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How to create a portfolio for your writing samples

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I’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about getting private clients. You need writing samples to do this.

Not only will writing samples show off your skills, but they prevent the need to write specific samples when clients come your way. They prevent that need to “audition” for clients.

You want a portfolio for your samples. There’s no need to get any special software for this. You can do it on a page on your website or you could choose to share your links via a Word document or a Google doc or something similar.

The idea is that everything is in one place. You simply put the title of the post that you’re linking to and then hyperlink to that title. People can click the link and get taken straight to the sample.

Make sure you make the link open to a new page. If people have to click back or find you again, they’re more likely to forget.

You need to organize that portfolio, though. Here are three ways to organize the portfolio to make your writing samples easy to find.

Why share links and not documents

First, let’s just look at the method of sharing. You don’t want to take people to a file they need to download or a Google doc they need to open. The idea is to share a link to a published article somewhere online.

If you’re going to share to a file, make sure it’s a PDF file. Not only is this more trusted, but it’s harder for someone to just steal it as their own.

Links to published samples will show that you have a byline online somewhere. You show your authority in your niche, so you can command a higher rate for your content.

However, sending people to files or a Google drive is much better than having no portfolio at all.

So, how do you share your links?

The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks

Organize your writing samples by site

One option is to share the links organized by the site they’re published on. This is useful if you have a lot of content on particular websites.

You may have multiple articles you’ve written for Forbes or The Huff Post or somewhere else. You put the focus on where your content is published, which can go a long way into giving a good first impression for your skills.

I don’t do this method that much. I tend to do one piece per site, especially if I’m only writing purposely to get the byline at that particular website. It looks a bit odd to have one link for multiple sites, making it look like I’m not committed.

The only time I would heavily consider this is if you do a lot of writing for particular websites, and you purposely want to showcase the websites you’ve written at. This can be good if you do a lot of non-profit writing and you’re applying for another non-profit writing position.

How to Organize Your Writing Samples

Organize samples by niche

This is my preferred way of organizing samples.

I put the niche in bold or as a heading and will then include my top writing samples on that niche.

For example, it may be the wedding niche. I’ll have “Weddings” as the heading and include five to 10 of my best pieces of content within that niche. The content doesn’t have to come from the same site. It just has to be about weddings.

I make sure I create Excel sheets for tracking the links to my blog posts. All my best content and the stuff that I view as being evergreen is placed in the Excel sheet, and then I can just go in and grab the links when I need them. The sheet is organized by tabs, which are niche-related.

Organizing by niche is a great way to build your authority on a particular topic. You also get to showcase content from all over the web. The focus is no longer on where you’ve written but what your knowledge of a topic is like. You won’t see as much bouncing around, which makes you look more committed.

MORE: Why you’re not ready to be a freelance writer

It’s time to get your portfolio organized. With this, you can easily share one link to a page full of your writing samples whenever you want a client to consider you.