Freelance 101: A Good Portfolio (Part 1)


So now that you’ve gotten your business plan down, and you’ve even got your contract template all prepped for your first few clients, you’re so close to almost being a legit freelance designer. Your next key task would be to get a damn good online portfolio together. It’s time to show the world what you’re made of!

Tailor it to your Best

When I first started putting my work online I was so embarrassed and incredibly nervous. I felt so very vulnerable, as if I was putting my heart on the line for the world to judge me; perhaps it’s because I see my design work as an extension to my very being. Over dramatic much?!

Though, it is kind of daunting to begin anything you’re passionate about, whether you’re starting your own finance business, or making your own line of clothing, I guess we all experience that feeling of being vulnerable. When you’re starting a business from scratch there’s always some kind of risk to it- be it money investments or your own ego(!). Putting your self out there is extremely hard, and so very nerve racking but let me say, from experience so far, it is so very worth it!

Start by looking over the work you’ve done in the past and ask yourself some questions. Which of them are your favourites? Is there a theme or style of some sort that pulls your work together? What aspect of graphic design do you love most? Who would be your dream client?

Let’s take my work for example. Even before I began designing, I knew I loved three things, 1. Branding and Identity, 2. Quality paper goods, 3. Quirky yet minimal designs. I then took these three loves and started producing work that fit within my vision and liking. The design style and cliental I want to draw to myself is the very work I put online for others to see. I only feature the work I produce which suits my design style best, meaning that I don’t put every client project up online.

Or if you don’t want to hone in on a particular style of design, perhaps you could focus on a niche cliental. It could be designing for small business, or doing web design for photographers in specific, or designing corporate branding. I think it’s important to know your style/target cliental, because that is what will set you apart from other designers. With this focus in mind, tailor your work for your online portfolio, so that it’s can be it’s very best.

Pointers for a Strong Portfolio

A couple of pointers to what makes a good portfolio:

1. Consider your target client- Have in mind who you want to design for and tailor your body of work with that person in mind.
2. Be selective with pieces to form a strong body of work- show your capabilities to design for different scenarios.
3. Have good photos- good lighting makes all the difference.
4. Have 6-12 photos per project- show different aspects of the project and it’s unique design elements.
5. Update it regularly- keep it fresh to draw new attention!

Read Less, Curate More

This time it’s the opposite. Put that book down, get your ass into action and start putting your work online! Don’t be shy. The important factor is to be searchable!

What are your thoughts of what makes a good portfolio? For part 2 of “A Good Portfolio” check in next week!

x. Bee