If you’re still slinging a 5 page resume around like it’s 1999… please stop right there and watch this video, because ain’t nobody got time or interest to download that attachment.
Hey guys — it’s Alex! And this week I am back talking about the ONE thing on every new copywriter’s mind… how do I prepare an irresistible portfolio that makes me look like a boss and get more clients!
So come along and join me as I share the 5 rules to putting together a Copy Posse-Approved portfolio.
Now – these rules apply to really any freelancer, not only copywriters, so designers, marketers, content writers, social media managers and developers, listen up cuz I’m talking to you too!
So it goes a little something like this…
Through the magic of the internet, you’ve found yourself a client who’s interested in maybe hiring you and you are PSYCHED. Then they ask the inevitable question – can I see your portfolio?
And you’re like…. UM… yeah, one sec. Then you scramble to put together a hodge podge of different stuff you’ve written – the more the better right? You want to show them that you’re a diverse and multi-faceted copywriter who has been trusted and hired by as many different people as possible right?!
Wrong. So, so wrong.
When it comes to crafting your portfolio – quality over quantity goes a long, long way and… above all else, remember that relevancy RULES.
No one cares about the social media copy you wrote for your friends dog walking business 8 years ago – that is, of course, unless your new client runs a dog walking business.
So how do you prepare a portfolio that will grab your client’s attention and command more YESSES? Well I’m glad you asked…
Here are my 5 rules for preparing a portfolio like a BOSS.
Rule #1. Make It Personal
Using the same one-size-fits-all cover letter for all your potential clients is not a hack — trust me, it’ll back fire.
Have you ever ordered or bought a gift from a store online and discovered a personalized or thoughtful note from the team or founder inside? It’s a fantastic touch and makes you feel so valued as a customer.
On the flip side, you know when you get a canned “hey there!” marketing email from a list you’ve signed up on. Even when they’ve personalized the subject line to use your name, you still know it’s a marketing email, right?
Well the same goes for the emails you’re sending clients guys. These are people who you want to build a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with, so NEVER send them a generic templated email because, trust me, they will know. Just be REAL.
Take the time and initiative to personalize your emails for the client or company that you’re sending your portfolio to.
And the #1 rule of copywriting is to NOT make it all about you. Despite this fact, I’m always blown away by how many copywriters, coaches, companies, or consultants reach out to me looking to work with me in some way all they talk about is themselves. Woooom wooom.
Businesses want to hire people who are aligned with their mission. So when communicating with potential clients, let them know why you want to work with them, why you love their brand, and what value you can offer them.
And please… don’t try to be over creative in your emails and apply cheesy copy hooks and obnoxious angles written in All Title Caps. Emails are NOT meant to be written like sales pages. “And wait. That’s not all… if you reply right now….” Just be human, personal and approachable instead of coming off like an infomercial host! Because it’s weird.
So, when communicating with your new and potential clients send short, authentic and personalized emails. Cool?
Rule #2. Clarify Your Focus
No one walks into Starbucks and says “Hi, can I have a coffee.” Think about – you walk in and you order your Grande Extra Hot Soy Double Shot Dirty Chai Tea Latte with extra foam because that’s what you NEED today ok!!
Like coffee, not all copy is created equal, and even though you likely CAN write a variety of different types of copy for a variety of different niches, that’s not very appealing. Your client has a specific need and they want you to serve it up like a Barista at Starbucks who doesn’t spell their name wrong on the cup.
They are not going to feel compelled to hire you when you say “I’m a copywriter, I can write copy for you.”
Um, yes hello. Welcome to the department of redundancy department.
When reaching out to clients, be as specific as possible about what you offer and the type of work you’ve done in the past. Ask yourself: What do you bring to the table that is specific and unique to your experience or your skill set? Do you have any particular type of copy or niche that you specialize in? What about any previous credentials or related experience that you can share to boost credibility? Now’s the time to zhuzh up that coffee, I mean copy with the extras that make all the difference.
For example — you could be a copywriter who specializes in direct response marketing in the personal development, wellbeing and entrepreneurship industries, like me. Or maybe you’re experienced at optimizing email sequences. Or maybe you’re a technical copywriter that has a strong knack for course writing and product descriptions.
Share this information as concisely as possible in your personal introduction email. This is so much more powerful than a resume attachment which no one will read anyways.
Truth is, unless you’re being headhunted or formally applying for a job, resumes are nice to have handy, but often secondary to thoughtful and personalized communication and face-to-face interactions – over a Zoom call.
Rule #3. Keep It Simple
Think of your portfolio as a preview of your best work — you want to wow your client in as little time as possible! Confusion will kill your chances of getting hired so keep your portfolio clean and simple.
Present your work in an organized fashion that’s easy to open and navigate, so I’ll say it again – STOP WITH THE ATTACHMENTS. First of all, I don’t know you so I’m not downloading a possibly sketchy file to my computer. Secondly, just no.
In my opinion the EASIEST way to send your portfolio is with a link to a simple DropBox or Google Drive folder. But, whatever you do make sure that access is open in advance so that your client NEVER has to request it. We’ve all been there – you get a link to a Google Doc only to get that dreaded “You Need Permission” notice. UGH! Also be sure you have it on the “View Only” setting, so they can navigate and read without deleting or removing files.
Within your parent Portfolio folder, organize and name each folder clearly so that your potential client can easily navigate your work.
I personally recommend creating sub-folders that are organized down first by Niche, so for example Personal Development, Entrepreneurship, Spirituality and so on. Then by Brand, then Campaign, then by the individual assets used in that campaign…
I like this better than dividing your portfolio first by “asset type” such as emails, landing pages or sales pages because In my experience, clients will prefer to view your work in the context of an entire campaign or sales funnel so that they can see how all the pieces fit together.
Rule #4. Customize Your Selection
If you have a range of work to showcase in your portfolio, pick the pieces that best relate to the potential project and send your client a customized portfolio so they can immediately envision how you can contribute to their project and fulfill the job scope that they are hiring for.
The idea is to not overwhelm them with your entire library of assets with multiple folders, files and documents that they would have to dig through.
Choose the few that you think best represent your work, are most relevant and, if possible, showcase pieces that highlight a cohesive brand voice across multiple points of the sales funnel. Remember guys — it’s not just about the sales page! Show your clients that you get how all these pieces fit together.
If you don’t have enough experience to provide a selection — don’t worry, you can still make the best out of your current skill set and any relevant experience, which I talk about in my video on How To Start Copywriting & Make A Portfolio With ZERO Experience.
Rule #5. Include Portfolio Highlights
Inside your portfolio, at the top of each piece, add a short summary on what the piece was for and why you chose to feature it! Include a small personal note to offer some context and any other relevant information.
The goal is to allow your client to see the big picture, as well as offer writer’s notes as to why you chose the angle and direction you did. This will offer some insight into the potential working experience that your client can expect if they choose to work with you.
Inside these portfolio highlights you may want to answer questions like: What was the best thing you learned about working on the project? What you did differently about it compared to your other work? Did you contribute more than just copy? What was the overall concept, goal, or strategy?
You can even talk about what you enjoyed about working with the client — this will reflect greatly on your ability to work within a team and collaborate.
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That’s it guys — my 5 rules to preparing your copywriter portfolio like a boss!
I hope this article answers your question and has been helpful to get you started. Leave me a comment below if so!
Thanks so much for reading and if you’re new in the hood and want to scope more tutorials and guides on the world of freelance copywriting, marketing, and branding… subscribe to my YouTube channel and join my global posse!
Till next week, I’m Alex. Ciao for now.