The Copywriter’s Paycheck: Build a Portfolio

Elizabeth ShortBy Elizabeth Short

By now, your copywriting business is probably picking up speed. But if you find yourself between jobs, don’t stop working! Build your portfolio instead.

Getting Started Tip #7: Build a portfolio—any way you can
Nothing will make you feel more like a successful freelance copywriter than a fat portfolio stuffed with brochures, web content, sales letters, etc. Whether you show it off to potential clients or simply display it on a bookshelf to boost your self-confidence, a collection of polished marketing materials featuring your own well-written copy is a must. But as a new freelancer, you may find your portfolio is still a bit thin. How do you plump it up? In addition to creating materials for your own business, consider doing pro bono work for non-profits. Trades are another great way to generate tangible examples of your expertise. Exchanging services (retail for retail) with a good massage therapist was my personal favorite. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how you build your portfolio—paid, volunteered or traded, a few finished projects now mean more clients in the future.

Copywriting Tip #7: Boost interest with metaphors
As a copywriter, your job is to employ a stockpile of appropriate words and phrases necessary for executing a clear marketing message. If you’re writing for a financial planner, for example, you’ll need to use phrases like financial plans, financial independence and investment choices. Lots of yawn potential, right? Not necessarily. Try boosting interest with a tantalizing metaphor—travel, for instance: Your dreams for the future are simple, and your financial voyage should be, too. Yet navigating today’s world of complex investment choices on your own can be difficult. That’s why our independent financial consultants are here to ensure smooth sailing. The result? A plan for financial independence without the worry—your dream destination. Who wouldn’t rather imagine a Caribbean cruise than some boring suit behind a desk? After all, markets are made of people.

Elizabeth Short is a freelance copywriter and graphic designer with a passion for helping small businesses clarify and broadcast unique marketing messages. With a focus on websites and print materials, she brings together content + design in one easy, affordable package ( Check out her e-book, 7 Steps to Effective Web Content ( to learn the secrets of writing copy for the web.


2 Responses to “The Copywriter’s Paycheck: Build a Portfolio”

  1. 1 Marijke Durning August 6, 2007 at 2:08 am

    A very interesting exercise. I will try it this week. Thank you for the food for thought.

  2. 2 Adrienne Zurub August 30, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Thank you for such solid and fruitful advice!

    Adrienne Zurub
    ‘Notes From the Mothership ~ The Naked Invisibles’

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