The advancements in technology have made the life of an artist a lot easier. Now when you are asked to compile a sampling of your work, you do not have to haul around a three foot square briefcase containing pictures of everything you have ever created. In past centuries, artists were referred by word of mouth and maybe the client saw one or two examples of the artist’s work before they decided to hire them. Now there is electronic assistance to get work viewed by untold numbers of prospective clients. Developing a website can not only display examples of your work but also links to published articles and sites where you are featured.
In your writing career you will probably be required to assemble a portfolio. This guide will assist you in compiling samples of your work to best represent your style and skill as a writer.
Who Will Read Your Portfolio?
There are several reasons why you might want to create a portfolio. If you are in college, it may be a course requirement. There may be a writing contest where a condition of entrance is a portfolio. A portfolio is a great way to keep a record of your accomplishments. And, the most popular reason for creating a portfolio is for a job application. The decision of what you want to include in your portfolio will depend largely on what it’s for. A school assignment will probably detail how to arrange, and what to put in, your collection. For a job interview, you will want to highlight the qualities and skills you possess that most meet the employer’s needs. You have to take into account what your portfolio is for. Who will be reading it? A teacher may be looking for evidence that you learned the curriculum. A prospective employer will be looking at your style or for specific skills and abilities.
Choosing What Goes into a Portfolio
Deciding how many samples to include will again depend on the purpose of your portfolio. Using a website to display your creations is a great way for the reader to be able to choose which aspects of your work they want to review. You can organize your site with links to different styles or types of your writing. If you have articles or essays, you can provide a link to that type of writing. If you excel in resume writing you can provide a link to samples you have completed in the past. If you are an accomplished website writer or blogger, you can have a hyperlink to your posts online. A portfolio designed in this way gives the reader control and the ability to read only that which pertains to them.
Below is a list of things you may want to incorporate into your portfolio:
- an essay examination example
- a scholastic essay proving your aptitude to debate an assertion or opinion
- a piece of writing for which you won an award or of which you are proud
- a subjective essay that demonstrates self-awareness and shows your ability to create graphic images using words
- a written contribution to a website, developing a particular topic
- an analysis or problem solving essay
- something you worked on collaboratively, with a discussion on how the group worked together and your contribution
- a report prepared for an office project, community event or class
- a piece based on field or library research
- anything written for a campus newsletter or other publication
- any multimedia presentations you completed
- a letter or an email correspondence
- a copy of a resume or job application
For a scholarly portfolio, you will be expected to include all assignments relating to the finished work. If for a writing course, your portfolio may be expected to include examples of your notes and first drafts as well as comments from other readers.
Finish Your Portfolio
Having decided what to put into your portfolio is just the beginning. You still need to prepare a written statement, organize your submissions and get others to review your portfolio.
The Written Statement
A written statement is an introduction to the work included in your portfolio. This is necessary no matter what it incorporates. You need to explain what you included and why. You can use any form you like, such as a cover letter, memo, introduction page, essay or home page for a website. Regardless which introduction you use you will need to have the following:
- The reason for including each piece and the original purpose for writing it.
- An outline or description of each piece.
- How did you choose these pieces of writing as a representation of your best work?
- A brief paragraph on your skills and abilities as a writer: What interests you as a writer? Have you learned anything about problems solving? How would you impart this knowledge to others?
It is time to organize your portfolio
Provide a table of contents having numbered all pages in consecutive order. Each piece has to be labeled and dated if you haven’t already done so. Remember your cover sheet including your name and the date. If the portfolio is for a course include the course title and number. Put is all in order in a folder.
Ask for Responses
After completing the above steps, it is time to get feedback. Ask your friends and family and, if for school, at least one instructor, to read your portfolio and tell you what they think.
If your portfolio is for a job application you will need to correct any mistakes by reprinting, after corrections. You cannot hand a writing job application in with spelling mistakes. If it is for school and there aren’t too many mistakes ask your teacher if you can correct with pen.