3 Step Roadmap To A Winning Freelance Portfolio That Gets Clients

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Number one question asked by aspiring freelancers is how do I build a freelance portfolio even if I have no work experience. As a freelancer myself I know what it’s like to start from scratch and build a portfolio in hopes of getting new clients.

In this blog post, I’ve given you a 3 step roadmap on how you can actually build your portfolio.

  1. Work for free
  2. Create a LinkedIn profile
  3. Develop a WordPress site

When getting started I didn’t have any examples at all to put in a portfolio. Really didn’t know where to start in terms of getting my own freelance clients and starting from scratch.

You’re reading this and probably in a similar position. If you’re just getting into freelancing for the first time. Maybe you’re

  • Pivoting from something else
  • Not have a lot of experience
  • Zero experience to build an online portfolio.

Having a freelance portfolio is super important if you want to start getting clients. Even more so if you have some clients already and you want to start scaling up.

Scaling to charge higher rates then you need to have a really strong portfolio that indicates that you know your stuff and that you
do really good work.

A portfolio indicates to potential clients the type of work that you’ve done and the projects you hope to create in the future. Just compiling a bunch of random examples is just not going to serve you in the long run in terms of attracting high-paying clients.

To start a freelance portfolio on the right note, use this 3 step roadmap to create a winning portfolio. Use these 3 steps in order so that is makes sense and gets you off on the right track.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links’. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Work For Free

Working for free may sound counterintuitive, but it helps. So stick with me and learn how to turn free work into opportunities for creating a winning freelance portfolio.

There are 2 places that you can go to in finding quality free work opportunities.

  1. Facebook Groups
  2. Voluntary Organizations

Narrow it down to just 3 opportunities and keep it to opportunities that will help your freelance career and really show what you can do for others in your niche.

Facebook Groups

Facebook groups is what really helped to propel my freelancing career. I’ve got both paid work and free work from Facebook groups.

Though as you’re at the stage of getting high quality samples to put in your portfolio, this is how you get samples from Facebook groups.

Join Facebook groups that have your target market in. Get yourself known in the group by being active and commenting on posts.

Next steps is to leave a post stating that your a new freelance website designer. Place what your willing to do for free and leave a comment or send a message if you’re interested.

The most important part of your Facebook post is to state that it’s in exchange for a testimonial.

Remember a testimonial, especially a great one is worth its weight in gold. You can’t buy a great testimonial.

Though try and keep it down to 1 or 2 free pieces of free work. you don’t want to get known as someone who always does free work.

Voluntary Organizations

Another way to get a testimonial for your work is to do some voluntary work.

Doing voluntary work for a national charity or a local charity all adds up. Just make sure that it is voluntary work in what you actually want to be doing and not get off track.

If you don’t know how to go about starting to find specific work for not-for-profit organizations, Do-it.org is a fantastic database of voluntary opportunities across the UK.

voluntary opportunities to build your freelance portfolio

Get started with Do-it.org by creating an account with them. Then search for opportunities in your area in the field you want to volunteer in.

Use these 3 samples of free work you’ve done for the next step in your roadmap to creating a winning freelance portfolio.

Utilize LinkedIn

LinkedIn has always been seen as a place for job hunters seeking employment.

For freelancers, LinkedIn is a place where you can network with decision-makers and gatekeepers in the niches you’re trying to get clients from.

Once you unlock how to use LinkedIn to get clients and grow your freelance portfolio, you’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t start there in the first place.

Although, you might be tempted to start with LinkedIn, you held back for a reason. Reason being to get 3 high quality samples that really showcases what you’re capable of.

Put these 3 samples in your LinkedIn profile and really talk about the projects. Talk about the results you gave your clients. When you talk passionately and about the results you give your clients, you start to attract (paying) clients.

You literally can be just spending 30 minutes a day on LinkedIn and still attract leads. It doesn’t take much time and effort. The only thing you really need for LinkedIn is a strategy.

A strategy for LinkedIn to get noticed, start a conversation with potential clients, and generate leads that convert.

Read here the 5 strategies to get clients on LinkedIn and the secret weapon to get high quality leads consistently from LinkedIn.

Utilizing LinkedIn, you can carve out your personal brand and your message that you want to send. This personal brand and message are what’ll form the final stage of the roadmap.

Develop a WordPress site

Freelancers who’re in the position of getting a few clients and have samples to show off then they’re ready to start building a WordPress site for their freelance portfolio.

Read here on the 5 steps you must consider before choosing a website host

Themes

WordPress themes are templates for your WordPress design. As it’s a template you can adjust it to fit your brand and it’s functionality.

Some WordPress themes are free with an option to upgrade or you have to buy the theme.

Here are 9 popular WordPress themes for freelancers.

  1. Uncode
  2. Divi
  3. RyanCV
  4. Lobo
  5. Pillar
  6. Kalium
  7. Vangard
  8. Pitch
  9. Brando

When choosing a theme consider the functionality that you want to have and the future vision of your freelance business.

Navigation

Navigation on a website is simply making it easier for website visitors to visit specific pages and posts easier. By including navigation you reduce the bounce rate and increase the chances of converting the website visitor into a lead.

You can add website navigation in 3 ways

  • Main menu
  • Side bar in your blog
  • Footer

Plus, in your blog side bar you can make it even easier for your website visitors by adding a search function. The search function is where people type in a keyword of what they’re looking for, then the results will give them the best matching results for that keyword.

Lead Generation

The purpose of your website is to convert into leads and sales. Having a system to generate leads is vital to put on your website.

But simply adding a few buttons here and there that say order here will just not be sufficient. Instead you need a more strategic way to generate leads from your website.

  • Add forms
  • Include a messenger bot
  • Live chat service

After you get leads from your website you need a method to start converting the lead into a sale.

To sufficiently convert leads, use a CRM software that enables you to close sales. Close sales by keeping track of the relationship that your building with your lead. 

Read here the CRM solution that’s helping me to close sales with new leads every month.

Pages To Include In A Website

Whatever type of freelancer you are, your site must include a

  • Home page
  • Services page
  • About page
  • Blog

What you want the pages to do is tell a story of who you are, how you can help your clients, what you offer, and how they can contact you.

By adding a blog, you can showcase your expertise and give your website visitors quick help in solving a problem.

Consider a freelance SEO consultant, the consultant can create a blog on how to build backlinks. People reading the blog will learn how to do it successfully.

By hiring the consultant (if they have the money), are confident that they’re getting a freelance SEO consultant that builds backlinks ethically.

In A Nutshell,

You can create a freelance portfolio from when you start your journey as a freelancer. You never need to start with a portfolio of samples. Gain these samples from Facebook groups and not-for-profit organizations. Then shout from the rooftops about them and the results you gave your clients.

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