Building an online portfolio is an important part of building your credibility as a freelance writer. Editors will be more likely to want to publish your work if you have a neatly organized online portfolio that represents your previous publication experience. Here are some tips for building an online portfolio to show off your clips.
1) Post only your best work.
If you link to everything you’ve ever written, editors may get bored before getting to anything good. Think about the kind of clips you would send to editors in the mail along with your query letters. You would only send your best materials. Post only your best work to your online portfolio.
2) Organize clips by subject matter and/or category.
Don’t organize your online portfolio by date. While this might work for resumes, this is not the easiest way for an editor to navigate through your online portfolio. Put all your feature articles in one place, and then organize them by subject matter. Place all your news stories in another section, and organize those by subject matter. And so on.
3) Make sure you own the rights to every clip you post.
If you have sold a work for all rights or even for full electronic rights, you may not have the right to post it on your website. While it is fine to mail a copy of a clip you have sold full rights to, posting them online is a different story. Publishing your work even on your own website (free with Wix) is considered publication and may violate agreements you have made with clients or editors.
4) Link to clips posted on other websites.
If you’ve done work for online publications or websites, you can link directly to these works in your portfolio. Make sure to check your links every so often to make sure they’re still active. It is unprofessional to have broken links on your portfolio.
5) Scan printed clips.
If your work was published in print rather than online, as long as you own the rights to the work, you can scan the copy and publish it to your portfolio. When scanning work, save to a .pdf file rather than publishing the file as an image to your site. Almost all editors will be able to view .pdf files. Image files or other document files may not appear to each viewer in the same format or as clear as they appear to you on your screen.
6) List publication information for each clip.
Always include the name of the publication who printed each piece of your work. Make sure to state when the piece was published. For work you’ve posted that is not directly linked to a publication’s site, you may still want to provide a website for the reference of your visitors. This way, if an editor has never heard of a publication, he/she has the option to easily visit the publication’s site to find out more.
7) Don’t post unpublished articles in hopes to sell them.
Editors visit your portfolio looking for samples of your previously published work. They will not be browsing your portfolio to purchase the articles on your website. Most editors want articles written specifically with their publication in mind. Regardless, they will not be impressed with your “Articles for Sale” sign — if you want to sell your articles online, sell them someplace other than your portfolio.
8) Get some exposure.
Getting exposure can be tough, but in the digital era, there is social media, news outlets, press release options, and much more. Getting exposure is an excellent way to get more credibility as a freelance writer.