As a freelancer, you work on a colorful storm of projects at a time. Unlike a corporate job where you have one role with pre-determined duties, as a freelancer, the type of projects you work on and the clients you work with can be widely varied.
While you could list out the flurry of projects you’ve worked on during a job interview, you could easily tell and, more importantly, show your capabilities by using a portfolio. If you are a freelancer, here are a few reasons why you need a portfolio.
To put it simply, a professional portfolio is essentially a marketing tool. With a comprehensive professional portfolio, you can easily showcase your best projects, previous and current clients, and what skills you can offer a company.
Portfolios can come in handy in a range of situations.
Freelancers don’t have the most traditional resumes. Standard resumes list out companies and how long someone has worked there, but freelancers can work with a handful of clients during a short amount of time. While you should have a resume, showing a professional portfolio to a potential employer allows the interviewer to tangibly see what skills you can bring to their company.
It’s one thing to tell an employer that you deserve a higher rate, and it’s another thing to show them all the work you’ve done and why it equates to higher compensation. If it is hard for you to self-promote, a portfolio can unmistakably demonstrate your talents. In cases where a client wants you to work on something new, you have documented examples of what you can accomplish and can use your portfolio as a tool to negotiate higher rates.
Before you can create your portfolio, it is important to consider your professional portfolio's goal. Your goal will determine what type of content you should put into your portfolio and how to best organize your series of projects. Goals could include who you are pitching to, what industry you want to break into, or showing a current client all the work you’ve done for them over the years.
Take the time to introduce yourself and what you do. Your introduction should give potential employers a sneak peek at who you are as a person, what you do, and what it would be like to work with you.
A professional portfolio should include any documents that further aid in your credibility as a qualified entrepreneur. Your portfolio should include credentials like your resume, awards, educational transcripts or diplomas, and any recommendation letters.
Although we would like to imagine that a potential employer will take enough time to absorb every page in your portfolio, the truth is that sometimes, employers may only take a few moments to skim your work. Including a summary page that highlights notable client names, awards, impressive projects, and informative statistics can straightforwardly show an employer what you’ve accomplished in the past and what you can potentially do for them in the future.
The main component of your professional portfolio should be your work samples. Think back to the goal of your portfolio and choose projects that will accurately support your mission. If you want to work with a specific client, choose work samples that your ideal client could use to enhance their brand. If you want to break into a new industry, collect samples that support the work you’ve done in that industry and consider adding new project ideas that you’d be able to execute for clients in that industry.
It should be noted that you can have more than one portfolio. Consider creating an all-encompassing portfolio with the notable projects you’ve worked on so you don’t forget the projects you’ve accomplished in the past. From there, you can browse through all the projects you’ve done and can interchangeably create separate portfolios based on your goal.
Having a professional portfolio is a supremely beneficial tool for any freelancer to have. Consider the goal of your portfolio and compile work samples that will support your goal. Print portfolios can be great for in-person interviews, but if you don’t want to create a hard copy, you can use a service like Fiverr to create a portfolio website where you can digitally house work samples, your bio, and more. Whether you opt for a print or digital portfolio, all freelancers can (and should!) use portfolios to promote and showcase their creative talents.