Building a portfolio (SBW P.3)

part 3 in the series, helping you to take the leap and become a Small Biz Whizz! (SBW)

You’ve decided to go ahead and start a new business and narrowed down your small business niche. Now it’s time to start showing off just how awesome you are by building a portfolio, so that new clients or customers are eager to work or buy from you!

How do you start building a portfolio from scratch?

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As I’m a copywriter, you’re probably assuming that I had loads of things to create a portfolio with. Unfortunately, I had nothing to put into my portfolio except my vegan-curious blog posts on Lottie Loves Food. Despite having specialised in social media copywriting for corporate giant Tesco over the past 3½ years, my role had slowly changed from being the writer of content to the editor. (It was an interesting development to see that as marketing budgets grow, so does the throwing of ridiculous amounts of money at agencies to do the work.)

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Anyhow, being an editor meant that anything I linked to wasn’t originally written by me, so didn’t showcase my copywriting talents. My thinking hat went on and I spent the next 8 weeks seeking out opportunities to get my writing published on various websites. When you’re building a portfolio, it’s good to cover a wide variety of topics within your chosen field, so to showcase my general knowledge and writing style, I started with these:

Talented Ladies Club – What happens when you want redundancy and DON’T get it?

JournoLink – How my blog became my business

Enterprise Nation – Six business lessons in 60 minutes from Dragons’ Den

Real Business – Me, myself and Jude – why every entrepreneur needs a mentor 

This was a quick way to get assets for my portfolio, back links to my own site which Google loves, and showcase my writing skills for others to see. Although the topics and publications weren’t specifically in my healthy food and lifestyle niche, the first two articles discussed the reasons I started That Copy Girl. This gave people an instant insight into the ethos and passion behind my business, and honestly, they were also the opportunities that were available at the time!

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Tip: Every opportunity that comes your way might not be ‘ideal’ but embrace it anyway – you’ve got nothing to lose and a portfolio to gain!

Tailoring your portfolio as you go

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Once I had a few examples to actually put into a portfolio, it was time to start seeking out my ideal clients and websites. A huge thrill was getting published on Huffington Post with my article ‘Is food your new designer label?’, as I knew such a well-known website would impress future clients.

It’s not just about snagging the big names though. I was invited to the launch party for a brand new online health and fitness magazine, spent five minutes with the editor that night, and had my first fitness article ‘How I escaped the curse of the pink dumbbell’ published on there within a couple of weeks.

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Never turn down any opportunities to show off your skills no matter what industry you’re in – whether it’s baking for a local charity event, designing a logo for a friend, walking someone’s dog or sharing your favourite smoothie recipe – record it in some way and add it to your portfolio!

Once you start the ball rolling, you’ll never look back. You can hone and refine your portfolio to showcase your niche once you have plenty of options to choose from. Prospective clients and customers want to be sure that they’re investing in someone with great skills or products, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to shine amongst your competitors.

If you’ve got any other top tips for building a portfolio, please share them in the comments below!

Don’t forget, if you’re a healthy lifestyle brand that needs a copywriter to help you write wonderful words for your website, blog and articles like this, email me!