When you’re self-employed, you’re responsible for attracting clients to your business. Having an attractive and well-planned portfolio is an excellent way to show clients what you can do. Your portfolio is also your chance to show clients who you are, including your strengths, style and work ethic.

This guide will show you how to build a portfolio in the following steps:

  • Identify your goals
  • Choose the right platform
  • Gather your best work
  • Organise your portfolio
  • Provide social proof
  • Keep it up to date
  • Make it easy to contact you

How to build a professional portfolio.

Follow these steps to create a portfolio that turns prospects into clients. 

  1. Choose the right platform

You have many options for creating your portfolio, and choosing the right one is an important first step. For example, will you use a website builder like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace or an eCommerce platform like Shopify? Or, are you a software or web developer looking to showcase your expertise by building your website from scratch?

If you run a service-based business but don’t have any developer or coding experience, a website builder may be your best bet. On the other hand, if you’re selling products, you might choose to create a digital storefront on an eCommerce platform. 

Whatever you choose, it’s best to choose a platform that will allow you to demonstrate your skills in the best way. You might even want to create a custom domain with your business name to look more professional.

  1. Gather your best work

When it comes to portfolios, quality is better than quantity. There’s no need to include every single little project you’ve worked on. Instead, pick the pieces that you’re most proud of and that demonstrate your skills the best.

You should also think about what type of projects you’d like to work on and what clients you want to work with. For example, if you’re a marketer wanting to work on social media campaigns, you want to include examples of social media posts you’ve created in the past. If your passion is designing modern office spaces, make sure you include designs of commercial spaces you’ve worked on. 

If you have no experience, try creating mock projects and create your designs and descriptions as if they were real projects. Once you get paying jobs, replace your mock ones with those.

Focus on providing as much value as possible, from the overall design and layout to the project descriptions.

  1. Organise your portfolio

Once you’ve selected your favourite pieces, it’s time to organise your portfolio. The best way is to present your projects in a way that tells a story. If you’re a designer, you might want to include details of the design process and how it allowed you to utilise your skills. 

If you’re selling handmade candles, you could include a story about how you came up with each scent and design, including inspiration, creative process, and how you felt about the final result.

The key is to tell a story with your portfolio, whether that’s in each project description or by creating a red thread with all your pieces. Demonstrate your ability with words and imagery to give potential clients a clear picture.  Include a testimonial from the client or customer if you can! We’ll get into that in the next section.

Make sure you update your portfolio to include new successful projects you’ve worked on. You want new clients to hire you based on your current experience. 

  1. Provide social proof

Including positive feedback from clients in your portfolio is a great way to enhance your portfolio and increase your chances of getting hired. After all, most of us will look at reviews and other social proof before paying for a product or service. In fact, 88% of people trust online reviews over company messages.

Social proof can be given in a number of ways, such as emails, Facebook comments, Google reviews, and so on. Try reaching out to your satisfied clients and ask if you can include a statement from them in your portfolio. More often than not, they will be ok with it, and might even add some helpful comments.

Send a message to anyone you’ve had a good experience working with, and that would be a good addition to your portfolio.

  1. Make it easy to contact you

If clients like what they see, you want to make sure they can contact you easily if they want to know more. While this one might seem obvious, some businesses make the mistake of burying contact details at the very bottom of the home page or as part of an extensive drop-down menu. 

If clients can find your information in a matter of seconds, they might give up and go with someone else. Present your contact information somewhere that’s clearly visible and include your email address, phone number, social media, and business address (if you have one). 

Once you’ve got your portfolio and jobs start coming in, you’ll need a system that helps you manage your finances effectively. Countingup has the perfect solution for you. Find out more below.

How Countingup helps you run your business effectively

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.