“I have all this great work – how do I promote myself?!”
It’s the commonest of refrains amongst freelancers. You’ve spent weeks on a piece of work and you justifiably want to show it off to prospective clients – what’s the best way?
Portfolio websites are ten-a-penny for freelancers these days – especially those working in creative sectors. To help you wade through the quagmire of possibilities, we’ve assembled some of our favourites for you to try out. Have a personal favourite? Let us know in the comments.
We’ll start off with perhaps the most straightforward offering, Clippings.me. Once set up with a profile, you can add a profile picture, social profiles and contact information, along with a quick blurb about yourself. Your portfolio of work is presented in a simple list, separated into categories with pictures and publications details accompanying each one.
To make collecting your work that much easier, Clippings.me gives members a browser bookmarklet to quickly add stories to their portfolios.
Clippings.me is available for free, but for $4.99 per month you’ll get some useful extras such as custom domain support and a listing in their journalist directory. For another $3 per month you’ll also get some analytics tools for your portfolio.
For the writer who doesn’t like their portfolio to look like everyone else in a directory, Writerfolio offers plenty of templates and themes to set you apart from the pack. Apart from the visual niceties, for your $4 per month you’ll get unlimited hosting for your samples and scans, use of your own domain if you have one, and support.
All the usual bits and bobs are accounted for too – profile pictures, contact information, social accounts etc.
Although not primarily set up as a portfolio service, Contently has one of the nicest offerings out there. The site’s primary purpose is to offer high-quality freelance writing jobs to its users, though a back-end network which connects them with publishers. This is where Contently makes their money, at least, so the portfolio side of the service is totally free.
Contently is perhaps the simplest of the bunch in terms of getting your portfolio set up. You can tell it which publications you’ve written for and it will run off and scape their site for any articles carrying your byline. You just accept the ones you want to show, and voila! Your work is laid out in a Pinterest-style grid and includes social measures such as how many times the piece was shared on Facebook and Twitter. You can drag and drop each tile to give more prominence to your favourite work, too!
Muck Rack is an incredibly polished offering, and is another site that makes its money not on the portfolio side, but by allowing PRs and companies direct access to the journalists featured in their directory. They’re not messing around either – a bog standard account is $99 per month, and an account for a team of 25 people costs $4,495!
The cost of entry will hopefully mean all PR contacts made through Muck Rack are of a good calibre, and not a press release-spamming annoyance. Each writer profile contains an overview, a selection of work, and also any awards you may have won. You can add a button to allow PRs to pitch you directly from your profile, and you can integrate your Twitter feed into your profile.
A simple offering, Writer’s Residence could be just the ticket for some people. For £5.49 per month you get a simple portfolio website with the ability to add as many clippings as you want, plus support and page templates. Not as shiny as some of the big-budget sites above, but sometimes that’s exactly what the Doctor ordered.
The beauty of the written word is that you needn’t use a dedicated portfolio site to showcase your work – any run-of-the-mill website hosting will do! You’ll be missing out on the value-added offerings such as directory listings and direct pitching, but you’ll have total flexibility, and it may well end up cheaper. Some of the non-portfolio services that actually do a great job as portfolios include:
Available either as a totally free blog, a paid-for version with more customisation, or an install-it-yourself-and-do-whatever-the-hell-you-like setup, WordPress is one of the most versatile Content Management Systems (CMS) out there.
Thousands of free and paid-for themes, more extensions and customisations than you could ever hope to count, and a friendly developer community make WordPress the CMS of choice for a full 19% of all websites.
Although the standard WordPress themes aren’t hugely useful as portfolios, a quick Google search for “WordPress portfolio themes” will provide you with everything you need to get started. This is the only option we’re listing where you really have total creative control, so learn a bit of CSS and dive in! I use WordPress for my freelance writing portfolio and absolutely love it.
In portfolio terms, think of Tumblr as WordPress-lite. Fewer customisation options, fewer themes, but as a pay-off absolutely no charges and simple, fast publishing.
Another step down the simplicity ladder leads you to About.me, which is comparable to an online business card. Put a whacking great photo as a background, add pertinent information and a smattering of links to your work, and you’ll have a classy and simple landing page for prospective clients.
If you’re an aspiring freelance writer and looking for help getting the ball rolling, we’d recommend downloading our brand new jargon-free guide How to become a Freelance Writer. It’s full of handy tips and hacks on finding clients, getting paid on time, and maintaining a thriving business.