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?
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. (I say this having updated my own portfolio site after years of ignoring it.)
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 your portfolio, it was sheer perfection. But the internet evolves and your style taste does, too. (Take the Filthy Rich Writer logo for example. We updated that after nearly ten years because it was clear that it didn’t reflect our community; drop shadows were once cool, but they simply look dated now!)
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. Remember: sometimes keeping it simple is wildly effective.
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! Try to set up as simple of a URL as you can. URLs that are four or five words long are going to be, well, long. You’ll also want to avoid throwing up roadblocks of your own creation, like spending days coming up with your URL. The sooner you choose your URL, the sooner you can get going on creating the rest of your site and sharing with prospective clients.
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.
Once you’re organized, consider your process for adding new work to your portfolio moving forward. You should always have a reason for adding pieces. Does it reflect your best work? Does it demonstrate your skill in a particular medium or industry that isn’t represented by other pieces already in your portfolio?
Treat your portfolio like many people treat clothing in their closets: only add a new piece if you’re going to eliminate an old piece. This will help ensure that your portfolio stays curated and is easier to keep organized.
7. Potential Clients 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.
For a long time, my own portfolio site broke two of these rules (no descriptions and no organization). With regular work and referrals, I don’t have to prospect. (And I’m not bragging; eventually you’ll likely get there, too.) You still need to make it a priority to address any issues with your site. You may not need to do it as often once you have regular work, but you do need to do it.
If you’re in the process of building your business and your career, these seven 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!
Last Updated on July 4, 2023