When you step into the freelance industry, you come to realize that it is not as easy a world as you might have thought it out to be. In order to settle down in this highly competitive community, you need to take care of so many things.
You need to work on your area of interest, create profiles on major freelance websites, establish and improve professional connections, and whatnot. However, what remains crucial is your ability to show that you are best suited to the work offered, and you do that through a portfolio.
A portfolio is not your regular enumeration of skills you would often causally compile and post on public forums to advertise yourself.
Freelancers are treated at par with regular employees, and since a lot of things are expected from them, clients look out for those individuals who adequately highlight what they are made of.
Many clients note that they encounter poorly drafted portfolios almost on a daily basis, and this creates an adverse impression about the applicant. In order to increase your chances of selection, you need not compromise, even a bit, with the quality of the portfolio.
Thus, in this article, we have compiled 8 tips every freelancer must keep in mind.
1. Understand what a portfolio is about
It is really important for you to understand and appreciate the importance of a portfolio in the professional world. While we totally agree that a portfolio is basically a mode of selling yourself, but that is not the end of the story.
A portfolio is, and it may sound a bit dramatic, a story about you.
While drafting your portfolio, do not think about it as a list enumerating your natural and acquired skills in an order; in fact, it is a story you tell in a sequential and comprehensible manner to convey to the reader what you are made of. If the reader is unable to properly appreciate your skills, you will not get the job.
Experts on portfolio-making recommend that one should begin the activity of making a portfolio by writing a short summary about yourself. Re-do it until you are convinced that you could not have described yourself better than this.
Remember this: you cannot start with an activity unless you completely understand what it is exactly. You need to put your heart on it.
2. An Introduction Page
You cannot miss out on an Introduction page. A well-drafted introduction page sets the mood right for the reader by giving him a general idea as to what he can expect from you. Many starts with “XYZ Portfolio” which is no good since it does nothing close to introducing you.
An Introduction Page gives your portfolio an outline, and it helps the most when you are applying to a top-notch organization which, you can conveniently expect, receives hundreds of applications for review.
The HR Manager would not keenly go through every aspect of the portfolio and most likely rely on the introduction page.
Jot down basic but highly important points about you, your background, and your most relevant skills. But, a caveat for those who go overboard: avoid writing a bulky introduction page.
3. Limit the number of projects
Now when you are done with the Introduction page, it is time to shortlist your best projects that will highlight your potential to the readers. During the selection process, it is advised you pick up only 7-10 projects which you consider to be your best performances.
The problem with too many projects is that reader will not remember most of them. As noted earlier, HR managers usually skim through portfolios so if your projects are quantitatively high, then they might not notice how exceptional you are. Retention is what you need to accomplish through portfolio in order to stand out.
One more thing which is equally important: if every project of yours take a good number of pages, then it is better to reduce the number of projects.
Whatever project you choose should showcase the best for you. We know it is difficult to cut short and do the selection, but professionals always do this—and we think you want to be one of them.
4. Not older than 2-3 years
You might have been working for a long time and so there must a long list of projects you would so badly want to add to your portfolio, but it is strongly suggested that you only add the recent ones. Adding the recent ones emphasize on your potential and regularity in your professional character.
You would not believe but the presentation of work experience is an art in itself; so we want you to show them that you have grown with experience and you are still an avid learner as you were when you first started.
5. Who did what work?
Always give credit to people you have worked with. Unless you are a solo freelancer, you need to keep in mind the contribution given to the projects by other members of the group.
You might be preparing your portfolio, but if you give credits to those whom you collaborated with, companies will assess you as an individual with great teamwork capabilities and sense of mutual respect.
Companies are always on a lookout for those individuals who comfortably sink in a collaborative environment and maintain a harmonious outlook towards work and people.
6. Point out where you can contribute
When you apply for a job, you need to be clear as to what you can contribute. Freelancers are usually engaged in multiple projects of varying kinds, and when applying, you need to be very particular as to where you stand as far as the project is concerned.
If you applied for a content writing job, inform them through your portfolio your interest in writing academic, SEO or whatever your choice may be. So, if at all you get selected for the job, your handler will know what work should be given to you.
7. Work on the design
You need not have a fancy and all glittered portfolio to attract offers. In fact, too much flamboyance might cost you a job. Your portfolio should be written against a meaningful and orderly design, and you can find many examples online.
Choose the one which is less showy and more organized to show that you are serious about your profession.
A good start would be to design a template with the help of the grid technique and then populate your work from there. Just do not over-style your portfolio.
8. Digital or printed?
Well, you, like everyone else, is aware of the unprecedented boom of the Internet. Now, the freelance industry has gone online and most of the activities occur through the virtual space. So, while having a printed portfolio is a good thing, you should also prepare a digital portfolio.
Various freelance websites ask the freelancer to submit a digital portfolio and very rarely you will stumble upon a client who would ask you to post the portfolio.
But, make sure when designing the digital portfolio, you do not get swayed away by handy editing tools. Design, but design sensibly to ensure an everlasting impression.