In this booming freelance industry, you need to rely on your unique personality to stand out.
One good way of doing that is by creating an impressive online portfolio.
Now, I’m not referring to the usual resume that shows your educational background, awards, and recognition – you know, the boring stuff.
What I mean with “impressive” portfolio is creating a website where you showcase your skills efficiently.
But here’s the problem:
Not all of you are good at designing a portfolio website.
And that’s okay – nothing is wrong with that!
When I built my site back in 2010 I spent lots of hours learning how to purchase domains, install WordPress themes, and made endless tweaks to find the perfect plugins so my site could impress potential employers.
Fast forward to today, I can proudly say it worked but someone building an online portfolio today should seek a less complex content management system like Spark CMS and focus on their craft.
Spark allows you to quickly build an online portfolio without needing to learn how to configure website themes or install widgets to build your marketing stack.
When you don’t have a portfolio, you’re letting jobs pass you by – jobs that were meant for you and your skills.
And all because you weren’t able to build a memorable portfolio!
But don’t worry – I got your back!
I will teach you the basics of creating a formidable portfolio. Your website should improve your online visibility and establish your personal brand to generate opportunities to work with brands.
Let’s do this!
Answer your “why”
“Why should I hire you?”
Clients hire people to fill a need in their business.
That’s why you need to know what they’re looking for and be the solution to their problem.
But first things first:
Determine your specialty!
If you’re a writer, then specialize in a specific writing skill like copywriting, blogging, or transcribing podcasts.
To niche down even further identify an industry to serve. When collaborating with brands often you have to choose between lifestyle brands, fitness brands, or business brands.
You need to state this in your portfolio to filter out jobs that you don’t qualify for.
Next – and arguably the most important part – is your mission statement.
On this part, it’s not enough to just say what you do.
Instead, tell how you can help increase their sales with your help!
Don’t say that you write great web content if you’re a content writer.
Instead, frame it this way:
I help B2B SaaS companies create a reliable stream of monthly recurring revenue by crafting engaging stories that convert website visitors into customers!
It’s not really your articles they want, but how your output affects their bottom line.
Don’t just say it, show it!
Back up your talk.
If you claim to be a content writer or influencer, then show samples of your work from previous clients.
Share published articles, blog posts that got thousands of views, or news stories that went viral.
Also, it’s not enough to merely share your work without describing what it is.
You need to flesh out the details for your prospective clients to truly understand how you can help them!
Think long-term about your portfolio because with consistency you can become an influencer. Here’s how leading influencers are defining meaningful work today.
If you want the ability to do work that matters and choose who you work with your WHY is everything.
As you complete projects explain the work you did on the project and the issues you’ve solved.
You can talk about it by sharing how you’ve managed to rake in many views, or what you did to make it go viral.
The goal is to provide potential clients a better idea of your work and how effective it is!
Now, if you don’t have any, then you’re working at a disadvantage.
Instead, here’s what you can do:
Elaborate on how you can help them with their problems.
Write the step-by-step process on how you plan on writing for them.
Will you be responsible for researching keywords for them? Do you promote the content on social media and other channels?
You need to answer these questions and more on your portfolio site!
Leverage your knowledge and show to people that you definitely know your stuff.
Feature client success stories
Show testimonials of clients impressed by your services.
If you don’t have any, Create and optimize your personal brand on LinkedIn. Then reach out and ask past clients for a quick 1-2 sentence positive feedback to feature.
On your LinkedIn profile page simply scroll down to your recommendations section and ask for a recommendation. I suggest customizing your ask to receive a higher response rate.
This works best if your clients are popular influencers or have worked for well-known brands (James and Patrick work for Mention.com and Wishpond.com) as you can leverage on their followings.
You can also ask them to work with creating a success story post with you.
This shows the prospective customer how good you really are.
Again, it’s possible you haven’t got former clients under your belt.
If that’s the case, you can add positive words from other people who have seen your works and commented on it on social media or your blog.
You can take screenshots of their Facebook comments or Twitter replies and show it on your site.
They may not be as good as a testimonial from an employer, but they’re still worth something!
Provide free resources
Giving resources away for free shows goodwill to your audience and prospective clients.
It also tells people that you’re willing to create something of value without anything in return.
You can, however, make the content accessible only to your subscribers. So you’re doing this to help build your email list which could prove even more valuable down the line.
Lastly, your free resource also helps build your reputation as an authority in your field of work.
Now, there are two ways you can approach this:
Create a free downloadable e-book
Offer content upgrades like free e-books containing tips and advice on your primary skills.
To create an e-book, research for pain points that clients have in their business.
Are they having trouble generating site traffic and converting visitors into leads and customers?
Then relate this pain point to your skills as a freelancer. How can your services make this problem go away?
Once you’ve found a specific pain point to discuss, get cracking by creating the e-book using MS Word, Google Docs and saving them as a PDF file.
If you want to position yourself as a premium brand check out a tool like Flipsnack Flipbooks gives you the ability to create a uniques brand experience. Definitely worth the money (increased conversion rates) as eBooks become more saturated in years to come.
Build a blog
If you’re not a writer, then blogging may seem out of your realm of expertise.
However, don’t focus on the writing aspect of blogging.
Instead, look into how blogging can help you share case studies, ideas, and tips related to your expertise.
By sharing your knowledge, you are able to build engaged followers of your brand. More importantly, you get to engage potential customers as well!
The not-so-secret secret of blogging is this:
It helps make your portfolio site easier to find on Google!
By optimizing your blog posts for your target keyword, you can drive hundreds and thousands of visitors to your site whom you can convert into clients!
But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let’s go back to blogging…
One of the issues with blogging is consistency.
Even for experienced bloggers, maintaining a publishing schedule to follow to a tee is very difficult.
Therefore, you need to develop an editorial calendar to help you keep track of your upcoming blog posts. Research for topics and schedule when you plan to write and publish them.
This way, you get to organize your blog’s schedule and churn out high-quality content for your target audience.
Improve your portfolio’s SEO
Since you’re already blogging, it makes sense to work on your portfolio’s online visibility on sites like Google.
One good way of doing that is by improving your SEO.
Now, freelancers usually approach freelance marketplaces like Gig Worker because you can gain a reliable stream of work if your able to craft a portfolio that stands out from the competition.
But with SEO, you can generate inbound leads which give you leverage. I recommend using marketplaces to ensure you have a steady flow of client work while generating leads that will pay you a premium price.
Instead of looking for clients, it’s the clients that look for you!
Basically, you make your portfolio site easier to find on search engines by following the best SEO practices,
If you do SEO the right way, your blog can show up on Google’s search engine results pages or SERPs.
And the higher you rank on SERPs, the more visits and higher conversion rate you can expect!
Here are some of the points to consider with your portfolio site’s SEO:
This is where you thoroughly check your site’s SEO status.
The backlinks, response time, meta descriptions, headers, and grammar are some of the things to analyze.
Right now, some of these terms won’t make sense to you.
But what this all means is simply this:
Create a site that people will like!
You can break it down into smaller details by referring to the factors above.
Use a tool like Loganix Citation Audit to help you get clarity on what variables of your SEO to improve.
Looking at the big picture, you simply need to make a site that people would want to visit.
If more people come to your online portfolio, then traffic from Google will soon follow.
To make your portfolio easier to find on Google, you need to know what people are searching for that’s related to your services.
This is where keyword research comes in.
First, you need to find keywords with lots of search volume and optimize for them.
You can target multiple keywords on the same post if they share the same topic.
Then, use the right keywords and at the right frequency.
Spread them accordingly throughout your articles. Ideal keyword density depends per site, but it’s usually around 1% to 3%.
Make your site secure
People prioritize online security.
In the anonymous online landscape, there are good reasons why you shouldn’t trust anyone.
And since you’re in the business of working with clients online, you need to make them trust you and your site.
You can do this by purchasing an SSL certificate for your portfolio website.
Instead of showing HTTP on your URL, a secure site will show HTTPS – the S at the end which stands for “secure.”
Not only will you make your site more trustworthy to people – it will also put your site in the good graces of Google.
After all, a secure site is one of Google’s main ranking factors!
There’s too much content online about different topics.
And to cut through the noise, you need to create exceptional content.
Obviously, not everyone is a great communicator.
But it doesn’t matter because there are different kinds of content you can publish on your blog! You have the option to be a blogger, vlogger, or podcaster. Choose one based on your personality and skillset.
Your content doesn’t have to be perfect.
But focus on creating a body of work that displays your skills to brands.
The key to having an awesome portfolio is the ability to confidently promote your work and deliver clients’ expectations.
The last thing you want is going through a portfolio that has little or nothing to say about their job.
Include the ones you’re most proud of and present it in the best way possible.
Talk about the journey and the backstory of your career and be passionate about it.
By following the tips above, you’ll surely be getting that jackpot client deal in no time!