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How to Build Your Sample Portfolio

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People want to see results. Building up a sample portfolio can help you close deals without as much discussion if you can produce the results they need. Getting clients doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. You need to show that you’re capable of delivering. It all sounds easy enough, but you may be stumped on how to get high quality samples. Here are some steps to take:

Create Samples for Your Own Business

When starting out, you may not have samples of work you’ve done for other people. Don’t let this get you down. Create samples using your own business. If you’re a web designer, create an awesome website. If you’re a social media manager, create an engaging social media strategy.

Seeing samples of what you do for your own business can attract prospects. It’s not the quantity of samples that you have from random people, it’s the quality. Impress prospective clients with what you’ve done for yourself and they may be inclined to work with you.

Do Minimal Favors

I’ve down work for free and it’s turned into great opportunities. I’ve also done work for free and it was a complete waste of time. If you plan to do free work for samples, you need to be invested in the vision of whatever you’re doing and you need to believe without a doubt that it’s going to result in a testimonial or sample that will hold weight. Otherwise, it may not be worth the effort.

It can be scary but you should make the leap straight to paid work as soon as you can. Too much free work in exchange for samples, testimonials, or “exposure” cheapens your brand and product. It also messes with your mindset. You’re setting yourself up to believe that your work isn’t worth money.

Create a Portfolio Page

After working with a few clients and doing some good work, it’s time to compile that work into a place where you keep your samples. For content creators, a site like Contently can help you do this. On this site, you can add different projects you’ve worked on by uploading client websites. Your work is then all organized into one page that you can send out to prospective clients.

Another option is creating a page on your site that has links to your samples or images of your samples. Images are good for graphic designers or web designers specifically. If you do launch a website for someone, they could make changes over the years. This way you have imagery of what you created. Be sure to update your sample pages frequently so you don’t miss the chance to show off the great work that you’ve done.

Grow Slowly and Methodically

Putting together a portfolio that you’re proud of happens with intention. Take on work that you’re proud to show off. You’ll be paid for your time and you’ll get another project to show off in your portfolio. It can take several months and years for freelancers, consultants, or agencies to grow their portfolio so remember it’s not a race. Fill your portfolio with quality over quantity.

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Personal Finance Writer
Taylor K. Gordon is a personal finance writer and founder of Tay Talks Money, a personal finance and productivity blog on hacking your way to a happier savings account. Taylor has contributed to MagnifyMoney, The Huffington Post, GoGirl Finance, Madame Noire, and The Write Life.

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