Five tips for a fantastic portfolio site

Posted on Aug 20th, 2013 | Running a business

All freelancers need to tap into visuals in order to showcase their skills, however there are some tips to consider when creating your online portfolio.

A great online portfolio can win you more work, promote your services perfectly, and set you apart from the competition. Whether you are a web designer, a copywriter or even a social media expert, you can showcase past achievements in one simple site.

Highlighting history you’re proud of is one way to encourage trust with clients, allowing for that elusive connection that’s so difficult to secure over the web. Here are some tips on what makes a fantastic portfolio site; from presenting your work in the right way to ensuring it leads to enquiries.

1. Keep it Simple

When starting out it can be tempting to include every single job you’ve done on your portfolio, since you want to show off your versatility and experience. However, no matter how engaging the content is, this can actually bore the viewer. It also gives more opportunity for the potential client to discover work of yours they don’t like.

It is best to stick to 5-10 examples, making sure these are the ones you really are proud to promote. For example, include pieces you’ve received incredible feedback or awards for, or work for high profile clients. Your portfolio doesn’t need to showcase all of you; it needs to lead the visitor to contact you for work. If a client is interested and they would like to see more, they will pick up the phone.

2. Ease of Access

You may find one platform displays your work perfectly, but is it accessible to the average user? Choosing how to display your work is crucial, and can make the difference between your work being viewed or ignored. Flash is now outdated and won’t run on many smartphones or tablets, while Javscript is fine as long as it’s not over-complicated and prone to crashing. A simple CSS system is best and once that’s perfected, you can add the frills.

3. User Friendly

As a freelancer working on the internet (a lot!) you are probably adept at finding your way around any website. You know computers don’t bite and you have a good idea of where everything should be. Your audience, however, are viewing your portfolio as they need your services; they may not be au fait with the internet or snazzy websites, and they just want to view your work before making a decision. Keep it simple, keep it well labelled. Test it on your mum… if she can find her way to the end, you have a winner.

4. Show AND Tell

Of course the visuals are important, and your portfolio will show your work whether it’s design, coding or copy – however you also need to tell the visitor what you’d like them to do next. Would you like them to contact you via phone? Email? Visit another website, view your testimonials, and buy a service?

Unless you include instructions and clear calls to action in your portfolio site, your visitors aren’t going to know what they need to do next. It takes just a second: simply add to each example something such as, “if you like this style or think your business could benefit from my design, please contact me on…”

Your contact details should be easily available on every single page of your site, so as soon as a client sees something they like, they don’t have to search to find how to contact you.

5. Resist Rubbish

When you have your own website it can be tempting to see it as an extra source of revenue on its own. Advertisements and affiliate schemes can bring in money but they may dilute the message you’re trying to get across. You may also find that others want to partner with you or exchange links, which can be mutually beneficial but again it takes the spotlight away from your work.

There are a lot of freelancers out there and a lot of competition. In order to make sure your portfolio site stands out make sure it relays quality, not quantity. You have just five seconds to make that all important first impression and this may become impossible if visitors are faced with an ad for Tesco, or a link to an irrelevant partner site.

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