How to create a portfolio website actually get you clients

By Rob Williams

Your portfolio exists for one reason. To help you get clients. Yet most freelancer portfolios are actually pushing away clients without realizing. To make sure you don’t do that you need to know what a client wants when they come to your site.

You need to show you can handle their project. Doing this gives you a huge advantage over 99% of freelancers. So how do you do that? The list below will help you, guaranteed.

  1. Realize portfolios are boring, and no one likes them. 
    You might think that the point of your portfolio is to talk about you. But the people visiting your portfolio don’t care about you. They only care about themselves. Just because you think your work is amazing doesn’t mean clients want to read a 10,000 word case study about it. They just want to know how you can help them. Everything in your portfolio should be about them, not you. It needs to talk about how you help clients become more awesome.
  2. Make your headlines talk about the results your clients want.
    We know designers design beautiful, intuitive websites. You don’t need to tell us again in your headline. Instead, talk about your clients. What result are they looking for when they come to you? How do you provide that result? What are the benefits of working with you? This is how you make your headlines effective. Focus on the people who matter: the clients that will be reading them.
  3. Pick the most relevant portfolio piece and send only that.
    The biggest mistake you can make is sending clients to a portfolio that’s not focused on the project you’re looking to get hired for. A client doesn’t have time to sift through your entire work history to find the one portfolio piece that’s relevant to them. Just send them the portfolio piece that’s closest to the project they have and stop forcing them to hunt it down on their own. Be explicit.
  4. Minimize the screenshots and instead tell a story.
    A portfolio isn’t about the work, it’s about the decisions and outcomes that happened as a result of the work. When did you work on this project? What did you do exactly? How did your work impact the company? Was the client happy? These things are more important than screenshots. If you can create an atmosphere around your work, it will be 10 times easier to sell your work.
  5. Don’t worry about traffic, focus on quality. 
    Here’s the good news: you don’t need thousands of clients. So focus on the effectiveness of your website, not the volume. Remember: all you need is a a few hundreds interested prospects coming to your site to get enough client work. If you that’s not enough to get you work, you need a better portfolio. If you don’t have that much traffic yet — it’s easily attainable in a few simple steps (go to the bottom of this post for more info on this).
  6. Make it easy to get a hold of you with a nice big contact form.The more complexity you add to your portfolio the harder you’ll make it for clients to hire you. So keep it simple. Keep your entire site to one page if you can and tell clients exactly where and how to contact you. Tell them the exact information you need. Don’t just let the work speak for itself — you have to ask clients to contact you.

About Rob Williams...

I run Folyo which helps freelance designers find the work they were meant to do. I also host Freelance a podcast about how to be more effective at independent work featuring remote companies like Disney, Basecamp, YNAB, ConvertKit and more.


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