How to Build a Better Online Portfolio: A Guide to Becoming Obscenely Wealthy

Do you freelance, or are you an artist, Web designer, or other specialist looking for work? If you want to build your career quickly, it is invaluable to have a professional, compelling, and thorough online portfolio. The best thing about a portfolio is that it’s an online marketing tool that will send people to you rather than you having to go and seek out the work yourself – that means that you can be lazy. So first, envision yourself in a lazy and inactive future in which buckets of money are washing over you (I provide this service, Donald Trump). OK, you’re mentally prepared. Now, let’s manifest.

Think from the client’s perspective.

Remember first and foremost what a portfolio is. It’s a way for you to sell yourself. The most important part of professional, ethical salesmanship is thinking from the customer’s perspective. So, what can you show a client to convince them you’re an expert in your field who does quality work (no mug-shots)?


Your site may be confusing to different audiences. Is your website primarily intended for potential clients or for a broad audience (because you’re trying to bring in general traffic)? Unlike Charlie Sheen, you can’t always have it both ways.

Consider placing a button or at least a tab on the site that points people directly to a page where people can pay you upfront for your freelance services or at least get in contact for the same. Don’t make it hard for someone who is intrigued and might want to give you some money (remember those ocean waves).

Also, have a page containing only your work – a stripped down portfolio of sample content with no bells and no more than two whistles.

What Are You All About?

Do you have a section on a site that talks about you and gives a bio and sense of who you are? Does the About page state your qualifications and credentials? It should. That page will serve as a resume for some of the (perhaps) most important site visitors. Don’t draw it in crayon (and this is coming from a guy who’s made that mistake). Include quotes from folks who have glowing reports on your work – or at the very least, be personal (mention your family, inoffensive organizations you’re in, etc.).

Give the E-World Your Digits.

Provide your contact details in various places – About page, Portfolio, Footer. Wallpapering the site with links to your email address may be going too far, but stop just shy of that. Why not a Contact section of the site that’s only that too. Easiness is crucial to avoid annoying someone who immediately wants your details and doesn’t want any more of your verbal, pictorial, or digital shenanigans.

Your Portfolio Needs Focus.

As Steve Jobs once said, “focus is about saying no.” Say no to including anything in your portfolio that does not have to do with getting you work. The portfolio shouldn’t just be “stuff you’ve done.” Make it clear and concise. Looking for two sorts of jobs? Two portfolios. 76 sorts of jobs? 76 portfolios. Don’t ever look for more than 76 sorts of jobs at one time.

Engage People – Re-Hash Amazing Storylines.

Let clients know what your work has done in the past. If you had a great response on social media to something, the client needs to know that. They don’t know how to do Web design. They don’t know how to write. They know how to feel happy they’re interacting with someone who’s made things happen.


There you go, ma’am (sir?). You have the nuts and bolts in your hand. Uncle TJ is at the hardware store and he’ll be back soon with the 2-by-4′s. Now go out there and make that portfolio tree house.

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