How to Build a Freelance Portfolio (and Get Hired)
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As a full-time freelancer, I juggle multiple clients and deadlines from week to week. But before I got my busy freelancing business off the ground, I had to learn how to build a freelance portfolio.
Having a portfolio of work to show clients is crucial, as it demonstrates your skills and the quality of your work. Your portfolio can also reveal your creativity and personality, which will help you stand out from the pack of freelancers all vying for the same job.
Whether you’re looking for tips on getting started or the best websites for a freelance portfolio template, read on for everything I’ve learned about how to build a freelance portfolio that will impress clients and get you hired.
1. Make a list of your areas of expertise
When you’re collecting (or creating) examples for your freelance portfolio, start by identifying your areas of expertise. If you’re a freelance writer, your skills might include long-form blog content, academic papers, editing, proofreading, or related areas. If you’re a developer, you might list out certain programming languages that you know.
Once you have a clear list of your specialties, you can start to gather work samples to provide evidence of those specific skills. Make sure to highlight areas about which you’re especially passionate, as your enthusiasm will shine through.
And don’t forget to keep updating this list as you go along. As we get more experienced, there’s a danger of becoming complacent and stopping our learning. It’s important to keep taking courses and improving yourself while showing your most updated skill set in your portfolio.
As time goes on, delete old old projects that no longer reflect your skill level and incorporate new ones that fully showcase your expertise.
2. Figure out where your portfolio will live
If you’re a developer, it’s probably easy to whip up a website for yourself with a snazzy design. As for the rest of us, consider creating a portfolio on a site such as,
Look at the websites of other freelancers in your field for inspiration on how to build your site. Most freelancers can keep their site simple; perhaps using your name as the URL, along with pages for your,
- Work samples
- Contact information
Make sure to link out to your freelancer website on your LinkedIn page or any other professional networking site you use, as well as include it on your resume. You might also build a portfolio on a site such as Freelancer or Upwork if you’re looking to connect with clients on one of these freelancing marketplaces.
3. Gather 5 or more samples of your best work
Now we get to the most important part of your freelancing portfolio: samples of your work. By sharing examples in your freelance portfolio, you’ll show clients evidence of your abilities.
Imagine you’re a client; you don’t want to simply take someone’s word for it that they have the skills you’re looking for. It’s much more compelling if you can look at their past work as examples of what they can do.
So collect samples that showcase your skills, whether those are articles you’ve written, websites you’ve designed, or whatever else. There’s no need to include every project you’ve ever completed; instead, aim for five to 10 pieces of work that truly reflect your abilities.
If any of your work has been published, provide a link to the final product. That will show you have experience as a professional freelancer.
If you haven’t been hired yet, simply upload some samples of your work (perhaps that you created for yourself or as a school project) as PDFs so clients can easily take a look.
4. Sell your services
Along with providing samples of your work, your freelance portfolio should explain why you’re the best person for the job. Take the time to write up a bio page, as well as a page detailing your services.
This is where step #1 comes in handy; since you’ve already reflected on your skills, it will be easier to tell a clear story about who you are and what you can offer.
Take a look at other freelance portfolios examples for inspiration, but also find ways to stand out from the crowd. Be clear about what you can provide and what makes you great to work with.
By sharing your story with confidence, potential clients will feel confident about hiring you.
5. Gather great reviews and testimonials
Great testimonials and reviews can go a long way toward impressing a potential client. Try to gather testimonials from past clients or coworkers and post them on your site and LinkedIn profile.
If you’re freelancing on a marketplace such as Freelancer or Fiverr, make sure your clients write reviews after you complete a project. By building strong reviews, you’ll make your freelance portfolio even stronger and more effective.
6. Trust your talent
It can be difficult to know how to build a freelance portfolio but remember that you’re a professional offering a great service. We tend to be our own worst critics, and putting yourself out there as a freelancer can be scary.
You can’t hide in the shadows, but rather must put yourself on display and publicize your talents.
So be bold and showcase your skills in your freelancer portfolio for people to see. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there by showing your past work and talking about all the ways you can help future clients.
Curious about getting started as a writer? Check out this guide on how to become a freelance writer, step by step.