How to build up a portfolio as a freelancer

In our guide: How to start out as a freelancer, we covered the importance of a portfolio and what’s on offer to help you create one.

This guide builds upon that and explores further on how to build up your portfolio. We’ll include the list of the most popular options again so we have a good place to start.

  • Personal Website
  • Facebook Business Page
  • TikTok
  • Instagram Page
  • Twitter Profile
  • LinkedIn Page
  • Google Business Profile
  • ClientWide Business Profile

Starting from nothing 

A question a lot of people will ask is, “how can I get clients when I don’t have a portfolio of work to show them?”. If you are only just starting out then it's very likely you’ll have nothing to show.

When this happens, there are two main ways to beef up your portfolio.

Make things for fun or for yourself

You don’t have to sell everything you make or do. Ever cooked a nice meal or did some DIY you're especially proud of? Did you take a picture of it and share it with your friends and family? You’ve just made something you can add to your portfolio!

For example, if you make cakes. Spend your time making birthday cakes for children and adults. Take pictures of them and add them to your portfolio (Website, facebook business page, Instagram, TikTok etc). 

You can even create categories I.e. birthday cakes for girls or boys. Now when customers are looking for people who can make a cake for their 6 year old daughters birthday. You have a portfolio of items which is exactly what they are looking for.

Doing work for free

Another option is to work for free or at a reduced rate. It's a harsh truth that there are clients and customers out there who want something (everything) for nothing, and these are the ones you want to avoid, but sometimes needs must! 

The good thing about doing work for actual people is that you can build up a varied or highly focused portfolio. You can also ask them to recommend you to other people or leave a review. After all, you've just given them something for free / cheap. It’s the least they could do! 

This also helps to build up trust and authority in your chosen profession.

Keep your portfolio relevant 

We briefly touched upon this in the “starting from nothing” section, however it's very important to be focused on what you do. By this we mean don’t spread yourself too thin trying to do everything. 

In some instances it might be good to be a “Jack of all trades, master of none” but for the most part you’ll want to focus or specialise on something which you enjoy.

For example, someone is trying to find a photographer to take pictures of their wedding day and they come across your portfolio, but you as a photographer only have a few pictures of weddings, but more of family or commercial photoshoots in your portfolio. 

The customer will probably pass you over as it looks like you specialise in other things. So it’s important to only advertise the things you enjoy doing most and what are most relevant.

Portfolio size 

You might think you need a big portfolio to land new customers, however that’s not always the case. Put yourself in the customer's shoes. Do you have time to look through lots of pictures or pages of all the work you’ve done? Some might, but usually you want to find something you like sooner rather than later.

If you concentrate on showcasing your best work up front, you’ll have more chances of landing a customer or at the very least getting an enquiry come in.

It's also worth giving a brief description of what you did, how you did it and why. If you can explain yourself in a clean and succinct manner, It makes you look like a professional, someone who has authority in the subject matter.

Highlight your unique skills

If you’re able to, on your website or social media business page(s). Try to list your skills and expertise. People want to see why they should hire you. If you can set yourself apart from the competition, it gives you the advantage. 

Some points to consider listing are:

  • Years of experience
  • Big or important jobs you’ve successfully completed
  • Your ability to deliver projects or services on time
  • Customer testimonials and reviews
  • If possible try to include a photo of the person as this adds authenticity.

Make it easy for customers to contact you

Seems like an easy one, but it's often overlooked. You might have a preferred way of being contacted. However your potential customers might differ.

Some people don’t like to speak over the phone so will naturally prefer to reach out via email or text message. Or some would prefer to contact you via text / email first and leave their phone number so you can get back to them when it's convenient. Tradespeople not answering their phones when they’re on a job springs to mind! 

Make sure you have all methods of being contacted clearly stated on your website or social media pages.

There are some exceptions to this however. Some businesses might prefer to only get enquiries via phone as they know they have a better chance of converting when they are speaking to the person. If this is the case for your business / service. Make your contact method prominent. 

Are you a small business, self employed or a sole trader?

If you’re looking for a tool to help you manage your clients, jobs, invoicing and time management, all in one place. ClientWide has everything you need. Sign up for a free account today and give it a try.