When you’re just getting started as a web designer, finding your first few paid gigs can be a struggle. If you don’t personally know anyone who needs help with a website, putting your name out there is daunting. The best thing you can do is to build a portfolio page that showcases your skills and talents. Below, we’ll cover some tips on how to use your portfolio page to get customers.
- Portfolio Page Basics
- Update, Trim, and Stay Focused
Portfolio Page Basics
Why Make a Portfolio Page?
As a freelance or aspiring web designer, your clients will range from small businesses and local organizations to aspiring artists. For many clients, your website will be their first. A professional looking portfolio page will help them see just how much you know, even if they don’t yet know specific terminology. Plus, not every customer will know exactly what they want. A well managed portfolio page that shows off the quality of your site design will really help guide your customers.
If you’re applying for a full-time position, a great portfolio page is just as important. Everyone applying for a given position will have relevant skills listed on their resume. When you demonstrate your knowledge of the frameworks and libraries relevant to a given job, you look prepared and knowledgeable on a level far above other applicants who can only talk about those tools.
Plan Out Your Main Page
When planning out your portfolio page, you need to think strategically. Start with a great primary portfolio page; the first thing visitors see should show off your strongest talents. Keep this updated and focused on work relevant to the job you’re applying for. If you’re focused on WordPress development, show off your ability to customize themes and plugins— just be sure that the page still loads fast!
Keep the domain name for your portfolio page simple. Avoid the use of subdirectories and subdomains for the page you want to send potential clients to. Something like wordpress.mysampleportfoliopage.com/portfolio is unwieldy; if you put that on a resume or a business card, chances are a potential client or employer will never bother typing it in. Something simple, even silly, is better if it’s easy to type.
Remember to keep your contact information visible. If someone finds your portfolio and wants to hire you for design work, you’ll be glad that your contact information was easy to find!
Update, Trim, and Stay Focused
You should plan to upgrade and update your portfolio page on a regular basis. The ‘next big thing’ is always around the corner; you want to show prospective clients that you are up to date on the latest trends!
Know your Audience
The focus of your portfolio should reflect your potential audience. Other developers will be impressed by your made-from-scratch CSS animations, but many small business owners just want something professional looking that is easy to update. If you are targeting two very different demographics, don’t hesitate to create two different portfolio sites.
Don’t list every project you’ve ever created on your main page! Highlight a few of your best works so prospective clients know what you’re all about! Most people who look at your portfolio don’t want to spend hours reviewing every project you’ve ever made. Show your best up front.
Blog: Yes or No?
A blog is a great way to promote yourself— but only if you are able to keep up with it consistently. Is content development part of your skill-set? If so, a well-maintained blog will be a great selling point in your favor. If not, you may have difficulty finding appropriate topics to talk about on a consistent basis. Just keep blog content relevant to your portfolio.
No Testimonials? Volunteer!
It always helps to have a positive word or two on your page. Testimonials from previous clients can go a long way in selling your service. If you are too new to have previous customers, try taking a few low-cost or no-cost jobs to get some experience and positive feedback. One popular way to do this is to volunteer to help charities and local organizations with their web presence. The organization or charity will get some much needed help, while you get some positive customer feedback you can post on your site.
Use Subdomains to Show Off Different Frameworks
Add some variety to your portfolio page by creating some subdomains. Subdomains are a convenient way to show off smaller, self-contained sites without setting up another domain. Remember, you can add multiple subdomains to each domain your plan without counting against your maximum number of sites. This gives you a great opportunity to build multiple, smaller sites to show of specific, desirable developer skills.
If you’re a WordPress developer, try setting up a variety of sites to show off the range of designs, layouts, and capabilities you can provide. Working with other frameworks? Software like Drupal, Joomla, and Moodle all have their dedicated customers and are easy to add via Softaculous. If you’re working towards getting a full time job as a developer, you have different considerations than someone working to attract freelance clients. Show off your versatility by trying out different frameworks. If you want to work as a back-end developer, building the same page in Rails, Laravel, and Django would be a great way to show off.