Portfolio, Stage Two
Episode #5 of the course Starting a freelance business: Ten essential tips by K.C. Finn
Now that you have a clearer idea of what your portfolio can and should contain, it’s time to look deeper at the actual quality of the work and the specific order that clients may see and access what you’re offering. At this stage, we must learn to think like a client and make the portfolio experience as user friendly, entertaining, and impressive for them as possible. Here are my top tips.
Correct labeling and titles for different pieces of work is an essential factor to consider, as clients are more likely to skim through titles than read individual pieces in depth at first glance. This is where the work that we did in Lesson 4 comes into play, as you should be able to use your notes when summarizing your pieces to give them titles that demonstrate the types of skills clients will find when they open that particular document. This will also be a good way to see if you have too many pieces that are of a similar type. Select only one or two of the best examples, and pare down the rest to make the portfolio more streamlined when you edit it.
When a client views your portfolio, the organization of the content matters. If it is a digital portfolio, it may be possible for them to click to specific areas in any order that they choose, in the form of a list of documents or links. If it is a single document portfolio, then they will have to reach appropriate pages by using a content page. Either way, that contents page must be highly accessible so they can find what they need as quickly as possible, and it should have information similar to the titles and summaries of the documents themselves.
Include your best works in a relevant, logical order near the front of the portfolio. It may sound simple, but it’s a common pitfall that many freelancers fail to observe. Your clients will be busy people who could be hiring several freelancers at once to complete different tasks, so they will not necessarily have time to read your profile in full. Not only should you make sure that your finest examples of work appear early in the portfolio structure but also that any extracts of text or specific sections of work that you choose to demonstrate are immediately engaging and showcasing the best of your skills.
Spell check and observe everything in great detail for even the most minor mistakes. It doesn’t matter whether you are a teacher who has recorded an introductory video of yourself, a critic producing a sample review, or an artist showcasing your illustrative work—if a client finds any kind of mistake in the portfolio, they may assume that you will make mistakes during a real job. A simple process such as spell-checking and checking for formatting or presentational errors indicates to the client that you have a keen eye and a passion for attention to detail, which is certainly an employability quality that they will be seeking. Don’t give them any reason not to hire you, especially for simply not checking for mistakes in your portfolio.
Now that you’ve developed a portfolio and profile that clients can look at, it’s time to get those clients to notice you. Lesson 6 will explore the world of applications and writing to clients in order to attempt to secure work. This is an essential part of freelancing for all types and platforms.
Until then, keep working on that portfolio.
Carnegie Mellon University offers this fantastic free document full of further considerations to make, including a deeper discussion of how audience type will affect specific content in your own personal portfolio.
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