As a freelance writer, you live and die by your portfolio. Being able to write a great pitch is key, but if you don’t have an excellent portfolio to back it up, then you’re going to miss out on a lot of jobs. The problem is, if you’ve never built a portfolio before, then it’s easy to make mistakes that can drive potential customers away.
For example, you might fail to showcase your best work or make it too complicated for clients to contact you. These mistakes can add up. You might end up spending more time convincing clients to hire you and less time working, which is terrible for any business.
In this article, we’ll go over five freelance portfolio errors you need to avoid. We’ll talk about why they can hurt your business and go over what you need to do to set things right. Let’s fix up your portfolio!
1. Including Filler Projects
If you’re a freelance writer, chances are you’ve worked on at least one project you didn’t like, just to pay the bills. When I started, I had to do a lot of low-paying work, so I got plenty of such examples. Some of my best hits include articles on slot machines, Viagra, and lawnmowers – all fascinating stuff.
Naturally, I would never show those articles to prospective clients nowadays since they weren’t a showcase of my talents. In other words, projects like that should never make it into your portfolio, even if you also upload some of your best work alongside them.
Most clients won’t have time to read all your past work, so they’ll zero in on an article or two that sounds interesting. That means all the projects in your portfolio need to be amazing to maximize your chances of getting hired.
What I like to do is showcase a handful of articles on my portfolio’s homepage and then add another page where potential clients can see more of them, in case they need to. That way, you’re hedging your bets without shooting yourself in the foot.
2. Making It Too Complicated to Navigate
Sometimes, I’ll take a look around to see what other freelance portfolios look like. That way, I can see if my portfolio needs a touch-up to stay sharp.
One of the most common trends in portfolios are people that mistake complex websites with good ones. That is to say, sites with loading screens, way too many background videos, animations everywhere, and such.
Some visitors might find those impressive. However, if I visit a website and it’s a pain in the ass to navigate, then I’m not going to walk away with a great impression.
Now imagine you’re a client and you’re checking out a portfolio to see if a writer is a right fit for your project. If his website is too slow or you can’t find past projects or contact information, then you’re probably going to pass on hiring them.
For the best possible results, you want to keep your portfolio simple and make all the critical sections easy to find. That doesn’t mean it has to look dull, though – so if you’re having problems, you might need help from a designer.
3. Not Updating It Often Enough
When you visit a website, one of the first things you probably notice is the last time it was updated. If I see a blog that hasn’t got any new posts since 2016, I will assume it’s abandoned, and I’ll look elsewhere for the information I want.
The same goes for portfolios. You want to show potential clients you’re still in business and you have recent work published around the web. The best way to do this is to add recent projects to your portfolio from time to time and remove old articles from your homepage after a while.
On top of making sure visitors know you’re still working, this process is also important because your work should improve over time. That means if you only showcase old articles on your homepage, you might not be showing potential clients what you’re really capable of.
4. Failing to Include Social Media Links
The problem with hiring someone online is it can be hard to get a handle on what their personality is and if you’ll enjoy working together. A lot of times, clients may even want to talk to you via phone or video conference before you sign a contract, which is understandable.
Another approach to give potential customers an idea about who you are is to include links to your social media on your portfolio. A lot of them will likely pop over, check out your feeds and make sure you don’t seem like a lunatic before they consider hiring you.
Sure, it can be a bit awkward to share your social media accounts with strangers. However, that’s something we do all the time, and the strangers we’re talking about are people who might end up giving you money, so it can’t hurt to give it a shot!
5. Talking Too Much About Yourself
A great portfolio should give clients an idea of who you are and what your skill set it. However, that doesn’t mean you need to include a full-blown biography on your website. In fact, spending too much time talking about yourself can be a turn-off.
Just as with the articles you include in your portfolio, you need to stick to your greatest hits when it comes to your bio. Introduce yourself, talk about your experience, and mention who you’ve worked with. If you want, you can also add a bit of color with a couple of random facts about yourself, which is something I like to do.
The thing is, your bio isn’t going to be the tipping point between clients hiring you or going with someone else. It’s just there so they have an idea of who you are and (again) to make sure you seem reasonable enough.
Instead of focusing on writing an extended biography, I recommend you try and get testimonials from some of your past clients. Even a few testimonials can go a long way towards making you look more professional, particularly if they’re from reputable websites or publications!
The goal of a portfolio is to convince strangers to hire you in exchange for money. If yours looks like you put it together in a hurry, then future clients will pick up on it and look for someone else that seems more professional.
Even if you’re a talented writer, these freelance portfolio errors can still hurt your business, so do your best to avoid them:
- Including filler projects.
- Making it too complicated to navigate.
- Not updating it often enough.
- Failing to include social media links.
- Talking too much about yourself.
Do you have any questions about how to make sure your freelance portfolio shines? Ask away in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.