Why Do Portfolios Matter For A Freelancer’s Career Success?
When done right, freelancing can be a pretty lucrative form of income, you need to work for it. And to work for it, you need to be able to tell potential clients what you are capable of by showing them the proof.
That is where your freelance portfolio comes in. In a nutshell, your career portfolio is evidence that supports the skills and abilities you are offering, but presented in a specialized format meant to showcase the highlights of your work.
For example, if you are approaching a vacancy for a business that is looking for a new brand design, showing them your completed works of children's book illustrations aren't going to get you anywhere.
However, should you present the logo and brand assets you may have designed for other companies, your chances at success have gone from a ‘No’ to “Thank you, tell me more”.
But what if you don't have a work history to show in your portfolio? Remember, your portfolio is more than just about work you have done. It's also about who you are and what you can and are willing to do. By creating mock projects, you can advertise your skills to let the world know what you can do and more.
Why Do Portfolios Matter For A Freelancer's Career Success?
Before highlighting the importance of portfolios, we need to know how to tell the difference between a portfolio and a resume, as they are not the same thing.
Think of it as show vs. tell—where your resume is a document that tells potential employers about work history, education, etc., your portfolio is designed to show them.
Your portfolio not only showcases the work you have done, but it is also an important tool used to market yourself and your capabilities. The great thing about having a portfolio is that it serves as proof of your skill set in a way that a resume never could.
Why Use a Freelancing Portfolio?
Although the advantages are infinite, you can categorize the importance of having a portfolio into three sections:
As a freelancer, you are running your own business; and for any business to be successful, you need to advertise.
Your portfolio not only serves as proof of your work history to clients or employers, but it also helps potential clients to understand what services you can offer and how your work is unique.
Consultations & Interviews
Whether you are consulting with a prospective client or attending a job interview, having a career portfolio on hand is always an advantage.
As a freelancer, your clients are looking to hire your services for specific tasks, and having a portfolio on hand contributes to your professionalism. It also serves as security for your clients to see that you can really do what you say you can.
By presenting your portfolio, clients can not only see proof of your completed work, but it will also allow them to determine whether your style or brand can produce what they have in mind.
Professional Development & Performance Reviews
Even if you freelance on top of having a traditional job, a portfolio can help show employers what you have done, how you have progressed, and even that you are ready to be promoted.
Having a portfolio in a performance review that showcases your value with works completed serves as physical evidence of how much you contribute to the business.
It also shows your employer that you are ready to advance professionally, whether by promotion or salary increases.
Advantages of a Freelancing Portfolio
So far, you should have a general idea of portfolios and their importance to your career. But what other advantages can a portfolio provide for you? Here are just a few examples:
- Increases your chance of landing a job, as your portfolio can tell your story in a way that resumes and cover letters cannot.
- Makes you stand out amongst applicants, as resumes do not provide sufficient information for recruitment to form an accurate conclusion.
- Provides the opportunity to present your entire work history in one place and promotes awareness or reputation.
- Shows potential clients your legitimacy and level of professionalism, as well as displays your character and how you take pride in your work.
Using a Portfolio as an Income Source
Depending on what industry you work in and how you have put it together, your portfolio also reflects who you are as a person and provides a general idea of what you can offer.
The better your portfolio presentation, the higher your chances are to source income.
There is also no limitation to who needs a portfolio, whether or not you are a freelancer. So long as you have something to display, your professional profile will be better off having a portfolio.
Freelancing Portfolios For Career Success
Even if you don't necessarily have the experience, setting up a portfolio can provide you with the potential of getting it. Whether you are a beginner or more experienced, setting up a successful portfolio starts with a website.
Types of Websites
There are countless domains that are both free and paid, depending on your preferences. Why a website, though? Because most of the jobs and income freelancers receive are a result of clients viewing their portfolio.
The great thing about most websites is that you don't need to know how to code while you build. Here are a few of our recommended website builders that not only have ready-made templates and preset themes to choose from, but you can also use them for free:
Once you have your domain name and website, the next step is to decide on your specialty or the industry-specific services you want to offer. Here, we use a table of examples for a writer to give you an idea:
I Am A
Offering Said Services
That Specialize In
Even if you don't have the experience, you can still put yourself out there and offer to do projects for your friends and family for free to add something to your name, or offer your services via social media to get the ball rolling.
What Successful Freelancer Portfolios Include
The great thing about portfolios is that they aren't limited to specific industries, just so long as there is visual information that will support their offered services. But that is not the only thing your portfolio should cover.
Who Needs A Portfolio?
A career portfolio is one of, if not the most important, things that should be on every freelancer’s “to do” list. It helps speed up the process of having to search for work often, and even when applying for work, it immediately makes you stand out to employers. Some examples of who would benefit from a portfolio include:
- Creative Directors
- Graphic Designers
- Software Developers
Tell Your Story
When creating your portfolio, it's not just a matter of throwing everything together and saying ‘ta-da’. You need to present your story by determining the most essential elements.
These elements have specific functions that contribute to potential clients wanting to use your services. They include:
- Showing potential clients why they need you and how using your services will benefit them.
- Explaining what it is you do and why. Having a clear understanding of what you offer is the deciding point in whether they proceed with you or move on to the next person.
- Making it easy to contact you. All too frequently, we lose out on opportunities because of difficult site navigation and no clear way to get in contact. Whether it's through email, web forms, or social media, your contact information needs to be easily accessible for potential clients.
- Market yourself. Show them who you are and what it would be like to work with you—and be honest. Let them know whether you can work quickly or if you take longer to ensure perfection. By showing clients who you are and how you work, you will tell manage their expectations upfront and increase your chances of booking another project.
Include Additional Resources
As your portfolio is pretty much sums up your professional life, you should include anything else that will support your potential income. These include:
- Cover Letter
- Reference Letters
- Social media mentions
The world is your oyster, and the more information you have in your portfolio, the better your chances are to secure new clients.
Make Yourself Known
Even if you have created the best portfolio in the history of portfolios, if you don't advertise or showcase your work, no one will know you exist.
Social media is the best channel for free marketing, so share your portfolio on your Instagram story or create a business profile on Facebook Business Suite. If you aren't really a social butterfly, there are other platforms that have been created specifically for freelancers to showcase their work and get themselves known. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Between the free marketing channels and dedicated platforms, there is nothing stopping you from making your name known.
Now you know why you need a portfolio and the advantages of having one. You can use any of the free website builders listed in this article to create your portfolio, but remember to make sure you include all the important elements along with any other relevant material.
It's up to you whether your career as a freelancer is successful by making your portfolio, maintaining it, and showing the world who you are and what you can do.