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How to send your portfolio to clients so they pick you

Written by Robert Williams

Yep, I used Folyo as a freelancer way before I took over the app in 2014. Needless to say I loved it. It made connecting with clients so simple.

In fact, I was able to go from inexperienced designer to full-time freelancer by simply focusing on my messaging to clients on Folyo.

I did it with writing. I crafted messages to clients based on what they said they wanted — speaking directly to needs outlined in their project brief. In other words, I focused on communication.

I focused on them.

I loved using the app because it forced me to focus on what actually mattered to clients.

See clients with great projects were on Folyo just waiting for me to message them. To make life easier, there was a character limit on the messages I could send, so everything I wrote had to be succinct.

This forced brevity not only saved me time but it also brought clarity to my life.

It wasn’t possible for me to go into detail about things that didn’t matter. So I never developed the habit of writing long-winded emails to clients that I’ve now grown so accustomed to seeing.

It leveled the playing field and yet forced me to up my game.

That was a core principle inside of the redesign I’ll be launching shorty: help people focus on what matters.

I took over the app more than a year ago — and I’ve slowly developed the new version over that time.

While it’s a complete redesign of the app from the ground up, one core principle remains: we’re helping freelancers and clients focus on what matters.

With every feature, we wanted to make communication clearer — just like the character count forced me to be clearer. It’s not my goal just to connect you with a client or freelancer. I want to help you find project terms that will result in the best work of your life.

Because of this, I discovered 4 areas where normal portfolios are lacking.

  1. They demand too much time. 
    A portfolio needs to be updated constantly. It needs to be reviewed by your clients. It needs to be maintained and organized with dozens of projects. This whole process doesn’t make your next project any more successful yet we waste loads of time on it.
  2. They are counter-productive.
    An average portfolio doesn’t do a great job of explaining what problems were solved on a project. That’s because most portfolios emphasize the presentation of pretty images over the presentation of the service or solution you’re providing.
  3. They are missing key information.
    Most portfolios ignore price, timelines, deliverables, problems solved, and expectations altogether. These are the very things clients are most curious about when they look at your work.
  4. They lack empathy.
    Portfolios force clients into buying something vague. They don’t take into account what a client doesn’t know. They assume everyone is trained and qualified to review professional work. That’s not the case.

Instead of re-inforcing these traits, we decided to make portfolios different in Folyo 2.0.

On most freelancing platforms, you get to upload your typical portfolio and let clients browse through it, with all of your projects on display. As outlined above, this is inadequate because client’s aren’t trained in analyzing your work.

They don’t know what they’re looking at. They don’t understand what makes your work better than someone elses.

At least, not as well as you do. After all, you’re the person who actually did the work. Why should they have to piece together what you did on a project by themselves? How can they be expected to figure out how a project in your portfolio proves you’re perfect for their project?

They can’t. That’s why you have to help them. You need to present a portfolio piece that is directly related to the goals of their project. Nothing else.

And that’s exactly what you can do on the new Folyo.

You only upload a single portfolio piece at a time. One that shows why you’re great for the particular project you’re replying to.

Additionally, instead of leaving clients alone to figure out how your work can help them, you provide a specific answer to how your work proves you’re right for the project.

Instead of leaving clients to guess, you’re laying it out plain and direct.

Robert Williams

I help underwater design agencies fix staff shortages quickly and come back up for air. I run Folyo, a private referral community of product designers, and I host Freelance, a podcast about how to work independently.

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