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How to Create a Freelance Portfolio That Stands Out (+ 6 Great Examples!)

create a freelance portfolio

A freelance portfolio serves as the bridge between a job you want and landing it. In this article, we’ll discuss how to create a freelance portfolio, with tips on what to include, like case studies and client testimonials. We’ll also share strong freelance portfolio examples for inspiration.

In 2021, 46.6% of workers worldwide were self-employed. This number continues to rise, so having a portfolio can help you stand apart, get new clients, and grow a successful freelance business.

Continue reading to learn how you can create a portfolio you’re proud to share with potential clients.

Do I need a freelance portfolio?

You need a freelance portfolio to showcase your work, create trust with potential clients, and land work. Your portfolio can help you demonstrate your skills so you can show up as a professional in your niche and stand apart from other freelancers.

While it’s easier to create work samples for some freelance jobs than others, all freelancers can benefit from having a portfolio. In the tips below, we’ll share how you can get creative to create an impactful portfolio, even if you don’t have tangible work to show.

Tips for Creating a Freelance Portfolio

While your portfolio should be unique to your work and service(s), you can use these tips to help you create a freelance portfolio that stands out.

  • Decide where to create your portfolio
  • Show work samples
  • Tell the story of your work
  • Share case studies
  • Display client testimonials
  • Include calls to action
  • Update your portfolio

Decide Where to Create Your Portfolio

There are many places you can create a portfolio, like portfolio platforms and personal websites.

When I started freelancing, I kept it straightforward with a Contently portfolio. This kind of portfolio only lets you add links, so it works best for freelancers who have published work (e.g., freelance writers).

I recommend creating a website for your freelance business where you can hold your portfolio and other useful information, including testimonials, services, and contact information. You can also optimize your website for SEO (search engine optimization, so your ideal clients can find you on Google.

Squarespace is a great website builder for simplicity, affordability, and customizable templates. Journoportfolio is also a simple option that works really well for freelance writers.

You can do even more with a WordPress website, but this has a steeper learning curve, and it takes time to find a theme that will work for you unless you hire someone to help you.

Show Work Samples

Work samples let potential clients see what kind of deliverables they can expect from you. For example, copywriters can showcase examples of written work, while graphic designers can display design projects.

If you’re new to freelancing and haven’t completed any projects yet, you can create a few mock work samples to showcase. You can either do one or two made-up projects or offer to work at a low rate for one or two jobs. 

A few work samples is enough, especially as you’re getting started. Over time, you can build up your portfolio with various work samples.

Tell the Story of Your Work

Although work samples aren’t possible with some freelance jobs, like pet sitting, virtual assisting, or coaching, telling the story of your work is an effective way to demonstrate your skills.

Whether or not you can display work samples, depending on the type of freelancing you do, you can tell the story of your work in your portfolio by discussing past projects, your role, and how you helped your client(s).

Share Case Studies

Use case studies to go in-depth into the story of your work and showcase your expertise. Case studies also let you show potential clients your value from start to finish to better understand what it would be like to work with you.

Each case study can include:

solis portable wifi
  • Introduction of project: a few short paragraphs about the company and what you were hired to help with
  • Goal(s): a short description of what your client wanted out of the project
  • Project: an introduction and bulleted list detailing the scope of the project
  • Outcome: success indicator(s) demonstrating how you helped your client (include numbers if possible)
  • Deliverables: details about what you delivered and how (include links to and/or images of work)

Display Client Testimonials

A testimonial is a quote or review from a past client about their experience working with you. It offers social proof to help you build trust with potential clients. 9 out of 10 people say they trust what other customers or clients say over what a business says about itself. 

Showcasing testimonials after work samples lets you address objections potential clients may have and re-iterate the value you offer. To get client testimonials for your portfolio, you can create a 3-5 question feedback form on Google Docs or create a Google Business Profile where clients can leave reviews (you can paste these reviews on your portfolio).

After you complete a project or work with a client for a few months, you can send a friendly but casual email that says something like this:

Hi [Client name],

I’ve enjoyed working on [project you worked on together] to help you [name client’s goal(s)]. 

Feedback is important to me so I can ensure I’m doing my best work. Do you mind sharing your feedback here
(link to your Google Business Profile or feedback form)?

I might also use your review for marketing purposes if that’s okay.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Include Calls to Action

Calls to action tell your potential clients what to do next. When someone is reviewing your portfolio, you’ll want them to contact you to inquire about working together.

Include at least two calls to action on your portfolio. Ideally, you’ll have one above the fold before scrolling and one at the bottom of the page.

Examples of calls to action include:

  • Book a consultation call
  • Schedule a free call
  • Contact to inquire about working together
  • Request service and pricing menu

Update Your Portfolio

If you’re new to freelancing, a simple portfolio that displays two or three projects and testimonials is suitable. After you improve your skills and complete more projects, you’ll want to update your portfolio. 

While you don’t need to showcase all your work and testimonials from all clients, keep your portfolio updated and relevant to your skills and services. I update my portfolio one to three times per year.

Do I need a resume and a portfolio?

While a portfolio is most important for showcasing your work and building trust with potential clients, you can also have a resume. A freelance resume isn’t necessary for most projects, but it’s nice to have one handy. Some big companies or clients hiring for large projects may ask for a resume for formality and to learn more about your skills and experience. 

Strong Freelance Portfolio Examples

Explore effective portfolio examples below for various freelancing roles, including design, writing, photography, and Pinterest management.

Magic Feather Designs

Magic Feather Designs is a brand design company that offers various brand design packages. 

Freelance Portfolio Example

Why her portfolio works well:

  • She has a call to action above the fold and further down on her portfolio page
  • She displays ten completed projects for various services
  • Each project has its own page with images of the design work, information about the package, and a client testimonial

Pie Heart Studio

Pie Heart Studio is a web design company that creates websites for small businesses.

Pie in the Sky Portfolio Example

Why her portfolio works well:

  • She tells client stories for various projects with in-depth case studies about each project
  • Each client story page shows what the work included, images of the work, results, and a client testimonial
  • She includes calls to action throughout her portfolio and client stories

Polly Clover Writes

Polly Clover Writes is my SEO writing and consulting company. I help businesses create SEO-friendly websites.

Polly Clover Portfolio

Why my portfolio works:

  • I organize my portfolio to showcase different niches I’ve worked with
  • I have various calls to action to direct my audience to work samples, my contact form, and to request my service & pricing menu
  • I include client results and testimonials

Sarah Burk

Sarah Burk is a Pinterest Manager who helps online service providers with Pinterest strategy and marketing.

Sara Burk Portfolio Example

Why her portfolio works: 

  • She doesn’t just show her work, she gives details to tell stories about the projects
  • She shares case studies for a few of her successful projects, detailing the before, during, and after steps and client testimonials

Natalie Bigelow

Natalie Bigelow is a freelance writer who offers blogging and website copy services.

writing freelance portfolio example

Why her portfolio works:

  • She organizes her work samples by niche (travel, fitness, beauty) to make it simple for her target market
  • She includes client testimonials and a call to action to request her service and pricing guide

Crystal Smith Photography

Crystal Smith Photography is a portrait photography company that offers various photography packages.

crystal freelance portfolio photographer

Why her portfolio works:

  • She organizes her portfolio by type of photography (headshots & branding, boudoir, and beauty)
  • She has calls to action to book a consult or schedule a session
  • She displays her work and information about her packages

We hope you found this article about how to create a freelance portfolio helpful and get inspiration from the portfolio examples. For more on starting and growing your freelance business, check out these articles:

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