You know that having an online portfolio site is essential to building a career as a copywriter. But if you already have one, how can you be sure yours is up to snuff. Today’s article is how to figure out if it’s not, and what you can do to fix it. Read on…
Today’s question comes from Licia W. who asks, “I currently have a portfolio site, but I’ve had it for a while and I’m not sure it’s good enough anymore. What should I be checking for on my own site?”
This is a great question (and, admittedly, one I need to pay attention to, myself). There’s a tendency for all of us to create our portfolio sites and update the samples when necessary, but just generally ignore the overall design.
But the overall design—and certain elements within it—reflect strongly on you as a professional. While your copy samples need to do a lot of heavy lifting to sell you to potential bosses and clients, they can’t do all of it. Your overall site needs to be great, too.
So, with that said, here are seven signs at that your portfolio site needs anything from a tweak to a full overhaul.
1. The design looks dated or unprofessional.
I know, when you first built it, it was sheer perfection. But the internet evolves and your taste level increases. Now, you need to look at your site with a critical eye: Is it truly a great looking site? Does it convey how professional you are? How does it compare with other websites? And not just other people’s portfolio websites, but other great sites across the web.
If it needs a complete overhaul, here are a few resources for relatively easy ways to engineer a redesign.
2. You don’t have a dedicated URL.
If you’re working from a wordpress.com/mynamehere or swankyportfolios.com/mynamehere URL, you’re not operating like a professional. Professionals take the time to set up dedicated URLs for their site. (www.mynamehere.com instead of wordpress.com/mynamehere)
It looks like you’re much more serious about your career…and it also doesn’t inspire people to see what other copywriters they can find on swankyportfolios.com! One note: Try to set up as simple of a URL as you can. If you have a complicated first or last name, consider leaving it off.
3. You can’t read your copy.
The whole purpose of your site is to give potential clients and bosses a sense of your skills by letting them read the copy you write. But if your site has small images of your pieces that can’t be clicked on to expand, there’s a good chance they can’t actually read what you’ve written.
Your new site can have small thumbnails so you can fit more images on a page, but people need to be able to click on them and expand them to a size at which the copy is easy to read. (And, of course, marvel at.)
4. You don’t have a place to describe your work.
The actual copy you’ve written is really only half of a project—the rest of it is the concepting, collaborating, and revising that went into it. You need space by each sample to put in a few sentences and describe the problem you solved for your client and the thinking that went into your results.
When you give a potential boss or client insight into your thinking behind what you’ve written, you give them yet another reason to hire you.
5. You have a ton of non-copy related stuff.
I get it: If you’re in a band or you’ve written a book, you’re proud of it. But your portfolio site is not the place to tout that information. Your portfolio site has one purpose, and that is to sell you to potential bosses and clients. Anything else you have up there distracts from that.
Sure, you can mention your hobbies in your bio, but they shouldn’t take up a ton of space there. (What should? Your USP.)
Your site also shouldn’t be bogged down with a ton of content work. Sure, having some is fine to show your range, but you don’t want a creative director to think you don’t know the difference between copy and content. Keep your site focused on copy.
6. There’s no organization to your work.
You’ve finally got a lot of samples, and they’re all up on your site. Great. But you’ve also got your magazine ads mixed in with your banner ads and your direct mail pieces mixed in with your websites.
If the creative director of a digital-only agency comes to your site, he or she should be able to find your digital samples quickly and easily. Don’t make people dig through your site—mostly, because they won’t bother. They’ll just leave. Instead, group your samples into logical categories and label them.
7. They can’t easily contact you.
A potential client has come to your site, they’ve looked at your work and they like what they see. Now they’d like to talk to you about hiring you, so they look for a way to contact you…and they look…and they look. You need to make it phenomenally easy for people to contact you from each and every page on your site.
If you don’t want to put up a phone number (you certainly don’t have to), you can put up your email address or an email address solely for business (as long as you check it regularly). There are also many sites that will allow you to use a form field for your contact information. But no matter what you choose, you need to make it easier than easy for them to get in touch.
And lastly, a confession. Right now, my own portfolio site breaks two of these rules (no descriptions and no organization). And I do absolutely intend to ameliorate these issues. But right now, I’m working regularly and don’t have to prospect for work. (And I’m not bragging; eventually you’ll likely get there, too.) But if you’re in the process of building your business and your career, these six items are non-negotiable. Get your portfolio site up to snuff, and your career will take off a whole lot faster.
Your turn! What do you most need to change about your portfolio site? Let us know in the comments below!