Unless you’re an author whose book recently topped The New York Times Best Sellers list, or one whose novels were turned into a popular movie franchise, telling a potential employer or customer you’re a writer isn’t worth much in today’s digital world. And let’s face it — most of us aren’t best-selling authors. For us lowlier writers, we have to do more than just say we’re writers. We need to prove it. And we need to prove that not only do we write, we write well. This means we have the ability to write across a variety of mediums, on different topics and in varying tones. The best way to show this range is with a digital portfolio.
What is a digital portfolio?
A digital portfolio is a place where writers house their best pieces, the work they’re proud of and want to showcase. It’s also a place for writers to highlight what makes them unique. Since a digital portfolio comes in the form of a website, and maybe even a blog, it’s highly customizable. Through free or low-cost platforms like WordPress, Journo Portfolio, Contently and Pressfolios, you have the option to choose different colors, photos and themes when setting up your website. These different design aspects will not only help organize and highlight your work; they will help speak to what you enjoy and who you are.
Why do writers need one?
A digital portfolio is easy — easy to make, easy to update and easy for people to browse. While a binder filled with clips sufficed for writers before the internet existed, tangible now means going digital. A digital portfolio gives someone access to you and your writing with the tap of a screen or a few strokes on the keyboard. A digital portfolio is also much neater and cleaner than a binder, and can be much more creative and eye-catching. A digital portfolio tells people that you’re current with the times as well. You can’t claim to know SEO, blogging and social media but not have your own online presence, can you?
What should be included?
Speaking of online presence, your digital portfolio should do more than showcase your work. It should include links to your social media pages (and yes, they need to be professional — not filled with your drunken escapades). Social media is a telling medium for someone looking to hire you or contract with you, and it can help people gain further understanding of who you are as a person. While you don’t need to fret over everything you post, be aware that potential employers and customers may very well look at your social media pages, whether or not you link to them. Linking to them, however, shows there’s nothing to hide, as well as that you’re current with the times and maintain a digital presence beyond a portfolio and/or blog. For example, much like my blog and portfolio says savannah, my social media pages feature photos of me hiking and exploring the outdoors, conveying that I’m adventurous and always on the go.
When filling your online portfolio with work, don’t let your ego get in the way. Only pick your best pieces, and be honest with yourself about what those are. If you have trouble picking out your best ones, ask a friend, colleague or family member for their opinion. Select pieces you felt proud to have written as soon as you hit save rather than ones that you only felt got the job done. No one who visits your portfolio wants to browse through endless selections. It should only take a few pieces for someone to get a sense of your style and your abilities.
When creating your digital portfolio, always keep in mind those who will be looking at it. The top three questions to ask yourself after you’ve created one:
1. Does the feel of my website represent who I am as both an individual and writer?
Think of your digital portfolio as your first impression with someone.
2. Is it organized in a manner that makes sense?
If someone came to your website, would they immediately know where to go and/or how to navigate it?
3. Are these pieces truly my best ones?
If you waver on any of them, get a second opinion or scrap them. You want to be confident about every piece you choose to display.
A digital portfolio is essential for writers today. While it may feel daunting to start the process of making one, try to approach it as you would a writing project — have fun with it and be creative! And know that a digital portfolio will increase your marketability and help you shine as a writer.