One of the first questions that new copywriters ask me is, “How do I make a copywriting portfolio?”
In this guide, I’m going to show you multiple ways to create an impressive copywriting portfolio, but more importantly, I’m going teach you where that portfolio should fit into the process you use to land great clients.
If you want to not only build a great copywriting portfolio, but also learn how to use it effectively in your marketing as a freelance writer, you’ll love this guide!
Let’s dive in.
No Clients Yet? Here’s How To Quickly Build Your “Minimum Viable Portfolio”
The purpose of a copywriting portfolio is to provide “proof” that you can achieve the type and quality of work that a client wants when they are thinking about hiring you.
I use quotations around “proof” because not only can a portfolio be faked to some extent, but in many cases, a writer’s work is notably improved during the editing process, so what the client can see via the portfolio isn’t necessarily what you will receive from the writer.
Higher end clients who work with a lot of writers often know this, so they will be more interested in seeing a finished draft or running the writer through a test project rather than simply going off the portfolio.
On the other side of things, lower end clients often don’t have the budget to work with writers who have extensive portfolios, so they are open to finding solid writers who are early in their career and charging lower prices.
And that’s why you don’t need to have a portfolio in order to start landing gigs as a new writer.
Another thing to keep in mind is that clients don’t actually want to look through 5+ pieces of your work. They don’t have the time or the interest. They are really just looking for a few key pieces of data, which we’ll cover later in this guide.
I’ve been a freelance copywriter for the last 9 years, and I never send clients to a portfolio page unless they ask for it.
Instead, I send them links to two published examples of my work that I feel are the most relevant to their business and the project they are interested in hiring me for.
That’s your goal as a new writer: create two examples of your work that you can link a client to.
This is your “minimum viable portfolio”.
So if you are a brand new writer with no prior clients to highlight, all you need to do is create TWO published pieces of work that you can send to potential clients in your pitching and sales process.
The easiest way to create these is to self-publish two blog posts.
If you have a website, publish them on your website.
Once you have the articles ready, publish to either Medium or LinkedIn can be done in about 5 minutes and will look great visually for sending to clients.
Make the topics of the blog posts similar to either the type of work you want to do for the clients you’ll be pitching or the niche of clients you’ll be targeting.
For example, if you wanted to write marketing copy for plant-based diet brands, you could either self-publish a blog post on eating a plant-based diet, or you could do a blog post on writing better marketing copy.
Do that quickly and start pitching.
There’s no reason you ever need to stop and wait around based on the quality of your portfolio. The only way to expand your portfolio is to pitch and close new clients.
Okay, now let’s talk about how to create a copywriting portfolio page once you have 5+ clients that you want to highlight.
Three Key Ingredients Every Copywriting Portfolio Needs
When a client looks at your portfolio, they are wanting to answer three main questions:
- Does this writer have the quality or style of writing that I’m looking for?
- Has this writer worked with businesses that look similar to mine or are in the same niche as mine?
- Does this writer seem to be above board, reliable, and the type of person I’d want to work with?
No matter how you choose to display your work, or what portfolio platform you use, your portfolio’s most important task is to answer these three questions, and that’s why every copywriting portfolio needs to include the following three key ingredients.
- Examples highlighting the type of copywriting you want to do more of in the future
- Client testimonials and other forms of social “proof”
- Project details, including challenges, methodology, and results
Let’s dive into these in more detail.
1. Highlight Examples Of Work You Want To Do More Of In The Future
Remember that your portfolio doesn’t exist on an island.
It’s part of your sales process. Either you are pitching people and sending them to your portfolio page at some point, or you are attracting people to your brand who then browse your portfolio page before reaching out to you.
Accordingly, you want your portfolio page to highlight the types of examples that align with copy you want to do more of in the future.
For example, if you really love writing website copy for healthcare businesses, make sure you have a prominent example or two of your healthcare copywriting projects featured in your portfolio. If you don’t want to write any more blog posts about fitness, don’t include examples of fitness blog posts in your portfolio.
As a general rule, it’s helpful to include an image of the published work along with a link to the live page when possible.
How many total examples that you include is up to you, but I like to approach it in one of two ways:
- The Highlight Reel
- The “Shock And Awe” Megalist
As I mentioned earlier, nobody is actually going to look through 5+ examples.
Potential clients are going to click on one or two examples and make sure they like what they see.
We want to have our best 5-10 examples leading off the page, and this highlight reel is all you really need for a copywriting portfolio page. Make sure to present this on the page as a “highlight reel” rather than a comprehensive list (even if it IS a comprehensive list).
If you have an extensive work history with 40+ examples, then putting all of them on the page is going can have a “shock and awe” affect where the client thinks, “Wow, they’ve done a ton of work. They must be really good.”
You can also combine these two approaches, having a distinct highlight reel at the top followed by a massive list below.
The real key is just making sure you include the right examples in that initial section: examples that reflect work you want to do more of in the future.
2. Include Client Testimonials And Other Forms Of Social “Proof”
Social proof is all about leveraging the brand-building power of people you’ve worked with.
Sometimes this is specific. If you’ve worked with a recognizable brand, you want to highlight that brand specifically.
Sometimes this is more about niche or business type. A testimonial from a local restaurant doing under $1M per year in revenue is going to have more of an impact on a potential client with a similar business than highlighting that you wrote a blog post for IBM.
Some of this will be baked into the portfolio examples themselves. Simply by highlighting the work you’ve done, you will collect some social proof along the lines we’ve just mentioned.
But there are some specific things you can add to provide additional social proof, and THE most important one is testimonials.
It’s one thing to show 10 projects you’ve worked on, but if you can pair that with 10 client testimonials, you are projecting the message: “Everyone I’ve worked with has been willing to give me a testimonial afterward.”
A lot of the clients who are thinking about hiring you have never hired a freelance writer before. This is a big risk for them, and social proof helps show them that you specifically are less of a risk.
It’s especially helpful if the testimonials references specific aspects of working with you or the quality of your writing that the client really appreciated.
If you are getting a weak testimonial text from clients, you can always ask them to mention any specifics they found helpful about working with you.
3. Describe Project Specific, Including Challenges, Methodology, And Outcomes
You can probably get away with just showing your work, but if you want a truly impressive copywriting portfolio, the last ingredient you want to add is additional copy that provides specifics about each project you are highlighting in your portfolio.
One of the things you may not consciously be aware of but you are probably subconsciously aware of is that uncertain people tend to be vague.
Let’s say you ask me question: “How did you get this site to $10k revenue per month?”
Which of these responses makes you more interested in hiring me?
“We posted SEO content on plant based eating every month within a comprehensive digital marketing plan.”
“We posted 2 pieces of longform content each month, targeting them around specific keyphrases that would attract individuals interested in a plant based diet, and we launched each new post with a small internal and external linkbuilding campaign along with some manual promotion in niche communities.
The average client might not know what half those words mean in the second response, but the added specificity implies expertise.
You can apply this concept to your portfolio by being specific about the project highlighted in each portfolio entry.
If your role wasn’t necessarily that impressive, but the campaign results were impressive, focus more on the campaign methodology and results. If your role WAS impressive, focus specifically on your role in the project and how you steered it to success.
When possible, talk about the challenges that you faced, the methods you employed to overcome those challenges, and the outcomes.
This won’t be applicable to every project, but the more you can make portfolio entries function as case studies, the better they will serve you.
6 Great Copywriting Portfolio Examples Across Multiple Platforms
You’ll find writer’s portfolios on their websites.
And while a while a website can be a huge asset to you as a freelance writer, and I would encourage you to create on at some point, if you don’t have one right now, that’s okay.
Here’s several great portfolio examples that includes options for multiple platforms.
Copywriting Portfolio Example #1: Ashlyn Carter’s Pinterest Profile
Most copywriter portfolios are housed on websites or LinkedIn, which was why this Pinterest portfolio instantly caught my attention. Ashlyn Writes uses her Pinterest portfolio as a way to showcase her work and generate leads for her copywriting and coaching business.
Why This Is An Amazing Copywriting Portfolio:
- Highly visual portfolio examples
- Specialization in copywriting for creatives
- Targeted approach for her audience
What works so well with this Pinterest portfolio is that it’s 100% tailored to her customers. Ashlyn’s specialization is in copywriting for creatives, and there’s no doubt that Pinterest is the best platform to reach this group of people online.
More importantly, Ashlyn’s website is only one step in her sales funnel. Once a visitor jumps onto her Pinterest board, they’re directed to her website. This is FILLED with resources, testimonials and even a tracker with the number of clients she’s worked for, plus the words she’s written over the course of her career.
If you’re going to go down the Pinterest route, it’s a good idea to have a copywriting website to direct clients to for more information. Another approach could be to house everything on one Pinterest account, including client testimonials, your services offered and previous experience.
Copywriting Portfolio Example #2: Angela Black’s Carbonmade Profile
Copywriting platforms are a solid way to gain exposure for your work, particularly in the earlier days. Angela Black’s Carbonmade profile is a solid example of a copywriting portfolio that’s clean, considered, and does a great job in showcasing her work.
Why This Is An Amazing Copywriting Portfolio:
- Categorizes work by types of copywriting
- Adds a personal touch to each example
- Visual examples of work
Angela only has 9 examples on her Carbonmade portfolio, but it’s clear that she’s deliberately selected these to demonstrate her ability to write different types of copy.
Instead of inundating a potential client with work, Angela’s page piques a visitor’s interest and quickly shows that she’s able to tackle a range of different types of from emails to merchandising.
Once a visitor jumps inside any one given example, they’re presented with a clear introduction on her role on the project, the client and a top-level view of the results. As a user scrolls through the page, she complements her examples with nuggets on the strategy behind the copy and personal insights from working on the campaign.
Copywriting Portfolio Example #3: Michal Eisikowitz’s LinkedIn Page
If you’re a freelance copywriter, LinkedIn is a gold mine for leads. And when it comes to LinkedIn copywriter portfolios, Michal Eisikowitz’s is definitely among the cream of the crop.
Why this is an amazing copywriting portfolio:
- Top-notch benefits-focused copy that’s sharp and engaging to read
- Backs up her expertise and skills with awards and speaking engagements
- Glowing recommendations and endorsements from clients
Michal’s LinkedIn portfolio is well-branded and well put together. Anyone who visits her LinkedIn profile instantly can tell that she knows her stuff.
From her copy describing her experience to her samples, everything on her page screams top-level talent — and Micha’s copywriting instantly hooks the client in, gets them nodding their heads, and pushes them further down the path to hiring her.
She’s also clear on exactly who her target audience is, what their problems are, and the goal they’re trying to achieve — and she answers that with her copy.
For most copywriting portfolios, that’s already enough to hook in a client. Michal takes it one step further. On top of her tight copy and engaging writing style, Michal uses the “Featured” section to pin a speaking gig and a commendation award from LinkedIn, and has countless recommendations and endorsements to her name.
Another thing that Michal truly nails? She drives her leads to her fantastic writer website, which is primed to take visitors through the sales process and showcase her writing in action:
Put together, Michal’s LinkedIn copywriting profile and website portfolio work together to create one killer lead machine that converts clients.
Copywriting Portfolio Example #4: Elise Dopson’s Website Portfolio
You might be a copywriting jack of all trades OR you might specialize in one specific industry. As far as B2B copywriting portfolios go, Elise Dopson’s is one of the best I’ve come across.
Why this is an amazing copywriting portfolio:
- Writing examples from top tier industry names
- Uses a mix of client testimonials and data to support expertise
- Specialized messaging targeting B2B clients
From the get-go, every visitor knows that Elise is a B2B copywriter who specializes in blog posts, white papers and content refreshes. Her portfolio only hammers that point home with stellar examples from industry heavyweights like Mangools, Content Marketing Institute and Wix.
What’s particularly great about Elise’s portfolio is that she’s written it like it’s a blog post. She’s added in quotes, headings, images and examples, which makes it easy for a visitor to start reading and keep going — all the way down to the bottom.
She also backs up every one of her examples with a client testimonial and an image that speaks to the success of that piece of content, like the traffic acquired after a client started working with her:
All up, this tells a compelling story about why a visitor should work with Elise, as well as the genuine value that she brings to the table.
Copywriting Portfolio Example #5: Gari Cruze’s Website Portfolio
Copywriting is all about the words, but it’s even more powerful to see those words in action. Gari Cruz’s copywriting portfolio marries copy and design together to demonstrate how his words deliver a standout user experience.
Why this is an amazing copywriting portfolio:
- Outstanding combination of copywriting and design
- Results for every campaign
- Clear specialization in advertising
In every example, Gari outlines who the client was, the context of what they were trying to achieve, the strategy he took to get there and the channels that his copy was used on.
It can also be tough to validate your work when you predominantly write print and online ad copy, but Gari does this really well on his site. He ties in qualitative proof through media features and quotes from industry publications to show that his copy gets people talking:
Copywriting Portfolio Example #6: Stephen Marsh’s Website Portfolio
Stephen Marsh’s website is another standout example from a copywriter who has nailed the website portfolio. His portfolio is clean, concise, structured, and quickly demonstrates his abilities without becoming a wall of work.
Why this is an amazing copywriting portfolio:
- Downloadable PDF portfolio
- Filtering by different types of copy
- Links to discover further projects
Stephen’s portfolio page includes a number of client testimonials, as well as the work he’s previously done, which can be filtered by Brand and Tone of Voice, Digital, and Print.
Within each example, he’s done a phenomenal job of capturing the objective of the project through a headline and a quick blurb. Stephen also adds an excerpt of copy for each example so a visitor can quickly get a feel for his writing abilities, and a link to other similar projects.
Here’s another thing that really stands out. On top of housing his work online, Stephen’s portfolio includes a self-contained PDF that goes through who he is, what he does and examples of his previous work.
This is perfect for any visitor who might want to quickly learn more about him, or wants to distribute his copy to their manager or other team members. As a bonus, this PDF can also be quickly attached as part of an introduction email to a client.
Remember: Your Portfolio Is A Tool, Not A Prerequisite
There are no prerequisites to starting a copywriting business.
One of my IBCC course students landed a $14,000 gig while doing the homework for SECOND lesson in the course, where I instructed him to reach out to people in his network and ask if they needed help with writing.
That didn’t come from a portfolio, website, or list of prior experiences (he had none).
It came from him putting himself and his writing service in front of enough people until one of them said, “Yeah, I need that.”
At it’s core, that’s all you need to be a freelance writer: the willingness to consistently put yourself out there and until somebody says, “Yes”, and the number of “No’s” you get along the way is meaningless.
That said, if you’d like some help with all the smaller, practical steps that make up the journey, I’ve put together a 14-day crash course, and it’s currently available at no cost.
Enter your email below, and I’ll send it your way.