Last updated on April 21st, 2022 at 05:06 pm
It’s quite a potentially overwhelming thought – putting yourself out there as a copywriter for the first time. But I’ve got you covered on this one.
When I was starting out building a copywriter portfolio with no experience, I felt the exact same as you are feeling now.
Know that it is possible to build a copywriting portfolio even with zero experience or no clients.
Let’s get to work on your portfolio right away!
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Join a practical copywriting program
When you are at the beginning of your career as a copywriter, it’s important in my opinion that you invest in a great copywriting course.
Check the course has tasks that mimic what you would do for clients. These can be a great start to your portfolio page online or go towards a selection of work you can send prospects.
When I was starting out, I invested in the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy. One freelancer even earned $8500 in 3 months, from this program.
Nicki carefully structures assignments, that you can have reviewed within the private Facebook community associated with the course.
While I was working for my first clients, I was able to add these to my portfolio website, so I could demonstrate to them what I could do.
Her free training on how to find freelance work is super useful too
Write for a friend’s business
Get the word out there that you are now a copywriter, what that means, and how you can help people around you. Try to hold off the new jargon you’ve learned as they probably won’t know what you mean unless they’ve used a copywriter before.
Optimizing your Facebook profile, and setting up a Linkedin profile and Instagram business account will all help with this. Put the keywords in for who you help and what you help them do.
Reach out to your friends in the DMs and just say that you are looking for work, explain what types of copy you write.
Summarize your recent, relevant experience
Before you begin building your copywriter portfolio, it’s useful to start by just taking some lovely stationery and creating a map of ideas of your relevant experience.
Make it fun by using your fave colored pens and stick it on the wall as a reminder of your valuable skills.
From this one piece of paper, you will start to see links where you can highlight strongly aligned skills.
- if you’ve written emails for a company’s website,
- Maybe you were a teacher, and you sent out a weekly entertaining newsletter about your class’ antics.
- Maybe you ran the social media for a small local business you worked for.
All this stuff really counts, as you are demonstrating your writing skills.
Not only that, you may have been involved in research. A massive part of your process as a copywriter is researching the subject matter and the audience.
Remember to include any research experience you have, as it will demonstrate that you have an analytical mind and are able to summarize and apply the research easily.
Create a selected credits resume
From this, you could create a selected credits resume. Have this no more than a page long, but be sure to reference writing related things you have done.
You don’t need to have much linked experience, but it’s the way you highlight what you can offer that matters here. Also crafting a fantastic cover letter really matters too.
Short on time?
Create minimum viable samples
Another way you can build a copywriter portfolio with no experience is to create minimum viable samples.
This is just a fancy way of saying that you have some examples of copy, good to go and show a prospect. Just make sure they are relevant to what they want from you. So if they need an email copywriter, go ahead and create some example emails with one goal in mind. Demonstrate you can write it in different brand voices and tones.
You can even get a range of these types of samples ready before the opportunities come up for you. Think about what type of copy you want to focus on first, and then follow the steps below.
Step 1 – Choose your project
There is an abundance of projects you could choose to nail. Narrowing this down could look like this.
Take a look at your inbox
Think about what emails you’ve had through to your inbox – are there any you feel could be rewritten or the messaging is off?
Write copy for a product you know, like and trust already
Maybe you’ve seen a sales page of an entrepreneur you love, but that you think needs the messaging clarifying. These could all be starting points. The advantage of knowing the product or service is that you already know a lot of the information needed to communicate best with the audience.
Plus, you will really enjoy writing the copy – after all, you know, like, and trust this product or service – you will probably be enthusiastic about it too!
Step 2 – Write your own copywriting brief
Feel free to download my free template to get you focused on the key details for the project. Print it and fill it in.
Step 3 – Create your spec examples
As you work through writing, be sure to check each part of the brief to ensure you’ve met it. When you’re done, you could even ask another new copywriter, maybe on a course you’re doing, to give feedback on it, in return for feedback on some of their copy.
Step 3 – Format it for your online portfolio
You can do this in many ways. Personally, I would keep a copy of the project on a shareable doc like a Word document or Gdrive. You would be delivering a project as a Gdrive doc to a client.
If you want to represent it in the best way possible on your online portfolio, you could reach out to a new graphic designer, and do a skills swap. So you could offer to do the copy for them, in return for them bringing your spec pieces to life.
Many of my colleagues have had success finding new designers to partner with via Linkedin or by reaching out to their local college.
If it is email copy, you could load it up into an email sender like Convertkit or Mailerlite, and then screenshot it. You can join these senders for free, so it doesn’t cost the earth to put the copy into context.
Step 5 – Customise the samples you send
Loading up online to your copywriter website.
Say for example you are adding to your copywriter portfolio website, you will need to consider getting screenshots or graphics of the copy, so people can click through and take a look. To make sure my graphics look great on the page, I let my designer know what image sizes I need for my theme.
Pro-tip – I always have a pdf of my Word doc linked on the page, so people can choose to read the copy without the design.
Sending direct to a potential client
Save your samples as pdfs if you have used Gdrive or Word – that way the prospect can look at the copy but not edit it in any way.
Large graphics from your designer will be too big to send, so talk to your designer about sending you a few different file types. Explain what the purpose is and they will recommend the perfect file type for you.
Things to consider when sending copy examples or building your copywriting portfolio
Will it be a full rewrite or partial?
Sometimes you feel that a full sales page example is a great idea to showcase your talent in copywriting for e-commerce, for example.
But on other occasions, you simply don’t have the time, or you may feel that a partial rewrite is enough to show prospects how you would approach a task.
So when you are deciding what to do – consider the length of the copy.
Could you demonstrate your skill by writing a smaller section of the copy?
Would the client be overwhelmed if you sent a long piece?
If the answers to these questions are yes, then a smaller demo piece is the way to go.
Building your copywriting portfolio with zero experience is an overwhelming prospect. Try to break it down into manageable chunks. One thing at a time.
You’ll soon have a well-rounded representation of your writing skills, ready to share with prospective clients.
When you complete your first real client projects, get into the habit early on of adding them to your portfolio. That way your portfolio will be super easy to keep up to date.