How to Make Your Portfolio Work for You
Clients can sometimes be nervous or hesitant about purchasing freelance services. Most of the time, freelancers (whether they are writers, designers, or something else entirely) won’t have a tangible product to sell, so it’s difficult to show clients what they’re paying for up front. This can provoke a lot of remarks from clients such as, “You design the logo for me and if I like it, I’ll pay for it,” or “Can I tell you if we plan to purchase the press release you write after we see it?”
I’ve found that to make clients feel more secure about purchasing services and to avoid spec work requests, a well put-together portfolio is key. People like to interact with portfolio pieces and feel the paper, see how an item folds, etc. If freelancers can use more than one of the five senses to show work to clients, it becomes a little more interactive, engaging and interesting.
Even though a lot of freelance professionals are driving prospective clients to view their work samples online, I suggest keeping a printed copy on-hand for meetings and consultations.
Let Clients Play: Instead of mounting a brochure you designed or wrote the copy for to an illustration board, try actually handing the client the real printed piece. Sure you’ll have to keep a few extras around to replace the used ones with smudge marks, but watch as your clients flip the item over, look through it carefully and really interact with it. You’re giving the person a chance to look at the material up close, thus, allowing them to get comfortable with the work.
Get Creative: Use your portfolio presentation itself as an example of how creative and skilled you are. For example, instead of just printing out a sheet of paper with logo designs on it, I format one logo to a blank business card-sized piece of cardstock. I then slide these “logo cards” onto a binder ring and create a logo swatch-book. Again, it allows the client to interact a bit more with the work I’ve done and it shows the ability to think outside the box.
Package It: I once saw another designer’s portfolio that was kept in a tool box. They wanted to design specifically as a freelancer to construction companies. The designer catered to this audience by pulling their printed samples out of a tool kit. They branded their business cards and leave-behinds accordingly as well.
For those prospective clients that may live too far away or may be searching for freelancers online, a digital portfolio is pretty much a must-have.
Create A Website: Should your skill-set or budget allow, think about creating a website for yourself. This allows you to show not just samples of your work, but to offer your contact info, an online resume, a short bio, etc. Be sure the piece is easy to navigate, professional-looking, and most importantly, is representative of you.
Portfolio Services: If you grasp the importance of gaining an online presence as a freelance professional, but just don’t have the funds nor the time to create one, consider posting your work online using a portfolio services such as Carbonmade.com or CreativeShake.com.
What Better Place to Show Your Digital Work? With an online portfolio, why not allow clients to actually click around a website you’ve built to gain a sense of how you organize and develop a site? Or how about offering excerpts of certain articles you’ve published online with a link to the full article? While convenience and efficiency is very important, it’s also nice if you can find a way to allow for your prospects to experience your online work first-hand as well.
The possibilities for portfolios and presenting samples are endless. The important thing is to show your work in a way that helps prospects to feel comfortable, educated and impressed.