What is a portfolio?
I belong to a few groups online, and one of the pieces of wisdom that pops up often is that to get freelance jobs, a writer needs a portfolio. Okay, so what exactly is a portfolio? The way I understand it, a writer’s portfolio is a collection of clips designed to showcase the quality and range of the writer’s work. If you can clarify or expound on this definition, please chime in!
How does someone entering the freelance educational writing market compile a portfolio without having landed a freelance job? It’s a bit of a Catch-22. You need clips to get the job, but you need the job to get clips. Oy!
There are ways, I think. I’m going to use myself as an example, since I am just pulling my own portfolio together.
Since I work as an editor on professional development materials, I have the opportunity to use some of that work in my portfolio, for both editing and original writing. That's a good start.
Straight out of the classroom
But what if I had never been an editor? What can I put in my portfolio straight out of the classroom?
Once school year, I wrote a research manual (twenty-three pages) that was printed up for the entire 8th grade. I think a clip from that might serve to show my skills. I also handled the team newsletter for a time. This would serve as an example of my writing and possibly even my design skills. As the NJHS sponsor, I wrote press releases and a brochure. I plan on including those in my clips.
When I first started teaching, I designed and taught week-long summer workshops in computing, both basic (what’s a mouse?) and desktop publishing to teachers. That written curriculum might have served to show my instructional design skills, but who knew to keep them?! (Kick!)
What about college?
I wrote a feature story and a book review for the college newspaper. I think I can include those. I also did proofreading and desktop publishing for a journal at our university press. I have a copy of that journal. Should I include a scan of the cover for proofreading and layout experience? I don’t know about that one. I was also editor of the literary magazine one semester. I was responsible for the whole magazine. I didn’t sleep much that semester, but I did remember to keep a copy.
What can I include?
Will any of this help me land a freelance job? I guess that’s my question. My recent freelancing has been assessment item writing, and I’m not sure I can include any clips of those because of nondisclosure. Sure, when I land a gig, I’ll start putting the recent stuff in the forefront. But until then? Is it a good or bad idea to include older work?
What’s in your portfolio? Can there be too many clips? How do you choose what makes it in?
I think I’ve gone on long enough.