Simple Hacks to Showcase My Copywriting & Usability Webwork
May 24, 2012 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Online Portfolio/Samples filter: Hallelujah! I'm finally making some progress with skills acquisition. I've begun the content strategy/copywriting and usability redesign of a medium-sized brand-name non-profit Website. Now how do I extract samples from it, to show off my hard-won know-how?

I want two kinds of portfolio-type samples: 1) online, attached to my Linkedin profile. (I don't have enough to fill a Website yet.) And 2) in print, to accompany a resume.

I have access to and know how to use:

* Balsamiq (a great little mock-up tool, which I'm using now to create templates),
* Snagit (a tool that cuts and pastes samples, sections, and whole pages from Websites and other online materials),
* Microsoft Word (natch), and
* InDesign

Note that both Balsamiq and Snagit include mark-up tools (arrows, stickies, and other forms of call-outs, to illustrate the "before" and "after").

But I'm not sure how to proceed from there. It's not that I can't figure out a solution, I'm just not sure what best practices are. I need advice, hacks, samples from other portfolios? The whole thing makes me uneasy. I'm assuming I want to turn all the online stuff into PDFs, no...?

The copywriting is my main skill. The usability is both an interest and added value.

1) Should I just showcase the copywriting in a simple text document or should I use full-fledged snippets from the actual (not at all bad-looking) mock-ups? How much text should I include? The pitch, obviously, and...

2) How many pages of annotated usability mock-ups should be included? (Note I can shrink these with Snagit.)

3) I should include "Before" and "After" examples, too, right?


Note: There's no way to hide the client's identity without deleting so much running text the copy will be rendered unintelligible. I don't consider this an ethical dilemma in print. And I'm not going to be showcasing it on my own Website, but as I do plan to put it up at LinkedIn, it makes me a little uncomfortable. Thoughts?
posted by Violet Blue to Work & Money (3 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I've screenshotted little thumb nails of the sites (say four inches by four inches pixelscale) , with a link directly to the site (if live) or an archived full-screen rep/ or full reproduction of the site as necessary.

I've only got two clients on it. 'snough to spend the $10 to register a domain name, IMO, and pay the $8 bucks to dreamhost to keep it up.

I also plopped them in PDF to email and print (and in this day and age my experience has been you probably aren't getting your portfolio back, so look for good prices for printing and a nice but not expensive portfolio to put them in). For one client who had me rework it into a press kit, we had it laminated and s/he also got it mounted on foamboard for in-person presentations.

Mark mockups clearly as mockups, No reason not to have annotated usability, but always have a prominent home button so they can get out (and if you're showcasing such different things in a portfolio, tabs to separate and identify, if not a small intro blurb that also works on the website).

If you have a before and after, maybe, but really, you're kind of trashing someone else so you'll have to make a call on that on a case by case basis. I'd go with a scratch list of what the client wanted, a rough sketch as the before, then the final as the after.
posted by tilde at 7:52 PM on May 24, 2012

I would advise against making a portfolio that sells you as two things. If you're mainly selling yourself as a writer, focus only on that. Don't dilute your message!

You could also make two portfolios - one for writing, one for usability - and send only the relevant one to each client.

How much detail to go into? Not much! I treat it as a showcase / conversation starter. I write for the Ad / Marketing world, and my portfolio is a PDF that does little more than show what I worked on. If a prospective client wants to know more, of course, I'd be delighted to meet up for coffee and a chat... and that's when I go into detail. Would that approach make sense for the type of work you do?
hide the client's identity
This is generally unnecessary - if the work's public, most clients understand that people like us need to show what we've done in our portfolios. However, some of my clients have included clauses in their contracts that explicitly forbid me from doing this unless I ask for permission first.

Do you know about Cargo Collective? Might be a nice place for you to put your portfolio up.

Oh, and nobody has ever asked me for a printed version of my portfolio. But you know best what your clients expect...
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:00 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

The prime message of the portfolio should be ROI. Saying you're a writer is really weak.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:47 AM on May 25, 2012

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