Freelance 101: Building a Good Portfolio (Part 2)


Last week we chatted about what constitutes “A Good Portfolio, read up on it before you start with this one, “Building a Good Portfolio”.

The Power of Personal Projects

You might be asking, “But what do I do if I don’t have any client work at all, or if I just don’t like the projects I’ve done previously?”

That’s where the power of personal projects come in! A personal project is something completely directed by yourself. Dream up a pretend client and start designing for them in mind. Just start somewhere, anywhere, and if that means designing work for yourself, in your style, then do it! Or if you don’t mind doing work for free to build your portfolio, start designing for your friends. Ask around to see if anyone needs wedding invites designed, logos etc. Think about what kind of future project you want to be involved in, take the perimeters and adapt them to your personal projects.

If it’s hand lettering you want to get into, maybe you can do a series of hand lettering projects? For example, Noel Shiveley is legendary for having started off on his own through his personal project: 365 lettering project. His portfolio, though heavily self directed doesn’t deter him or make him seem less of an ‘artist’ because it’s not client based projects. If anything I give him even more credit for having so much direction and motivation without the driving force of a client behind him. The benefits of his self initiated projects has definitely paid off because from it he has build up quite the reputation and following online. Who’s to say you can’t get recognized online first, then start having clients flood in because of your personal project?

You can start building a portfolio and having a strong body of work, even without having a client.

Put it Online

The reason why it’s so key to have your work online is so that others can find and see your potential! There’s no good of having your work kept to yourself because firstly, it’s harder to convince someone to work with you simple by words- showing them visually is much stronger of an impact. Secondly- in this day and age, if you don’t exist online that means your unsearchable, therefore are pretty much non existent. Why cut out a huge potential to find your clients from online? Personally, 95% of my clients come through the power of the internet!

There are tons of portfolio sites online to help present your work in a professional manner. Free ones: BehanceCargo CollectiveDribbbleCarbonmade or paid ones: SquarespaceWixShopify etc.

Check out which one fits your needs best, and just start posting. Key thought to remember: quality over quantity and consistency.

For the Fame of it

My two cents before I end this post is that fame and recognition doesn’t come overnight. It’ll take weeks, months, years of hard work and dedication before building a strong following, becoming internet famous etc. It’s the myth of the overnight success, as Austin Kleon puts it “"Overnight success" is a lot like "originality" — dig deep enough and you find out it’s a myth." Behind every internet famous designer, portfolio, success, anything really- it’s taken them years to build and become the person they are today. So don’t go comparing their highlighted reel to your behind the scenes. Work hard at building a strong portfolio for the sole purpose of satisfying yourself, and eventually it’ll pay off in some way or another.

Read Less, Curate More

Get online already and become even more searchable!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts about today’s blog post. Also I believe we coming close to the end for these “Freelance 101” posts, I can’t think of any more topics to cover. Though if I’m wrong make sure to send me your questions! Next week we’ll talk about the do’s and don’t for freelance and I think that will round off the series fairly nicely. 

Till then, x. Bee