How to Optimize Your Freelancer Portfolio for Success


As a Freelancer, your portfolio is often the first point of contact that potential clients or customers will make with you. Whether your portfolio features your web design work or your ability to write quality content online, you need to showcase your skills and your services in the best possible light.

This is especially true when your portfolio and your service offering is surrounded by other freelancers who are competing in the same online marketplace. Your online portfolio is going to be instrumental in gaining your first client. How you set it up, therefore, is critical.

How to Optimize Your Freelancer Portfolio for Success

1. Separate Your Services

The people most likely to use your service online are going to be people who know exactly what they want. A temptation among freelancers is to try and be, “all things to all men”.

As a result, many freelancers pack in numerous services all under the one heading or umbrella. Often, the services are not even related and simply lead to confusion for your potential buyer.

A confused buyer is one who will quickly move on to the next freelancer. Therefore, your job is to separate out your services and your offerings so that each offering is clearly articulated.

If you are looking for paid work as a writer, distinguish a maximum of 3 writing services you can provide. Once you get beyond three services, you begin to overwhelm your potential buyer.

So, for example, if you can provide blog content, copywriting services, and research papers separate these three services out under three separate headings.

The best freelance portfolios are portfolios that are well structured and set up properly.

For each service, be sure to articulate exactly what your service covers and the benefits of using your writing services.

If you are a web developer, separate those services which might be regarded as web maintenance and those which may be regarded as web design, creation or development.

By separating your services and stating in bullet point form the features and benefits of each service you will allow your potential buyer to quickly access your value and your ability within your chosen field of expertise.

2. Provide Samples of Each Service You Provide

The key to selling anything online is to make the transaction and a decision as easy as possible. One of the ways online freelancers can do that is by anticipating and answering client needs and objections before they are even asked.

How to Optimize Your Freelancer Portfolio for Success

In this case, don’t wait for a potential client to have to ask you for samples of your work. In all likelihood, they won’t have the time to do that and will simply move onto another freelancer.

You can anticipate this need by providing around three pieces of valuable content which showcase each of your services.

If you write for a living, then provide three samples of your writing from live websites where your content has been published. If you design websites for a living, then provide three images or links to websites you have designed.

If your name appears within those live samples or pieces of content, all the better as this authenticates your work and builds trust with your potential client.

3. Create a Succinct but Compelling Biography

As noted above, people are short on time. They’re also looking for signals which authenticate you as an authority or an expert in your field.

One of the ways you can build authority into your online freelance portfolio is by creating a succinct and precise biography.

Let’s start with a few things you should avoid:

  • Avoid exaggeration, “I can write on any subject…”
  • Avoid making promises you can’t keep, “I can deliver in 24 hours…”
  • Avoid meaningless jargon and cliches, “I will SEO your article…”

It’s also a good idea to avoid long and complicated sentences. List your abilities and keep your sentences short.

In writing your biography you should ask the question, “What is it that people will want to know about me?”

Again, the idea is to answer and anticipate questions. Where you live and how many years experience you have in any particular field are both important aspects of a biography.

A lot of freelancers attempt to hide their identity. Hiding your identity is not a good idea. Be upfront about who you are and where you come from.

Transparency and honesty here will go a long way in building solid relationships with clients.

If you do not come from the United States, don’t say that you do. I have worked with many freelancers who made this mistake, and immediately they have lost the contract. Not because they came from the wrong part of town but because they were not honest in the first place.

The same is true of images. Be sure to include a real picture of yourself and not some stock or fake image.

4. Update Your Portfolio Regularly

How often you should update your freelance portfolio will depend to some extent on the kind of work you’re offering. Web designers should update their portfolio on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis to ensure that they are showcasing the latest in web development and applications.

Particularly for those freelancers whose expertise lie in web design, which becomes outdated very quickly.

How to Optimize Your Freelancer Portfolio for Success

Those who write for a living should also bear in mind that their samples will typically be dated. Potential clients want to see your latest work not work from 5 years ago. I came across a writer recently who was showcasing work he had done back in 2010 on EzineArticles.

Needless to say, I did not use that writer.

You should also check your portfolio regularly for any errors. Typical errors may include grammatical or factual errors as well as contact details and biographical images.

Proofreading and editing your portfolio regularly will ensure that it is contemporary and it will give you an opportunity to remove or revamp any redundant material.

5. Using Testimonials

Testimonials of your work from independent third parties are ideal. However, you need to ensure that they are verifiable. You also don’t want to overuse your testimonials. If you’re going to use testimonials in your portfolio, make sure you identify the person who gave the review.

Secondly, make sure the review can be authenticated. Is it a review from Google, Yelp, PeoplePerHour or some other source? Make sure that your testimonial includes evidence of the source (who wrote it) and the publicly accessible location (e.g., Google Reviews).

Thirdly, make sure the review is relevant to the work you are offering. If you’re offering more than one service, then it also makes sense to separate your reviews and testimonials into similar categories. This will ensure that there is continuity for the person reading your portfolio.

If you don’t have any testimonials or reviews yet, Forbes has a creative list of ideas on how to start gathering those simple, yet highly valuable commodities.

Where should You Set up Your Portfolio

There are a number of equally acceptable places for you to set up your portfolio. The first place you should set up your portfolio is within PeoplePerHour. Make sure the portfolio is complete in every way.

Beyond that you may consider setting up your own simple website, using a service like, Design Shack or Contently – depending on the type of service you are offering.

Wherever you decide to house your portfolio, it is a good idea to keep a backup of all the resources that you put into your portfolio.

This is especially important if you are using a third-party platform. You do not want to wake up one morning and find your entire portfolio gone because it was in the power and control of a third party.

Finally, as you go about creating the ideal freelance portfolio, be sure to take a look at other portfolios online and see how individuals are creating their own unique branded portfolio in order to showcase their freelance skills and abilities.

While you don’t want your portfolio to look like anybody else’s, it is also true that if someone has found a winning concept, design or formula, then it is always wise for you to adopt and embrace at least part of that formula in order to achieve your own success.

In other words, if you find something that’s working, it’s wise to consider doing it yourself. You don’t always have to be reinventing the wheel.

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About the Author:

David Trounce is a Small Business Consultant and the Founder of Mallee Blue Media, an agency specialising in marketing and online business development.

David works with remote teams and freelancers from Australia, West Africa, the United States and South East Asia.

Check out David’s PeoplePerHour profile

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