How do I put together my freelance portfolio?

I’ve been asked several questions about building a portfolio as a new freelancer, from several different students this week so I’m compiling these into one:

“What tools you would recommend for putting a portfolio together online with no web design skills?”

Don’t make the mistake  I did; Your portfolio doesn’t need to be every project you’ve ever done.
Your portfolio only needs to show what’s possible.
Your portfolio should be only your very best work.

Save your time for prospecting by focusing on a few high-quality case studies, rather than quantity.

Remember your portfolio is a sales tool;
You should have multiple portfolios tailored to the niche, the service or the type of client you’re speaking to.

Your clients don’t care about how good the design is, they care about the result.
So make sure to talk more about the results of your work ie

  • business growth
  • more leads
  • time saved
  • etc.

If you can attach numbers to this, even better. But don’t be afraid to include non-tangibles like less stress, confidence pitching their business etc.

Testimonials are almost more important than portfolios. Often clients won’t even ask to see examples of my work.
So reach out to old clients for a testimonial. You’ll have to ask more than once usually. Folks are busy.

The best time to do this is just after the high point: when you’ve just delivered the results.

“How do I build a design portfolio if I don’t have any clients yet?”

Your freelance portfolio doesn’t have to be real work, it just has to showcase your skills.

You can include passion projects, or you could use something like to create a fake brief for yourself.
I believe the best work happens when you have some real-world constraints set, plus your passion projects will often be even better than your real world work.

“What tools or apps should I use to present my freelance portfolio?”

“What tools or software do you use for your portfolio?”

You could create a Google drive with examples, or create multiple PDFs tailored to each niche you work in.

Personally I’m not a fan of super polished professional promos.

People spend so long on making highly polished videos that they forget to deliver a sales pitch.

A rough-and-ready Loom usually gets the benefit across much better.

I prefer to do a quick, casually recorded Looms for each niche I serve,
a recorded Loom has the added benefit of giving the prospect more face time with me for building rappor and familiarity.

Here’s a structure;

  • introduce myself
  • establish rappor
  • talk about my offer
  • show results
  • end with a CTA

Here’s some examples of stuff I send clients:

Brand design

Lead generation websites



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Nicholas Robb

Founder, Design Hero
Author of Life by Design

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