How to Build a Portfolio that Drives Clients | 8 Tips
No matter what service your business provides. You will need to have a portfolio. So here are a few tips on how to build a portfolio that drives clients!
A portfolio is simply your track record on paper (or wherever you decide to store it). Your portfolio shows:
- What you can do, and
- What people can expect from you
We all want clients and these topics will help you create and sustain a client worthy portfolio.
Tip 1: Work for Free (in the beginning)
You may not want to hear this, but your first “client” should be a free client. Someone you can test the waters with and work out all the kinks of your strategy and how you work with others.
If you work for free, you should work smart. Make it a trade between you and your client. Set clear terms for your free work. Obviously, if you are a consultant or coach you won’t work with this one person indefinitely so really outline what you are wanting to do for free.
There will come a time where you will feel confident in your service and at this point you will have a strong portfolio to support that you are worth the cost.
Tip 2: Don’t Discount
Many business owners don’t want to work for free and think the best solution to gain clients for their portfolio is to offer a discount. This is a HUGE mistake. While there is an upside to offering discounts at strategic times in your business, starting out you don’t want to be known for being the “cheapest” or “discount” option. You have to set the tone for your business.
For example, if the industry standard for web design is $1000/website and you charge $400, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. You will have to gain 3 clients to reach $1000 and you’ll end up doing 3 times the work. You will also likely end up working with clients that don’t value your craft and that’s another problem within itself.
Charge your worth. While you are building your portfolio refer to tip 1 and just do it free.
Tip 3: Get feedback
There are people in your service industry that can give you feedback on your work. Reach out in Facebook groups and on social media platforms to see what others in your industry think.
Then, forget what they said and do what you want. At the end of the day this is YOUR business. Take the CONSTRUCTIVE feedback you can use and dump the rest (including this blog post if you want).
Tip 4: Have Variety
If you are a new photographer, you probably don’t know what type of photography you want to do. So try it all! The more you practice your service, the better you will get at it and the more CLEAR you can be about what you want to offer to your paying clients. While you are doing work for free try to dabble in different aspects of what you do.
Tip 5: Be Creative
Your portfolio should show who you are, your style, and your brand. Be creative with your service so your potential clients can see a full range of what you are capable of. Your portfolio should be an expression of everything you can do but have a consistent brand theme that is noticeable and unique to your business.
Tip 6: Only Include What You Want to Do
Once you have practiced your service and you are clear on what you want to do, ONLY INCLUDE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE HIRED FOR.
If you are an artist and want to paint children’s bedroom murals, you should not include a small flower painting in your portfolio because you don’t want to attract clients that only want small flower paintings. Duh. lol
Tip 7: Update as You Get Better
As you grow in your craft, update your portfolio. Your portfolio should be a reflection of your best work to date. You should be passionate and insanely proud of your portfolio at a moments notice.
Tip 8: Make it Easy Access
Your portfolio should be easily accessible at all time. You can have it on a website, bound in notebooks, on social media, and many other places. Be creative with how you present your portfolio but make sure it is easy to share with anyone you meet. Also make it easy for other people to share what you do.
Social media and having a website are the ideal ways to have a portfolio but when you meet a client in person, having a tangible portfolio of your work seals the deal. As a coach you can still create a coaching kit in a book form to share with your clients, think outside the box.
I hope these 8 tips were able to help! Let me know in the comments what you think are some ways that you have built a strong portfolio.