Portfolio, Stage One
Episode #4 of the course Starting a freelance business: Ten essential tips by K.C. Finn
Once clients have looked at your profile and gotten to know a little bit about who you are, the next stage is to show them what you can do. This approach usually happens through some form of portfolio, a place where you can showcase samples of projects that you may have already created for other clients or may have created specifically as samplers in order to demonstrate your skills.
The portfolio is an extremely important part of any freelancer’s arsenal when attracting clients and convincing them that you can successfully do the work they require. We’ll be looking at the portfolio in both Lesson 4 today and Lesson 5 tomorrow in order to master this crucial element. Today’s lesson examines the portfolio at a glance, including its organizational planning, tips on how to start creating it, and the initial reaction that we want the client to have upon seeing your fantastic portfolio for the first time.
A good place to start in terms of organization for a portfolio is to think of two key things: what you already have and what else you may need. What you already have should be a simple element to consider, as you ought to be able to look through existing examples of the type of work that you want to do, and source extracts of those that you can include in your portfolio. For example, if you are a qualified teacher, you may be able to source (or already have on hand) testimonials from previous students who can attest to your skills in different teaching areas. If you are a graphic designer, you may already have finished images or sketchbooks with illustrations that showcase your skills. Make a list of these elements, and then consider what other examples of work you might wish to create specifically for the portfolio in order to show off a full set of talents for the types of clients on your chosen platform.
Starting the Creation Process
When beginning the portfolio creation process, a “more is more” approach is essential. In Lesson 5, we’ll look at streamlining and considering the best areas of the portfolio to highlight, but initially, it’s wise to throw everything you can into your portfolio in order to examine the full range of what you may have to offer clients when they come to look at it. At this initial stage, you can make a list of bullet points of the types of articles, reports, images, videos, or anything else you feel may be of benefit to include. With each one, be sure to write a concise summary (no more than 15 words) of the types of skills displayed within that element.
For example, as a writer, I may put something like:
“The Ghost of a Melody”—Short story extract, atmospheric writing, historical/horror/ghost story genre, first-person perspective.
The Wow Reaction
From the moment that they first glance at your portfolio, we want your prospective clients to say “Wow, I’m definitely going to hire this person for the job.” This is not only about the content of the portfolio itself and the quality of the work but also about the visual presentation and what that says about your professional skills and the amount of effort that you’re willing to put into any endeavor. It is therefore always advisable to utilize technology to make your portfolio as visually appealing as possible. If you are already technologically skilled, develop a smooth and professional look to the portfolio that is cohesive overall, and if you’re not, invest in someone who can give your portfolio a stylish makeover. This demonstrates even at an early stage that you like to display your work at the highest possible standard.
So, now that you have your organization down and your at-a-glance approach is set, we know that prospective clients will stop and take a closer look at your work. The next stage in Lesson 5 will be to ensure that all the close-up details in your portfolio are as impressive as possible. Be there tomorrow for my top hints and tips.
Until then, keep researching!
For ideas on professional presentation, you can never go wrong with a base template. Check out these excellent Microsoft Word templates to see how you can turn your work into more professional-looking content.
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