GrammarPhile Blog

How to Build an Amazing Writing Portfolio

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Apr 12, 2018 7:30:00 AM

online portfolioAn amazing writing portfolio makes you stand out online. How you create, design, develop, and promote your online writing portfolio makes all the difference. A well-designed and well-organized portfolio can determine whether you get noticed or not and can ensure you get work opportunities that reflect who you are as a writer.

Here are some online portfolio tools you’ll want to consider using when creating your online writing portfolio:

Whether you freelance, work for a single employer full-time, or take on contract writing work, these tools allow you to do things like upload your original work, use a customized URL, and select a theme. They also come with intuitive online and mobile navigation, so it’s easy for others to view your work, and they make it much easier for you to share your writing with others.

Here are some tips for building an amazing online writing portfolio, organized by writing industries.

Creative and Fiction

Strategy and Design

When building an online writing portfolio for creative work, ensure the theme and design you select match your genre. For instance, if you write romantic fiction, you’ll want softer colors and whimsical design elements. But if you write sci-fi, you’ll want darker or metallic colors with design elements that reflect space and sci-fi motifs. It’s also helpful to select a design and theme that reflect the overall tone and voice you display in your writing. For example, if you use a lot of humor in your writing, you may want to opt for brighter colors and a photo of yourself laughing in your bio. You want everything in your writing portfolio to reflect your writing style and voice.

Include in your portfolio links and some information about publishers you work with often as well as any agents or agencies you work with. And include photos of the covers of your published work (e.g., a cover to a novel or an e-book, or the cover of an edition of a journal in which your work was included) whenever possible so that they’re easy to recognize. Including cover photos or featured photos for each piece of work in your online writing portfolio is also more visually appealing for your reviewers as they scroll through your portfolio instead of through an endless stream of text. And if you include a photo, it’s more likely that others will click on your link. 

Samples to Include

Include a variety of samples, such as a chapter from a novel or e-book, short stories, or poems. If you write several types of fiction and creative work, make sure to include an adequate amount of each type of work whenever possible (e.g., two or three poems, two or three short stories, etc.). And always include samples and links to work that has received awards and accolades. It’s also important to realize that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) include everything you’ve ever written in your writing portfolio. Include only 10 to 20 of your best pieces that have been published, featured, received awards, etc. Rotate your samples often so that your portfolio is always fresh and up to date and truly reflects who you are as a writer.

Nonfiction and Research

Strategy and Design

For writing portfolios that include nonfiction and research, you’ll want to have a sleek and basic theme that doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles or advanced design elements. Don’t use more than three colors for your theme.

You should include photos and make your portfolio easy to scan. Don’t include long, dense paragraphs of text, but do include photos of compelling visualized data whenever possible (e.g., graphs, charts, heatmaps). Separate your writing samples by topic or subtopic and highlight awards and publications. You’ll also want to draw attention to new pieces of work and research you’ve published or written. And include links to guest blog posts or other online materials that you’ve written that are a part of your larger body of research and work.

Samples to Include

For ongoing research, you’ll want to consider including samples that show the timeline of your research and its evolution, highlighting the most pivotal information. For instance, if you’re documenting the development of a pharmaceutical device or innovation, you’ll want to share pieces of your writing that represent the five years you have been following the development of the device and what you’ve discovered along the way. Don’t include too many samples, just the samples that highlight the most interesting and imperative facts or discoveries.

Business and Communications

Strategy and Design

For a business-oriented portfolio, pick a theme and logo that best reflect the industries in which you work. For instance, if you work in construction, include images of building tools or your company’s logo. If you work in the technology industry, include digital-inspired images. You’ll also want to include reports you’ve written, as well as important memos and press releases. And your portfolio should have a variety of samples for each type of business communication you’ve written.

Because articles in business and communications tend to be shorter, it’s usually a good idea to include 20 to 30 samples, depending on their lengths. Separate your samples by client, industry (if you write for more than one industry), or type of writing (e.g., reports, briefs, proposals). 

Samples to Include

Include at least two samples of each type of writing you regularly complete (if not more) depending on their lengths. While you would want to include 5 to 10 examples of shorter memos or press releases you’ve written, you may only want to include 2 or 3 samples of reports or longer proposals. And be sure to include pieces for each industry for which you write.

Copywriting and Content Marketing

Strategy and Design

As you’re creating this type of portfolio, include those articles that received real-life traction and positive responses. For instance, you’ll want to include direct mail copy that increased sales by a certain percentage and you’ll want to include content marketing copy (e.g., blog posts, emails, and so on) that received a lot of online engagements and led to more conversions.

While you don’t necessarily have to include the analytics and data (although that certainly wouldn’t hurt), you’ll want to include samples that reflect your best work. And in the world of copywriting and content marketing, the best written work is always the work that receives the most traction and has a high conversion rate.  

Samples to Include

In your portfolio, include copy from different industries for which you write as well as a variety of samples, especially blog posts, email campaigns, and e-books. Also list links to any website landing pages for which you’ve written copy.


Strategy and Design

As a journalist, you’ll want to show writing samples that reflect your best work, were featured in publications, and that won accolades. You’ll also want to add information about or links to any columns you write on a regular basis and encourage your readers to subscribe. And you’ll want to organize your samples by different topics or categories you have covered such as local politics, technology, education, etc. Organize your portfolio by featured samples and category and be sure to always keep it updated with your most recent work.

The more diverse your samples, the more likely it is that you should keep a basic, sleek design. However, if your pieces are very niche-specific, then you’ll want a design or theme that reflects your niche. For instance, a journalist who covers environmental issues may want a theme with earth tones.

Because journalism is so fast-paced, it’s imperative that your work is constantly up to date. And you’ll also want to ensure your portfolio is easy to share with others and includes applicable photos of the stories you’ve covered.

Samples to Include

Provide samples that went viral (received more than 1 million views or shares). But also be sure to include samples that showcase the different levels of your expertise. If you’ve written breaking news but have also sat down with a high-profile individual for an in-depth and revealing interview, showcase the gamut of your journalistic abilities.


What does your writing portfolio look like? Have you started one yet? Share with us in the comments below. Feel free to add a link to your own portfolio.

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Topics: writing portfolio

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