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How To Build A Freelance Portfolio Website

How To Build A Freelance Portfolio Website

Your skills need to be demonstrated to your prospective clients and a portfolio website is a necessary tool for any freelancer looking to do just that. Your website effectively is an online CV, allowing potential clients to view examples of your work and assess if you are the right fit for their project.

Determine Your Goal

First, think about the main aim of your portfolio website. Are you hoping to get more work in web design, copywriting or photography? Defining your goal will help shape the overall focus of your site. Consider the type of client you want to attract and what they’ll be looking for when visiting your portfolio.

Your website should communicate what you do, the services you offer and the value you can provide to clients. Show don’t tell – use case studies and work samples to demonstrate your abilities.

Popular Freelance Services To Offer

When building your portfolio site, you’ll need to communicate the specific services you provide. The services you showcase should align with your skills, interests and experience.

Here are some of the most popular freelance service offerings to consider:

1. Web Design

This involves designing and building websites for clients. Services include:

  • Website design – Creating site layouts, user flows and high-fidelity mockups.
  • WordPress development – Building custom WordPress sites and themes.
  • E-commerce sites – Developing online stores and shopping cart functionality.
  • Landing pages – Designing optimised landing pages and sales funnels.
  • Maintenance – Debugging sites and providing ongoing support.

Highlight your web design skills with case studies of live client sites in your portfolio.

2. Graphic Design

Graphic designers help brands with visual communication. Common requests include:

  • Logo design – Creating unique brand logos.
  • Branding – Defining visual brand identities and guidelines.
  • Advertising – Designing display ads, social media ads and banners.
  • Marketing materials – Producing brochures, flyers, signage and presentation decks.
  • Packaging – Designing product packaging and labels.
  • Illustrations – Creating custom spot illustrations.
  • Motion graphics – Developing animated videos and GIFs.

Showcase your top graphic design work like logos, ads and brochures.

3. Copywriting

Copywriting involves writing persuasive text for brands. Services include:

  • Website copy – Writing website content, taglines and product descriptions.
  • Blogging – Creating long-form blog posts and articles.
  • Social media – Managing brand social accounts and crafting posts.
  • Advertising – Writing compelling ad copy for PPC, display and social campaigns.
  • Email marketing – Creating email sequences, opt-in forms and newsletters.
  • Case studies – Producing promotional case studies and success stories.

Include writing samples like website pages, blogs and ads in your portfolio.

4. Digital Marketing

More specialised digital marketing services include:

  • SEO – On and off-page optimisation to improve search rankings.
  • Paid ads – Setting up and managing PPC and social ad campaigns.
  • Email marketing – Building email funnels and automation flows.
  • Analytics – Analysing site data and creating performance reports.
  • Conversion rate optimisation – A/B testing and UI tweaks to increase conversions.

Back up your skills with client examples showing increases in traffic, rankings and conversions.

5. Programming & Development

Programmers and developers can offer:

  • Web development – Building web apps, custom plugins and interactive features.
  • Mobile development – Creating iOS and Android apps.
  • WordPress customisation – Developing custom plugins, themes and site functionality.
  • Chatbots – Programming conversational bots for websites and messaging apps.
  • Web scraping – Extracting and parsing data from websites.
  • APIs – Developing custom APIs to integrate with other platforms.
  • Databases – Constructing database systems, dashboards and admin tools.

Show your programming skills by linking to live apps and previous software projects.

6. Photography

Photography lends itself well to freelancing. Services include:

  • Product photography – Photographing products for e-commerce sites and marketing.
  • Event photography – Covering conferences, weddings and corporate events.
  • Portrait photography – Taking professional headshots and family portraits.
  • Real estate photography – Photographing residential and commercial properties for listings.
  • Retouching – Editing and retouching photos.
  • Stock photography – Selling stock photos through microstock sites.

Build an online portfolio gallery with your best photography across different genres and clients.

7. Videography & Animation

Video and animation skills are very marketable, with services like:

  • Promo videos – Producing brand commercials and explainer videos.
  • Social media videos – Creating engaging short-form video content.
  • Testimonial videos – Filming client testimonials.
  • Motion graphics – Developing 2D and 3D animated videos.
  • Whiteboard animation – Producing animated whiteboard sketch videos.
  • Live action – Filming real-world video with actors and voiceovers.

Include a video reel in your portfolio showcasing your video production abilities.

8. Bookkeeping

Offer financial services like:

  • General bookkeeping – Recording income, expenses, accounts payable/receivable etc.
  • Payroll – Managing employee payroll.
  • Tax preparation – Filing quarterly taxes.
  • Budgeting – Assisting with budgets and financial plans.
  • Invoicing – Creating, sending and tracking invoices.
  • Reporting – Compiling financial statements and reports.

List key bookkeeping skills and the specific services you provide.

9. Business Consulting

Consultants provide strategic advice and planning. Services may include:

  • Business strategy – Guiding core business model, positioning and goals.
  • Marketing strategy – Crafting marketing plans and growth strategies.
  • Operations – Optimising processes, productivity and workflows.
  • HR – Advising on policies, recruitment and talent management.
  • Growth strategy – Identifying expansion opportunities and new initiatives.

Back up your expertise with case studies showing measurable business improvements.

10. Translation & Transcription

Linguistic services are also popular freelance offerings:

  • Document translation – Translating documents like websites, marketing materials and legal docs between languages.
  • Transcription – Transcribing audio and video files into text documents.
  • Subtitling – Adding subtitles and closed captions to videos.
  • Localization – Adapting content like apps and games for international markets.

For these services, highlight your fluency in target languages paired with industry experience.

This covers just a sample of the many freelance services and specialities you could potentially offer. Analyse your skills and interests to settle on the offerings that best suit you. Then showcase your abilities through stellar portfolio examples as you start pitching for clients!

Choose a Domain Name

Your domain name should be short, memorable and contain your name or service. For example, if you’re a designer named Claire Wilson, ‘’ would work well.

Ideally, purchase your domain rather than using a free blogging platform. This looks more professional and enables you to fully customise your site.

Select a Website Builder

Unless you know how to code, use a website builder like Squarespace, Wix or WordPress. These make building a portfolio site much easier, with professional templates, drag-and-drop editors and e-commerce capabilities.

WordPress offers the most flexibility and customisation options. But Squarespace and Wix have gorgeous templates suited for creative portfolios. Assess which builder best fits your design needs and technical abilities.

Choose a Template

Browse template options that reflect your brand and industry. Minimalist designs work well for showcasing creative work, whilst more colourful templates suit photographers and illustrators.

Don’t overload on flashy animations – keep the focus on your projects. And optimise for mobile, as most web traffic now comes from smartphones.

Add Your Best Work

The most important part of any portfolio is your work examples. These should be high quality and diverse to showcase your range.

For each project, include the following:

  • A brief descriptive title
  • A few sentences summarising the brief and your role
  • 4 – 6 images displaying the outcome
  • Key details like client name, date and services provided

Curate 8 – 12 of your strongest case studies. And tailor these to the type of work you’re hoping to get more of.

Write Compelling Copy

Write Compelling Copy

Good copywriting is crucial to engage visitors. Ensure all your written content is:

Succinct – Convey information clearly without rambling. Use short sentences and paragraphs.

Scannable – Break up text with subheadings and bullet points. Website copy should be skimmed easily.

Keyword optimised – Include key services and skills you offer so you appear in relevant searches.

Consistent tone – Match your writing style to your brand personality. Whether formal or casual, be consistent.

Organise Your Site Navigation

Group content into clear sections that can be navigated easily. Typical navigation includes:

  • Home – A hero image and overview of your services
  • About – Background on your experience and skills
  • Services – The core offerings you provide
  • Work – Case studies and project examples
  • Contact – Email and social media links

Keep the main navigation bar consistent across every page. Make sure visitors can easily find what they need.

Enhance With Graphics

Images, illustrations and icons help bring your brand to life visually:

  • Photos – Use high-quality photos of yourself and your projects. Ensure you have image consent.
  • Logos – Display client logos you’ve worked with.
  • Icons – Include icons to break up text and guide navigation.
  • Illustrations – Custom illustrations reinforce your brand style.

Graphics make content more visually engaging as long as you don’t overdo it.

Optimise For SEO

SEO optimisation involves both on-page and technical factors to improve search rankings and visibility.

On-Page SEO

  • Include core keywords in page titles, URLs, headings, alt text and content
  • Improve site speed, responsive design, sitemap, and structured data

Technical SEO

  • Build backlinks, social shares, local listings, industry citations

Off-Page SEO

  • Build domain authority through backlinks, social media, listings, citations

Make It Accessible

Ensuring accessibility through proper markup greatly expands your potential audience.

  • Use alt text, headings, colour contrast, link text, fonts
  • Improve accessibility for broad audience reach

Integrate a Blog

A blog generates leads and promotes your brand through insightful, sharable content.

  • Share insider knowledge
  • Boost SEO
  • Build engagement
  • Generate leads
  • Promote posts through email, social, and communities

Accept Online Payments

E-commerce capabilities let you directly monetise your site through product or service sales.

  • Sell services, downloads, products, donations
  • Generate sales rather than just leads

Make a Progressive Web App

Progressive web apps improve user experience with offline access, notifications and installability.

  • Offline accessibility
  • Push notifications
  • Installable icon
  • Improves engagement

Provide a Style Guide

A style guide lends professionalism by documenting your brand guidelines and assets.

  • Brand guidelines
  • Editorial guidelines
  • Visual assets
  • Code snippets
  • Adds professionalism

Get Client Testimonials

Get testimonials

Testimonials in the form of reviews, quotes and case studies build trust and credibility.

  • Google/Facebook reviews
  • Quotes
  • Case studies
  • Logos
  • Builds trust and credibility

Analyse Site Metrics

Analytics provide data to refine your portfolio content and maximise results.

  • Traffic volume
  • Top pages
  • Bounce rates
  • Conversion funnel
  • ROI
  • Refine portfolio, boost results

Promote Your Portfolio

Persistent self-promotion across all channels is necessary for portfolio success.

  • Social media
  • Emails
  • Business cards
  • Networking
  • Referrals
  • Small ads
  • Relentless promotion

Your skills need to be demonstrated to your prospective clients and a portfolio website is a necessary tool for any freelancer looking to do just that. Your website effectively is an online CV, allowing potential clients to view examples of your work and assess if you are the right fit for their project.

Promoting Yourself and Your Portfolio

Your portfolio website is the centrepiece of your branding, but you need to promote both yourself and your services across multiple online channels to maximise exposure.

Business Cards

Having professional, high-quality business cards printed with your name, services, tagline and website is essential. These can be handed out at networking events, meetings and conferences to drive traffic back to your portfolio. Consider a memorable visual design that reflects your brand.

Social Media Presence

Actively maintaining profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other relevant platforms helps extend your professional network and visibility. Engage regularly by sharing content, joining discussions using niche hashtags, and connecting with both potential clients and collaborators in your industry.

Email Signature

Include your name, service offerings, website URL, and a pithy tagline that summarises what you do in your email signature. This provides a subtle promotional touch in all professional correspondence.

Online Profiles

Creating and optimising freelancer profiles on sites like Upwork, Fiverr and PeoplePerHour increases discoverability. Complete all sections in detail, use relevant keywords, link to your portfolio site, and keep profiles updated.

Having a consistent online presence and regularly directing people to your portfolio website is key to developing your brand and acquiring new business. Explore every opportunity to promote both your services and expertise.

Go Live and Get Feedback

Once complete, launch your portfolio site and start telling potential clients. Actively seek feedback from colleagues, clients and peers in your industry to help refine it.

Updating your portfolio as you complete new projects is key to keeping it fresh and reflective of your evolving skills. Revisit your site every few months to keep it updated.

In Summary

Building an effective freelance portfolio website is crucial for showcasing your work and attracting ideal clients. Start by determining your target customer and services, and select a professional domain and site builder. Choose a template that reflects your brand personality and curate your best 8-12 case studies to highlight your skills.

Optimise all copy for SEO keywords and structure clear navigation and visuals to engage visitors. Promote your portfolio consistently across online profiles, email signatures, and social media. Seek client testimonials and analyse site metrics to refine your content.

A portfolio is never “done” and requires ongoing updates and promotion. Continuously add new projects and make improvements to position your site as a 24/7 sales tool for acquiring new business. Leverage your portfolio to demonstrate expertise and connect with your ideal clients.



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