Last January, I lost what would have been a well paying remote gig because I didn’t have an online portfolio to show my work.
An online portfolio in this digital age is equivalent to having a physical office except that it is even more convenient.
Freelancing is quite different from a 9-5 where your boss or an entire department is dedicated to finding the clients while you wait for a task to be handed to you and at the end of the month, you receive your salary.
Designer, writer or consultant, regardless of your industry, every professional can benefit from having an online portfolio.
As a creative / freelancer, your success is entirely in your hands. You are the boss who gets to decide if you are going to have any clients at all and how much you are worth.
You are for all intent and purpose your own salesman. You are the copywriter, marketer, accountant etc. Consider this and the reason you are freelancing — whether as a side hustle or as a full-time job— is to increase your earnings, you should be worried that a lack of solid online presence makes you invisible to your ideal clients.
The good news is that this problem can be fixed and this article will show you the benefits of an online portfolio, what to include in your portfolio, and 5 free and freemium tools to create an online portfolio.
BENEFITS OF AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO
It helps you create a great first impression
First impressions matter. As a creative freelancer, it is necessary to have the mindset that you are running a business, even if it’s a business of one. You should present your business in a professional and visually appealing manner. Just as a physical business would take into consideration that their location is accessible and conducive to their clients, your online portfolio should be easy to find and contain relevant information to convert visitors to clients.
It helps you get your ideal clients
Every freelancer has a target client. A social media manager will want clients who need her community building and content creation skills. With an online portfolio, you can achieve this by stating clearly the niche you cater to and the services you render.
It helps you build a solid online presence
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve used Google to find the closest person for a project I need to do. A solid online presence means that anyone can find you if they google your name today. A great portfolio makes you accessible to your clients. Your contact details which are written makes it easy for them to reach out to you with a job offer, contact you and even purchase a service from you immediately.
You get to show your work
So you are a writer, designer, tailor? That’s great. You still need to show your work. A portfolio is tangible proof of the work you’ve done and the results you have achieved for your clients.
It’s also a good way to show what you can do. For example, a new writer who hasn’t done any jobs can just add a blog and write a few sample posts to show clients they will pitch to. And this applies to other industries as well.
5 FREE TOOLS FOR CREATING AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO
There are many free sites you can host a portfolio on. In this post, I would be listing 5 of them that I’m familiar with. I would write another extensive article based on the response to this post, so don’t forget to comment and share!
This was the first site I used to host my portfolio. The signup process and user interface are quite easy to navigate. You can also upload PDF samples of your work if you haven’t been published. This is suitable for freelancers who specialise in written content, including social media managers. You can add content from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Quietly is quite similar to contently. Quietly is a content marketing company, an added benefit is that when you sign up with them, you are also added to their writer’s database. This means that you have chances of getting gigs with them.
MuckRack was created to connect journalists to Magazines and PR companies. If you work mainly as a features writers this is a great platform for you. You can also get PR contact details to pitch to magazines. It also automatically gathers your work that has been published online.
I haven’t used these for myself but I’ve viewed a couple of portfolios on it. This is ideal for designers and developers; UI/UX designers, product designers, Graphic Designers and co.
Never underestimate the power of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the online version of a job fair where you are in a huge space with recruiters and CEO’s and you have the chance to prove yourself to them. There is an option to include your published articles and projects. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, after reading this post, create one immediately.
I saved the best for last. I am a huge WordPress fan. I’ve been blogging with WordPress since 2016 and although I’ve tried other content management systems, WordPress is my number 1.
You can either use the free version to host your portfolio or you opt for a self-hosted version. The self-hosted version is what I’m currently using for this website. The beauty of a self-hosted WordPress site is that it completely belongs to you and you can move your content if you wish to.
If there’s anything to keep in mind about the digital space, it is how dynamic it can be. You need to be sure that your content is safe at all times and can be moved without fallbacks when required.
With WordPress, you can design your free website with themes from their repository. They have themes specifically designed to host portfolios. You can also blog with it, add a contact form and customised images which you can’t achieve with the other tools I’ve listed.
The free option is also quite limited, what you would get is a site like www.xyz.wordpress.com instead of www.xyz.com, which doesn’t signal professionalism as we discussed above.
You also cannot optimize it for search engines which means finding you would not be easy for clients.
You cannot modify the themes or add your theme. You are stuck with one theme format and hardly do you find a theme with all options you want.
And of course, your business is more than a hobby. Investing in a paid site is a small price for the benefits that come from it.
Thank you so much for reading. This is the first in many articles to come to help you succeed in this creative lifestyle. You really do not have to do it alone like I did when I started.
Always have in mind that a portfolio exists so you can sell yourself. It should include the achievements that would make a client hire you immediately.
Do you have questions or know any other sites that can be used for hosting portfolios? Ask and share in the comment section…❤️