Why your portfolio doesn’t matter as much as you think

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I hear it all of the time:

“I’m going to set up my portfolio so I can start landing freelance clients!” 

And at a glance, you might not think there’s anything wrong with that statement.

But you’d be wrong.

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

So wrong, in fact, that you could sabotage your freelance career before it even begins.

Why you need to stop calling your website a “portfolio”

Think about it.

When you hear the word “portfolio,” what comes to mind?

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “portfolio,” I think of:

  • Someone who’s trying to land a full-time job where they’re an employee
  • A one-page website where someone has some examples of their past work
  • Someone who’s simply telling what they’ve done in the past – not selling a service

Not a business owner’s website – that’s for sure.

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Your potential clients think the same way.

And that’s a big problem when you’re trying to build a highly profitable freelance business.

Because you need your potential clients to see you as a business owner who can help them achieve results – not just a freelancer who’s looking for work.

Now, don’t get me wrong – you can (and should!) have a portfolio section on your website where you showcase examples of your work.

But that shouldn’t be the only thing you have to offer.

A better way to market yourself

When you’re creating your site, I want you to call it your “business website” – not your “portfolio.”

You’ll want your business website to include the following pages:

  • Home Page – Avoid giant walls of text here (because no one’s going to read those), and only include important points that’ll help you sell your services to your target clients based on your niche.
  • Services/Rates – Go into more detail about what you do, and give your potential clients an idea of how much it’ll cost to work with you. By doing so, you’ll weed out potential clients who can’t pay you what you’re worth.
  • About – Build your personal brand and share a bit about yourself. But keep it relevant to your target clients too – you want them to understand why they should hire you after reading this page.
  • Portfolio – Resist the urge to cover this page with 100 samples of your work. Because let’s face it – no one’s going to spend time looking through dozens of samples. It’s your job to pick the ones that best showcase your talents to your target clients.
  • Hire Me – Make it easy for your potential clients to contact you here. For example, you can include a short form for them to fill out so they can reach you via email.

Of course, the details of your site will vary a bit based on what you do, but you get the idea. Your portfolio isn’t your entire site – it’s just one piece of it.

By positioning yourself as a business owner with a website (because that’s what you are!), you’ll come across as a professional who really knows their stuff – not a desperate job-seeker.

And that, my friend, is your key to attracting high-paying clients and achieving long-term success as a freelancer.

What tips do you have for a successful portfolio? Tell us in the comments!

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About Jorden Roper

Jorden Roper is the fuchsia-haired founder of Writing Revolt, where she shares no-BS advice for freelance writers and bloggers. Get her free, in-depth course on how to build a highly profitable freelance writing business (even if you’re a total newbie) here!

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Comments

  1. Great points, Jorden!

    When I hear the word “portfolio” what comes to my mind is exactly what you describe!
    Certainly not a business owner!
    To be honest, sometimes I didn’t understand that someone who used this word actually talked about a professional website and not about a platform like Behance.

    Personally, I use one video to showcase some of my interior design projects (I know I should keep it shorter, but it has great music!) and I’ve made also another one for my graphic design services.

    A short video – not mute – is a clever way to attract lazy visitors.

    However, visitors who are really interested in what I’m doing can navigate to pages where they can find more details about all my services.

    I think that either too many images without text or too many words and no pictures are equally boring and not appealing.

    I have also noticed, that many architects have very complicated and difficult to navigate websites, even for me that I’m 12 hours every day online.
    Most of these websites seem like they were designed to impress other architects and designers and not to attract clients.
    I suppose some of them are very busy and they don’t really want to get hired; if they’re not, they’re definitely doing something wrong.

  2. Great points here Jorden!
    I’ve been hesitant with setting up my personal website for custom typography work and how to go about it but this article has definitely steered me in the right direction.

    Cheers!