Having a design portfolio is a fundamental basis for any designer who wants to get new clients, show their work and case histories, to be noticed both online and offline and get new projects to work on.
Having a design portfolio is useful for both a freelancer and an agency. It doesn’t matter in which area you apply your design know-how: whether you are a logo designer or motion designer, having a design portfolio and knowing how to build a design portfolio is a must.
In this article I’ll explain how you can create your own designer portfolio right away, have a clear idea of what to include and be proud of your work and ready to find new clients (who will pay you even more).
Let's get started!
Table of Contents
1. Show only your best projects
Many designers or new aspiring designers tend to make this common mistake: to put all their projects into portfolios. In reality, this is unnecessary and sometimes even counterproductive.
In your portfolio you have to include only your best projects, the ones you are most proud of, the ones that for you are the best projects you have done in your career (until now).
The quality of individual projects is important to a client’s eyes. You need to make sure that the potential client visiting your design portfolio identifies with one of your already completed projects so that you have an overview of what you can do for them.
Always remember that you have to give as much value as possible to each client you work with, so it is good to show in your design portfolio only the best work, the most successful, positive feedback and customer satisfaction.
Insert complete Case Studies
Another important point: don’t just include the final result of your design, include the complete case study, add the details of what you have produced.
To make a good case history, you can take the brief you wrote before working with the client and include what the goals were to be achieved, the target audience, the client’s requests and all the other details of the company you produced that particular design for.
You can also insert in your “case history” a series of mockups of the final product, a series of photos of the work in progress, so the potential new client can have a taste of the backstage of all the work that will be done with you.
Finally, you should also add the results that the client has obtained thanks to your work, such as for example:
- What impact has your work had on the client’s brand?
- How many new contacts or followers have you achieved through your marketing or design work?
- How many people have purchased from your client after your work (in relation to the average purchases of before)
- How did you achieve such results?
I think it’s very important not to put everything you’ve done into your career, because it can be counterproductive. If you want your portfolio to be of quality, you don’t want to put in 50 or even 100 jobs that you have produced.
2. Insert between 4 and 8 projects
Another mistake you can easily get into is entering too many projects. When you’ve selected the best ones, try to keep a limited number of designs to include in your porfolio.
A good piece of advice to get you started is to enter a number of projects ranging from 4 to 8 at most, because that way you can make an optimal selection and you won’t risk adding extra things.
This will help you because you will be able to focus better on presenting certain projects, so you won’t have to spend hours and hours constantly publishing hundreds of works, but you will be able to develop a portfolio that revolves around your best work.
Select the ones you’re most proud of, implement real case studies and show your potential clients and visitors what you’re capable of.
Focus on a niche
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of talk about choosing a niche. Well, it is also important for your portfolio to select a niche and be consistent.
This doesn’t mean that if you do branding, you only have to enter branding. If you have also created a website, you can include it (if you think it’s a great job!).
But it is important that a client understands your strengths, your range of services that you can offer. If you don’t really feel comfortable building a top-quality website, then it’s best (at least for now) to focus on branding your portfolio and leave design work aside.
Of course, if you can create a complete branding package plus web design for a client, all the better! It means that within your portfolio you can insert a section dedicated to this particular client, for whom you have created a 360° Brand.
3. Remember to include a clear call to action
Your portfolio has as its ultimate goal the acquisition of new customers, so it is a marketing tool in every respect. And like any good marketing tool, it must have a clear call to action from the user visiting your site.
For this reason it’s good that you insert in the portfolio a contact form where the user can leave a message to get more information about you and your business.
Creating a call to action is clearly a focal point of your portfolio because you have the opportunity to get in direct contact with your client.
Use a tool to simplify your job
The process of building a great call to action, collect contact and other technical things can be complex, but there are many online tools that can do the job for you. In this case I want to recommend a tool that I myself use and that is very important to me: I’m talking about LeadPages.
The strength of LeadPages lies in its ability to optimize landing pages for conversion. This means that you will have a lot of help in creating your own landing page for the collection of contacts and potential customers.
LeadPages has a lot of features that you won’t be able to do without that will help you grow your mailing list, get more customers and, as a result, more revenue.
4. Add your information
A client also wants to know who you are, what you do, where you live and, above all, why he should choose you. For this reason it is important to enter all their data and a story, a text with a certain emphasis that can motivate the potential customer to contact you.
You can start with a big catchphrase at the beginning of the portfolio, for example a nice headline at the beginning of the web page, to create a relationship between you and the potential client right away.
The importance of copy in your design portfolio
One important thing I want to dwell on is this: don’t just talk about yourself, talk about what you could give your client in terms of value.
What does that mean? It means that you don’t just write “I’m a graphic designer”, “I’m a branding expert”, “I’ve worked for this Brand and that Brand”, and things like that.
In a portfolio it is important to talk to the potential client, writing what you can offer him, what benefits he can get by working with you, how you can improve his or her business with your services.
Do not dwell, therefore, in listing your skills and competences, but talk directly to the client and explain why they choose you.
5. Include your Curriculum in PDF format
I think it is always important to attach a CV of your work experience and studies to your portfolio so that you can inform the client of your background.
If you studied design at an academy, it is good to let them know, because you could have much more potential for success in the acquisition of the client, as well as if you had some experience in an agency or with some recognized brand, it always makes a good effect in the eyes of those who want to hire you for a new job.
You can implement your resume on the website with a downloadable PDF file, or you can create a page on your portfolio website with all the details (a sort of online resume). I suggest you to use all your creativity also to design a resume that is visually attractive.
6. Bonus Tip: Invent your own projects
We are not always full of commissions for new projects and that’s why some designers and especially those who approach this world for the first time, struggle to find projects and clients with whom to develop works to be included in the portfolio.
I suggest you start by developing personal projects! You will have the opportunity, in this way, to dabble in designs that you like, since you decide what to do and write your brief for the project.
- Enter only the projects that you are most proud of or that have obtained the best feedbacks.
- Enter a limited number of jobs (preferably between 4 and 8) and implement complete case studies.
Remember to always include a call to action in your portfolio to get in touch with your potential customers.
- Add your information but remember to talk to the visitor, don’t get lost in the car celebrations.
- Include your resume in PDF or create a section dedicated to your resume on the site.
- Don’t be afraid, train yourself and improve your portfolio by inventing your own projects!
Now you’re ready to build your design portfolio. I’m really glad you’ve made it this far, because that means you’re really interested in improving yourself and achieving the success you deserve.
We just need to stay in touch about the comments below or on Instagram, so you can show me what you’re making!