Let’s start at the beginning. You must have an online portfolio. To be taken seriously at all as a copywriter now, you must, must, must have an online portfolio. Trust me. Must.
Phew. Okay. That’s a bit of a pet peeve for me, can you tell? You’d be surprised how many writers ruin their chances at being taken seriously simply because they don’t have an online presence. But since you won’t be that silly, here are the three essentials that online portfolio is going to have. (Right? Right? Please don’t let me down.)
- Digital images of your best pieces. This might seem a little obvious, but take note: be sure it’s your best stuff. People are going to view these pieces as a representation of you, so make sure they’re really good. Be sure, too, that however you display them on your site, they can be clicked on and displayed larger so that the viewer can actually read your copy. And, paired with each of the images, you should have a write-up about the project, its particular challenges and how you solved them. (Because you’re a copywriting dynamo!)
- Your bio. This should be a write-up of yourself, giving some idea of your background, your passion for writing, your favorite kinds of projects and your general personality. And be sure: you should definitely display some personality. Be yourself! If your bio is dry, boring and doesn’t sell you…how could a client trust you to write copy that sells their products? Show them your personality and give them plenty of reasons to choose you.
- Your USP. “USP” stands for “unique selling proposition,” and your unique selling proposition is what you have to offer as a copywriter that no one else has. What sets you apart? What is the unique blend of skills, talents and traits that makes you unique? What would compel an employer or client to hire you over any other writer? This, again, goes back to selling you. What’s the biggest benefit you can bring to a project that no one else can? Answer that question for an employer and it makes it that much easier for them to employ you.
Those are your essentials. Now let’s explore a few things you don’t necessarily need to have—or even shouldn’t have.
- You don’t need your resume. These seems very counterintuitive, I know. “If I’m trying to sell myself, shouldn’t I give them my resume???” Perhaps. Once you’re at the point in your career when you have a really amazing, incredibly impressive resume, you might want to put it on your website. But until then, you don’t want a sparse resume to shape how people view you. If you don’t put your resume on your site, and instead let people form their opinion of you based on your work and your [flawlessly worded] bio, your lack of experience becomes less of an issue. If a prospective employer doesn’t already have your resume, they will know to ask for it. And, plenty of times, freelance clients will already know everything they need to know to hire you from your portfolio alone.
- Be careful about posting editorial clips. And don’t, oh don’t, post notes about your novel in progress. Your copywriting portfolio website is for selling yourself as a professional copywriter. You should be very proud of the editorial and creative writing you’re doing, but this isn’t the place to show it off. To a prospective employer, writing about your creative writing on your copywriting site conveys that you’d really rather be a novelist, but you’re copywriting to pay the bills. And hey, deep down, just between you and me, that might even be true. But your prospective employer must not know this. You can include a few samples of your editorial work on your portfolio and in your print portfolio, especially if you're a little light on samples in general. Just be sure to convey that these are editorial samples and you've included them to give added examples of your writing skills.
Your online portfolio is your chance to sell yourself to the world! Make it fantastic and make it a representation of how great it is to work with you. You’re a talented copywriter and a pleasure to work with. Now, let everyone see it.
What are you changing or updating about your online portfolio first? Let us know in the comments…