So You Want an Online Portfolio?

Creating a portfolio is crucial for most, if not all, freelancers and small business owners. Your portfolio is your work's resume and its presence (or lack thereof) can be a main determining point if you will land a commission of not.

Think about it from the consumer's perspective. Will you hire a contractor who has no past work to show? A photographer for your wedding without seeing coverage from past events? And design work to a freelancer without a clear history of graphics they've done? You can market yourself verbally but visuals are worth a thousand words. Show, not tell, your ideal client why they should hire YOU. Here are three tips on how to make your online portfolio the best asset you can have.

1. Intern for yourself - At this day and age, we have to make sure that we use our time wisely. If you don't have enough product to build a portfolio, creating a fresh new line up will be well worth your time. Try offering your photography services to a friend getting married. Create some mock up logos for local businesses in your area or write for your local paper. Think of this step as an internship, only you're interning for yourself and you call the shots.

2. Deduce and deconstruct - Whether you've only had ten clients or as many as a hundred, highlight only the work you are most proud of. Five of your best illustrated portraits are better than twenty pieces that are all so-so. Your work is critiqued by the client as a whole so you'll want to select pieces that look and work best collectively. Remember that you are only as strong as your weakest link so make sure you've got the best representations of your work.

3. Brand what you already have - What is your style? Do you paint your illustrations or are you strictly digital? Would you say your jewelry line is eclectic or minimal? Your potential client may want to see what your inspirations are and what it's like to see you work. Include an exploratory bio and process page to share relevant information about you and what makes you tick. You can talk about your mission, inspiration, work process or simply the reason why you're doing what you do. Remember that you are already a brand - you just have to own it.


4. Put yourself on the map - After you've established your killer pieces, defined your brand and owned your process, it's time to show the world what you can do. If you're like most freelancers and start-ups, you probably don't have the budget to invest in a website. But that's the whole point! To put yourself on the online map and share what you have to offer. There are lots of inexpensive and user friendly themes available out there to simply showcase your work on the world wide web. Theme Forest, Woo Themes and Elegant Themes are great places to start if you want to make a Wordpress website. Or create a portfolio on a site like SquareSpace or Virb - two very easy to use platforms with beautiful layouts and designs.

5. Make friends with social media - The beauty of social media is that it presents information to the fingertips of millions out there for FREE. Utilize Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other types of platforms to spread the word about yourself. The more breadcrumbs you leave on the internet on your whereabouts, the higher your chances are of being discovered. You're marketing yourself, so presenting work you are proud of should come naturally.

6. Keep it coming - If you want people to constantly find you, then you need to constantly give them a reason to. Always update your portfolio with new projects, press mentions, testimonials and other important information that you feel will build your credibility.

If you've got an online portfolio that you're proud of, share it with us via the comments below!

Cover photo source / Process photo source