Regardless of whether you’re a dedicated writer or a self-taught graphic designer, your passion to create is apparent and your decision to freelance is admirable. After endless nights of researching how to land your first client and reading tips on how to do so, you’re finally ready to take a chance on yourself.
Aside from your talent and drive, you’re now looking for an online tool to showcase your work. Squarespace, a website building and hosting platform, is the best option when it comes to developing a portfolio that’s both comprehensive and personal. While you might not know what you want your portfolio to look like, Squarespace offers beautiful templates and user-friendly features that will help highlight your work and reflect your brand.
Along with using the coupon code “EVERYGIRL18” for 10% off your first Squarespace purchase, here’s how to create a freelance portfolio when you’re just starting out.
1. Choose the right template
Life is about options, and no platform knows this like Squarespace. With pages of templates (and eight new ones added so far in 2018), you can scroll through different setups to find your perfect one. No worries if you’re not sure where to start, the templates are organized by categories and all optimized for mobile view.
While there’s nothing wrong with using a photography template as a freelance advertiser, remember to decide on a theme for your portfolio and use photos that keep your site cohesive. Squarespace makes it easy to put together a portfolio that’s as professional as it is personable.
If you’re in business… we suggest Harris.
- Allows multiple introduction areas
- Clickable banners or grid thumbnails
- Multiple navigation options
If you’re in photography or graphic design… we suggest Momentum.
- Offers a slideshow for large images
- Choice to place navigation bar at top or bottom of page
- Replaceable site background with an image
If you’re in writing… we suggest Native.
- Site description available in the header
- Round thumbnail images and location offered above blog posts
2. Show examples of your work
The main purpose of a portfolio is to present your work in a manner that’s both understandable and unique. Despite the fact that you might be new to the world of freelance, there’s a reason why you’re pursuing this path — and it’s because you’ve had experiences that led you to believe you can succeed on it.
Maybe it’s the fact that your thesis was recognized by your grad school or the reality that your forte is growing social media accounts. Nonetheless, compile the projects you’ve worked on. If you have a lot of examples, choose the ones that best represent the type of audience you’re wishing to work for. And if you don’t have as many, create more by making practice projects.
In general, there’s no need to dwell on whether your template will have the ability to list your work the way you want it to — because every Squarespace template allows you to display your photos, illustrations, articles, and designs in three original ways. You can easily swap between the options to see which is best for your work.
For freelancers in business:
- Invest in a memorable logo
- Choose the slideshow feature for high-resolution photos
- Use single scrolling index pages for photos with text
“I always made sure my portfolio and personal blog were easy to navigate, and that anyone who came to either site knew who I was and what I did. Your “services” should be very, very clear. Update your site with new work regularly and share those updates across your social accounts. And don’t forget to make sure your contact page is easy to find so potential clients know how to get in touch with you. In regards to getting clients, I never put ad dollars into a marketing plan. Instead, I opted to offer my services to clients with a large following in exchange for promotion. Investing my time felt worth it for me, and it almost always paid off. One redesign got me 22 new clients in less than 24 hours.” – Danielle Moss, Freelance Online Marketing
For freelancers in photography and graphic design:
- Use gallery blocks to group various photos as quick snippets of your work
- Display large photos in gallery pages (best used to view photoshoots)
- Choose index pages for photos with high resolution best
“I’m constantly updating my portfolio (no shame), so I have a Squarespace cover page that I utilize all. the. time. when I need to make broad changes to my site — just a simple one-pager with my contact information. Remember that having a portfolio is a must, but don’t be afraid to share about your work on your social accounts — I use my personal Instagram as a mini-portfolio of sorts, which can help future clients connect with you on a more personal level, and be driven to want to work with you. Connect your socials to your portfolio for easy cross-promotion.” – Kelly Etz, Freelance Graphic Designer
For freelancers in writing:
- Use different headlines to format your articles
- Choose a grid feature to show short form work (such as poems)
- Link your media publications and formally cite your print publications
- Optional: format images with your articles if you don’t want to simply list your work
“Make your portfolio easy to digest — showcase some of you work, not all of it, but your diversity in terms of what you provide. Get referrals from a variety of people to speak to your different skills. Remember to update it every few months and provide a personal touch; people like to know who they are potentially connecting with, whether that be a casual bio, a photo, or link your social accounts.” – Chelsea Becker, Freelance Writer
3. Write an engaging bio
By creating a new page in your Squarespace navigation bar and adding a text block to it, you can put together a relatable “About Me” section. This feature is especially helpful for people who are starting out with little experience. After all, your best assets aren’t just your skills — but the personality that comes with them.
Along with the usual introduction, make an effort to highlight who you are as a person and what you can do (for clients) as a professional. From summarizing the story of your career to explaining the reason behind your love for yoga, this page will help people discover what your passions are at heart — and decide whether they’re a good fit for the job at hand.
Once you’re done curating your personal summary, clean up the format by using Squarespace’s extensive text block. With numerous heading options and the chance to number or bullet, the little gesture of bolding certain words and creating specific lists is what will make the big difference.
- State where you’re located
- Put a call to action at the end of your summary
- Specify what your line of work is (for example: a lifestyle writer, a wedding photographer, a web developer, etc.)
- Let your tone be casual and warm — overall, be yourself!
- Aim for 2-3 paragraphs
4. Offer an easy-to-find contact page
Clients won’t be able to work with you if they literally can’t find a way to reach you. To avoid this unfortunate mishap, create a contact page that’s clear, and place it in an area on your website that’s obvious. While the navigation bar is your best option, make sure to not overwhelm it with more than 5-6 links.
Luckily for us, Squarespace provides many ways to build a contact page — you can either structure one on your own through a blank layout or choose one out of three ready-made designs. In addition to putting content on your contact form, you’re also able to insert a map of your location and your personal information to be reached quicker. By utilizing a cohesive contact form, you’ll increase your list of clients and your credibility to meet their standards.
5. Display your resume
Although your portfolio can be seen as an elevated version of your resume, it’s always smart to put in the extra effort to add your formal resume to it. Due to the adaptable platform of Squarespace, you can provide a link to your resume on an original page in your navigation bar or create a separate page specifically for it.
6. Optimize the visibility of your site for search engines
While it’s your responsibility to share your portfolio to clients, Squarespace offers the opportunity to help your site be found. As a general tip to keep in mind, search engines prioritize site titles, page titles, and headings. Thus, the ability to create headlines with keywords in Squarespace increases the functionality of your page in regards to it being searched online. Through adding alt text (text with an image that provides SEO boost) and categories/tags, you’ll also help search engines identify your content for the audience that’s looking for it.
In addition to increasing viewers to your website, Squarespace offers an analytics feature that gives you details such as how visitors are coming across your portfolio, what pages visitors are looking at, and their geographic location. Therefore, you’ll not only know how to manage your portfolio better, but can use Squarespace to maximize the chances of it being seen.
Don’t forget to use the coupon code “EVERYGIRL18” for 10% off your first Squarespace purchase!
This post was in partnership with Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.