I'm building my first portfolio website and feel like I'm lacking direction. Are websites more helpful for certain kinds of writers? I'm planning on using my site to easily present my work to editors, but can a website really help sell you? Also, would I be violating copyrights by posting the text or images of pages of articles I've had published?
In my mind, and I couldn't feel more strongly about this, a website is a MUST for anyone who is serious about building her platform and taking her business (because remember, writing is a business, people!) to the next level. So you're definitely on the right track.
Let's break down your questions: are website more helpful for certain kinds of writers? Well, unless you want to be the kind of writer who is invisible, then I'd say no. I've surfed over to dozens of fiction writers' websites to learn more about them or their books (or to contact them), and trust me, plenty of magazine editors have surfed over to mine (or other mag writers like me) to learn more about me and my work. And the same logic applies going the other way: I've often tried to hunt down a book author for a magazine interview, and when I couldn't find him or her online, I'd move on to someone else. Your website makes you instantly accessible, and if you're not instantly accessible, and someone needs you NOW or is interested in you NOW, he'll move on to someone whom he can find stat. You know how it goes...snooze = lose.
In addition to this instant access, my website has been an invaluable place to showcase my work to editors. (Something you alluded to above.) If they're interested in hiring me, but haven't seen my clips? Hey, check out my website! If they want to know what sorts of subjects I cover? Hey, check out my website! Not to mention that editors definitely google you when your name has been passed to them by someone else or when they're looking for a specific type of writer (say, a health writer), and they'll track you down this way too.
As far as copyrights, I'll admit that I know zilch about that. This issue comes up every once in a while in one of my writer's boards, and no one ever seems to nail down the right thing to do. I'm sure that someone will chime in here and tell me that I'm breaking the law by posting links/scanned articles, but (and maybe this isn't a good defense!), I can tell you that dozens of editors have seen my site, and no one has complained. And most writers I know who have websites post the articles too, so I dunno, maybe there's safety in numbers? (Or is this akin to jumping off a bridge because your friends are all doing it?)
Want to sing the praises of your website? Or narc me out to the writing police? Sound off.