How to Make Your Portfolio Site More Effective by Adding a Blog
Photo by stefanlacut.
Having a killer online portfolio is obviously invaluable to freelancers. The portfolio will show the quality of your work and get potential clients excited about what you can do for them. A great portfolio will sell you and your abilities–you just have to get people to see it.
Publishing a blog at your portfolio site can accomplish many of the same things, it just takes a different approach to get the results. Much like the portfolio, the blog will demonstrate your expertise, only it will do so by sharing knowledge instead of by displaying your work. Potential clients that have read the posts on your blog are likely to feel more comfortable with you and appreciate your experience and your abilities more than they would if they had never seen your blog.
How Can a Blog Improve a Portfolio?
Freelancers typically work in relative obscurity, but building some name recognition can have a huge impact on your business. A well-known freelancer will generally get more work with less effort, and will be able to charge higher rates due to the increased demand.
Many clients like the idea of working with a freelancer that is well-known, and blogging is one of the easier ways to build your name recognition. If you’re a talented freelancer, most likely you have some valuable information that you could share with blog readers that would in turn help you to become recognized for your abilities.
One of the biggest reasons to start a blog is the potential that it has for improving the amount of visitors that arrive at your site. A small portfolio site on its own is unlikely to ever draw a significant amount of search engine traffic. However, a blog that is regularly updated can easily improve that traffic exponentially.
Search engines love content, and blogs are all about content. Imagine this scenario. You have a small, five-page portfolio site that gets some search traffic to each of the five pages. If you add a blog and over the course of a year or two you publish 100 posts, you’ll have 105 pages all drawing a little bit of search engine traffic. Add that all together and you’ll have a much stronger presence in the search engines than you could ever have without the blog.
Additionally, blogs are one of the best ways to draw inbound links, which of course will improve the search engine rankings of your site as a whole. So not only will the blog posts be drawing search engine traffic, but the links to those posts are capable of improving the rankings of your home page and the other pages that aren’t even a part of your blog just by helping to build a stronger, more respected domain.
I’ve seen this firsthand at my own site. After about a year of blogging, it now contains a substantial amount of content and has drawn a decent number of links, which all results in a steady flow of search traffic. If I were to generate the same amount of search traffic through other means, like PPC ads, I would be spending thousands of dollars per month.
Visibility of Portfolio
By running a popular blog you will also have the opportunity to make your portfolio much more visible than it could be without the blog. Of course, you won’t want to use your blog as a means of pushing your portfolio onto readers, but you may be able to find ways to get them to see your portfolio while providing them with valuable content.
Graphic designer David Airey occasionally will publish a post where he explains his logo design process for a specific client (including sketches and drafts). This is an excellent practice because it gives us readers some excellent insight into what he does and how he makes design decisions that impact the end result. They’re very helpful posts to readers who want to understand more about graphic and logo design. However, they’re also good for David because they allow him to get his work in front of about 5,000 readers. How long would it take for the average portfolio site to have 5,000 people visit and look at the work?
Some web designers will use their blog to announce a new project and display a new design that gets added to their portfolio. Of course, you’ll want to make your blog a useful place full of content for readers, but it’s also provides a great platform for showing your work to a very targeted audience.
Once you have a blog with a reasonably-sized audience, you can even use it to help you find work when things are a bit slow. If you’re finishing up a project and looking for some new jobs you’ll have the option and the ability to publish a quick post soliciting new work. While many of your readers may be fellow freelancers or other people working in your field, you’ll probably find that your readers include a number of people who are in need of your services.
Chances are you won’t even get to this point, because a popular blog will bring new clients without even asking for them…but it’s nice to know that the possibility is there if you need it.
You may find that your blog helps you to get to know people throughout the world. Some of those people may be in need of your services at some point. When they are, they’ll be likely to come directly to you rather than going out to find someone else that they don’t know.
Tips for Adding a Blog to Your Portfolio
Have Your Own Domain Name
Everything being written throughout this article assumes that your blog is hosted at your own domain as a part of your portfolio site. Don’t simply start a blog at Blogger.com or WordPress.com. If you’re going to devote time to building a blog for business purposes, host it at your own domain.
Develop a Schedule
As a freelancer, I’m sure you’re busy enough as it is without a blog. However, if the blog is going to have any impact on your business you’ll have to be posting to it. You certainly don’t have to publish something every day, but come up with a realistic schedule that will allow you to get all of your work done and still find time for blogging. Even posting just once per week can be enough to make a real impact.
Without developing a schedule you’re likely to find yourself getting too busy with your other work to write blog posts. The next thing you know your blog will have sat without an update for two months. The busier you are, the more you need a realistic schedule.
Link Back to Your Portfolio
If the purpose of your blog is to attract new clients, be sure to link to your portfolio in prominent places from the blog that will lead visitors back to see your work. This is pretty obvious, but it can easily be overlooked when you’re focused on building your blog.
Don’t Hold Back
In order for your blog to be an effective tool, you’ll need to provide high-quality content that isn’t found at other blogs. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge with others and give what you’ve got. If you’re afraid to share your knowledge or help others, your blog probably won’t generate much business for you.
Focus on Relevant Topics
A good blog will be focused on the issues that are relevant to your line of work and to your potential clients. Running a blog that contains primarily personal posts will not do the trick.
Think about the issues that potential clients may be facing and what they may be searching for. Find ways to help them out through your posts and you’ll find that these posts are winning you new clients.
Use it as a Networking Tool
Top bloggers in an industry are always well-connected. Use your blog as a platform to get to know other influential bloggers in your niche. Make an effort to comment on other blogs, vote at social media sites, send an occasional email, and even write a guest post for someone else if you have the time. Networking can help freelancers of all kinds, and a blog will make the networking easier and more natural.
Get Involved at Other Blogs in Your Niche
One way to build your name recognition and to gain new readers is to get involved at other blogs. Leave intelligent comments that show your level of knowledge and experience and others are likely to click-through and read your blog.
What’s Your Experience?
Does your portfolio site include a blog? Have you found that it helps you to find new business or to build your own name recognition?