What if I told you that your portfolio isn’t about bragging, showing off, or really even about you at all?
Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to say, and that’s because your portfolio (your entire website actually) should be focused on how your work benefits your clients. Think about that for a second…your portfolio isn’t about you. It’s about them.
That means it might not feature your “best” work at all. It might have work you couldn’t stand but that your clients loved because it got the job done.
Building your portfolio is a long-term process, but it’s one that should be more deliberate than just posting your best work. That’s because “best” is relative. Sometimes, what you think is a great piece might not resonate with your potential clients at all, and that might have absolutely nothing to do with quality.
Essential Questions Your Portfolio Should Answer
It’s a weird twist, but I’ve come to notice that the portfolio pieces that sell my clients aren’t necessarily my most outstanding work…nope. They’re quality pieces for sure, but they’re definitely not what I would say is my most stellar work. That’s because clients don’t come to you for your best…they come to you to address their problems.
What I’m seeing is that the pieces that “sell” me as a freelancer are usually something that addresses one of these four questions…
How can I let them know I specialize in their niche?
How can I prove I can do the work that gets the results they want?
How do I let them know they can and should trust me?
How do I convey that I’ve worked with clients like them before?
I try to keep a mix of pieces that address each of these concerns in different ways. For me this means…
- Only including pieces that are directly within my specialization.
- Focusing on samples of the kind of work that I get asked about most frequently (for me that’s blogging.)
- Highlighting any high profile work (or at least high profile in the eyes of potential clients) as early on as possible in my portfolio.
- Including a wide range of samples that are still within my niche so I know that most visitors will find something they can relate to.
If you’re new to freelancing, putting together a portfolio that aligns with your messaging might be a bit more challenging, but it should be your goal down the road.
Even if you’ve had your portfolio sitting around for a while, if it’s not driving business for you (i.e. if you look at your website stats and people are dropping off after visiting that page), take this month to do some restructuring. Set aside a block of time to establish your messaging and then see what work you’ve done that really tells your clients you can help them solve their problems…even if it isn’t your “best.” If you want some support and feedback from our great community of freelancers (and me too), come claim your free trial month at BlackFreelance Academy today.