How to build your freelance portfolio website (10 step guide)

7

Min Read

Rana Tarakji

One of the biggest challenges for freelancers is marketing their services (getting other people to know about them), signing contract templates with good clients, or finding great prospects worthy of drafting scope of work templates or quote templates. Gone are the times when you might use the yellow pages and classified ads to advertise your services. In today’s tech-driven era, people often turn to online directories and Google when looking for a service or product.

As a freelancer, this trend to search online provides you with a great opportunity to market your services using a freelance portfolio website, and allows you to go toe-to-toe with the big businesses.

If you are a freelancer with your own business website, you can easily present yourself and your services in a professional manner without the need for a physical office. Your own freelance business website helps to establish your authority and expertise in your field and gives your target clients a way to easily and quickly get more information about you and what you can do for them.

If you don’t have one yet, check out our 10 tips to help you get started (and this guide on how to build a website from scratch).

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1. Look for a good hosting server

Depending on your expected traffic volume, your hosting server must be capable and sufficient for your needs. Look for a hosting company that offers almost zero downtime, powerful mainframes, and state-of-the-art software, as well as premium support and 24/7 helplines. This will help your own business website function round-the-clock without errors or bad gateway problems.

2. Create a user-friendly UI

Your website’s user interface must communicate to your visitors very well. Navigational buttons must be placed comfortably, menu items must be clear and free from industry jargon, and your visitor should not feel like they’re in some sort of mystery treasure hunt on your website. Use the proper backgrounds that can ensure readable text and other elements. Avoid fancy fonts and opt for easy-to-read ones.

3. Choose a familiar platform

There are a lot of website platforms or builders such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, but the most popular of all is undeniably WordPress. Whatever website builder you end up choosing for your freelance portfolio website, make sure you are familiar with it and you can capitalize on the platform’s strengths at your advantage. Do proper research and do not hesitate to ask other freelancers for recommendations.

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4. Get inspiration

If you have no idea of the kind of website you want, get inspiration by browsing online and looking at other freelance business website examples. Take note of various styles and elements such as layouts, fonts, colors, and navigation. Look at as many websites as you can and list down any specific things or elements that you like. Check out the various themes offered by your chosen website platform and play around in your mind with how you want your own website to look like.

5. Brand yourself and apply it to your own website

Branding is a way you can distinguish yourself from other freelancers who offer the same service. Choose your brand colors and design your logo, then make sure to apply it to your own website design (a branding questionnaire can ease the process). If brand design is not your forte, feel free to get help from other freelancers who offer these services.

Keep this branding consistent throughout your website and everywhere else. If you have a social media account for your freelancer services, apply it there as well. Do the same for any document that comes from you such as your web design invoices, downloadable resources, freelance contract, freelance proposals, and the like. Creating these documents with your branding is easy with Bonsai’s suite of freelancer tools.

6. Put your complete information

Your freelance portfolio website is all about you as a freelancer and the services you can provide your potential clients. Make it easy for your website visitors to access all the information relevant to you and your services.

Details such as what services you provide, how to get in touch with you, the process of hiring you, your working style, and the prices of your services (if available). You can even allow your visitors to download a copy of your resume outlining your freelance work. Think of all the questions that potential clients ask you and make it easy for your website visitors to get answers by putting up a Frequently Asked Questions page.

7. Show – and tell

Do not make your website visitors guess when it comes to what you can do and the quality you can provide. Include a freelance portfolio of your previous work on your own website, such as samples of your writing, design, or freelance translations. Present it with the use of images and videos, if applicable, then remember to include descriptions of what you did for each project or freelance client.

If you can also include a testimonial from a client, that's even better. Do not worry if you only have a few projects to showcase; even a single great project that is presented well can win you more projects to work on.

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8. Give away a freebie

Whether it is a helpful how-to PDF file or free extra service to clients, having a freebie on your own freelance portfolio website will be appreciated by your website visitors. Do not think of this as ‘working for free’ because freelancers should not make the mistake of working for free for the sake of gaining clients.

Think of your freebie as a way to showcase your expertise and a sample of what you can do for your clients and keep it that way. Not all who claim any free resource you offer will sign up to be your client, but they will appreciate it and some of them may refer someone else who needs your services. Any freebie you offer will simply serve as a gesture of goodwill and even if these do not provide you with any immediate rewards, you will be planting the seeds of goodwill.

9. Optimize your website for search engines

Having a website that is not optimized for search engines is like having a billboard placed along a deserted street and can only be seen by a handful few. Make sure your online presence can be seen by search engines so that your website will come up on search results pages.

Read up on search engine optimization and use what you learn when you build your freelance portfolio website. Decide on your target keywords and use them throughout your website.

If you offer local services, then it will be helpful to observe local SEO best practices such as embedding a Google Map that pins your location, claiming your business in Google My Business, and using your location name in your content. Most website platforms also offer plugins or extensions that help you optimize your website for search engines.  Do not be afraid to install one (after adequate research) and use it to help manage your on-going website SEO.

10. Build for various devices and test

Your website visitors will not all be viewing your website on a computer using the same browser. In this tech-driven times, a lot of people access the internet often from their mobile devices. Make sure your website is compatible and view-able on various devices and screens such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and desktops. Do not forget to test by viewing your website using each of these devices and from different browsers.

Final thoughts

Having your own website can provide your freelancing services with a huge boost. With the right tools and help, you can have your website and your freelance service front and center of your potential clients’ views, ready to highlight when you send cold emails for jobs. With the tips listed above, you are on your way to growing your freelance services and gaining more clients.

Focus on your freelance portfolio website and let Bonsai do the rest - sign up for a free trial and get access to a suite of freelance tools that will make your life easy and seamless, from creating proposals, to drafting contracts, to tracking time, and to billing clients.

Rana Tarakji
Originally from the U.S., Rana Tarakji is the founder of One SEO (a multinational link building agency), author of "Off-site SEO guide: A Hands-On SEO Tutorial For Beginners & Dummies", and a web content specialist who now lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon. Rana's work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including Life Hacker, Upwork, Christian Today, Newswire, and many other outlets.

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