If you build it, they will come.
This little mantra worked out pretty well for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams.
He simply built a baseball diamond (a ball field, to most) and sure enough, Shoeless Joe Jackson turned up with his baseball posse to play in Kevin’s fields and the day was saved.
The good news is: if it’s copywriting work you’re trying to conjure up and not dead baseball players, this adage still applies.
You have to give potential clients a reason to be attracted to you. You need to showcase your skills. You need to build a copywriting portfolio and show them what you’re made of.
But here comes the tricky part…you have enough raw talent, passion and determination to make your vision a reality, but you barely have any work to show to entice big-time clients.
It’s the Field of Dreams equivalent of Kevin Costner building his baseball diamond in his backyard…uninspiring and doubtful.
Luckily, there are some ways around this obstacle.
I’m about to show you how to build a portfolio set to bowl your potential clients over (experience, or not).
WHY DO I NEED A COPYWRITING PORTFOLIO?
Imagine a musical theatre company hiring a leading lady without an audition first.
The consequences could be disastrous. And the same goes for your copywriting – clients want to know you’ve got the goods before they take the plunge.
They’ll also want to know:
- If you have the writing style that they want
- If you’ve got experience working with a business similar to theirs
- That you know your stuff (and get results).
YOUR COPYWRITING PORTFOLIO: BEFORE YOU START.
Think of your portfolio as the perfect platform to show prospective clients what you’re capable of.
But to do that, you’ll need shining, impressive examples of your work.
Trouble is, if you’re just starting out, you won’t have much work to “work” with.
But don’t worry, here’s how to get yourself off the ground:
Reach out to people you know.
Your first port of call should be to dig deep into your little black book of contacts…it’s likely that you know at least one person, if not several, that run their own business.
At this point, you’re going to need to offer to help them out with your services for FREE.
Write a brochure for them, some website copy, a press release or whatever you feel would best showcase your talent and impress potential clients.
Look at this way, you’ll be doing them a favour, while simultaneously building that all-important archive of copywriting samples for potential clients to check out.
Rewrite their copy…but better.
Let’s be honest, how many times have you stumbled across a website and thought ‘wow that copy is pretty shocking…and not in a good way’.
So, why not show them that you can do a better job?
Take that piece of copy that’s making you cringe. Rewrite it and make it awesome, attention-grabbing and hypnotic. But don’t ask beforehand, just do it!
You never know, they might be so impressed that it leads to more regular (paid) work.
Practise. Then practise some more.
Even the most talented and experienced copywriters are a work in progress.
The foundations are constantly shifting, with new technologies and platforms changing the game every day.
On top of that, copywriting is not only an art form…it’s a discipline. It comes with its own set of rules (albeit, that are made to be broken), techniques and tricks.
The best thing you can do is learn them.
Enrol on a copywriting course – not only will you learn invaluable skills from amazing, experienced copywriters, but you’ll also produce a body of copywriting examples that can then be added to your portfolio and showcased to future clients.
CREATE A COPYWRITING PORTFOLIO TO BE PROUD OF.
Now, you’ve got some awesome work to put in your portfolio, it’s time to get building.
Here are the steps you need to take:
1. CHOOSE YOUR PLATFORM
Imagine you own a company. You get an email from an unknown writer on a mission sending you a portfolio of manuscripts.
Ouch. Their head is already hurting, which is not a great start.
You can’t expect a client to comprehend the power of website copy from a humble Word doc.
They need to witness the final version in all its glory to witness its true impact.
There are loads of platforms to choose from, so look for those that are geared towards writers, that use a solid copywriter portfolio template – and ideally offer a free basic package.
Here are some of our favourites:
We love Squarespace because of its many template options – all of high professional standard and quality. It also has a recently released web design system, Squarespace Blueprint, that makes the building process super easy!
We love Copyfolio for three main reasons:
- It’s quick and easy
- They’ve got many customisable templates
- It’s fully responsive on mobile.
Carbonmade is all about customisation, making it an ideal platform to build a portfolio that reflects your personality. You’ll get a free trial to try it out too.
For more top-notch copywriter portfolio examples, check out this blog post by HubSpot.
2. WRITE A COMPELLING HOME PAGE.
Your homepage is the hub of your entire portfolio – and your chance to make a memorable first impression.
Here’s what you need to include to showcase your skills to the max:
If there’s one thing you remember when it comes to your headline it’s this: instant clarity.
Say exactly what you do, leaving no room for confusion.
Remember: your reader is busy, likely looking at a ton of CVs and portfolios.
Don’t make them work for info, or you’ll lose their attention and they’ll head off to the open arms of your competitors.
The intro copy.
We love a hook.
It’s the chance to really grip their attention and let your creativity shine.
But it needs to be punchy. Create intrigue. And give your reader just enough to make them want to know more.
And keep it short – remember that short-attention span us humans have?
Testimonials or reviews are a powerful example of social proof, and a persuasive way to shout to the world about your success stories.
NOTE: Always ask your customer for their approval before you go ahead – and make sure it’s in writing as well.
3. WRITE AN ‘ABOUT ME’ PAGE
Oh the ‘About Me’ page – it’s a tough one to get right.
I’ll say this: don’t be tempted to make it all about you.
Huh? I know, doesn’t sound right, does it?
But I’ll let you into a little secret: your client doesn’t care about your backpacking around South-East Asia. And they definitely don’t care about the yoga class you take on a Wednesday eve.
They want to know what you can do for them.
Check out this example by our very own freelancer, Stephen Marsh.
It’s a genius example of turning this page on its head, and making it benefit-focused and packed full of value.
4. SHOWCASE YOUR WRITING EXAMPLES
Now’s it’s time for the pièce de résistance: your writing samples.
Make sure you include a mix so you don’t sell yourself short – and also stick to those that you’re most proud of.
You could choose from:
- Blog posts
- Website copy
- Social media posts
- Ad copy
- Ebooks or whitepapers
- Product descriptions
- Video scripts
Basically, anything that you want your clients to see. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.
You should also make sure you include basic info, such as:
- The name of the client
- What the job entailed
- A key highlight of the job (where possible). Something like ‘‘62% ramp-up in clicks and shares on social media”.
5. WRITE A COMPELLING CALL TO ACTION
You’ve swept your clients off their feet. Bravo to you.
Now you want to make it clear what you want them to do next.
Again, leave no room for confusion – you don’t want to lose them at the finish line.
TOP TIP: Try including a persuasive benefit in your CTA, such as ‘Get in touch to boost traffic and conversions’.
6. GET PITCHING
Congrats, your shiny new portfolio is ready for the world to see.
But it needs the perfect, persuasive partner in crime to boost its chances of success – a compelling, creative cover letter.
Because, let’s face it, if your cover letter is rubbish, the likelihood of anyone viewing your portfolio is slim to none.
Your cover letter/introductory email should:
- Pique curiosity by creating intrigue
- Keep the copy choppy
- Include some compelling stats
- Create a conversation by asking questions and be jargon-free
- Talk about them, not you. And all the benefits that you’ll bring to their business.
NEED A HELPING HAND?
There you have it. Our top tips to create the best copywriting portfolio in the business.
Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be firmly in the running for big jobs that kick-start your copywriting career.
Remember, keep your rates low, start small at the beginning and take your time to collate work that really showcases your talent. When your portfolio gets even bigger and better, you can start to reel in those big-time clients you’ve been dreaming about.
Good luck. And don’t forget to check out our very own copywriting portfolio while you’re here!
P.S. Want to learn the art, science and business of copywriting – from a world-renowned agency? Kick-start your freelance copywriting career today with our life-changing online course.