No matter what industry you’re in as a freelancer, you need to build a freelance portfolio. It is one of the most important resources for your freelance career. But what do the best freelance portfolio websites include? And what don’t they include?
This is a huge topic, so we’ll cover the steps, but won’t include absolutely all of the details. (There’s a reason why we have an entire course on this topic alone.)
First, let’s define what your portfolio is. Your portfolio is essentially a collection of materials that show your best work. Depending on your field, that may mean case studies, samples of your work, press mentions, testimonials, or a combination of these materials.
In addition to your website, you’ll want a print portfolio, too.
The best freelance portfolio websites give clients a sense of you and your work. Depending on how they get to your website, the site may serve as a first impression.
No pressure, right?
Your print portfolio is what you want to have on hand for interviews and meetings with potential clients. Your print portfolio will allow you to walk people through your work and give the opportunity to speak to specific projects and processes, as well as the solutions you provided in each scenario.
So, while there’s a lot of work to do to build a freelance portfolio, let’s break it down step by step.
1. Collect Any Samples You Already Have
For both your website and print portfolio, you want to amass any materials you already have. If you don’t have any, don’t worry; we’ll get to that in a moment.
However, really think about this one. You may not even realize you have samples. Did you do any work in your freelance field for previous jobs and employers? Those count as samples—even if your title wasn’t the same as what you’re doing as a freelancer.
2. Create Samples
If your portfolio is feeling a little bare, you’ll want to fill in any gaps.
For example, as a community manager, you can create your own Facebook group for something that inspires you. As a graphic designer you can work with a copywriter to create spec ads (ads that you create as if you were hired by the company to design them, even though you weren’t).
Or, maybe you pitch your services to small business in your area and solopreneurs. These businesses may not ask to see your portfolio, so it’s a way to get paid work and get samples for your portfolio.
3. Build Your Freelance Portfolio
Now the fun part: setting up your website. Some freelancers fall into the trap of only having a social media page and/or posting their work on job bidding sites or other free portfolio platforms.
While you may keep samples up on these sites, you need a separate website. A stand alone website shows you’re serious about what you do and creates a level of professionalism that these other options simply can’t compete with.
You can provide more in-depth content on your website that shows prospective clients you know what you’re talking about—and that they should hire you.
It’s not as hard as it sounds. There are several easy options for creating a website with little to no tech savviness, such as Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress.
4. Add the Right Content
There are a few must-have pages on your website. First, you need a page for your samples with a description of each. You want to explain the problem the company had and how you solved it.
You’ll also need a page for your bio. Remember while your bio is about you, it’s really about your potential clients and what you can provide them. So, you’ll want to include your USP to set yourself apart from others in your field and sell yourself to prospective clients.
Read More: Stand Out From Your Freelance Competition »
For your print portfolio, print out any projects (in full color), case studies, or other pieces that are the best representations of the work you do. Purchase a simple zipped portfolio case with pages you can easily rearrange as needed. You’ll want to tailor it for each client/meeting, featuring different pieces that the client may find most relevant.
Remember: for both print and online portfolios you don’t want to feature everything. You want to feature your best work and, if it makes sense for your field, a range of work. For example, you may show work from several different industries on your website and tailor your print portfolio to hone in on the prospective client’s industry. Or, you may want to show a range of styles of work.
It is a lot of work, which is why our Freelance Success Framework members have found our step-by-step course on creating online and print portfolios so useful. If you’re interested in learning more about our courses, you can find that info here.
Your turn! What do think the best freelance portfolio websites should include? Let us know in the comments below!
*Psst: This page contains a Squarespace affiliate link and purchases you make through it will help support our company. Just so you know.
Last Updated on December 13, 2022 by Craig Galo
Something I think is important is branding! Have your website look, logo and header image match everything else you have online that is linked to your website. I just looked at someone’s today in my industry that links to his personal Instagram. It’s ok, but has nothing to do with his business.
(I’m not listing my website here, because it’s in progress!)
Thanks for your advice,
Excellent point, Mark! Thank you for your comment. Good luck with your website!