The tech-writer’s journal #6 — Building your technical writing portfolio
What is a technical writing portfolio?
A technical writing portfolio is a sample of writing assignments and projects that prove your skills as a versatile writer. Whether you are looking for a job or planning to apply for graduate school, your technical writing portfolio goes a long way in helping your recruiter/admission committee understand your writing skills.
Why should you consider creating a technical writing portfolio?
Your technical writing portfolio is proof of your professionalism, skillset, and qualification as a technical writer. Over time, they portray the things you care about as a technical writer. For instance, your Open Source documentation projects show the aspects of documentation that you are deeply committed to as a writer.
What can you include in your technical writing portfolio?
You can include the documentation that you have authored, contributed to, or edited so far in your career. Here are some that might ring a bell:
- Newsletter articles
- Video tutorials
- How-to articles
- Installation guides
- Online help
- Release notes
- Style guides
Or any piece of work that one can categorize under “documentation.” If you are someone fresh out of college, it can include the article you submitted for your college magazine, or the papers you have submitted, and so on. The same is applicable for technical writers whose work comes behind the company’s paywall. If that is the case for you, you might want to consider contributing to open source documentation projects.
Where can you host your technical writing portfolio?
Usually, a technical writing portfolio is in the following forms:
2. An independent website
3. Your Github profile
Each of these has its objectives, pros, and cons. Let’s dive deep.
- PDF: If you are someone who is just considering getting your feet in the ocean of technical writing, PDF is the right option for you. All you have to do is logically organize your work in a PDF file that is easy to navigate and appropriately highlights your skillset.
- Independent Website: If you are someone who is trying to build your brand, maybe thinking of becoming a freelance technical writer, this is where you should be headed. Building a website is expensive, but eventually, the website shapes your brand as a technical writer and sets the tone for the kind of work you deliver.
- Github profile: If the documents you draft are open source, you can turn GitHub into your armour. It serves as the best platform to show off your flexibility and proficiency with tools and your collaborative skills.
How to build a technical writing portfolio?
Step 1: Choose samples that portray your best work.
Choose writing samples that illustrate your ability as a versatile technical writer. Ensure that you add a wide range of document types such as user guides, online help, instructions, API and developer documentation, and so on.
Step 2: Choose your armour
Once you have chosen the work samples that you want to add to your portfolio, pick the tool that best suits your needs. Your portfolio can be a shareable document, an independent website, or your GitHub profile.
Step 3: Organize your work samples
Dive deep into the chosen tool, and make sure that you use all the features it has to offer to present your portfolio. Remember that your portfolio cannot be a linear set of all the work you have done so far. Make it easy to navigate, and extract information. You can also consider adding a short description for each piece of the sample you present for the readers to decide whether they want to go ahead and skim through that sample or not.
Step 4: Get feedback
Share your portfolio with your seniors, friends, and the tech-writing communities you are a part of and fine-tune your portfolio. Remember that the end goal of having a technical writing portfolio is not to get a job or an admission. It is a reflection of your experience. So, make sure you maintain it even after you reach your temporary goal.
Technical writing portfolio samples for reference
Here are few portfolios to give you an idea of what a technical writing portfolio looks like: