Writing Portfolios: Tips for Writers

Writing portfolios can be the source much of indecision and angst. The angst is usually due to quality. To cut through the indecision, organize your work and create some definite objectives for yourself.

Getting your materials organized

You need to tailor the organization of your materials to your fields of work. The simplest and by far most productive way to organize your portfolio is to categorize, either by subject, or by market:

  • Subjects: If you specialize in particular subjects, organize by topics within the subject. Create separate files with your materials grouped understandably by topics.
  • Markets: If you write across several markets, use the same system as subjects, but use subtopics as headings for files. It's a lot simpler. Usually, there are more materials in some areas than others, so make sure you can create enough subtopics to avoid wading through hundreds or thousands of files.
  • Important note: Make sure you maintain your portfolio regularly. Don't leave things lying around, because you can lose them completely. File everything the minute you complete it.

Creating your portfolio

You can now extract your portfolio materials with a good chance of finding what you need. This allows you to compare quality, reducing the number of choices, so decisions aren't as difficult. Now, select your best work and create one file for your portfolio. (Important: Make sure you create a backup copy.)

  • Quality: Good work, showing both writing skills and subject handling abilities.
  • Subjects: If you specialize in particular areas, your most successful work in those fields is also your most reliable marketing material.
  • Unique material: Experienced writers usually have a stock of interesting, good quality work.
  • Professional standards material: This is the core career portfolio work, demonstrating your published products.

Targeting your portfolio

Targeting a portfolio of writing materials requires thorough knowledge of  client or employer needs. Like  job applications, your portfolio must show direct relevance to the job. Modify the portfolio to match the client:

  • Research the job in detail: Check every task and every topic in detail.
  • Research editorial style and content: These fundamental factors define the real needs of the client better than any contract.
  • contact the client and make certain you understand the style format: Never guess about these issues, because you don't get second chances with any contract.