How to create online portfolios that win clients
Want to discover an easy, powerful way to win new business and clients? One of the best things you can do is create winning online portfolios that showcase your work. If you are in the design, photography, video, or writing business—or any other in which your potential clients will want to see samples of your work—then you cannot afford to miss this strategy.
Online portfolios can work for you in two ways. One, they can help convince a potential client that they want to work with you. And, two, they can help you get discovered on sites dedicated to bringing together portfolios of specific types of professionals.
Personally, I’ve received many job opportunities thanks to my online portfolios, which include:
- a dedicated business portfolio website
- a one-page portfolio on my blog
- portfolio links on my social profiles
- portfolios on networks for freelance writers and journalists
I will share examples of all of these throughout this post. Essentially, you can never have too many portfolios. Even if you only get one lead from one of your portfolios, it will return your investment.
In this guide, we’ll show you how you can create a great online portfolio on your website, blog, social media networks, and specific professional networks.
Determine the best way to display your work
To get started, determine how best to display your work. For example, anything related to design (logo, brochure, website design, etc.) could be displayed in an image-based portfolio, like this one for Restored 316 Designs.But you may also want to look at ways to display your work with video and presentations to capture audiences on YouTube and Slideshare, like this one for Half Head Design. For those in the writing business, a simple list of links to online samples or PDFs of offline samples would work for a portfolio on your own website or blog. But many other networks, including social media and those dedicated to writers and journalists, also want images. To get images to go with your content, you can grab those that represent your work such as those you used in the writing itself, screenshots, or logos of the companies or publications you have written for. I display mine as blocks in a section of my website homepage under Places I’ve Been Published, linking each logo to my portfolio page. Other writers, such as Brian Honigman, have a simpler display of logos with a call to action button leading to a portfolio page. Speakers can create great portfolios, too. All they need are videos of their latest engagements, podcast interviews, and other media that allow people to hear their speaking style. Bryan Eisenberg has a great page with both videos and testimonials. So take a few moments to round up your best portfolio samples and some great images to go along with them. Then, you can start building one or more of the following six types of online portfolios. ### Portfolio 1: Create a portfolio on a dedicated business website Your primary portfolio should be on a dedicated website for your business. This is a website whose goal is to capture leads to your business. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a web designer to create a great business website complete with a portfolio. There are lots of platforms you can use such as a WordPress website using a portfolio theme. If you run a search on Google for _WordPress portfolio themes_, you’ll find lists that show you every type imaginable, premium themes, and marketplaces that give you many more portfolio options. You can even use website builders such as Wix to create a website based on their professional templates, organized by profession and including a dedicated portfolio section. In addition to the standard pages, such as those about your business and services, testimonials, and contact pages, you will create a portfolio page. This page should highlight your best work. Don’t think you have to cram a ton of work on your portfolio to make it a hit. Sometimes, a few highlighted, detailed portfolio items can make a bigger impact. Social Forces’ portfolio, for example, has detailed portfolio items with results along with a larger, less detailed sampling (see screenshot below). Essentially, this portfolio merges a showcase of work with case studies that should make customers even more eager to hire them. Another thing to consider is categories within your portfolio. This way, your ideal clients can see the work that interests them most. I know web designers who categorize according to different industries, writers who categorize by topic, and photographers who do so according to different types of work, from landscapes to lifestyles. ### Portfolio 2: Create a portfolio on a blog What if you have a blog that is separate from your business website, or you don’t have a business website at all? You can still create a portfolio. In this case, maybe it would just be a page that showcases your work and lets your blog readers know you offer services related to the content you create. I get quite a few leads from my blog’s portfolio page, which is a simple list of the latest blog posts I’ve written. At the end of this list of posts, I include a contact form that potential clients can use to ask about having similar content written for their websites. This kind of portfolio page is perfect for people who are primarily known for their blogs and want to expand into offering services, but don’t have a business just yet. It can also help them generate business from their blog, without having to lose the identity of the blog itself by turning it into a business-oriented website. ### Portfolio 3: Create a portfolio on social media networks Social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest allow you to create portfolios in a variety of ways. On Facebook, you can create a custom tab for your Facebook page that is a dedicated portfolio, much like Social Identities has done with their social design portfolio. When you click on the Portfolio tab, you’ll be able to browse samples of this company’s work. Alternatively, you can just create photo albums on your page for different portfolio samples. On LinkedIn, you can use the media sharing options to add links, images, videos, and presentations to the Summary section and individual job experiences to create a portfolio on your LinkedIn professional profile. An example of this is Mari Smith’s profile with examples of her presentations and free training. And on Pinterest, you can create boards that showcase your work represented by images and video. Since lots of people visit Pinterest to find image inspiration, it’s the perfect place to create portfolio boards for web designers, logo designers, business card designers, and so forth. Just a search for logo design boards brings up a lot of results. Best of all, people who like to save neat logos for their own reference will ultimately be spreading your work to their audiences.
- **Pricing**: while most networks are free to those offering services (and then charge the people who want to hire), there are some networks that will charge you certain fees to join or to get you leads. If possible, aim for networks that allow you to link to your website, or have a free-to-use contact form.
- **Listed Rates**: if a network lists rates, and yours are considerably higher than other businesses on the site, then you might want to skip it. If everyone else only charges $50 on a logo design, and you charge $500, you’re probably not going to get a lot of business.
- **Quality**: do the other portfolios on a site stack up to yours in a quality test? If a network is well known for not having great work, you don’t want your name to be listed there.
- **Popularity**: if a network allows companies to leave ratings, testimonials, etc. on those they have hired, look to see how many people actually have feedback on their portfolios. If there are a ton of portfolios, but no feedback, the network may be attracting more portfolio submissions than people who are looking to hire. That’s not so bad for a free site, but it’s not great if you’re paying for your portfolio listing.
- Snapknot—allows wedding photographers to create a portfolio including their work, rates, description, and links to their website and social networks. Premium membership is required.
- Sortfolio—allows web designers to create a portfolio including their work, rates, description, and links to their website and email. Free and premium memberships available.
- 99designs—allows designers to submit work to potential clients to win a prize (monetary amount set by the client). Designers can create portfolios including their work, description, and link to their website in the description.
- Carbonmade—allows designers to create a portfolio including their work, description, specialties, and email address. Free and premium memberships available.
blog comments powered by Disqus