yourself might encourage people to contact you, as well.

Related: How To Pitch a Story: With Steps, Template and Example

6. Provide contact information

Your online portfolio should make it easy for interested parties to reach you. Whether someone wants to discuss a professional opportunity or share their appreciation of your work, you can grow your public profile by engaging as many people as possible. You can use a contact form or provide an email address, as long as it's visible and easy to access on desktop or mobile devices. If you do use an email address, have a dedicated one for your portfolio since it's public, opening you up to a substantial amount of spam.

7. Raise awareness of your portfolio

Upon completing your portfolio, your next step is to situate your work in front of your target audiences. If you're a freelance or creative writer, you likely pitch or submit directly to publications. When contacting them, you can embed a link to your portfolio. Otherwise, you can share the link to your portfolio on your professional and personal social media accounts, include it on business cards and join online writer forums to share your work and continue learning from others.

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