How to Create an Online Portfolio that will Impress Clients

22/08/2017 3 comments

A professionally-looking online portfolio is, in addition to a good freelance CV, a must-have if you want to win some freelance clients. However, a lot of freelancers, especially those still new to the industry, don’t have any samples to show to their potential clients. So how can you build a portfolio without any articles to put in? This article will help you create a freelance portfolio that will impress future clients.

Whether you are a seasoned freelancing professional or have yet to make a name for yourself, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind if you want your online portfolio to work for you and not against you. Do these things and getting clients will be much easier.

Should You Concentrate on a Single Niche?

Rather than be a Jack of All Trades and a generalist freelance writer, you should pick a niche and specialize in it. The reason is simple, while a generalist writer can write about pretty much anything, none of his work gets to be really stellar. On the other hand, if you choose a niche and run with it, you’ll know more about it and can, as a result, offer clients in that niche a more thorough and relevant piece.

Here’s an example. Who would you rather hire to write for a medical company? A generalist writer with a passing knowledge about medicine (the kind you can pick up on the Internet) or a specialist medical writer, who can use his knowledge of the industry and research skills to provide you with a high quality article? I think the answer is simple here.

However, there’s one “but” here. If you focus on just one niche, sure you’ll be good at it, but how many job opportunities will present itself to you in this specific niche? Probably not a lot. This is why I honestly believe that the best course is to pick 4-5 niches instead of just one. This will give you enough chance to attract clients from different industries, while on the other hand making sure you have solid knowledge about their topics.

Pick Only the Best and Most RecentĀ  Pieces for Your Online Portfolio

Photo by Niketh Vellanki via Unsplash

Here’s the perhaps most important rule you’ll need to follow in building your online portfolio. Only use your best pieces. You can forget about those articles you submitted to Ezine, or on cheap content mills. Those won’t win you any good clients. Use only your best content, the one that you are the most proud of and got published for higher profile clients.

In addition, the samples you are going to use for your online portfolio should be no longer than two years old. In other words, forget about that article you wrote five years ago. The reason for this is that clients want to see how good you are today not how good you were yesterday (or five years ago). They can only make that decision based on looking at your most recent work. Plus, your work has surely improved over the years, so why use samples that are just “okay”, when by now you probably have some sterling, top notch samples to proudly show to your future online clients?

In other words, don’t overload your online portfolio with tons of samples. This will only accomplish two things, neither of them good for you:

  • Your portfolio will look like a mess
  • Clients won’t be able to see your trully good work buriedĀ under a ton of mediocre one

How Can New Freelancers Start Their Online Portfolio?

The above is all fine and great if you have been freelancing for a few years and have amassed a number of clients and projects over the years. But what about newbie freelancers? What are their options for building an online portfolio? Don’t let being new to freelancing and not having any clients deter you from creating your own portfolio. There are several ways you can go about this.

  1. Offer to write for lower cost.

In exchange for building your online portfolio, you can accept lower-paid work from clients. Do this only if you are willing to sacrifice a paycheck for building your online brand. For instance, you can ask a client on a freelance website like Upwork or Freelancer to do this, but make sure to be very specific about what you’re looking for here. If the client is not interested in having your name sign under the article (a lot of clients do this for various reasons, but mostly to ensure that the content stays under their ownership) then just go with your regular rate. Also, be sure to ask when and where the article will be posted so you can use it.

  1. Write some mock pieces

If you don’t have any samples yet, don’t worry, you can still build your online portfolio. Pick a topic you are passionate about and write a few articles for yourself. You’ll have to be extra careful with the quality here, so make sure to double-proofread and edit the article as necessary, since no one else will do it for you. Also, keep in mind that these articles won’t have the same weight as something you write for a regular client and gets posted on their site. Use this only if you have no published samples to show yet.

  1. Guest posting

Perhaps the best option for building your online portfolio is to find some blogs and write guest post on them. This will not only let you establish credibility in that niche, but also help you connect with other bloggers and websites in it. It might take some time to find a good opportunity for guest posting as you’ll have to first find blogs in your niche that are looking for guest post authors and then negotiate some details with them, but this is by far the best option for establishing your name in a niche.

Keep Updating Your Online Portfolio

Okay, you’ve just finished your freelance portfolio. Except you didn’t. You should never consider your freelance portfolio a finished thing and should constantly update it with fresh content. Your work on your portfolio is never done if you want to keep up with what potential clients are looking for.

Have any tips on how to create a project-winning online portfolio for freelancers? Let me know in the comments below.