For creative freelancers, having a great freelance portfolio is essential. However, it can be hard to get it right, which is why today we want to share out top tips to help you supercharge your freelance portfolio and start winning more clients fast.
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Tips for an outstanding freelance portfolio
Potential clients always want to see what you are capable of – and your freelance portfolio is your opportunity to impress them and present what you can do.
The key is to think about what potential clients are actually looking for and want to see when they land on your website.
If you’re lucky enough to have worked with some big names or brands – you’d be forgiven for thinking that that’s enough to stand out and impress potential clients.
But if it’s not presented strategically then, trust me, they won’t care about it.
The very best portfolios – the ones that really stand out – are more about showing how you approach and solve problems, rather than dropping big names without context.
1. First Impressions Matter
According to most estimates, you have around ten seconds to persuade visitors to stick around on your portfolio. So you need to think hard about the first impression that your portfolio gives off.
What’s more, visitors will largely judge your work and your quality in these initial few seconds, so creating a good first impression really is paramount.
The problem is it’s really hard to be objective about our own work and portfolio. We are too close to them and have too much invested in them.
That’s why it can really help to ask for other opinions, from people who you trust. This kind of feedback is invaluable for getting an idea of the honest first impression that your portfolio is generating.
You can try asking some fellow freelancers, but also get a mix of opinions from people who don’t really know anything about what you do, think family and friends.
You want to hear from both groups because they will represent your potential clients in a way – some of them will have a background in what you do, while others won’t.
2. Show consistency in your work
Consistency is also important when it comes to portfolios.
Three to five great examples of work are much better than having eight reasonable ones, where the quality of the work varies.
It’s quality over quantity here.
Your potential clients are not going to count to see how many projects you have listed, but they will look into one or two projects to see how well you did them.
Even more so, they will probably only look into one or two pieces anyway, even if you have more listed.
If you have been freelancing for a while, do not put all the work you have ever done in your career into your portfolio. Rather, pick a few that you are the proudest of and that showcase your skills in the best light.
It’s also worth remembering that you’re likely to attract clients who are looking for similar work to what you are displaying. So if you’re a designer who doesn’t want to do logos anymore, realise that showing logos will encourage more clients who want that service.
What if you don’t have any client work to display?
If you are just starting out, give yourself a brief and create three examples of the type of projects that you want to do – it doesn’t matter if this wasn’t client work.
Most clients are more interested in how you present your skills and work than whether you were paid to do it or not.
3. Always provide context
The most common mistake freelancers make when presenting their portfolio is in failing to provide any context for their work.
Again, we are so close to our own work and projects that we know every detail about them. We know why exactly working on a certain project shows we are qualified and skilled in a certain area – but our potential probably doesn’t.
If you present your work without any context, it can only be viewed in a decorative way, and people will add a context to it themselves – which you may or may not like.
Remember, your work doesn’t speak for itself. You need to add the context, even if it seems painfully obvious, or is at the expense of the aesthetic of your portfolio.
By adding context, I mean that you need to be able to explain your work clearly – demonstrate the problems you solved, and make it easy for viewers to see why the project was necessary and successful.
This is harder than it sounds. So if you’re struggling, try the following exercise.
How to write a good context for your projects
Look at your portfolio pieces and imagine you are going to a client meeting where you will need to present each piece to them.
Chances are you would give a good description of how the project came to be, and how your approach helped to make sure it was a success.
You should approach your online freelance portfolio in the same way too.
Think about these questions for each piece:
- What was the project about – was it client work or a personal project?
- What challenges did you need to solve?
- How did you approach the project and its challenges?
- What did your creative process look like?
- Was the client happy? Did you solve their problem for them?
- How was your work used? Did it get results?
If you can add stats or a client testimonial too, that can really help to complete the ‘story’ of the piece – and it demonstrates social proof that others have used you and found value in what you do.
Of course, there is a balance to be struck here, you need to keep it short, concise and scannable for visitors to move through at speed.
The best way to give context is usually in bullet points. It often helps to break it into sections. So you might have a few bullets explaining the initial project. Then a section explaining your process, and finally a section explaining the outcome.
Always think about what you would want to communicate to someone who knows nothing about your work, and make it easy for them to see your professional value.
Remember, just because something is obvious to you, it’s not for someone who sees your work for the first time. You are an expert in your field, but your clients are probably not – so don’t try to be too fancy.
4. Show your unique POV – Point Of View
Don’t be shy to add some personality to your portfolio. This can really help you to stand out.
People hire people, so giving an insight into what makes you unique can be as important as your skillset and the quality of the work.
Keep in mind, however, that even though it’s your portfolio, it shouldn’t really be about you. It should be about your potential clients.
Even when you are writing about yourself, you should be thinking about how that information relates to potential clients. Is the information relevant to them? Why should they care?
Only write information that is relevant to your clients. Keep it short, and highlight the important things, because most people will skim through this, so you want to make sure they are catching the most valuable parts.
I really hope these tips will help you with the challenge of creating a freelance portfolio that you’re proud of, and more importantly, that will bring in a lot of clients!
If you have any questions about these tips, or anything related to a freelance portfolio, our comment section is below – please feel free to use it.
Until next time,
Our Portfolio Masterclass is coming soon!
We are working hard on new course that will help you take control of your portfolio and make ti work for you, not against you!
This course will teach you how to create a portfolio to show your work, stand out from the crowd and win more clients.
To be the first one to know when the course goes live and snatch special bonuses, join the waitlist below:
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