What to Put in a Writer Portfolio

Every writer needs a good writer portfolio. But what do you put in a writer portfolio to ensure you attract the right readers and clients? Here’s my take after almost two decades as a professional.


I get asked sometimes what to do if you’re a total newb and really don’t have any clients or published books yet. My advice there is, clients and readers don’t need to see “published” works, per se. They just need to see content that proves your capability. So, if you must, draft some mock pieces. Clearly label them as such so you are transparent about your sourcing and show some energy around getting started — get them excited about your new path! Get yourself going on social media, a blog, or a place like Medium — you don’t need a ton! Then go ahead and build the writer portfolio with that content. Phase out the mock content as quickly as you are able.

The last point I make in the video is IMPORTANT. Like tends to attract like, meaning that whatever you put in the portfolio is the kind of work or reader you are going to get. Think carefully about where you want to establish yourself before you build the portfolio!!!

[Transcript summary]

Greetings and salutations, everybody. I’m Wanda Thibodeaux. I’m the sole proprietor of takingdictation.com, and the topic that I want to talk to you today about is having a good portfolio. We all need one of those as writers. And I have actually just updated the takingdictation.com website, because it had been an atrociously long time since I had done that. But a little, a couple of pieces of advice for you, you know, as I come off of doing that.

The first is, you want to really have a couple of pieces on there that are evergreen. And all that means is that they are going to be relevant to no matter who comes to your site. You don’t have to really update those. The topics are going to be relevant anytime. But then you also want to combine that with a couple of more, I don’t want to say newsy pieces, but things that the subjects are here and now pieces. They’re current. Having that combination, it shows that you’re in the game, but [it shows] you’re also paying attention to the things that are going on around you and you’re still writing in real time.

So, then when you have that, I also would recommend that you get some kind of real-time feed on your site in your portfolio. So, that might be an RSS feed or however you want to do it. But that’s going to pull from any other source that you have. Maybe it’s your social media sites. Maybe [there are] a couple of websites that you are publishing on regularly. But that real-time, again, it’s a little bit more interactive. People can come in and check that portfolio quite frequently to see what are you doing, like, today. So, it’s a way to get them to engage a little bit more with the portfolio, and it also shows, again, that you are engaging right now, in real time. So, having those elements is really important.

You also want to make sure that, when you look at your portfolio, everything is pieces not just that you would be proud of, but that the readers, the clients, that’s their bread and butter. Maybe you have a couple of pieces that you’re really proud of, but they don’t really speak to the bulk of what you are doing or the topics that you write about. So, you really want to keep everything super relevant to what you want to continue publishing, because here’s the deal. What you publish is going to establish your expertise, and your expertise is going to attract readers and clients.

Now, unless you super want to hit on a topic all the time — you have to make sure that the topics you are writing about are something that you’re passionate about, that you can keep going on. So, whatever is in your portfolio, you’ve got to make sure that those are the kinds of things that you want to really show off and keep writing about, that are relevant to your clients. So that’s my advice for getting a good portfolio. Take care, everybody.