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A creative writing portfolio contains

Grammar Phile Blog

An amazing writing portfolio makes you stand out online. How you create, design, develop, and promote your online writing portfolio makes all the difference. A well-designed and well-organized portfolio can determine whether you get noticed or not and can ensure you get work opportunities that reflect who you are as a writer.

Here are some online portfolio tools you’ll want to consider using when creating your online writing portfolio:

Whether you freelance, work for a single employer full-time, or take on contract writing work, these tools allow you to do things like upload your original work, use a customized URL, and select a theme. They also come with intuitive online and mobile navigation, so it’s easy for others to view your work, and they make it much easier for you to share your writing with others.

Here are some tips for building an amazing online writing portfolio, organized by writing industries.

Creative and Fiction

Strategy and Design

When building an online writing portfolio for creative work, ensure the theme and design you select match your genre. For instance, if you write romantic fiction, you’ll want softer colors and whimsical design elements. But if you write sci-fi, you’ll want darker or metallic colors with design elements that reflect space and sci-fi motifs. It’s also helpful to select a design and theme that reflect the overall tone and voice you display in your writing. For example, if you use a lot of humor in your writing, you may want to opt for brighter colors and a photo of yourself laughing in your bio. You want everything in your writing portfolio to reflect your writing style and voice.

Include in your portfolio links and some information about publishers you work with often as well as any agents or agencies you work with. And include photos of the covers of your published work (e.g., a cover to a novel or an e-book, or the cover of an edition of a journal in which your work was included) whenever possible so that they’re easy to recognize. Including cover photos or featured photos for each piece of work in your online writing portfolio is also more visually appealing for your reviewers as they scroll through your portfolio instead of through an endless stream of text. And if you include a photo, it’s more likely that others will click on your link.

Samples to Include

Include a variety of samples, such as a chapter from a novel or e-book, short stories, or poems. If you write several types of fiction and creative work, make sure to include an adequate amount of each type of work whenever possible (e.g., two or three poems, two or three short stories, etc.). And always include samples and links to work that has received awards and accolades. It’s also important to realize that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) include everything you’ve ever written in your writing portfolio. Include only 10 to 20 of your best pieces that have been published, featured, received awards, etc. Rotate your samples often so that your portfolio is always fresh and up to date and truly reflects who you are as a writer.

Nonfiction and Research

Strategy and Design

For writing portfolios that include nonfiction and research, you’ll want to have a sleek and basic theme that doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles or advanced design elements. Don’t use more than three colors for your theme.

You should include photos and make your portfolio easy to scan. Don’t include long, dense paragraphs of text, but do include photos of compelling visualized data whenever possible (e.g., graphs, charts, heatmaps). Separate your writing samples by topic or subtopic and highlight awards and publications. You’ll also want to draw attention to new pieces of work and research you’ve published or written. And include links to guest blog posts or other online materials that you’ve written that are a part of your larger body of research and work.

Samples to Include

For ongoing research, you’ll want to consider including samples that show the timeline of your research and its evolution, highlighting the most pivotal information. For instance, if you’re documenting the development of a pharmaceutical device or innovation, you’ll want to share pieces of your writing that represent the five years you have been following the development of the device and what you’ve discovered along the way. Don’t include too many samples, just the samples that highlight the most interesting and imperative facts or discoveries.

Business and Communications

Strategy and Design

For a business-oriented portfolio, pick a theme and logo that best reflect the industries in which you work. For instance, if you work in construction, include images of building tools or your company’s logo. If you work in the technology industry, include digital-inspired images. You’ll also want to include reports you’ve written, as well as important memos and press releases. And your portfolio should have a variety of samples for each type of business communication you’ve written.

Because articles in business and communications tend to be shorter, it’s usually a good idea to include 20 to 30 samples, depending on their lengths. Separate your samples by client, industry (if you write for more than one industry), or type of writing (e.g., reports, briefs, proposals).

Samples to Include

Include at least two samples of each type of writing you regularly complete (if not more) depending on their lengths. While you would want to include 5 to 10 examples of shorter memos or press releases you’ve written, you may only want to include 2 or 3 samples of reports or longer proposals. And be sure to include pieces for each industry for which you write.

Copywriting and Content Marketing

Strategy and Design

As you’re creating this type of portfolio, include those articles that received real-life traction and positive responses. For instance, you’ll want to include direct mail copy that increased sales by a certain percentage and you’ll want to include content marketing copy (e.g., blog posts, emails, and so on) that received a lot of online engagements and led to more conversions.

While you don’t necessarily have to include the analytics and data (although that certainly wouldn’t hurt), you’ll want to include samples that reflect your best work. And in the world of copywriting and content marketing, the best written work is always the work that receives the most traction and has a high conversion rate.

Samples to Include

In your portfolio, include copy from different industries for which you write as well as a variety of samples, especially blog posts, email campaigns, and e-books. Also list links to any website landing pages for which you’ve written copy.


Strategy and Design

As a journalist, you’ll want to show writing samples that reflect your best work, were featured in publications, and that won accolades. You’ll also want to add information about or links to any columns you write on a regular basis and encourage your readers to subscribe. And you’ll want to organize your samples by different topics or categories you have covered such as local politics, technology, education, etc. Organize your portfolio by featured samples and category and be sure to always keep it updated with your most recent work.

The more diverse your samples, the more likely it is that you should keep a basic, sleek design. However, if your pieces are very niche-specific, then you’ll want a design or theme that reflects your niche. For instance, a journalist who covers environmental issues may want a theme with earth tones.

Because journalism is so fast-paced, it’s imperative that your work is constantly up to date. And you’ll also want to ensure your portfolio is easy to share with others and includes applicable photos of the stories you’ve covered.

Samples to Include

Provide samples that went viral (received more than 1 million views or shares). But also be sure to include samples that showcase the different levels of your expertise. If you’ve written breaking news but have also sat down with a high-profile individual for an in-depth and revealing interview, showcase the gamut of your journalistic abilities.

What does your writing portfolio look like? Have you started one yet? Share with us in the comments below. Feel free to add a link to your own portfolio.

How to Format Fiction Writing Samples for Portfolio

When you’re in the creative arts, your portfolio is like a personal calling card, showing people what you can do through what you’ve done in the past. Like any other portfolio, a creative writing portfolio needs, first and foremost, to display your very best work — which may mean paring your selections to just a few. When it comes to formatting, you’ll need to follow any instructions given to you by the university, company or other entity to which you’re applying. From there, format your fiction pieces to highlight your strengths and reflect your personal style.

Research and Discover the Details

Ask the entity to which you’re applying whether there are formatting requirements for the portfolio. Some colleges are very specific, requiring a certain font, font size and portfolio length. If you have these requirements set out for you, follow them to the letter. You don’t want your hard work discounted simply because you didn’t follow directions. If you don’t have any requirements, format your portfolio to your liking.

You’ll also want to compile work that is specific to the needs of the organization. For example, you may only want to include screenwriting samples or novels, depending upon the interests and call for authorship. Alternatively, you can create a broad portfolio that is divided by the various types of writing. Be sure to put your writing portfolio examples in PDF form to protect your work. You can also create a screenwriter portfolio website or general website that showcases your work.

Consider the Presentation

Select a font that matches your writing style. If you’re a humorous writer, you might pick a font that is more fun or youthful, although not too distracting. If you’re a more serious writer, meanwhile, you might select a more formal font. You can also check out the website or printed materials of the entity to which you’re submitting your portfolio, and then match its font. Use the same font throughout the portfolio, typically in 10-, 11- or 12-point size.

Type the date the piece was written at the top right of the page. If you’ve made significant edits since the original draft, you could write “Written 1/10” at the top right, and then just below it, write “Edited 10/12.” Type the title of the piece a few lines from the top of the page, and then underline and center it. Under that, type the publication in which the piece originally appeared, if any, and italicize or otherwise format the publication’s title appropriately.

Provide a Summary

Type a brief paragraph just under the title that details any information you want the editors to know about the piece, such as the course or workshop in which you wrote it, the editors you worked with, or why the piece was written. Keep this section to just a few sentences at most, and italicize it to show it is not part of the piece. You could also include this paragraph at the end of the piece, so it doesn’t distract from your sure-to-captivate lead sentence.

Restrict your work samples to a few pages for each piece, at most. If your goal is to show a breadth of work, include just one page for each piece — either selecting the first paragraphs, or a great page from the middle or end of the work. If you select from the middle or end, you may need to use your “descriptor paragraph,” as described in Step 5, to explain what has happened before this page. The University of New Mexico emphasizes the importance of a catchy cover or graphic that illustrates your unique personality.

Provide Context for Your Work

Separate your fiction pieces from other types of writing with a title page. Type “Fiction” or “Fiction Samples” on a blank page, center it in the middle of the page, and then insert it before your fiction samples. If you have other types of writing to display, put them in appropriate categories, such as “Biography,” “News Writing” or others.

Print each page of the portfolio and then place them in plastic cover sheets, so they don’t get smudged or otherwise dirtied. Then place the pages in a three-ring binder or other attractive portfolio, with the strongest pieces first. Virtual portfolios are becoming increasingly mainstream, according to Penn State University. You can apply the same organizational strategies to a virtual portfolio that you use for a hard copy version.

The Ultimate Guide to Academic & Professional Creative Writing Portfolios

Check examples and learn how to create a creative writing portfolio!

Building a creative writing portfolio that gets you accepted into your dream writing program is a challenge in itself. But did you know that when you graduate, you’ll have to throw everything you know about portfolios out the window and start the process all over again?

Whether you want to get into a great school to work on your craft, or you’re freshly out of school trying to land your first job, this guide has all you need to know.

We’ll review how to build a creative writing portfolio for a course or degree program and what career paths you can choose from once you graduate from it. Then we’ll show you how to create a professional creative writing portfolio and show you a tool that makes it super quick and easy.


Creative writing portfolio for college and university

Let’s go in chronological order. Before you go after a full-time writing job or try to land some freelance clients, you’ll probably want to study writing. It would be a little harder to become a writer without mastering the craft of writing, after all.

And when it comes to writing programs, whether it’s a creative writing course or a full-on degree program, most schools expect you to hand in a creative writing portfolio alongside your application.

Always check the guidelines

The very first thing you’ll have to do is checking the creative writing portfolio requirements that your desired program has. They tend to be very specific about the format, length, and contents of the material, so make sure you get it right. Let’s check some examples to see what you can expect when looking at these guidelines.

Creative writing portfolio requirement examples

University of the Arts

When you apply to the Creative Writing program at the University of the Arts, you’ll have to submit a portfolio of your original writing and an essay that answers a creative writing prompt. They give the following requirements for these two:

  • Portfolio: 10-15 pages in length, including at least two different pieces. It could be short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, or excerpts from novels.
  • Essay: 150-200 words in length with the topic of describing an important window.
University of Portsmouth – MA in Creative Writing

“We don’t prescribe an ideal portfolio,” they write at the requirements for this program. There are still some requirements that applicants have to follow though:

  • Maximum 4,000 words in length
  • No more than 3 pieces of writing
  • Except for poetry-only submissions, there they recommend about 5 poems
  • You have to write a short description of each piece

Apart from the portfolio, you’ll also need to submit a personal statement, talking about your ambitions and your writer’s journey so far.

Belhaven University – Creative Writing BFA Program

For applying to the Creative Writing program at Belhaven, you have to send your application via email with the following:

  • Portfolio: Minimum 12-15 pages of creative writing (fiction, poetry, scripts, or creative nonfiction)
  • Essay: 3-4 pages, discussing your history as a writer or reader OR explaining why you want to study creative writing
  • A cover letter

Tips for your academic creative writing portfolio

Once you have the guidelines for your portfolio, it’s time to actually sit down and put it together.

Pick your writing pieces carefully

It goes without saying, but your choice of writing pieces will make or break your creative writing portfolio. Don’t be afraid to spend a longer time rereading your work and evaluating if the pieces hit the standard you want your portfolio to have.

It’s also a good idea to choose the ones you’d like to add, then put them aside, wait a few days, and assess them again. When you’ve been focusing on something for hours on end, it gets harder to see them clearly, so a little break can help a lot.

Once you’re done selecting them, double-check it with the requirements again and read through them one more time.

Get someone to review your portfolio

Another tip to make sure your portfolio is as good as it can get is to get someone to review it. It can be another writer or an avid reader who can evaluate your pieces from a literary point of view, or even just a friend or family member to check it for typos and other grammatical mistakes.

Similar to picking your pieces, when you wrote something and have read it a hundred times already, your mind will slip over typos naturally, knowing what you intended to write there. So giving yourself a break and getting someone to help can make sure there are no mistakes left in it when you hand it in.

Because as an applicant to a writing program, you really can’t afford to have typos and grammar mistakes in your creative writing portfolio.

What can you do with a creative writing degree?

When you’ve been obsessed with writing all your life, deciding to go for a creative writing program is a no-brainer. You’ll probably have the time of your life getting your degree too. But what happens when you graduate and actually have to figure out what you want to do for a living?

It might take a little more thinking than choosing your education, as you have many more options for a writing career, so it’s not as straightforward. We’ll quickly review the different career paths that are all open for you, once you graduate with a creative writing degree.

Publish books and become an author

Becoming a published author or poet is probably what most students with a creative writing portfolio dream of. It’s definitely a logical and super suitable direction, but unfortunately, it’s not as easy as one might expect. You’ll have to do a lot of pitches to get signed with a publishing house. Alternatively, you can set up a site using an author website template and publish books on your own.

Choose marketing or advertising, become a copywriter

A field that’s easier to get into for writers is marketing and advertising. More specifically, copywriting. Creative directors often emphasize how important it is for copywriters to master the craft of writing. So much so, that they would rather recommend taking a creative writing course than going to a portfolio school.

Copywriters can work freelance, in-house, or at agencies and they write advertising and/or marketing materials. It can be anything from slogans for advertising campaigns, TV and radio spots, copy for Facebook and Google ads, or even complete email marketing campaigns.

The career path in this profession is usually the following: junior copywriter, copywriter, senior copywriter, associate creative director, creative director, global creative director

Write long-form pieces as a journalist or magazine columnist

If selling products and services is not your thing, writing for newspapers or magazines could be another option for you. It probably won’t pay as much as a job in advertising, but you get to write longer pieces about topics you’re (ideally) interested in. And after all, no matter what happens, we’ll always need and want to read about what’s going on in the world.

Interested in this field? Read our tips for creating a journalism portfolio!

Get into content marketing and SEO

If you don’t mind that you won’t be exclusively writing all day every day, content marketing and SEO (a.k.a. search engine optimization) would be a great option for you. You’d still be writing, namely long-form articles and blog posts that are preceded by thorough keyword research.

With SEO comes a more technical side of the job, but that only balances out the work and makes your daily routine more versatile. Not to mention that you’ll always have data of how well your content does, so you can measure your performance effectively.

Make writing impeccable as an editor or proofreader

If you’re the kind of writer that loves reading and is bit of a perfectionist, you’d make an amazing editor or proofreader. Although these professions don’t need you to actually sit and write a ton, the job couldn’t be done if you didn’t know all the ins and outs of writing.

How to make a professional creative writing portfolio

Once you graduate and decide which way to go, you’ll need a portfolio to get started. Not the kind of standard “15-page-document” they asked you to write for school. Oh no, nobody wants to read through that now. Instead, you’ll need something that stands out, something that’s easy to browse through while showcasing your excellent writing skills.

The best format for your creative writing portfolio

The best format for your real-life, professional creative writing portfolio is actually a website. Realistically, whether you’re applying for a job or looking to land freelance clients, you’ll get in touch with them online.

So handing over your good old “book” won’t be an option. Just like presenting them with a lengthy document won’t be either. Why? Because it’s essentially a big wall of text that would be way too overwhelming to read through.

A website on the other hand is easy on the eyes, has lots of visuals, and organizes all the materials you want to present nicely.

The three main essentials you need to have on your website are an eye-catching home page, a well-written about page and separate pages for each of your writing projects, whether it is advertising copy, poetry, or a published book.

The heart of it all: the home page

Your home page will be the most important page of your website. This is where everybody lands at first and thus where they get their first impressions from. To have a great first impression, turn it into genuine interest, and make your visitors convert, your home page will have to check some boxes.

  • What website are they looking at? Looking at the home page, visitors have to be clear about what website they landed on. They should know at least your name and what you do by just looking at the very first page.
  • How do they find out more? You should have a navigation bar that makes it easy for people to find what they are looking for: your work, your about page, your contact information.
  • Who are you actually? Although you have your about page to elaborate on that, it’s best if they can find out a little bit about you right on your homepage. Adding a photo of yourself and a short bio will immediately help them make a more personal connection with you.
  • Why should they keep on reading? Now they know who you are and what you do, but they still need a reason to spend their precious time on your site and keep on reading. Feature your most impressive projects on your homepage to prove the quality of your work right away.

Crafting the perfect about page

The about page is your place to shine: it gives you a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself more in detail and get creative with your writing. What would be a better way to flaunt your storytelling skills than telling your own, after all?

But if possible, make sure it’s still not just a big wall of text: try to break it up with images to make it easier to read and to illustrate what you’re writing about.

The about page is also a great place to feature your writer resume. Some writers like to link to it as a PDF, some embed it as a picture, while others simply have theirs typed there as part of the page.

Project pages for books, poetry, and beyond

The way your project page should be structured depends a lot on the type of project you’d like to add to your creative writing portfolio. But there’s still a general formula you can follow to introduce the “behind-the-scenes” of your writing:

  1. What was the task you had or the reason why you decided to write this piece?
  2. What was your creative process of writing the piece? Did you face any challenges while writing? And if so, how did you overcome them?
  3. What was the impact your piece had once published?

These are pretty general questions, but it’s exactly because of that that they can be applied to many different forms of creative writing.

It’s also expected to feature the finished result so that people can actually read your writing and evaluate your skills. When it comes to shorter pieces like poetry, feel free to publish the whole thing.

But for longer writing like novels, nobody expects you to publish it from start to finish in your portfolio. You can add an excerpt – or if it’s been published and has received positive feedback, you can feature some quotes on what people said about it.

Build your creative writing portfolio with Copyfolio

If you want to create a beautiful website that has everything we outlined above… and you don’t want to spend hours upon hours figuring out the technical side of it… Your best bet is using a website builder or portfolio builder tool that was designed specifically for writers.

Don’t worry about coding or design

The good thing about using a tool like Copyfolio is that you won’t have to worry about the technical side of things. Or whether you can design it to look good or not.

Having the templates, palettes and presets makes sure you can build the foundations of your site in just a few clicks. And it will look good, no matter what you add to it.

Create professional images in the editor, with a few clicks

You don’t need to have Photoshop or any other design program to have images that’ll wow your site’s viewers. Place your image into a magazine, laptop, or TV with a single click and have a portfolio that looks like it was professionally designed.

Get help with writing about your projects

Apart from the daily portfolio tips that you’re going to get in email after signing up, you’ll also find tips and prompts in the website builder itself.

Built with insights from successful freelance writers, hiring managers, and creative directors, we’re guiding you through the process to help you create a portfolio that has exactly what people are looking for.