If you are a freelance writer working in a creative field, a portfolio website is one of the best ways to showcase your work to future clients. But condensing years of experience into a single portfolio can be overwhelming. What do you include and how do you present it to communicate to potential clients that you are right for the job? In this guide, we’ll discuss the top ways to make your portfolio website stand out from the crowd.
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Step 1: Determine Your Goals
Everyone has a different vision and purpose for their online portfolio. Some freelancers are generalists and want to remain open to a diverse clientele, while others specialize in a niche and want to target potential clients in that area, such as a graphic designer specializing in the financial industry. Others may have several areas of expertise that they wish to highlight (graphic design and illustration, for example).
Start with the primary function that you want your wallet to serve. A portfolio with a clear intention and vision will stand out, as opposed to a scattered and difficult to navigate portfolio. Generally, there are two ways you can structure your portfolio. You can think of it as a brief introduction to your job or as a marketing tool for your business.
One page portfolio vs full portfolio
Many freelancers use their portfolios as an introductory page to their work. Their website is not how customers find them initially, but a way for them to find out more once they are already introduced through LinkedIn or a business contact, for example. On the other hand, your goal may be for people to find your services through Google when they search for a professional in your industry. If so, you will need to develop a solid SEO plan and prioritize the content. This tends to be less common in creative fields.
Sarah Doody, founder of career accelerator UX Portfolio Formula, where she helps people build portfolios online, recommends the first route to most creatives and freelancers in particular. âI consider a website like [providing] plus an element of trust. Since you know people are probably going to Googling you, you have a professional website to give you that credibility, âshe said.
In this case, your website will be an introduction to your services. Doody recommends a one-page style website that is very simple, includes an about section, a short introduction to your work, and invites clients to request a PDF of your full portfolio. here is an example of this type of portfolio.
Step 2: Choose between manual coding or a website builder
Once you’ve decided what kind of online portfolio you want to create, your next step is to decide whether you should build this website yourself or use a website builder. If you are not a coder, your best bet will be to use a website builder like WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix.
These companies offer templates and make it easy to present your work online. If you are building a one page website, it will be easy to do so using these templates.
Step 3: Showcase your best work
You don’t need to include all of your work in your portfolio, but select the work you are proud of and illustrate a range of experiences. Focus on the type of work you want to do more of in the future.
For example, if you’ve been a writer and illustrator in the past, but currently focus exclusively on illustration, consider leaving your writing portfolio off your website. The more focused you are, the easier it will be for clients to understand where your strengths lie and how you can help them.
Add descriptions of each project
It’s tempting to pile your work up and get it all online. But one way to make your portfolio stand out is to give readers an explanation of the project you worked on, the challenges you were trying to solve, and an overview of how you came to the end result. âDon’t just show off the final deliverable. Always add context, âDoody explained.
âIf you’re a graphic designer and I click on your website or PDF, and it’s just screenshots of your brochure, that doesn’t mean much to me. You need to make sure that you add context so that we understand details like who this project was for and why it needed to exist.
These descriptions are also important because sometimes crucial information is left out when you only present the end result. âMaybe you design a website or an app, and it ends up being used by a million people. If you don’t mention that nobody will know, âDoody said.
But on the other hand, make sure you don’t include too much text. You’ll want to strike a balance between text and visuals, so you don’t overwhelm the reader or potential client.
Step 3: Create a compelling “About” section
Your about section is a chance to tell future customers who you are and what you do. It complements your portfolio and gives readers a bit more general information about you. A good place to start is to be clear about what people are hiring you to do. Then come up with a few examples of this and incorporate them into your statement.
Here, Doody suggests that the more specific and results-oriented you can be when describing your job, the better. âThe mistake you want to avoid is not just having this mindful list flow of skills separated by bullets, but rather giving examples that demonstrate those skills,â Doody said.
For example, if you are a web designer, you might be tempted to write something like, âI have experience in web design and am proficient in different software, mobile design and web design. application design â.
It’s not specific enough, Doody explained, because it doesn’t set you apart by showing what you can accomplish for clients. Instead, the same web designer might write something like this: âI helped reduce the shopping cart abandonment rate of an online store by 30% after performing tests. usability and carried out a complete overhaul of the payment on the site. “
This can be more difficult if you are a freelance writer who does not have access to data on the impact of your work on a business. Still, the idea is to get creative about how you communicate the value you bring to customers without sounding generic.
Step 4: Create a strong call to action
Most online wallets include your contact details with a button inviting potential customers to contact you by email or phone. It’s pretty straightforward, but a contact page or section is also a chance to stand out. If you decide to use a one-page portfolio, this is where you can ask clients to contact you if they want to learn more.
One of the benefits of this approach is that it lets you know who is interested in your job. âThat way you can start having a conversation with someone, and it’s not that you have no idea who is viewing or not viewing this portfolio,â Doody explained.
This approach also allows you to tailor your portfolio to the clients who contact you. For example, if you are a graphic designer with experience in many areas, you can provide a portfolio for a client in the restaurant industry and a separate portfolio for a potential client in exhibition design.
If you are not allowed to show specific work publicly due to confidentiality agreements, this approach could provide a solution.
Step 5: Make your portfolio user-friendly
Even the best portfolio will be overlooked if it is presented in endless blocks of text in a tiny typeface. Once you’ve organized the basics of the projects you want to share, what you’ll be saying on your about page, and how you’ll organize your portfolio, it’s a good time to think about the design and layout.
You’ll want to think about how a user will navigate your website. Are the buttons easy to understand? Is the layout easy to follow? Doody suggests using different fonts and font sizes, bolding text, and using larger fonts “so that if someone quickly scrolled through that page or PDF, they can get most of it. simply by reading the headlines “.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to build a portfolio?
Building a portfolio can take months or hours. It all depends on what you want to convey, how specific you want to be and whether you are personalizing your website or using a template. If creating a full portfolio sounds daunting to you, you can start with a simple one-page summary of your work and add to it as you go.
How much does it cost to create an online portfolio?
What if I am not allowed to present my work publicly?