Offering up your services on one of the many dedicated freelancer websites is all well and good. However, with the ever amounting competition and ever increasing commission, going out on your own is something that I believe every freelancer should strive to achieve.
However, going it alone requires a lot of work. Whether you’re a photographer, a web designer/developer, a graphic designer, a writer, a wedding planner or a caterer, your biggest marketing tool will be your portfolio. Which is exactly why I’ve dedicated today’s post to sharing with you my top tips on how to create a freelance portfolio.
Set Up Your Website
Setting up your website is simple and straight forward. In 90% of cases I’d recommend starting a site with WordPress.org. If you use GoDaddy it’ll cost you circa £14 for the first year that includes your domain name and hosting.
I’d recommend WordPress as it’s the most versatile. I’d recommend purchasing a domain rather than opting for a free website to add to your professionalism.
Imagine the difference in; www.CoraHarrison.com when compared to www.CoraHarrison.wordpress.com
Which one says, I’m serious?
Style Your Portfolio
Depending on the type of work you’re doing will depend on the style of your portfolio. Here are some great examples;
Dave Hill is a fantastic photographer. He highlights his work for recent clients on his portfolioHe highlights his work for recent clients on his portfolio. Notice how clean cut the page is with very little text. Yet navigation couldn’t be easier.
Bert is a heavily interactive graphic design portfolio. The team is based in the Netherlands and has used the portfolio to share their story while also showcasing their skills…
Jordan Peck has a fantastic programming portfolio. What makes it so great is that’s understandable to someone who knows absolutely nothing about code. As well as sharing his projects he also links to his GitHub profile under his social media accounts. This is great for sharing contributions you have made to open source software.
NordicText have a fantastic portfolio which highlights their translative services. It’s detailed, highly professional, and provides you with multiple ways to contact the freelancer. The website is also available in the languages that the freelancer translates to / from.
Finally we have Alyssa Fishers fantastic journalism portfolio. This does two things really well, it highlights how relevant and up to date her work is with every post including a date. It’s also really easy to navigate. Something that can prove difficult for journalists (who are typical word nuts) to achieve.
Changing the theme of your WordPress blog will allow you to create a freelance portfolio style that’s right for your niche. If you’re struggling to find the right theme, then I’d always recommend checking out ThemeForest.
Add Your Recent Work & Testimonials
Once you create a freelance portfolio you’re going to want to add your recent work and testimonials from previous clients. You’ll find that no matter the niche every portfolio above features these two things.
Now you maybe saying to yourself, but I’ve got no recent work and no testimonials… and that’s ok. There’s three different ways you can go about getting some;
Speak To Friends & Family
Drop an email to your friends and previous co-workers. Call your family. Explain that you’ve started your own business as a freelancer, explain the services and how you’re establishing yourself in the market and how you’re looking for work to feature in your portfolio and testimonials to share with potential clients. Explain that you’ll do the work either for free or at a heavy discount. There’s absolutely no shame in having your first freelance gig coming from your aunty who runs her own cleaning business.
Speak To Non-Profits
Non-profits are always looking for services. Try and align yourself with a non for profit you care about and ask if they require any of your services in return for a testimonial. Not only are you getting a testimonial and some work to feature on your portfolio, you’re helping a charity – what could be better?
Talk To A Local Business Owner
Local is always best. Check out the different shops, bars, restaurants etc. in your local area. Do you think you could help them design a better website? help them manage their social media? help them improve their marketing strategy?
Speak to them explaining how you might be able to help. If you have a relationship with the service (i.e. you eat / shop / drink there a lot, even better!)
Take note of their current situation and explain how you are able to improve it. Give them confidence by explaining exactly what you would do and again offer them a amazing discount or offer to do the work for free – or even in exchange for store credit!
Final Hints & Tips
So you have just finished creating your freelance portfolio, and have recent work and testimonials from real clients. You’re ready to hit the market, here are my final hints and tips to ensure you’re freelancing career starts with a bang!
Be sure to have multiple methods of contacting you shared on your portfolio – and make sure they are professional. Nothing screams great journalist quite like the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Basic professional email accounts start at just £2.99 per month with GoDaddy.
Only showcase your very best work, and be sure to include variety. If you’re a journalist, try and add different styles of work for different media’s. Maybe one piece was for a newspaper, one was for a website and another was for a magazine. Don’t just highlight your variety internally, but externally too. Keep an eye on what you’re competition is doing and look to stand out from the crowd. You want work that really ‘pops’ and get’s the potential client saying “that’s it, that’s what I’m looking for”.
Avoid making your portfolio overwhelming. You’re going to want to limit the amount of work you share. This is entirely going to depend on your niche so have a look at the number of pieces your competition share. Go for quality over quantity.
No matter how great your work is, the potential client is only going to click through a few projects before deciding if you’re the freelancer for them.
Stay current. Remember how much I loved the journalist who had dated her work. That’s because I knew she was actively working. Actively on trend. Now, I’m not suggesting you date your work, but be sure you don’t include old work. Regardless of your niche trends change, and a potential client will be able to spot your old, outdated work.
Don’t be afraid to add notes. But be sure to keep it concise. You don’t have to tell the life story of the project but if you want to explain about who the client was, the problems they were having or the brief, and how you achieved or solved that problem – Great!
Don’t forget to purchase business cards. They are great to hand out to friends, family and people you just bump into on the street (well, maybe not quite but you know what I mean…). Read more about the best places to get business cards, and how to stand out from the ‘business card crowd’ here…