You spent years perfecting your skills as a creative professional – designer, photographer, copywriter, content marketer, etc. You’re pretty confident in your expertise and know what you bring to the table. Yet, you’re not able to land the clients you want to work for. Why?
Well, the reason may lie in your presentation. Do you have a portfolio that truly shows the best of your work? Here are our tips for showcasing your skills in a way that makes you jump off the page.
These pointers will help jumpstart your freelancing career, and they can lead to you getting the job that you really want.
#1: Build a strong personal brand
Whatever your field of expertise is, you are probably facing lots of fierce competition. This is why you need to make sure you stand out in the crowd and make your personal brand memorable. Your potential clients will want to see not just your designs, videos, ad copy, etc. but also who you are as a creative professional and as a person.
The first step would be to define your brand. Think of 3 adjectives that you would like for people to use to use when describing your business. Then ask some of your previous or existing clients to give you 3 adjectives too and see if these overlap with the ones you wrote down. If you have a match, then you’re doing well already. If not, use the feedback from your customer to figure out how to project the right image for your personal brand.
Once you have this sorted, think about the visual representation of your brand. Do you have a logo for example? If you are a copywriter or a content marketer, you may get away without one but a visual designer without a logo of their own would look a bit suspicious, wouldn’t it?
If you’re hosting your portfolio on your own URL, make sure you pick a domain name that is in line with your brand and looks professional. Make sure that it is also easy to find and remember.
Add a short bio on your portfolio page. Mention the most significant work of yours, tell your future clients what are the projects that shaped you the most as a professional.
Then move on to various online channels – your personal social media profiles, professional sites bio, etc. Remember: your personal brand does not start and end with your portfolio, it extends to everything your potential clients can find about your on Google.
Your personal brand requires lots of work, and it’s an ongoing effort. It does, however, pay off to put the time into that, as it will help you grow your business and sign the customers you want.
#2: Choose the right platform
Now that you have a strong personal brand, you need to select a platform to showcase your work. Graphic designers have it easy in that regard – there are many platforms like Carbonmade, Behance or Dribbble for example that were created for the purpose of showing off design work. The same goes for motion graphics designer or video producers who can easily put showreels of their work on Vimeo or YouTube. There are also many sites for photography portfolios – Squarespace and 500px are just a couple of examples.
If you’re a copywriter or a blogger, you may want to go another way and create a simple WordPress site or a Medium publication to exhibit your work.
For UI/UX designers, it may be best to have your own portfolio website where you can best show what you can do in context.
Of course, you can always use pCloud to share your portfolio – you can create a designated folder for that purpose in your account, then share a download link to prospective clients.
#3: Structure your presentation well
Before you move on and populate your portfolio, take some time to consider the architecture of the information in it. Would you show each project on its own, or would you rather group your projects together? If you choose the latter, how would you group them – by client, by topic, by medium, by date, etc.?
Make sure that your specialty and skills are one of the first things people notice when they land on your portfolio site. Include relevant keywords for those “scanning” through content quickly.
Your presentation needs to have a natural flow that keeps your potential clients interested and doesn’t let them feel lost in hundreds of projects that don’t seem to follow any particular logic.
And speaking of hundreds of projects…
#4: Be selective of what you showcase
A mistake that many rookies make is to put on their portfolios literally each and every project they have worked on. The ego can be a slippery slope and can trick you into including projects that do not highlight your best skills.
A good rule of the thumb is not to add projects that are older than 2-3 years. Here are a few other questions that can help you decide whether to put an item on your portfolio:
I am really proud of this project?
Was this particular project successful? Did it meet its business goals?
Do I have other similar projects on my portfolio already? and most importantly:
Has the customer who paid for this job allowed me to feature it on my portfolio?
Your portfolio is the place to showcase the very best of your work, the creme de la creme of your creative career. Keep it short and simple, and your prospective clients will appreciate it.
#5: Give context for your work
This piece of advice may seem obvious but we often tend to forget about the bigger picture. Why did a piece of your work come into existence? What medium and audience was it created for? What were the client’s marketing/financial goals? Did the project achieve them?
You don’t need to write an essay about each item you present to the general public but placing your work in context will allow your future customers to see the full extent of its value.
You need to be careful, though: make sure that the information you disclose is not confidential, or does not violate any non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that you may have signed with the client who commissioned that piece of work.
#6: Include a client list and testimonials
We already implied that you if you’re showcasing work you’ve been paid for, it is best to make sure the client who paid for it doesn’t mind this unless this is sorted out in your contract.
When contacting your customers for permissions, it’s always a good idea to also ask them for a testimonial or a recommendation of your work that you can later on put on your portfolio. Such testimonials will increase the credibility of your work and will help you land new business.
#7: Make your portfolio visually appealing
This is another no-brainer but visual consistency can make or break your portfolio so we thought it’s important to talk about this a little.
Whether you’re a designer, photographer, music producer, blogger or copywriter, make sure to choose a design and layout that best highlights your work. There are no rules set in stone here but you can benefit from these guidelines:
Use similar visual elements like icons and navigation;
Leave enough room for your work to “breathe”;
Let the items you feature interact with the rest of the portfolio content;
Don’t use images for which you don’t have copyright and/or permission.
#8: Add your resume
Now that you’ve added the creative work you are most proud of, you can go ahead and include your professional resume. This may seem redundant but a lot of people perceive information better in a chronological order. A resume will also clearly show your career development and growth path. Use this section of your portfolio to strengthen your personal brand.
#9: Make it easy to contact you
Once you have wowed your prospective clients with your presentation and the examples of your work, make sure that they can see your contact details straight away and get in touch with you to discuss how you can work together.
Don’t hide behind a contact form – leave your email address, social media handles and maybe even your phone number. Your portfolio needs to tell people that you are accessible and open for business!
#10: Update it regularly
Last but not least, just like your personal brand, your portfolio needs constant attention. At any given point, you want to know that you don’t show any projects that are too old, or poorly featured. Revisit your portfolio regularly, and don’t be afraid to tweak it a little here and there.