As a managing editor, one of the things I look for from writers is variety—not just in terms of topics but also in the outlets they write for. Seeing five great pieces published on the same website gives me a basic idea of a writer’s work, but it doesn’t allow me to see how they might adapt to different writing styles.
I specialize in automotive content, and seeing a fun listicle about classic cars tells me that a writer can handle straightforward consumer content. What it doesn’t tell me is whether they’re comfortable writing more in-depth, technical B2B content.
A diverse portfolio is so important when it comes to picking up regular work.
This is why a diverse portfolio is so important when it comes to picking up regular work, as it shows both the client and managing editor that you can turn your hand to different styles of writing.
Here are a few things I look out for and some tips on how you can keep your portfolio diverse.
If I’m looking for an automotive writer, I don’t mind if they’ve also written about finance and travel. But I do want to see those topics evenly spaced throughout the portfolio. Rather than having to scroll through 10 travel pieces to find the automotive section, I’d prefer to see a good cross-section of all their experience above the fold.
My portfolio is very automotive-heavy, but I’ve ordered my projects in a way that shows the different areas I write for—from electric vehicle charging to motorsport. As you move through my portfolio, it’s clear that I also write about technology and business.
I always read a selection of different pieces from a writer’s portfolio, but if someone has a range of work published in high-end publications, it signals that writer’s authority and experience. If someone has a byline in The Guardian, WIRED, or BBC, for example, I know they understand how to craft and pitch a story to a high-profile publication.
While platforms like Medium and LinkedIn are great places to showcase your work, these aren’t necessarily the first places I head for when checking out a portfolio. Just about anyone can post on them, and the work isn’t always high-quality. That being said, these platforms are a great way to see what a writer’s work looks like before it’s been edited.
Not everyone will have the experience of pitching to huge publications, and that’s fine! But if you fall into this category, try to mix up your portfolio by pitching to blogs or websites that can lend you a little of their authority—don’t just rely on Medium or your blog to showcase your writing.
While journalism experience is great, I’m also looking for content marketing skills. The specific client doesn’t matter a great deal, but I still want to see variety.
It’s fine if the same clients appear again and again (in fact, it’s an indicator of a long-standing relationship), but I also want to get a sense of how a writer can adapt their voice to clients in different sectors
Even if the majority of your work has been for a single client, try to find some way to add variety to your portfolio. For example, have your articles for that business been featured on other websites, or could you pitch an article to another blog on behalf of your client?
If you don’t have a diverse portfolio at this stage, look for ways you can showcase more of your talents. Ensuring a variety of topics, publications, and clients across your portfolio will give managing editors—and potential clients—a better sense of your skills.