What to Include in Your Writing Portfolio (and What to Toss)
We’ve all been overwhelmed the last couple of years, so it’s understandable if your writing portfolio has been overlooked. But maybe you’ve recently taken on a new beat, switched jobs, or both. Maybe you’re considering joining the ranks of the Great Resignation or starting a freelance career. If your situation has changed, so should your writing portfolio.
Regardless of your current circumstances, it’s always a good time to review your portfolio and make sure you’re effectively presenting your strongest work to potential employers and clients.
To help you do a little writing portfolio spring cleaning, we have some tips for getting yours in the best shape. Some items can (and should) stay and others can safely be tossed.
What to Include in Your Writing Portfolio
- Pieces that cover the industry or niche that you want to write about. Do your homework and understand the kind of writing your target reader is looking for and what types of stories they tend to publish. While variety and diverse pieces are useful, make sure they’re in some way relevant to the readers you’re looking to impress.
- Your best work. It’s about quality, not quantity.
- Images/Thumbnails. They’re more compelling than text-only samples. Make sure the images are high quality and load properly.
- Your bio. Tell readers who you are and what you can do in 10 seconds or less (aim for 200 words or fewer).
- Testimonials. These will help build trust with potential clients or employers.
- Clean site navigation. Make it easy for potential employers to move around your site and find the information they need. Following SEO best practices will also help your site come up more often in search results.
- Contact details and links to your social media profiles. Make it easy for readers to contact you. (Note: Only include links to your social accounts if they’re up-to-date and professional.)
What You Can Remove From Your Writing Portfolio
- The excess. Remove pieces that are very similar to one another, aren’t relevant, or otherwise don’t need to be included. Your portfolio is meant to be a selection of your writing, not all of it. Don’t overwhelm those with whom you’re sharing it.
- The fluff. Keep it to professional writing samples. You don’t need to go into detail about your hobbies or interests – that can be saved for the interview.
- Posts that aren’t mobile-friendly. Make sure the posts you’re linking to render cleanly on mobile devices. They shouldn’t be cut off or distorted.
- Broken links. Make sure every post you’re linking to works as expected.
- Fonts that are an unprofessional size or style. Lose the Comic Sans if you want to come across as professional. Make sure the font size is legible and any color choices make it easy to read.
- Typos and grammatical mistakes. Obviously.
- The long scroll. Don’t post full pieces onto the page that force a reader to scroll and scroll. Keep it simple with links to the full articles.
Download the infographic and get to organizing!
Just getting started in the journalism field and need to work on building a portfolio? Here are some journalism job and internship resources for recent grads.
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Rocky Parker is the Digital Content Lead at Cision PR Newswire. She’s worked with journalists, bloggers, and content creators to create their targeted newsfeeds from PR Newswire for Journalists. Rocky has also counseled on content writing best practices. Check out her previous posts for Beyond Bylines. In her free time, Rocky can usually be found cooking, binge-watching a new show, or playing with her puppy, Hudson.