If you work as a freelancer, you need an online freelance portfolio that attracts clients while you sleep.
Whether you’re a writer, designer, virtual assistant, social media manager or photographer, the perfect freelance portfolio should show off the skills you have and the services you offer.
I devote a whole chapter in my book Ten Commandments For The Thriving Writer to building a freelance portfolio. It’s called “Building a Body of Work You Are Proud Of”. Your freelance portfolio should be just that. A chance to showcase your best work: the projects you are really proud to have been a part of.
Your portfolio is perhaps one of your biggest selling points. It’s a solid demonstration of what you’ve done and an indication of what you’re capable of doing in the future. Without a strong portfolio, your website can look like a lot of empty promises about what you would, could or might do, given the chance. And there’s an obvious problem with that:“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” – Henry Ford Click To Tweet
What to include in your freelance portfolio
Depending on the type of service provider you are, you’ll want to put a few different elements into your freelance portfolio. Here’s a list of some items to include:
If you’re a graphic designer, a writer, or some other type of artist, potential clients want to see exactly what you’re capable of. This may include scanned copies of articles or graphics you’ve done for the print industry.
For example, samples can include an article you’ve had published in a magazine or graphics you did for a local company’s brochure. It may also include image files of websites you’ve designed and PDF files of content you’ve written for other companies. If your work isn’t available online, you can save it as a PDF and password protect it so it can’t be copied.
Links To Websites
If you’re doing the majority of your work for online markets, you’ll want to be able to showcase your work by linking to it. This demonstrates that you’ve done professional work and adds credibility to your portfolio. If you’re a graphic designer, you can link to websites where you’ve designed the logo, the website template, header, and so on.
If you’re a writer, you can link to website pages where you’ve written the copy or content. And if you’re a virtual assistant you can link to websites of entrepreneurs you’ve worked with. Depending on the projects you handle, you could also link to work you’ve done online. For example, if you created a form for a website owner or wrote content for them then you can link to that.
Good testimonials go a long way. Even if someone doesn’t see exactly what they’re looking for in your freelance portfolio, quality references may be your foot in the door.
Testimonials can attest to your professionalism, flexibility, and quality of work. They’re an excellent tool to motivate a potential customer who is trying to decide if you’re the right choice. You may want to have a separate page for testimonials on your website or blog. Just make sure that page links back to your portfolio. Here’s my testimonials page on my freelance site. There’s a link from that page to my portfolio page. And there’s a link to both those pages on my home page.
What to Do with Your Freelance Portfolio
There are several ways to get your portfolio in front of your prospects.
Put your freelance portfolio on your website
Make sure it is either a page on your site, or there is a link to it on your website. This way, as potential customers hear about you from friends and associates or through their online search, they can review your portfolio immediately.
Email your freelance portfolio to potential clients
Email your portfolio (or a link to it) along with a cover letter to people you’d like to work with. If you have a company you’d excited to work with, don’t be shy. Send them a cover letter, resume and your portfolio.
Share your freelance portfolio with partners
If you have friends and associates who are not direct competition, consider collaborating with them. Send them your portfolio, or a link to it, and ask them to send it to people who might need your services. You can even give your friends and associates a referral bonus or reward for anyone they send your way.
Promote your freelance portfolio on social media
Feel free to share your freelance portfolio on your social media platforms occasionally too. Or put a link to it in your profile if your main objective on social media is to connect with new clients.
Building Your Freelance Portfolio
Everyone has to start somewhere. Build your freelance portfolio from the very start of your freelance career if you can. There are a few simple steps that can really help.
Ask clients for testimonials
Do this as soon as you’ve finished doing (excellent) work for them, and make sure you mention that you’d like to use the testimonial on your website (most will be fine with that).
Tip: If they give you a great testimonial, now is probably a good time to politely mention that you appreciate endorsements on LinkedIn. LinkedIn makes it easy for clients to give you a quick endorsement and its a great place to make contact with new potential clients. I have a significant number of endorsements over there, and even though I’m not that active on the site, I still get clients approaching me via LinkedIn.
If you and your client connected through a freelance site you could also ask them to write a review or rate your work there if there is a system that encourages that.
Consider using Contently (it’s Free)
Contently.com is a great place to build a visual portfolio of written work you’ve done around the web. You can then link to it from your website, social media profiles or bios. Here’s my freelance portfolio over there.
Or Pinterest (also free)
You can also use a Pinterest board as a visual portfolio. I suggest you make a Pinterest board that showcases your work, anyway, even if you have a professional freelance portfolio elsewhere online. Here’s mine. It doesn’t hurt to have more than one freelance portfolio up online working away for you.
Link to the websites or projects mentioned in your testimonials
This helps to further emphasize your skills and professionalism. For example, I link to books I’ve edited under testimonials from their authors, to demonstrate those books have great reviews on Amazon. Here are a couple of examples of testimonials from clients I’ve done editing work for. They’re taken directly from the testimonials page on my freelance site:
“Special thanks to my wonderful copy editor and proofreader, Karen Banes, who arguably did more for this book by taking words away than I did by adding them! I’m extremely grateful to Karen for going above and beyond because of her passion for the subject matter, and I look forward to working with her again.”
– Kirsty Stuart, Author of How To Start A Travel Blog And Make Money
“Karen has been amazing to work with. She really spent time with each paragraph, making sure it was readable from an outsider’s point of view. She even took time to help me out after we had finished working together. Karen really cares about your work and your success, and that’s what you need, I believe, to make life easier 🙂
– Dr Ameet Aggarwal ND, Author of Feel Good: Easy Steps to Health and Happiness
Keep your Freelance portfolio up-to-date
Websites go out of business or move articles around, or update their graphics. Make sure you’re not sending clients to error pages or pages that now showcase someone else’s work! If you’re a writer or content creator and see that your article is no longer live, it might be time to re-purpose it and submit it to another site. I’ve noticed there are a few dead links in my freelance portfolio. I’m off to do just that right now!
Do you need more clarity in your online biz? Sign up below to get your free printable workbook and other goodies to help you run your online biz.