“I have all this great work – how do I promote myself?!”
It’s the most common refrain amongst freelancers. You’ve spent weeks on a piece of work and you justifiably want to show it off to prospective clients – but, 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 you’re set up with a profile, you can add a profile picture, your 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 publication details accompanying each other.
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.
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, through 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 it’ll run off and scope 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!
For the journalists amongst you, there are some portfolio websites built specifically with you in mind. With Journo Portfolio, you’ll get another selection of themes with hundreds of ways to customise each one to best suit your needs. You also get access to a collection of photos that you can use without having to worry about copyright infringements.
You get three packages to choose from – Free, Plus and Pro. On Free, you’ll be able to upload 10 articles onto your own journoportfolio.com domain. For £3.75 a month, Plus clients get unlimited article uploads, unlimited pages and your own domain. For Pro clients’ £7.50 a month, though, you’ll get all of the above, back-ups of your articles, a password protected portfolio and an HTTPS certificate.
Medium is an interesting one – essentially, Medium pools all the content from all of its contributors and places them all within one of their pre-established categories. Given its large roster of writers, constant flow of articles and its internal maintenance, Medium attracts more eyes to your work than perhaps you may garner elsewhere.
You can get a free membership and start writing straight away, with no design or coding skills needed. You get basic formatting options, the ability to add images and you can add up to three tags to your article to help decide who it may appeal to. Each writer gets their own profile, which allows people to instantly find their entire portfolio. You can also follow the content producers that you like the most to keep up to date with their work, and offer “Claps” – the Medium equivalent of Facebook Likes or Twitter Favourites.
The SEO side of things is largely taken care of for you, and in return, not only do you benefit from the natural traffic and exposure accrued by the Medium website, but people who are interested in your stuff can find all your work within a couple of clicks. We even use Medium for our tech blogs (which you should definitely go and read, by the way). Membership costs $5 a month or $50 a year, which nets you access to unlimited numbers of articles, which in turn rewards the writers you regularly read.
Muck Rack is an incredibly polished offering, and 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.
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.
Following on from Journo Portfolio, we have Pressfolio. Pressfolio allows you to back-up your news stories and build your own portfolio, without the hassle of coding. If you sign-up for the Pro package, you’ll get the back-ups and PDF uploads offered to Lite package customers, along with your own custom domain name, access to your Pressfolio web traffic stats and other expanded features. Each package is paid on a monthly subscription – $9.99 for Lite and $14.99 for Pro.
Squarespace is a slick and user-friendly experience that allows you to quickly get a great looking site up and running with a pretty, simple interface designed for non-techies. It works in a similar but more integrated way as WordPress. Packages start from £10 per month, which includes domain hosting and a range of more complex options available, such as e-commerce (package depending).
Your monthly subscription fee gives you access to a roster of website templates, created by Squarespace for your delight and delectation. From there, you can drag and drop elements on to your page to create the portfolio that best highlights and accentuates your work.
For the writer who doesn’t like their portfolio to look like everyone else’s, 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 may other perks.
All the usual bits and bobs are accounted for, too – profile pictures, contact information, social accounts etc.
A simple offering, Writer’s Residence could be just the ticket for some people. For £5.49 a month, you get a simple portfolio 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 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 – and 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 a portfolios include:
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. For $6.58 a month, you can get access to About.me Pro, which furnishes you with your own domain, removes the About.me branding and gives you access to customer support.
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.
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 30% 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.
If you’re an aspiring freelance writer and you’re looking for help getting the ball rolling, we’d recommend downloading our 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.