Every freelancer needs his own portfolio. It’s a great way to tell the world that you are available for work and showcase your past projects, all while enabling clients to reach you. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that without a portfolio, landing serious clients will be hard for new freelancers.
Sure, you can always rely on word of mouth, but creating a freelance portfolio shouldn’t take long and requires hardly any upkeep. All you need to do is add the occasional new project, keep your information up to date, and you’re in business (hopefully soon, anyways!).
In this article, we’ll walk through three essential elements every freelancer’s portfolio should include. I’ll explain what makes them critical, and give you a few tips to set you on the right path. Let’s get started!
1. Plenty of Contact Information
Accurate contact information is one of the first things you should add to your portfolio. After all, it’s how potential clients will get in touch with you. A few examples of contact information you could provide includes email, Skype ID, phone number (in some cases), and a contact form.
I’ve seen many portfolios stick to email only, but I find including many options is the way to go. By doing this, you give clients the opportunity to contact you using the medium they are most comfortable with. I’m not much of a phone talker, but if it helps me land a client, I’ll happily take their call.
If you’ve never built a website before, it can be difficult to figure out how to build a contact page. I recommend using WordPress to power your site, since it offers easy-to-use plugins such as Contact Form 7 and Jetpack for this. In the case of the former plugin, all you have to do is install it, and then you’ll find a new tab called Contact on your dashboard.
Once inside, you can create as many contact forms as you want using the plugin’s pre-built elements. Once your forms are ready, you’ll add them to the site using the provided shortcodes.
Keep in mind, a contact form isn’t a substitute for displaying an email address. Give visitors as many options as possible and make sure your email is somewhere accessible. Finally, don’t forget to answer new emails promptly. No client wants to wait for days on end to hear back from you!
2. Feedback from Past Customers
Think of the hiring process from the client’s perspective. In person, it’s relatively easy to get a grasp on how professional the potential employee can be. As a freelancer working online, you have to go the extra mile to prove you know your stuff and will deliver professional work.
In my experience, I find incorporating past client feedback on your portfolio works as strong proof of your capabilities. These reviews can be anything from a couple of lines to a complete guest post (if they’re up for it), but it needs to be there. That way, new clients get to hear about your skills from someone that isn’t you.
When I started freelancing, the prospect of asking clients for feedback was terrifying. I didn’t want to inconvenience them, so I always put it off. These days, I don’t let the prospect scare me anymore. I send a polite request, and don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t have the time to come up with a few lines. Here’s how I approach clients for testimonials:
- Send an inquiry shortly after completing a project, so the details are still fresh in their mind.
- I take note of who didn’t answer, so I don’t message them again. No one likes to get badgered via email!
- Send a thank you message to those clients that do send feedback and use it as an opportunity to tell them I’d love to work with them again in the future.
These emails don’t need to be complex either, a short message will do. Here’s an example of my requests:
I like to touch base with everyone I work with after a project to discuss any feedback you may have. I’d love to hear what you thought about working together, so send me an email when you get the chance.
If you don’t mind, I also like to include feedback from some of my clients in my portfolio, so let me know if that’s alright with you.
The smiley face is optional, of course, but the key is to stay brief and casual. If you sound overly formal, it feels like you’re asking clients to participate in a study.
3. Information About Your Past Projects
Finally, no portfolio is ready for prime time without examples of your past projects. After all, this is what portfolios are for!
As reinforcing as customer testimonials can be, sometimes all you need to convince potential clients is to show them some of your work. Plus, the more projects you showcase, the more experienced you’ll appear. It’s a win-win.
As a writer, putting together my portfolio was easy. All I had to do was pick a few of my favorite articles and link to them on my site. Throw in a featured image for each of them, and you’ll be good to go.
Different types of freelancers will need to adjust their approach. Here’s what I recommend:
- Put together a gallery of images that showcases the most important aspects of each project.
- Add a brief introduction for each project, where you tell visitors what they’re looking at and why they should care.
- To take it further, describe the challenges each project offered.
To expand on that last point, imagine you’re a developer and you just completed an app for a client. In that case, you’ll want to talk about what languages you used, what problems you had to solve and how to do it. This way, you can turn each project in your portfolio into a case study to seriously impress potential customers. It’s a bit of extra work but take it from me, writing can be extremely fun.
Right now, you have all the basic information you need to put together an excellent portfolio. All you need is to take the first step, and if you’re struggling with the technical side of things, our free Blogging Mentorship Program can help guide you along.
If you’ve never set up a website before, creating a freelance portfolio can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of platforms that make creating basic websites easy, particularly WordPress, and even a simple portfolio can be effective.
As a recap, here are three vital elements your portfolio should include to help you land clients:
- Your contact information, so your clients can reach you.
- Feedback from past customers to create trust with potential ones.
- Information about your past projects, to help establish your authority.
Do you have any questions on how to create a freelance portfolio? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.