A portfolio is essential for every freelancer.
Your portfolio is the first thing a potential client will check out when they want to get to know your work and see if they could be a good fit. That means if you want to capture their interest and gain their trust, there are a few elements your portfolio needs to include.
Whether you’re just getting started with freelancing or could just use a refresh, here are the must-have elements your freelance portfolio needs to attract clients.
What to include in your freelance portfolio
Past work examples
One of the first things a potential client wants to see when they visit your portfolio website is the work you’ve done. It helps them imagine what you could do for them, whether you design websites, write copy, or develop brands.
Think of your freelance portfolio as a resume. It should outline the major roles or projects you’ve worked on, showcase your skills, and emphasize the results you’ve generated.
When sharing your past projects, the key is to share the highlights. Share the projects or clients you’re most proud of. There’s no need to share everything you’ve ever worked on throughout your career because you don’t want to give visitors *too* much to scroll through. Instead, give people a high-level look at your work.
OK Micah’s website provides an excellent example of how to showcase past work examples. The brand and web design studio led by Micah Woods uses the portfolio page on its website to share client projects that represent the type of work they create.
The studio’s portfolio also does a great job of providing context. The “how we did it” section helps potential clients better understand their approach, style, and expertise.
One last thing to keep in mind when selecting which work to showcase on your portfolio website is to only share the types of projects or clients you currently focus on or want to work with.
For example, let’s say you’re a freelance copywriter and you’ve written a lot of email copy in the past but now you want to focus on landing pages. Your portfolio should then showcase the landing pages you’ve worked on rather than email newsletters you may have done in the past if that’s not the type of work you want to focus on anymore.
Clearly defined services can make or break your freelance website.
When a potential client finds your portfolio, they need to know how you can help them. If that isn’t clear from the start, then there’s a good chance they’ll close that tab and move on to the next website.
List each service you offer and include a few details about why someone may be looking for this service. You can also dedicate an entire page to each service to provide even more context and examples and give potential clients a full picture of what you offer.
On the brand design agency The Brand Doula’s website, each service is clearly outlined on the main services page but also has a separate page with more details.
Compelling case studies
If you want to give prospective clients even more of a reason to book you, put together a case study or two to showcase in your portfolio.
A case study tells the story of a client engagement by outlining a specific challenge your client had and the solution you created to solve it. The typical case study framework includes:
Case studies are a great way to demonstrate the results you help clients achieve using your unique approach and expertise.
For example, if you helped redesign a client’s website to improve UX, increase traffic, and improve conversions, then a case study would share how you did it and emphasize the results your client saw due to the redesign. Similarly, if you worked on creating high-converting landing pages for a client, then create a case study that demonstrates the real results your landing page secured.
Demitri Morris’s agency, MORR presents multiple case studies on its website. Each case study outlines the client’s problem, MORR’s services and solution, and the real results generated from their work.
Happy client testimonials
Similar to referrals when you’re job searching, testimonials can go a long way in boosting your social proof and credibility.
Hearing what other people have to say about your work and process can give potential clients more insight into what it’s like working with you.
The testimonial section on OK Micah’s website is a great example of how to display what clients have to say about you.
As a best practice, ask for a testimonial as you wrap up every client project. Asking for one right after a project — versus months later — ensures your work is fresh in the client’s mind and they can provide a detailed and accurate testimonial.