How to display samples from your copywriting portfolio
October 8, 2010 • Glenn Murray
An aspiring copywriter emailed me with a question, the other day. He’d noticed that a lot of the samples in my portfolio are shown in their end state — i.e. design + copy. As someone investigating how to become a copywriter, he was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to do this in his own portfolio, because he’s not a designer.
The first answer to this question is easy: I’m not a designer either. I didn’t design the end product; someone else did that. All I did was write the copy. If the copy’s displayed inside a swish design, it’s just because the client engaged a designer too.
But this got me thinking. About a few things:
1) It IS important to show your copywriting work in its finished state
Wherever possible, you should show your copywriting samples in their finished state. Especially if they’re part of a really nice design. The design reflects well on your work — lends it credibility. And the fact that it’s live copy suggests that it’s good enough for someone to invest in (and stick with).
2) But sometimes you don’t want to show work in its finished state
If the design of the finished product is truly horrendous, it may not reflect terribly well on you. It’s not a good idea to associate yourself with cheap work. Prospects may think only budget clients engage you.
3) And sometimes you can’t show work in its finished state
There are times when you can’t actually show the finished state. E.g. The client doesn’t give you permission or you don’t have access to the finished piece. Maybe it was a brochure and the client didn’t send you a copy, or it was a website, and it’s changed or no longer live. In these cases, you’ll have to display the copy in a branded copy deck of sorts. Like I did with this fun copy piece for a restaurant:
4) It’s ALWAYS a good idea to take screenshots of live web copy
Websites change all the time. Even if your copy is great, the client may have to update it when their products or services evolve. Or they may go out of business. Or they may simply update their website, and have someone else rewrite the copy. This has happened to me any number of times, and it’s a real bitch — especially when the copy was coupled with some really nice design. To protect yourself, and ensure you always have an impressive looking final piece to display, always take a screenshot of the live finished state, and save it somewhere you’ll remember. E.g. I wrote the copy for all Toyota’s (Australian) vehicles a few years back. They’ve since updated their vehicles, and obviously engaged another copywriter to write the copy. Fortunately, I had screenshots of the important pages, so I can continue to show my copy in its finished state — complete with Toyota branding — even though that copy is no longer live.
How do you display your copywriting portfolio?
Add a comment below if you have any better suggestions. Or just some additional helpful tips. I’d love to hear them.