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Your portfolio page: Do this, not that

I spent the better part of last year updating my website.

Let that sink in. Almost an entire year… to update my site.

If you’ve ever worked on your own brand, I’m sure you too have come to realize that we’re our own worst clients. Deadlines pushed back. Revision after revision. And the classic overthink + overanalyze. Ya with me?!?

You’d think since I hired copywriting that everything would be smooth sailing. But no, my friend.

So where did I spend the most time on my site? What caused a huge wrinkle in the timeline?

My portfolio page.

If you’re a designer, you know what I mean. For some reason it takes us a decade to hit publish on a new client project in our portfolio. Even if I have the presentation already on my website from working with the client, I inevitably feel the need to re-work the presentation.

I’ve spent a ton of time curating my own portfolio over the years, as well as have been on the other side reviewing designer portfolios to partner with for client work.

Needless to say, I’ve honed in on the do’s and don’ts of design portfolios. I thought I’d share a fun “do this, not that” take on your portfolio.

Let’s hop to it!

Do this: Share your best work — quality over quantity.
Not that: Avoid “filling” your portfolio to meet a quota.

When I’ve been on the hunt for a new designer to collaborate with, it really only takes me two solid design projects to say “yes, this is my girl!” It doesn’t take much for our clients to resonate with our work. There is no magic number of projects, just simply feature your best work and you’ll be set. The alternative is to show your sub-par design projects, which will cause doubt and hesitation to enter potential client’s mind. Avoid “filling” your portfolio, and instead show off your best work.

Do this: Showcase projects that align with your packaged services.
Not that: Don’t show projects beyond your services.

Simple enough. If you offer brand identity design, avoid showcasing web design if you no longer offer that service. And vice versa. Your clients “shop” your portfolio, so display the types of projects you are currently accepting work for. This may mean ditching a high-profile client from your past agency job, that doesn’t align with your new services. These types of projects are okay if it’s all you have at the moment, but first chance you get… ditch them. Remember tip #1, less is more :).

Do this: Create a conceptual project that shows your perspective for your offered services.
Not that: Avoid having a portfolio solely of concept work.

If you currently don’t have client work to showcase in your portfolio, I’m giving you permission to create one conceptual project to showcase your skill-set. Maybe you’ve yet to book a client (totally okay!), or your client work is confidential. Either way, don’t let that discourage you from creating a stellar portfolio that attracts your ideal clients. Make sure your conceptual project aligns with your service packages (ie: logo design if you offer brand identity design services).

Caveat! Avoid filling your portfolio with majority of conceptual projects. This can be confusing to potential clients, misleading or a red flag. Be transparent and mention that the piece is a conceptual project, and you’ll avoid any confusion.

Do this: Have a clear call to action to work with you on each portfolio page.
Not that: Don’t miss an opportunity to capture potential client’s interests.

Probably the #1 portfolio faux pa (speaking from experience here). As clients peruse each portfolio piece, make it clear what the next step is through having one prominent call to action. If they see something they’re drawn toward, make it easy for them to take the next step to working with you. This can be as simple as a pre-footer on each portfolio page, or even a pop-up. Scoop up those leads while they’re hot!

Hope you enjoyed this fun “do this, not that” series, and that you carve out some time to make these simple tweaks to your own portfolio on your site.

Your portfolio page: Do this, not that | Spruce Rd. | How to design a portfolio page for your freelance design business that books clients.


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Your portfolio page: Do this, not that | Spruce Rd. | How to design a portfolio page for your freelance design business that books clients.
Your portfolio page: Do this, not that | Spruce Rd. | How to design a portfolio page for your freelance design business that books clients.


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