How To Build A Strong Freelance Portfolio That Lands Projects
Freelancing

How To Build A Strong Freelance Portfolio That Lands Projects

By
Derek Abram
|
CEO of Prio
|
5 min read

As a new freelancer, you’re probably aware of the biggest freelancer platforms on the internet. 

However, simply creating a Fiverr or Upwork profile isn’t enough to land you freelance projects. 

What actually grabs eyeballs and convinces potential clients to sign you up is an effective freelancer portfolio.

We’ve compiled an essential guide explaining why an efficient freelance portfolio is important, how to make a portfolio that lands jobs, what popular portfolio website options are, and more.

The importance of an efficient freelance portfolio

Let’s start by going back to before you decided to become a freelancer. 

If you wanted to land a job, you needed an updated resume, which would help you get a foot in the door, after which you’d go through multiple levels of assessments to determine if you were actually qualified for the job.

However, in a freelance scenario, things work differently. 

For one, the engagement is temporary, and potential clients could be all over the world. Your project portfolio is what will present your skills, domain knowledge, and experience to potential clients.

Let’s look at the importance of an efficient freelance portfolio. 

  • A freelance portfolio includes work samples, a list of the clients you’ve already worked for, customer testimonials, and more. This works as a showcase of your abilities for potential clients.

  • An efficient freelance profile website can help you land projects from clients more easily.

  • By constantly updating your profile and SEO optimizing your profile website, you can easily increase the volume of inquiries, allowing you to pick and choose the right projects. 

Building an effective freelance portfolio

Now that you know why a portfolio is important to a successful freelance career, let’s look at some of the elements that go into building an effective freelance portfolio.

1. Design it to attract your target audience

The first thing you need to address is who your target audience is, and then build your portfolio to attract that demographic. 

Let us say, for example, that you are a content writer who has considerable experience in writing long-form copy for the real estate industry and is looking to work in the same industry. 

Your portfolio should obviously include carefully curated samples of your work in that industry.

If you have done work for other business verticals or are looking to gain more experience in writing for other business verticals too, it would be a good idea to include samples of your best work showcasing those as well.

2. Choose where to showcase it

The next part for you to decide is where you want to showcase your freelance portfolio.

A common practice among a lot of freelancers is to build their own portfolio websites and publicize them on networking websites.  

Applying SEO optimization to these websites is a great way to increase the visibility of your website and increase your chances of being hired for projects. And building your own website does not need to be a cumbersome job. 

Platforms like Pixpa, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are DIY website-building tools that will enable you to build your website easily. 

There are other industry-specific websites that help freelancers showcase their portfolios and attract the attention of those looking for specific skills.

For example, sites like Writer’s Residence, The Freelancer by Contently, and Wordpress are great platforms for content writers to showcase their portfolios. 

Similarly, creative freelancers ranging from photographers and graphic designers to fashion designers, illustrators, game designers, advertising professionals, and more choose websites like Behance and Dribble as their platforms of choice to showcase their work.

Choose which platform will give your profile the maximum visibility based on your line of work and the type of clients you want to attract. 

3. Make it personal 

Almost every business website has an ‘About Us’ section that talks briefly about the journey of the brand so far. This goes a long way in adding a human element to the business and should be an integral part of your portfolio.

Add a small section about who you are as a person. Tell your prospective clients the story of your freelancing journey, the major learnings you’ve had along the way, and maybe even details of the most difficult project you’ve worked on. 

Don’t forget to add a picture of yourself so your clients can put a face to the name. 

Of course, this does not mean you add a fancy picture of yourself posing on vacation. Add a professional photo with no more than your face and shoulders, just like a passport photo would be composed. 

This is also a good space for you to throw in some creative elements, such as a business logo, maybe custom colors, or even custom fonts. 

All of this will go a long way towards establishing your brand identity.

4. Showcase your projects

Be very careful to choose only the best of your work while compiling content for your portfolio, because this is what ought to convince your prospective customers that you are the best person for their project.

In addition to samples of your work, it would also be prudent for you to include brief explanations of the projects you’re showcasing and how you approached the project, maybe even a case study about how you addressed your client’s pain points as a part of the project. 

Include details of the tools you used to work on the project. 

For example, as a content writer, you could showcase your research on the topics, case studies, what tools you used for SEO optimization, and more.

5. Make navigation easy

While your portfolio is a very important promotional tool, the last thing you want is for it to be heavy reading. 

Be sure to keep your language simple and crisp, because in a lot of cases, using fancy jargon does more damage than actually impressing anyone.

Also, try and avoid long passages because people looking for resources do not have time to read essays. Instead, stick to bullet points and infographics as much as possible. 

It is also sensible to make sure you showcase your projects chronologically, starting from your most recent and working your way backward. A haphazard narrative can confuse the reader.

Use white spaces judiciously, because an overcrowded page can be an eyesore and deter readers from paying attention. 

If you’re building a website, make sure it isn’t slowed down by unnecessary multimedia plug-ins and is capable of loading in under three seconds. 

You will also need it to be optimized to load quickly on multiple devices, considering more than 50% of all search engine traffic is generated from smartphones. 

6. Add testimonials

Whether you’re buying a pair of shoes or booking a hotel room online, it isn’t uncommon to look for reviews before making a decision. 

In fact, as of 2021, as many as 88% of all online customers incorporate reviews into their decision-making before buying a product online. The same logic applies to hiring freelancers as well. 

While your Upwork profile samples may show that you are indeed qualified for the projects you’re pitching for, a positive testimonial from industry peers is sure to convince your prospective employers that you are the freelance resource they need working with them.

This is why it is a great idea to include a section in your portfolio dedicated to testimonials from customers you have worked with and those who are still working with you. Be sure these testimonials are short and to the point, and that they show your skills as well as your work ethics in the best possible light.

7. Include pricing

One of the biggest problems that freelancers face is getting paid for what they want and getting paid on time. 

A lot of this can be addressed by stating your pricing structure clearly as a part of your portfolio. That way, prospective clients know what they need to pay even before they contact you about a project.

It is also prudent to mention and ensure that you will work with them only after signing a freelancer contract agreement with them, ensuring you get paid on time and that your clients know exactly what to expect from you.

It is also in your best interests to keep track of all your payments from freelancing gigs by generating uniquely numbered invoices for each job, considering you will need to be responsible for paying your own taxes. 

Prio’s free invoice generator will enable you to do just that in three easy steps. 

8. Don’t forget your contact details

All of the work you put into your freelancer portfolio will be of no use at all if your clients do not know how to reach you.

A simple “Contact me” tab with your email address and business phone number, as well as your daily working hours, is all you need to ensure businesses that want to reach you know how to do so.

Another option is to add a contact form to your portfolio, allowing prospective clients to enter their contact information and maybe even a small brief about what they want to talk to you about. 

That way, you can get in touch with them instead of the other way around. 

However, if you do use this approach, be sure to get in touch with them within the next business day, because time is of the essence, and you do not want to come across as being irresponsible. 

9. Add a call to action

The best way to show your prospective customers that you intend to do business with them is by adding a call to action as a part of your freelance portfolio. 

Ideally, hyperlink this call to action to some way they can communicate with you, like a link to send you an inquiry email or even a contact form. 

10. Constantly update your portfolio

The last important factor for you to remember is that your freelance portfolio has to always be a work in progress. As you keep working on new projects with different clients, or even with existing ones, be sure to constantly update your portfolio.

By keeping your portfolio updated regularly, you get to showcase your latest breakthroughs, new skills you may have learned, repeat business from existing customers, proving that you are a reliable resource, new clients you may have won over, and most importantly, that you are a successful freelancer who finds work consistently. 

Conclusion

The most effective professional tool you have at your disposal to advance your career as a freelance professional may be your website for your freelance portfolio.

The process is not complicated or expensive in any way. Simply understand what to do and where to start, and in no time you'll know how to build an effective freelance portfolio that lands clients and projects.

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