6 Essentials for Designing a Portfolio Site that Works
Every designer knows that having a website showcasing their work is important - but actually creating a website that attracts and converts your ideal client is a whole other story.
Here is my advice: treat your portfolio website like it is your best employee. Yep, my mind was blown too when I finally made this realization. Your portfolio should be working for you - what do I mean by this? Your portfolio should market your best work, explain your services, tell your target audience why you are the best fit, and of course provide an easy way to get in touch with you. Basically by the time the potential client reaches out to you they are already pretty convinced you are the one for them.
Here are the 6 key components that I feel are necessary for creating a portfolio site that works:
1. Personal Branding
Having a strong personal brand is an essential part of creating a portfolio that speaks to your target audience. I know that honing in on that personal brand is HARD. As designers we are constantly inspired by the world around us and it can be confusing and challenging to turn inward and truly think about how we want the world to see us. But taking the time to work on your own personal brand will be a great investment in your business. Being clear on who you are and what kind of clients you want to attract, will help you to actually do that! I wrote an e-book that provides a clear personal branding process for you to follow to help cut through the overwhelm and get to work.
2. Curated Selection of Portfolio Projects
Just because you designed it does not mean that it has to be in your portfolio. Your portfolio should showcase your best work and more importantly - the type of work that you want to do more of. And here is a little secret, you don’t have to share just real client work. Often it is the self-initiated projects that will really make your portfolio shine and help attract your dream clients.
3. Your Story
An about page on your website is the perfect place to let your potential client get to know you and your qualifications. This is your opportunity to sell yourself and speak directly to your target audience. Getting a little personal in your bio will help potential clients relate to you. Your story is the thing that separates you from the crowd. Don’t forget to tell it. An about page is also a great opportunity to share the types of services you love to offer, and your favorite types of clients to work with.
Are you someone that reads countless Amazon reviews before you hit purchase? yep me too. We do this because we want to be reassured that we are making the right purchase. Well potential clients also want to be reassured that you are the right designer for them, and that their investment will be well worth it! Having a selection of kind words from your clients is the best social proof that you are a great person to work with. I recommend sprinkling testimonials throughout your website. Add 1-2 on your homepage, add testimonials from your clients on the specific project pages, and on your contact page to help seal the deal.
5. Repeated Call to Action
Have you ever been on a website and had a hard time finding how to contact the person? It is surprising how often this happens to me. I am constantly scouring portfolio sites to feature creatives on Freelance Wisdom and honestly if I can’t find out how to contact them easily I move on to someone else. Potential clients would do the same! I recommend having your contact page in the main navigation and also sprinkled on multiple other pages. While I have not personally done this (planning to!), many of my designer friends have a repeated call to action to immediately set up a 30 minute intro call. The appointment strategy or a traditional contact form are both effective ways to have clients get in touch.
6. Blog for Marketing Purposes
Believe me I know it is tough to keep up a blog and I am really not the greatest poster child for this strategy currently BUT when I was first starting out I blogged all the time. I can really attribute my early success to my blog because it was such a great way for me to showcase my work, be creative, and get a little personal. If blogging on the regular and creating new original content scares you - then consider coming up with three categories that you can post about often.
Here a few blog topics that will get you started:
Your recent work
Sharing a tip/tutorial/freebie
What you are currently loving/inspired by.
A blog post once a week with good content is much better than everyday with meh content. So don’t feel pressured to come up with something new everyday - however keeping up a consistent schedule and remembering to pin your blog post imagery to Pinterest will help you immensely in attracting your ideal clients. In my ebook I have expanded on how you can use a blog to be a great marketing tool.
So to re-cap, with a clear personal brand, curated selection of the work that you love, a snippet into your story, kind words from former clients, a repeated call to get in touch, and a simple blog - you can have a portfolio website that works for you.
I recently came out with an e-book called Let’s Get Personal: Personal Branding for Designers that features 40+ pages packed with worksheets, examples, and tried and true lessons for honing in on your personal brand and marketing your design business to the world. The goal of this e-book is to help you to avoid the overwhelm and get to work on your personal branding. It’s time for you to invest in yourself, believe me, when your ideal clients come rolling in - you will be so happy you did!