As a freelancer, your portfolio is one of your biggest opportunities to grow sales and bring in new clients.
But I’m constantly shocked by how many freelancers tell me they’re embarrassed by their portfolio at the moment. And I can’t begin to tell you how many freelancers tell me their portfolios are “under construction,” and have been for a while.
Today, I’m calling you out.
If your portfolio is outdated, in disrepair, “under construction,” or completely non-existent, it’s time to fix it. And even if you have a decent portfolio, there’s still a lot you can get out of today’s post, by ensuring your site is optimized for conversions (turning site visitors into paying clients).
My advice today comes from spending time every day with thousands of freelancers via my blog and online community. I’ve also critiqued countless portfolios, helping freelancers streamline their portfolios and get more sales. The freelancers I’ve coached, who have taken my advice, find their time hunting through freelance job sites is far more fruitful because they have a quality portfolio to send visitors.
It can work the same for you.
So, without further ado, here’s my top list of tips for freelancers who are ready to level-up their portfolio:
1. Your portfolio isn’t just a place to show off
First, your portfolio isn’t just a place to show stunning pictures of your previous work. It’s a place to convince visitors to become paying clients.
Instead of spending time making it beautiful, or introducing cool animations, spend time testing, researching, and learning the principles of great salesmanship—all of which will help you build a higher converting portfolio site.
I see this mistake made over and over, especially when it comes to graphic design portfolios — where beautiful visuals are important. Regardless of your freelance field, excellent copy is what really converts a potential client into revenue.
2. Every page should have at least one way to contact you
Remember — the whole point of having a portfolio is to help you gain more clients. Therefore, it only makes sense that each page should drive visitors to contact you, so you can talk with them, answer any questions they might have, and then sell them on your services.
How you do it is up to you. Try phone numbers, contact buttons, chat modules, or just your email address listed right on the page.
The key is to make it easy and tempting to make contact with you.
3. Portfolio case studies should focus on business results
When featuring case studies on your portfolio site, keep them simple and focused on conversion. Again, this is NOT about showing off.
The purpose of a case study is not necessarily to show off your talent, but to show that you understand the importance of business results and that you are able to achieve them for your clients.
Where possible, share actual numbers and results from previous projects, not just images or samples of how polished the work was.
4. Remove links that take visitors away from your site
The Internet is a distracting place. Every time you include a link that doesn’t lead toward a conversion point on your site (contact page, purchase page, etc.), you run the risk of losing that client for good.
So if you have links to Behance, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (some of the most distracting sites on the internet), you’ll probably lose your potential client every single time.
5. Take your site visitors on a sales journey
The purpose of your portfolio is to take your users on a sales journey toward conversion.
We’ve come to believe that “sales” is a sleazy tactic only employed by the most desperate. But, in fact, I believe that every single freelancer should also be a salesperson.
Your portfolio’s sales journey should include getting to know you as a professional and as a person. Some freelancers achieve this by starting a blog and connecting it to their portfolio site. Helping your potential client learn more about how working with you can benefit them, by exploring your previous work, should end with an opportunity for your visitor to take action.
That’s it for now!
For now, that’s all I’ve got.
Short, sweet, to-the-point, and proven. Remember, these small tips (properly applied) have worked with dozens of freelancers who took action. They can work for you too.
About the author
Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team help freelancers start and grow a business they’re excited about. Join the ranks of freelancers and solopreneurs building an intentional life and business. You can start by downloading this one-page business plan template.