How to Build a Winning Copywriter Portfolio from Scratch

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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). 


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).




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.



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: 




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: 

  1. It’s quick and easy
  2. They’ve got many customisable templates
  3. 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.




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:


The headline.

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? 

The testimonials


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.



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. 


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: 

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”. 



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’.




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.



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!

Love you,


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.


Kick-start your freelance copywriting career today with our life-changing online course.


Kick-start your freelance copywriting career today with our life-changing online course.

About the author

Konrad Sanders CEO & Lead Strategist at The Creative Copywriter
Hey you. I’m Konrad. A full-funnel content strategist and CEO with a pretty darn creative noggin on my shoulders. I run a team of word-slinging cowboys and strategists who blend science with art to help bold brands get their words right at every step of the customer journey. Which means? They sell more stuff and grow predictable revenue. Brands like AECOM, Thomson Reuters, TikTok, Panasonic, Adidas, Mercedes-Benz, plus shedloads of tech scale-ups...and you? Let's connect.

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Some great points here and really informative thank you, I am just starting up (or trying to) in the copywriting world. I think the idea about re writing is fantastic so i think i may try this for a few sites and see the kind of response i get.

I remember when I got my start and it was very close to what you describe, giving away some freebies and hoping for some word of mouth advertising. It seems like a slow way to start off, but you build trust and a reputation that is hard to knock down.

Glad you agree.
It’s pretty tough to get into most industries these days – and here in the UK, young people are doing unpaid internships willy-nilly. So if you can do a few copywriting jobs for free, it’s great experience and the perfect way to give your portfolio a kick-start!

I still give away free samples to companies that I know will need much more work than what that sample provides. It’s a good way to get your foot in the door and start a business relationship that could prove fruitful for everyone involved.

How important is a good portfolio if I am going to be making this a career? I have heard many different opinions on this and trust yours the most as you are the best!

Do you ever find yourself rating a copywriter by the look of their website? I know they don’t always create their own content, but it still shows their creativity and style.

Well, I think that if you find a copywriter with bad copy on their website – then you should probably keep on searching! Bad design is a different story – although as a huge fan of powerful branding, I think it’s important that we all get our website design looking sharp too. There’s too much competition out there for you to be slacking on your website copy or design. These are the foundations. So get them right.

I’m glad I stumbled upon this site, because, for the first time, I’m applying for copy writing and/or editorial positions. Reading through your tips, I am both encouraged and a little discouraged. You see, I don’t have time to take a course at the moment, since I am in the thick applying for gigs. I’ve been forced to make a move professionally out of necessity, but, after much thought, I’ve realized that, professionally, I want to move in a different direction anyway. Hence, even if necessity didn’t demand that I move, I’d still be restless for a change. Let me briefly explain. With almost 10 yrs experience in academia as an administrative and English comp/lit instructor, the idea of branching out is downright daunting. I’m also an “on again off again” film student who is mostly into screenwriting, and I have a couple of creative blogs and oodles of teaching experience. Though daunting, I am at a point in my life where remaining in academia would, I believe, work against fostering any kind of continued growth and development as a creative professional. I just can’t get this in my current position. I’m not looking to freelance right now because I have bills to pay, haha. Ideally, I’d love to land a full time gig at an advertising and/or marketing firm. However, I’m looking to land a full time gig at a company that will pay me a living wage, at the very least. Let’s just get down to brass tacks here, haha. I have found that there are a lot of great copywriting gigs out there, but I have also found that I feel helpless. Scrambling to create a writing portfolio and hoping for the best at the moment.

Hi Gemma
Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you stumbled upon our blog too and I hope it wasn’t too discouraging 🙁
You can also find gigs on Elance, Odesk and PeoplePerHour – but the problem there is that you’re up against a load of competition, many of whom are willing to write for peanuts! And again the problem lies that if you don’t have a portfolio already, or a good rating on those platforms, it would be hard to compete. But if you lower your prices to start with you may be able to land a few jobs – and start to build your portfolio.
Once you have a decent portfolio under your arm, go hit up the advertising and marketing agencies! There are also a lot of companies within different industries which require content managers or in-house copywriters. You’d be writing about the same stuff all the time (so, not as exciting as an ad agency) – but it would be great experience and you’d get paid!
The Copywriting Institute that I mentioned here runs an online course which is completely flexible. Send in work at your own pace. So if you can squeeze in some studying and writing in the evenings/at weekends – it’s the perfect way to start! Once completing the course, you’ll also get on their list of professional copywriters and can find work through them. It’s great! If you want to find out more about the course, just send me a quick email at konrad@creative-copywriter.net – as we can probably get you a discount on the course price.
Good luck with your quest!

Is creating fake copy for fake businesses looked down upon? I don’t want to trick anyone into thinking that it’s published work, but it seems like it would be a shortcut that could work. I now design students create mock-ups all the time. I’m not a student anymore, but shouldn’t copywriters be allowed to do the same thing?

Hi Sam. As long as you’re not deceiving anyone, then why not!? I think it’s perfectly reasonable – and in fact smart – to cut corners like that. The course I mention in this post pretty much allows you to create a portfolio of ‘fake’ work, which you can then display to potential clients to show off your skills. So it’s essentially the same short cut you’ve suggested, except that you actually get first-class copywriting training and feedback from pro copywriters along the way.
I say – go for it mate!
And cheers for dropping by.

Cheers! And we’re going through a rebranding process as we speak (the new site should be up in a month from now) – so I’m not offended by the ‘purple’ comment. Our new site is going to be shit-hot! 🙂

This short lil ditty absolutely affirmed and opened my mind up to a simple way to create my portfolio and possibly make a few bucks along the way. It was also good to hear about other online course for copywriters too. Big Ups!!!

Copywriting is something I’ve uhm’d and ahh’d over for a while now. I’ve always been put off as, even though I have a degree in Creative Writing, my lack of portfolio has always been the thing that ultimately stops me from pursuing it – the whole way of thinking that ‘someone who has specialised in an area like this should have more to show for it’.
So I’m really glad I stumbled upon this as you’ve made it even a lot more accessible – given me the kick up the you-know-what that I need! I’m definitely going to look into the course you mentioned.
Thank you!

I have aspired to pursue a career in writing for a few years now. I am a senior student whose determination and feverish research has lead him to this informative website. I have considered becoming a copywriter for a while now, but I did not know how exactly to begin. With the help of this excellent post, I am more confident in my chances in making this into a career. I greatly appreciate your insightful advice; your knowledge is extremely valuable to so many, including myself.

Hey, your content is super helpful and provides a ton of insight! My heart was set on a scientist role and I have 2 years of experience already, but I decided that I want to pursue medical writing instead. I just graduated (biomedical science) and I wanted to ask you about the portfolio for medical writers. As I have a lot of written work from my course, is it okay to use some of it for my portfolio? Specifically my dissertation (research project that will be published later this year) and a detailed educational poster. I have quite a lot of other written work, mostly in the form of essays/articles on specific subjects and annotated bibliographies.

Hi Melanie, it’s great to hear you’ve fallen for medical writing. You can 100% use your coursework ideas for your portfolio before you have client work. But we’d suggest you take it out of the dissertation format and try your hand at a whitepaper on the same topic, utilizing your research. All the articles and the eductional poster should be fine as is 🙂

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