White Point Creative’s owner and lead designer, Lizzy, currently works out of Fredericksburg but grew up surfing in Charleston, SC. Married to the love of her life, Joe, they live for time outdoors and finding the best brunch spots with their pup Folly.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a freelancer trying to figure out how the heck to build a professional portfolio. When just starting out it can feel like an extremely daunting task to curate a collection of your projects that gives you a professional appearance. Lucky for you, I’m coming to the rescue.
I will be breaking down my exclusive portfolio building framework which will cover how to show off your work, professionally organize it on a website, and round it out even if you’re new to the game.
When it comes to portfolio building, I like to reference the K.I.S.S. method of keeping it stupid simple! Whether you are seasoned or just starting, my goal is to get your work in a solid spot and then published. Holding off until it feels “perfect” by your standards, is just another version of stalling. Be proud of the work you’ve produced! We can and will continue to refine the presentation and content but I want you to have work ready to view so that when a job pops up. You can jump on it without spending two all nighters trying to get your portfolio published.
Your portfolio is like fine wine, it will get better with age, and maturity. Now, just like wine we have two options. We have the expensive stuff that has been aging on your shelf for years and the boxed wine you keep around for everyday purposes.
Neither of these are wrong or right. They simply apply to two different scenarios. My portfolio framework will allow you to put your portfolio together regardless of where you are at in your career. However, how you decide to curate it depends on your scenario:
Do you need a job, like yesterday?
Boxed wine aka the fast track This is the portfolio you put together because you need a job and you tailor it to the jobs you are applying by mixing and matching your projects to make you the best candidate. This is a little down a dirty, and can become exhausting if you are applying to lots of jobs.
Pro tip: the mixing and matching methodology also applies to your resume! But we will cover that in another blog post.
Are you looking for the right opportunity for you and being selective?
Aged wine aka the traditional route This is your standard portfolio that you put together and continue to refine over years. The work that is in here, should be the work you love to do the most. The reason being, is that this work is often the work you get hired for time and time again. This portfolio is sometimes niched to a specific aesthetic, industry, or skillset. Regardless, this is carefully crafted and can come with a “take it or leave it” mentality.
Apparently this blog post is going to be filled with food analogies because here I go again. Chocolate chip cookies! We all have a recipe that we love using (or consuming). It works, we likely have all or most of the ingredients already on-hand and we are obsessed with the end result. Curating your portfolio is similar. There are a lot of methodologies out there but you already know we like to keep it simple here at the Freelancing Freedom Collective. Just like every chocolate chip cookie recipe, we need a few essentials, a few things that are nice to have, and a few things that if left out, won’t ruin the end result.
In keeping with my word of getting your portfolio up ASAP, I’ve listed the essentials. The elements that your portfolio MUST have or the end result will, as the Gen Z kids call it, totally flop.
Your portfolio should be filled with your best and showcase your talent and versatility. Less is more, quality over quantity.
When you, or if you are currently, at the point of having an abundance of pieces to choose from. I recommend that you skew your portfolio towards the work you love doing most and want to be making in the future. Essentially, niche your portfolio to be known for doing 1-2 things really really well and worth the extra cost for.
When possible create full case studies. In a pinch you can create a quality overview that contains these three key details:
You can create the most beautiful work but if it’s not presented properly and professionally then it can ruin your portfolio. You don’t have to be a professional photographer yourself or pay one to capture quality portfolio photographs but you do need quality photography and mockups.
Do it yourself
Dedicate some time and learn a new skill! Take advantage of cheap light boxes on Amazon, your iPhone, and a YouTube tutorial. Pull inspiration photos off of Pinterest and stage your photograph the best you can. Don’t be afraid to go into Photoshop or Lightroom and tweak levels slightly and clean up the images.
Just like photography, if they’re not quality then they don’t belong in your portfolio. If you’re going to pay money try to purchase mockups that can be repurposed like MOYO scene creators.
Unless you are a website developer and are showcasing your incredible coding skills, a hosted website is totally okay! Don’t overthink this either. SquareSpace, Format, Cargo, Adobe Portfolio, and Behance are all perfect options depending on your budget and how much control over layout and design you want.
That’s a wrap! Now you have all the best framework to get started crafting your professional portfolio. Looking for more tips? Join us in the FREE freelancing workshop!