Today’s internet technology paved the way for the rise of remote workers and freelancers.
More people are now trading their corporate desk jobs for the opportunity to work from home. And since 66% of business activities and tasks can be done remotely, traditional office work settings would likely become obsolete by 2030.
Whether you’re new or seasoned in the world of freelancing, there is one fundamental thing you have to do to start getting those clients: build a fantastic portfolio.
Benefits of having an online portfolio
In the past, you have to print and mail out several copies of your portfolio to potential clients. That’s not only time-consuming but also very expensive.
That’s no longer necessary when you have an online portfolio.
Setting up an online portfolio is one of the best channels to showcase your work in a quick, inexpensive way. And think about it: your portfolio can show off your best work 24/7.
Fortunately, there are different ways to build it the way you feel best showcases your work.
Convinced, you now need to start building your online portfolio? Here’s how to get started.
Tips for creating an online portfolio
Choose the right hosting platform
There are many useful, easy-to-use options for hosting your portfolio on various platforms. Different platforms cater to different kinds of customers, have varying capabilities for customizability and potential client base.
One of the features to look for when choosing your online portfolio hosting platform is whether it provides a content delivery network or CDN.
Your potential clients don’t have the luxury of time to wait for your online portfolio to load. Having a CDN built into your hosting platform will significantly improve your online portfolio’s loading time and performance.
Tell your story
Part of your job as a freelancer is making sure that your clients will be comfortable working with you. One way to communicate your values is through storytelling.
The purpose of telling your story in your portfolio is to help sell yourself by painting a picture of you, your strengths, and your capabilities.
A story allows you to build an emotional connection with your potential clients. After all, if you can get your prospects to know you and like you, they’re more likely to want to work with you.
Create your own story for your online portfolio, talk about your mission, and help prospects achieve their goals.
StoryBrand uses storytelling to bring to light their prospects’ needs, and emphasizing their branded framework as the solution. (Screenshot from StoryBrand’s About Page)
Building your credibility through a history of proven work can help you gain your prospective clients.
For many people looking to hire a freelancer for the first time, they often need a little more social proof through an unbiased opinion from a previous client.
(Source: Zoho Academy)
Include names, pictures, or links together with these testimonials to make them more compelling. Ensure that you keep your target market in mind and select testimonials from every kind of persona you are trying to attract.
Be sure to ask current or previous clients about their experience working with you, the results of their business experience, as well as other notes they might want to give.
If you haven’t had clients yet, consider asking people you trust and know your skills – such as mentors or coworkers – and ask for character references you can use as testimonials.
Optimize for mobile and voice search
If you want your portfolio to stand at a time, it should always be updated for this rising trend. Make sure that your portfolio stands every time, and it should already be optimized for this increasing trend.
One of the ways that you can do this is by hosting your image and video files separately instead of uploading them right on your online portfolio.
These file types take up plenty of space in your online portfolio. Not only can this cause your online portfolio to load very slowly, but even cause loading errors if your client’s trying to access it using their mobile’s data plan.
Investing in an image and video cloud storage service means that you can showcase your work samples without compromising their quality or your portfolio’s loading speed.
Include your best works
It may be tempting to display all your published work – but one best practice when building your portfolio is only choosing your best work.
Opt for a simple but well-curated portfolio that shows your chosen freelancing field’s capacity than a messy expansive one. After all, prospects won’t have time to check through all your previous work.
Choose only your best work, including those that gave clients the most impact or results. (Screenshot from Emily Banks Creative)
Make it easy to navigate
Be mindful of your portfolio’s user experience by making it as streamlined as possible.
Choose or create a clean premade layout with enough white space to breathe. Besides following a hierarchy with your fonts, font sizes and colors, and don’t overwhelm potential customers with too many pop ups and ads.
A good navigation bar needs to have at least three things: your actual portfolio content, information about you and a way to contact you.
In your About You page, include your professional name, the role you are selling yourself as (e.g. Content Marketing Specialist, Graphic Designer), a summary of what you do, and ways to contact you such as social media links, contact numbers and email addresses.
Make it easy to navigate across your portfolio with relevant links. (Screenshot from Janna Lynn Hagan)
Add a blog
To establish credibility in your niche, create regular posts that show off your expertise in your craft. Blogs are a great way to display your knowledge while adding value to your prospects’ lives or work. And it helps you to improve your business growth and market trends that you usually need.
Think of different problems your ideal client might be experiencing, and create blog post content about these to solve their work. Find ways to make your expertise shine – so instead of trying to do it themselves, clients will just want to hire you.
(Screenshot from Fun Cheap or Free)
This is a great way of optimizing your online portfolio so it can rank higher on search engines. If you want to get those blog posts noticed, focus on getting backlinks from more notable sites.
Start an outreach campaign with other businesses that aim to get your links on other, more established blogs. This might take a while before you start seeing results, but it’s well worth the effort
Don’t forget your CTAs
Having a clear call-to-action (CTA) in strategic, visible locations is essential to persuade customers and would-be clients to pay you for your services.
Each kind of content you put out on your portfolio should have goals that then shape your CTA. Consider your call-to-action as a prompt for readers that will direct them to take your desired action.
Provide free resources
Creating free resources – such as online courses, e-books, and free guides relevant to your niche is a great way to attract audiences and get them on your email list.
Some prospects might not be looking to hire right away, so getting them on your list is an ideal way to convince them that you’re the best person for the job.
Think about it: when you send them weekly newsletters that are helpful and relevant to their needs, you stay top of mind with your prospective clients and can quickly email updates about new offers and services.
Being a freelancer means that you do more than do the work that people hire you for. Other than the services you provide, you’re often a one-person team that also handles everything from sales, marketing, accounting, just to name a few.
To focus on your core competency and what clients pay you for, the one thing you have you to do so you can work smart is automate a lot of repetitive and tedious processes.
Take sending emails to potential customers, for example.
Even the most seasoned marketers take two weeks to create a compelling email that’ll get their subscribers to take action.
Also, 59% of your target market point to the emails you send as one of the factors that influence their buying decisions.
That said, automating when to email your proposals and follow-up your potential clients will increase your chances of closing the deal.
While freelancing isn’t exactly a walk in the park and comes with its own set of growing pains, investing time in creating a vast portfolio will jumpstart your freelance career in more ways than one and well worth the effort. Use the tips above to create a portfolio that shows off your skills, and watch those clients start coming in no time.
Kevin Payne is a content marketing consultant that helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.