By Amy @BubbleJobs
When you hear the word ‘portfolio’, graphic design and user experience design are probably the first things that come to mind when it comes to the digital sector – but really, that isn’t always the case. OK, so design portfolios are the most common, but really any job role which calls for examples of previous work to be submitted is essentially asking for a candidate portfolio to be sent in alongside the application.
When it comes to the digital sector, there are loads of roles that call for examples of work to be sent in alongside the application to demonstrate the candidate’s skills and talents – and copywriting in particular is one area where employers like to see a sample of the candidate’s work before they invite them in for an interview.
Now, while we covered UX portfolios on this blog a few weeks ago, we’ve never actually looked at copywriting portfolios and the type of work you should be sending in to demonstrate your range, tone and style… so today I thought I’d change that.
When an employer asks for examples of your copywriting work, they’re essentially asking you to send in a portfolio of your work which they can judge and assess when reviewing your application. That said; it’s pretty important to get your portfolio right (and right the first time!) because as we all know, you only really get one chance to make a good first impression.
Interestingly when I was researching this blog, I realised there were lots of blogs out there which were full of tips on how to build up your portfolio eg. how to get the experience – but not many blogs on what you should actually include in your portfolio once you’d got the experience – so that’s something I’ve tried to address in this post.
Without further ado then; here are my top tips for putting together the perfect copywriting portfolio.
1. Be Brutal
When it comes to copy, we all have some pieces that are close to our hearts for personal reasons but when it comes to putting together your portfolio, you really need to push nostalgia to one side. Try and consider which are your strongest pieces of terms of performance, the skills needed to write them and how well your copy fit the brief. If you’re torn between two pieces, consider who the end client was (who you wrote the content for), how big the audience for your copy was and how you can assess the copy’s performance.
When it comes to copywriting portfolios that you’re sending in with a job application, I’d always advise you to stick to a maximum of five – this way you’ll give the employer enough to get a feel for who you are as a writer – but not too much that it’ll overface them. When it comes to online portfolios (which you should definitely have if you’re a copywriter), I’d say you can take this number up to 20 – but again, be selective about what you put in – and don’t be afraid to take pieces out as you write more.
2. Keep It Diverse:
In terms of the copy you include, I’d always advise you to try and choose a diverse selection which shows off your skills, talents and diversity. By this, I mean try and include copy on not just a range of subjects but in a range of styles too eg. blogs, articles, on-site copy, press releases, white papers, ebooks etc. The more diverse your portfolio, the stronger it will be and the more appealing it should be to the end employer.
That said; if you’re applying for a copywriting vacancy with an employer in a particular industry and you already have copywriting experience in that sector, be sure to include a few examples which will directly relate to the job and industry in question – that way you’ll show the employer that you’re already a step ahead of the competition because you’ve got that specific knowledge and experience that they’re looking for.
3. Have Answers:
When it comes to your copywriting portfolio, you need to be clued up on all your pieces and ready to answer any questions which might get fired in your direction. Before the interview, be sure to familiarise yourself with each piece – why you wrote it, why you chose a particular style or specific keywords, who the audience was and how successful it was.
In terms of success, when it comes to online copywriting these days it’s all about social shares and links – so if you can, try and get an accurate figure of how many times the piece was shared on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (this should be easy if the site in question has a social sharing bar and counter in place), how many backlinks it attracted – and what, if any, direct benefits the company received from your copy – eg. increase in leads/sales etc.
4. Be Sure You Can Share:
As Lauren mentioned in her UX blog, when it comes to your copywriting portfolio, you need to be sure you have permission to share the content in public- something which isn’t always the case. For example, if you’ve produced copy for a private organisation which has never been made public and which had a non-disclosure agreement attached to it, I’d definitely urge you to keep it off your portfolio, both online and on paper.
That said; if you’re fairly new to copywriting and your portfolio is a bit thin, you might not have an option but to include this type of content. If this is the case, be sure to block out any names/important details and be sure to keep it short and sweet – the less you share, the less likely you are to get in trouble further down the line!
5. Consider The Presentation:
It might sound silly but when it comes to your copywriting portfolio, design matters too. Rather than printing your pieces out on a scruffy piece of A4 and stapling the pieces together, buy a nice shiny presentation wallet – and slot each piece in – as you’ll know being a copywriter, the easier you make something to read, the more likely it is to be read.
Similarly when it comes to your online portfolio, choose the design of your template carefully (if you’re using WordPress I wrote a blog on choosing a WordPress theme a few weeks ago) – make sure the font is easy to read and make sure the design really emphasises the copy, rather than the images – remember, you’re being judged on your words, not the images you’ve chosen to use!
Lastly make sure your online portfolio is easy to navigate, is easy on the eye and is easy to access – you should always have a link to your portfolio on your copywriting CV, regardless of whether the role asks for examples of your written work!
Think I’ve missed anything out? Have any other copywriting portfolio tips? Leave me a comment below or tweet me – @amy_edwards88.
PS. If you are looking for copywriting vacancies in the UK right now, you can find a list of the latest copywriting jobs on Bubble right here.