Freelance portfolios are for many contractors, the first point of contact a potential client will make whilst researching their hiring options. Ensuring that your freelance portfolio communicates to new and existing clients your skills, talent and professionalism is crucial to being included in tendering processes for digital works.
More often than not a freelance portfolio will demonstrate very quickly to potential clients a number of things about you as a freelance contractor, some of which you may unintentionally be communicating. This will either result in a point of contact (positive), or a quick page exit because your client, with money to spend, did not find what they were looking for in a timely manner (negative), or the content they were looking for was presented poorly (another negative).
Freelance portfolios are not just for graphic designers, web developers, or creative types. Freelance portfolios are for all digital professionals and should be an integral part of your sales pitch and developed constantly over time. Even if you’re someone who believes they don’t have a lot to show, you need to compete with the competition, so developing a strong and easily accessible portfolio of work is a must in today’s web driven environment.
Below we’ve constructed a list of 20 top tips to build a successful freelance portfolio. If you have a freelance portfolio already setup, these tips should also serve as a helpful reference for improving your existing portfolio.
20 Tips to a Successful Freelance Portfolio
Ensure you have an online portfolio!
Buy a domain name, get some hosting and get that website up. If you don’t have any web development skills be sure to find someone to help you out.
Use a professional domain name
Clients respond to professionalism, so make sure your domain name matches the online persona you wish to convey. Consider using an industry specific domain name or if you have a company name or you are your brand, using that as your domain name is wise. If you are offering your services on a global scale, you may wish to consider a .com domain name, otherwise go for a domain name which is in your local region i.e. .com.au, .it, co.uk etc.
Treat your portfolio as an advertisement
Because your freelance portfolio is likely the first indication as to the quality of your work, ensure that you leave your clients wanting more. You portfolio must sell your services and present you in clean, simple and hassle free manner. Get your message across and ensure your skills and especially your work is showcased to the client.
- Make your contact details obvious – Your contact details are the most important part of your freelance portfolio. Ensure they are accessible from every page on your site, and no further than 1 click away at any point. Generally a dedicated contact page is the way to go, with a full summary of your phone, email, address details and a Google Map if relevant. It is advisable to have a link to your contact page in your header and footer of your site.
Don’t skimp on your portfolio
Invest in yourself. If it costs a $2000 to get a beautiful, manageable portfolio up and running, this is most likely only one job’s work, and without it, there probably won’t be too many more. Hire a professional web developer or designer to get your portfolio up and running if you don’t have the time or skill. Most importantly don’t put something sub-standard up. If you can’t look at the portfolio and be proud of it, your clients won’t be impressed either.
Your portfolio must be visual
A picture says a thousand words. A portfolio with quality imagery supported by detailed information about the project piece is a must. Providing a snapshot of your work with a fantastic image is much more likely to get a click through to a page selling the piece of work to a client, so ensures your portfolio of work is attractive and utilizes either the most visual elements of the piece of work, or a suitably supportive graphic. If you don’t have design skills hire a designer to work this up.
- Consider using social media Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are excellent options for engaging with potential clients and building a reputation. If you don’t have the time to partake in a social channel, this may not be for you. However LinkedIn , Facebook or Twitter are the first picks for most professionals.
What should my home page communicate?
A great home page can be anything, but generally clients want to see your work, and maybe learn a little about you. We recommend showcasing some teasers of your work, and communicating your “ethos” i.e. Developer, designer and digital media enthusiasts for over 10 years”. Make sure your home page steers your clients in the right direction and does not leave them asking questions.
What level of information should I provide?
At varying stages in your freelance portfolio you will provide various depths of information. If your audience is fully engaged they will “go the distance” and read the entire project summary, but others will just browse visually. Overall, you must cater to both types of users, so ensure that you provide an easy to read portfolio item summary, possibly using bullet points, so as to give the detail in a format that can be skimmed. Make sure your freelance portfolio does not appear as though you quickly slapped some text on page to get the job done. Your clients will judge the quality of your work at this point so present it well.
Make sure pages load quickly
Keeping it visual does not necessarily mean slow loading pages. Ask your developer to save images for web, and make sure the code in your page runs well. Pages should load in no more than 5 seconds ideally.
No broken links
Embarrassing as they are, broken links do crop up. Scan your site for broken links and fix them immediately.
A page dedicated to testimonials is a great way to show that your clients are happy ones. Testimonials are often highly read by potential clients, and often scanned for freelancers who have worked for clients with experience in particular industries, so remember to include the industry the client work was completed.
Avoid software plugins
Technologies such as Flash used to be popular, but these days don’t run on all devices, especially some smart phones. Unless you’re showcasing some Flash work, avoid this. If you need to show Flash work, ensure you have a link to the Flash player download page.
List your awards
If you’ve won any awards, list them. Recent awards are a fantastic way of showing you are a leader in your field.
Be clear with pricing
Pricing is a contentious issue. If you can’t provide an exact price for a service, then give as much detail as possible. Clients want to get a feel for your quality of work, but also need to know how the pricing balances with this, so it is very important to give some clear direction.
Be mindful of where your portfolio of work is
Having a great website is one thing, but if nobody knows where it is, it’s not going to be useful .If you have a link to your portfolio from your business cards, online profiles, and industry websites, this is smart marketing. Wherever your name is mentioned, make sure your freelance portfolio is right underneath. You should also consider showcasing your portfolio of work on sites such as Daily Bells where your target audience will be browsing.
Consider a downloadable portfolio of work
If you deal in print, or have a pricing page, offering a PDF of your services is a great idea. Clients can take these pages to meetings and may refer to them when they don’t have access to online services.
Don’t run ads on your site
Detracting from your services by adding online ads is cheap and tacky. Your website should sell you to your clients. Ensure it is your services they are focused on.
Consider search engine optimization
A huge portion of freelance or client work is gained from search engine results. This is a specialist field and takes time and money, however is highly recommended. We recommend talking to a professional SEO firm with a reputable client list for a discussion on what you may do to improve your search presence.
Your portfolio of work is the centerpiece
Remember that your clients will look at your work first, and if it’s good, look at other aspects of your offering such as your location, pricing and persona. Make sure your work looks good and conveys the skills, technologies and time taken to complete it.