In this age of online everything, your web presence can make or break your freelance career — especially if you’re just starting out.
If prospective clients don’t know you by reputation, they need a quick, easy way to suss out your work, your style and your level of professionalism. While social media accounts can do wonders (having a few thousand Twitter followers never hurt a freelancer’s credibility), you’ll need more than that as your online calling card.
That’s where your online portfolio comes into play. Even if you’re not quite ready to start a blog, a simple online portfolio that promotes your freelance writing can do a lot to help you land clients.
Regardless of which portfolio website you decide to go with, you should aim for these two things:
- Easy-to-read clips: If someone is looking to hire you, their main goal in coming to your site is to read your work and see if they like it. Make it simple for them!
- Uncluttered design: If a prospective client can’t find what they need in less than 10 seconds, you’ve got too much going on. You’ve lost their attention…and a potential gig.
Easy-to-use portfolio websites to showcase your work
An online portfolio that fulfills these two basic criteria doesn’t have to be complicated to create. You’ve got lots of good portfolio design tools to help you get there! And if you want a free portfolio website, we’ve got you covered there, too.
When you’re ready to land your next freelance writing job, here are some easy-to-use portfolio websites to choose from.
On Journo Portfolio, you can create a modern, no-fuss online portfolio. The dashboard is easy to use: customize your site’s look with eight distinct themes, and sort your clips into any number of pages or content blocks.
One of the other nice features is the range of ways you can share materials: link directly to clips (just type in the URL and Journo Portfolio will grab the title, publication, date, and content), or upload almost any kind of multimedia, including PDFs, videos and images.
Cool Feature: This platform allows you to post blogs directly onto your Journo Portfolio profile. That way, you can use to site to highlight your past work or publish a personal blog post. Say goodbye to managing multiple platforms!
Free version: Yes! It’s free for a name.journoportfolio.com URL, and you can host up to 10 articles.
Upgrade option: For the pro version, pay $5 to $10 per month. That includes unlimited pages, article back-ups, and the ability to use your own domain, like www.yourname.com.
Clippings.me was created explicitly for the freelance journalist. It gives you a quick and easy way to show off as many clips as you want, and add just enough detail about yourself to make you seem human. Like Journo Portfolio, you can add links, upload PDFs or embed multimedia pieces, including podcasts.
Clippings.me also offers an open journalism directory where you can browse journalists based on beats or by country to find potential interviewees for the stories you cover You could (hopefully) use it to gain access to more prospective clients.
Cool Feature: Simplicity is the name of the game. If you just need to get your work online and aren’t too worried about customization, this is a great choice.
Free version: Yes! It’s free for the basic version, which allows up to 10 articles.
Upgrade option: The pro version costs $9.99 per month, which includes unlimited clippings, downloadable resume on profile, password-protected portfolio and features like Google Analytics integration so you can measure views.
3. Muck Rack
Muck Rack is a media database that helps connect journalists and PR pros — and their platform gives writers a slick way to easily showcase their work.
The best part? Because Muck Rack creates and maintains the portfolio for you (by automatically compiling articles, outlets, and social media profiles) this is one of the easiest options in terms of both set-up and maintenance. You can customize your page by adding a bio, listing your beats and spotlighting your best pieces.
Cool Feature: As a writer on Muck Rack, you’re likely to receive PR pitches. One awesome related feature is the ability to post the specific topics or beats you don’t cover — which limits the number of off-target pitches coming your way.
(Disclosure: The Write Life’s managing editor is also the editor of the Muck Rack blog.)
Contently is a portfolio website specifically for freelance writers and journalists. In addition to serving as your online portfolio, it can serve as a place to connect directly with clients. Here are its top three compelling features:
- It uses a simple and single-page portfolio interface where you can display an unlimited number of projects or blog posts.
- Potential clients can filter projects based on the clients you’ve worked with, topics and skills, which are great for writers that work in multiple industries.
- Freelancers with professional experience might even be contacted for freelance opportunities with clients like Marriott, Microsoft and Walmart.
Cool Feature: Contently has a rates database and a freelance rates calculator to help you determine the amount you should charge for each client.
Price: Yes! It’s free for writers. (Clients pay to tap into that network.)
Squarespace is a slick drag-and-drop website builder that offers a stellar visual experience. While this isn’t a traditional portfolio website (nor is it targeted solely at writers), it’s a really good choice if you incorporate design or graphics into your work.
Their templates give off a clean, minimalist and sophisticated vibe. And their responsive design is rock solid — an important factor when prospective clients want to view your writing on their phones or tablets. While there are many website building tools — like Wix and Weebly — Squarespace comes out ahead for its sleek visual design.
Cool Feature: Squarespace’s 24/7 client support (via email or live chat from Monday-Friday) is top-notch. Being able to communicate with a real human being when you have a question or issue can make freelance life that much easier.
Free version: No
Upgrade option: It costs $12 per month for a personal website with a free custom domain. For business and commerce versions, which include SEO features, analytics, fully-integrated e-commerce site and unlimited storage, it costs $18 to $40 per month.
WordPress is the granddaddy of content management platforms. While not specifically geared towards online portfolios, the joy of WordPress is that you can do pretty much anything you want with it. It’s available as a totally free, no-frills blog; a paid version with more bells and whistles; or the “install-it-yourself-and-do-whatever-the-hell-you-like setup.”
Your standard WordPress themes aren’t ideal for portfolio work, but search Google for “WordPress portfolio themes” and you’ll have everything you could ask for — WordPress even offers this dedicated portfolio splash page! This is a great platform for people who want lots of options and total creative control (and who don’t mind fussing around with a little CSS).
Cool Feature: Since WordPress is so adaptable, it can be a good place to start if you think you may want something beyond a portfolio site somewhere down the line. That way, when you realize that you want to be both a freelance writer and photographer, you’re not stuck on a platform where you can’t show off your other skills.
Free version: Yes! For a basic blog.
Upgrade option: For more control over how the site looks and functions, some freelancers choose to upgrade to the $8/month premium option.
Examples of online writing portfolios
Now that you’ve got lots of platforms to choose from, want to see some of them in action?
We’ve compiled a list of online writing portfolios to inspire you. Here’s where to check out some online portfolio examples.
The original version of this story was written by Annie Rose Favreau. We updated the post so it’s more useful for our readers.