7 Golden Rules for an Amazing Online Portfolio

That's right--it’s time to show off your skills to prospective employers.

It’s June, and the university year has drawn to a close for some. With some time on your hands (maybe), it's probably a good time to start thinking about something we rarely have time for during the academic year: creating an online creative writing portfolio that's beautiful and accessible.

To help you get started, here are seven golden rules for success.

1. Create a Solid Foundation

If you're not sure where to start, you can try out relatively easy-to-use sites such as Wordpress, Contently, JournoPortfolio, or Squarespace. These will provide you with simple website builders, themes and templates that you can personalise to your desired style. There’s usually support for coding, for the more confident computer whizz: HTML/CSS, for example, is extremely customisable. (W3schools.com is a great place for coding tutorials.)

2. Consider Investing

Think about potentially purchasing your own domain name. The benefit of this is that it looks considerably more professional to potential clients and employers, and at the same time, it usually makes it a lot easier for people to find you by memory (it's easier to remember "dot-com" than a long jumble or a corporate-branded URL).

Some hosting websites offer premium packages that aid your creativity and content, for a bit extra. These are definitely worth exploring.

3. Focus Your Content

Take time to consider what you want to upload onto your portfolio. What is your preferred style? What are your best pieces in terms of writing quality? Marketability? You'll need to make some choices between presenting stylistically similar content (very specific targeting) or providing a diverse range of writing skills (scatter-gun approach).

Much depends on how you wish to present yourself, but you should build your portfolio with a clear idea--which you have written down to make sure it's really clear--who your audience is and what you want them to understand about you when they visit your website or download your portfolio.

4. Be Tidy

There is nothing worse than spelling mistakes, incorrect punctuation and scatty paragraphs on a professional portfolio. Before uploading, ensure your formatting is correct and professional. Consider your fonts; viewers need to read with ease. (No Comic-Sans allowed!)

5. Show Off!

Be confident! Dig out that article you’ve been saving; upload that short story you’ve been too nervous to share for weeks. If in doubt, ask a friend you trust to read through your work. Remember that constructive criticism is good and will help you to create better results.

6. Check and Check Again

Double and triple check for any spelling or grammatical inaccuracies. It may help to read your piece aloud, as this forces you to slow down and think about each sentence. It’s a much easier way to pick up on any errors.

7. Get Noticed

Once everything is in place, copy your link and spread it around. Connect with others in the industry through websites such as LinkedIn and share your portfolio URL. Link your page with any adjoining social media accounts you have to promote your practice. Using images and text samples on your posts will also help to attract your attention. Send people to your website constantly. 

8. Ask for Feedback

When you first go live, and then periodically afterwards, ask people whose opinions you trust how they think your portfolio could be more compelling. If you're on one of our courses, ask your lecturers to have a look; they're well versed in industry standards, and are always ready to help you promote yourself.

by Holly Challinor