Freelance writing can be a lucrative career, but in order to get started as a freelance writer you will need a portfolio that showcases your work. There are plenty of websites that specialize in providing a portfolio platform for freelance writers, but the fact remains that nothing beats a self-hosted website.
When you choose one of the hosted solutions, you’re putting your content into the hands of someone else. And if they decide to shut down their platform, you could lose access to all your content.
With a self-hosted website, you’re in complete control. You own your site and everything on it, along with the domain name. You can choose how your website looks, where it’s hosted, and if you decide you aren’t satisfied with your host, you can literally take your website and move it to a different hosting provider.
Creating your own portfolio may seem intimidating, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. And if that’s what’s stopping you from finally taking the plunge, you’re in luck. In today’s article, we’ll show you how to create a great portfolio website with WordPress, give you pointers on what your website should include and how to effectively promote it so you can land more freelance writing gigs!
What Should Your Portfolio Website Include?
Before actually setting up your writer portfolio, it’s time to do some planning and decide on the structure of your website. You should also consider what you want to accomplish with your portfolio.
What Is The Purpose Of Your Portfolio?
Creating a portfolio should serve the goal of getting you more clients, but it can also help you establish a brand for yourself, as well as help you get a job. The important thing to remember is that your portfolio can successfully combine all of these goals but you should focus on one as the primary goal.
How to Choose Your Portfolio Pieces
A common mistake many freelance writers make is that they think their portfolio should include every article they’ve ever written. In reality, your portfolio needs to accurately represent your brand and your strongest skill set.
In essence, this means you should only highlight your most recent work and only your best work. If you have a particular niche you’re passionate about and absolutely love writing about it, then your portfolio should largely include samples that reflect that niche.
Whenever possible, include links to articles that have been published online instead of linking or uploading a Word/Google Doc or a PDF. The number of samples varies from one writer to another but a good healthy balance would be to include between five and ten pieces.
Essential Information to Include On Your Website
Aside from your writing samples, your website should include information about you. The purpose of your website is to sell yourself and your services by telling people why they should hire you. Here are five essentials to include on your website:
- Your Name or Your Brand Name: It almost goes without saying that your name should be clearly visible on your website. You can also include your specialty as your tagline so it’s immediately clear what you do.
About Page: Your “about” page should include a professional bio and your headshot but you should also consider including how you can help potential clients rather than making the page all about you.
A Contact Page: Your portfolio absolutely needs your contact information. Include your email, as well as your social media links or you can include a contact form if you’d rather not give out your email address. Whichever your choice, make sure it’s easy for potential clients to get in touch with you.
Social Proof: Testimonials and reviews can go a long way towards convincing potential clients you’re worth their time and investment. Don’t be afraid to include testimonials from past clients, reviews, any possible media coverage or anything else that showcases your expertise.
- Straightforward Menu or Navigation: Don’t make potential clients work more than necessary to find the information they want to see. Use standard navigation menus and clearly label each page for what it is.
How to Create Your Portfolio Website
Now that you know what your portfolio should include, it’s time to actually start creating your website! One of the simplest ways to build a website is to choose WordPress.
It started life as a simple blogging platform, but WordPress now powers over 33% of all websites on the Internet and businesses all across the world favor make it their CMS of choice. There are a few good reasons why you should choose WordPress:
- Ease of Use: It’s used by millions of people and almost every day new people are creating their first WordPress powered websites. The backend is user-friendly and creating new posts and pages happens in an interface that’s similar to any word processing software.
Free and Open Source: WordPress is completely free which means you are free to download, install, use, and modify it. You can use it to create any kind of website and it’s open source which means anyone can contribute to it. Because of that it’s also regularly updated and developed.
- High Quality Code: WordPress uses high quality code and its default themes use semantic markup which makes your site easy to index in search engines and increases your visibility.
Learn more about how WordPress stacks up against the other top free CMS's:
With that out of the way, let’s get down to how to set up your writer portfolio website with WordPress. We’ll walk through the main steps to take, so you can get started quickly.
1. Buy Your Domain Name
The first thing you will need is your very own domain name. If you have a registered business, the obvious choice would be to register a domain name that corresponds to your business name. However, you can also go with your own name. Whether you go with your own name or your business name here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Try to keep it short and use words that are easy to spell to ensure potential clients have an easy time of getting to your website.
- If at all possible, register a .com domain since most people automatically type in a domain name that ends with a .com. By doing so, you will eliminate the chances of someone landing on the wrong website just because the name you wanted was only available as a .net or a .co. Saying that, there are many creative “top-level domains” (TLDs) these days, such as .management, .online, even .book which you might find to be perfect for your needs.
2. Choose Your Hosting Provider
You will also need to purchase hosting for your website. This is where all your website files will “live”. There are many dedicated WordPress hosting providers out there and hosting itself can range from just a couple of dollars to hundreds of dollars a month depending on the level of service you want.
In most cases, you will be able to buy your domain name at the same time as you purchase hosting which should make your process a lot easier. When choosing a hosting provider you should look for a host that provides one-click installation of WordPress as well as customer support that can help you—should you need help along the way.
Be sure you can add an SSL certificate to your hosting too; this extra level of security is vital nowadays.
3. Installing WordPress
WordPress is famous for its five-minute installation process which involves a bit of manual work. However, if you followed my advice above, you’ve chosen a host that offers one-click WordPress installation. The manual process is relatively similar:
- Login to your cPanel. Once you sign up for hosting, the hosting company will send you an email link with the link to access your cPanel along with your username and password.
- Look for a website installer, like Fantastico Installer or Softaculous Installer, click on WordPress, and then click on the Install button. You will be asked to provide a username and password and select the domain where to install WordPress.
- Click on the Install button once more to finish the installation process.
Once the installation process is complete, you will be given the link to your WordPress dashboard. It will look something like this:
Go ahead and navigate to it, then enter the username and password you selected to log into your brand new WordPress website.
Choosing Your WordPress Theme
Now that you’ve installed WordPress, your first step is to choose a theme for your writer's portfolio website. There are many themes available for WordPress, both free and premium.
You might be tempted to choose a free theme but if you want to stand out from the competition and present yourself as a professional, your best bet is to choose a premium WordPress theme geared especially for writers:
WordPress themes for writers will have all the features necessary to create your writer’s portfolio. Some of those features include:
- Responsive Design: Responsive design is a necessity in today’s age where more and more people are browsing content from their phones and tablets.
Portfolio Support: Since the whole point of your writer website is to attract new clients, a portfolio to present your samples is a must.
Clean Typography: Your written samples need to be legible no matter which device or browser your visitors are using. A website with a strong focus on typography will bring out your content and ensure everyone can read it without any issues.
- Customization Options: You should also look for a theme that allows you to tweak the color scheme and at least upload your own logo so you can start to establish a brand for yourself.
One of the best places to buy a premium theme is ThemeForest which has a large selection of WordPress writer themes. On top of that, all themes include six-months of support from theme authors as well as extensive documentation and quality control from Envato Market authors.
Find more great WordPress writer themes to make your portfolio website with:
How to Set Up Your Portfolio in WordPress
Portfolio setup is relatively easy once WordPress is installed.
1. Install the Theme
Once you have selected and purchased the theme, log in to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance > Themes. Click on Add New > Upload theme.
2. Upload the Zip File to Your Website
Click on Choose File and upload the zip file of the purchased theme, then click on Install theme.
3. Activate the Theme
Once your theme is uploaded, click on Activate to make the theme live on your website.
4. Create Your Portfolio Category
Once the theme is active, it’s time to create the portfolio. Since I’ve chosen the WP Blog for Writers and Journalists theme, the next step is to create the portfolio category which will hold all my writing samples. Here’s how to do it with this theme:
- Navigate to Posts > Categories > Add New, name the category and add a description.
- Go to the bottom of the page and click on the Blog & Single tab.
- Go through the Unlock Blog style options.
- Select a layout that suits your needs. I’ve chosen the Portfolio 2 Columns layout.
4. Add Portfolio Samples
Now let’s add some samples to our portfolio:
- Go to Posts > Add New, name the post accordingly and enter the contents of the post.
- In the right column, find the Categories widget and select the Portfolio category.
- Set the featured image and save the post.
- Repeat the process for all the samples you want to include.
5. Add Portfolio Navigation
The final step is to add our portfolio to our navigation menu. To do this, navigate to Appearance > Menus, select the newly created category and add it to the main menu, save the menu, and you are done!
After setting up your portfolio, add your About and Contact page by going to Pages > Add New and entering the appropriate content.
How to Promote Your Writer’s Website
Now that the bulk of your website is done, you will have to do some work and promote your writer portfolio website. A good place to start is to include the link to your website on all your social media profiles. You can also use it as a part of your signature in every email you send. Don’t forget to use it on your business cards as well and read this post for even more ideas on promoting your writer's website.
Creating an online portfolio is necessary if you want to establish a successful writing career and attract new clients. Thankfully, a high-quality WordPress theme makes the job a lot easier. Armed with the quick tips in this article, now it’s time to build your own writer’s portfolio, so you can promote your author profile, and start landing more paid writing gigs fast.