How to Make Your Portfolio Better Than the Competition’s Portfolio

competitionCompetition is fierce in the world of freelancing. In the clients’ eyes, one of the few factors that differentiates you from the competition is the quality of your portfolio.

While much of what makes up a portfolio is both subjective and based on personal preferences, there are still several surefire ways to distinguish yourself in the sea of freelancers.

Let’s takes a look at some ways you can make your portfolio better than your competition’s portfolio.

A Great Design

Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many terrible freelance portfolios are on the web. Even if you aren’t offering design services, you should still have a great looking design for your portfolio.

A great design helps increase your professionalism and legitimacy as a business. How many times have you come across a site with a spotty design that made you wonder if the products were scams? The same applies to freelancers.

Great Looking Code

You may not know this, but clients, especially web agencies looking to contract out some work, really do look at your code, so make sure it’s as great as the design. Follow basic semantics, validation and coding practices, especially if you offer any sort of web development services.

Even if you don’t code, good code can have an impact on your SEO, download times and ease of updating. I’ve gotten lots of great compliments, some criticisms and a few bug notifications from clients in the past, so code-inspecting is not a rare occurrence!

Share Some

Talk about the actual work you did and why you did it. Many portfolios I’ve seen have their work categorized well, such as in web design or logos, but then only have thumbnails and a light box pop feature of the actual work. Try including an actual link, if it’s a website, and talk about what you specifically did and why you chose to do it that way.

Be Personal

Too many portfolios sound like they’ve been written by space robots. It’s important to sound professional, but it’s equally important to sound human.

I’ve felt this way about my own portfolio when redesigning it, so I included a picture of myself along with some few interesting facts in the footer of my subpages — just enough so my clients realize I’m both professional and fun to work with.

Contact Points

Try to include multiple ways to contact you on your site. Some clients prefer emailing only, some prefer to only work by phone. Try having an email address, contact form and some instant messenger IDs as well. You want to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for a potential client to contact you.

Have a Blog

It may sound cliché, but having a blog on your portfolio can help you in several ways:

  • Gives visitors a reason to return to your site often, which means your name will stay in their head. It’s more likely they’ll see your new work (and want to hire you).
  • Content helps boost SEO, since portfolios are normally not content-heavy by themselves.
  • It helps establish you as an expert in the clients’ eyes and many of them will subscribe to your blog, even if they don’t understand all the jargon.

Keeping It Clean

It’s important to not junk up your portfolio with too much useless clutter. Showing your latest Twitter stream on your homepage is helpful, as it shows you’re active on the web. However, showing your Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Stumbleupon AND Digg streams isn’t helpful and just becomes unsightly clutter on your homepage.

Remember, the point of your portfolio is to gain clients and show off your work — not to show how much time you waste on social media every day.

Some Great Examples

Here are a few great examples of portfolios on the web for some inspiration. Enjoy!

Nine Lion Design








Your Turn

What’s your advice for creating a great portfolio? Don’t be afraid to share links to great portfolios!

Top image by kubina