If you’re a creative freelancer of any kind, you’ll need not just testimonials but samples of your work that you can show off to prospective clients.
Here are our seven steps to ensuring your portfolio wows your clients.
How and where will you present your portfolio? It’s good practice to have digital and physical versions. Your online versions should be easy to find and navigate, and it should make an appearance on your website and any social media, freelance or professional platforms you have a presence on.
Your physical portfolio should be easily transportable, robust and tidy. A sheaf of dog-eared papers falling out of a decaying cardboard file is unlikely to impress anyone!
Presentation is key
What’s the best way to present your work? This will depend on your industry sector. Think about backgrounds, borders, fonts and sizes so that your work is easy to read or see and attractively presented.
Even if art and design aren’t your skills, there’s no excuse for brown, curling newspaper clippings stuck in a scrapbook. Digitalise clippings and designs so that you always have the option of printing out fresh, pristine copies. Present your pieces in a way that keeps them protected but easily viewed.
Less is More
Unless you’re just starting out as a freelancer – and even then, be wary – don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to include everything you’ve ever produced. It makes sense to include the work you’re proudest of, and pieces that have received the most praise, prestige or recognition. Be selective! Think quality, not quantity.
Keeping Things in Order (or Not)
It can be tempting to order work chronologically, but I’d recommend you showcase your best work at the front of your portfolio – if the prospective client doesn’t look very far, at least they’ve seen your work at its best. It’s also good practice to end your portfolio on a high note in case they look there first, expecting to find your most recent work there!
Personalise and Package
While it may sometimes be appropriate to present someone with your complete, standard portfolio, depending on the range of work you do, it may also sometimes be beneficial to personalise a portfolio and package it especially for a client or project.
If you sometimes produce goth art for album covers and t-shirts but have an equally lucrative income stream from designing branding and logos, it’s worth having separate portfolios that focus on these very different areas – or producing a portfolio that solely contains work similar to that you’ll be producing for this specific client.
Clients want to know what experience you have with their kind of project and how you fulfil a brief. They won’t necessarily know this by reading your article or looking at your architectural plan. Make sure you supply written explanations of your brief, thought processes, working processes and finished product to give context to your work and enable clients to understand how you tackle projects.
Include testimonials and feedback for each piece too (providing it was positive, of course!).
A Glimpse Behind the Curtain
You could also include a sample of what you’re working on right now – and samples of ideas that you’ve worked up and rejected, with notes on why. This also helps clients understand how you work and let them see that you’re diligent and dedicated, working hard to ensure a project is perfect.
You could even include a storyboard-style guide to a pet project, showing a few of the key stages in your process and the finished piece.
Nobody can produce the work inside for you, but by following our steps for producing a portfolio, hopefully I’ve helped you present your work to its very best advantage.
Have fun showing it off!