How to create an impressive portfolio to win the right clients

How to create an impressive portfolio to win the right clients
If your work is great, let the world know it! Go beyond the visuals - learn the 10 ways to create an impressive portfolio online, to win the right clients.

In any business, the first thing your customers and prospects will want to see is details about your work! 

And the best way to showcase that is your Portfolio! More so, if your work is virtual and you have limited (or no) personal interactions.

What is an online portfolio?

Your portfolio is a collection of your best work, presented in different visual and media formats, that you can share on your website, social media or via email & text. 

It is the ultimate proof of the quality and breadth of your output; even a snapshot of your expertise. 

For most business owners, a portfolio means posting pictures of your products or services. But in reality, it goes well beyond that. A well crafted digital portfolio can be a marketing tool that impacts conversions instantly!

Whether yours is a creative business, a product line, or even a behind-the-scenes service, it is possible – and necessary – to have one, irrespective of the type of your business.

Read the ways to create an impressive portfolio to market your service business!

Share images of products and services

If you create physical products, this is super easy. But even an e-commerce business should have featured products either on the Shop page or listed separately.

Similarly, if yours is a visual service like Graphic Design or Content Creation, you can share a lot of images of graphics, feature images, Pins etc. They should be attractive images, yes, but choose different styles or sensibilities to show that your work is not one dimensional. 

You can use a composite or a grouping of images and use unique pictures as a standalone.

Here are some ways to make your images stand out even more:

Add a few details or a description – it makes more sense to the user. Plus, that way, you are not only showcasing your creativity in your design work, but also your ability to take the customer’s vision and delivering a real product based on that.

Here’s an example of an image title that also serves as a quick outline.

Pinterest images for a wellness blog for busy, millennial women.

Here is a great way to share your body of work if you are a Virtual Professional.

Maroon Oak Member Salma Sheriff’s online Portfolio connects her work to the packages she offers, giving prospective clients a great idea on what to expect. There are also links to the clients’ websites so you can see the results.

Connect with Salma on Maroon Oak

How to create an impressive portfolio - Member Salma Sheriff

Check out other businesses’ or create your own FREE profile.

How to showcase your portfolio online, if you don’t have fancy images or a catalog? 

How can you create a portfolio, if your expertise is in the intangibles? Maybe you are a Personal Coach or a Productivity Pro, a VA with strong skill-sets in General Administration. 

For a service business with little visual output, the challenge is more real. But not insurmountable. 

The good news is, process counts. A good portfolio should incorporate your personality and explain or demonstrate the methodology of how you process problems.

Explore these simple and smart ways to showcase your work in different ways.

Include all Web links

Link to websites for your best work for different clients, especially if you do freelance work. This is particularly important when creating your online writing portfolio.

If you have written blog posts, web or social media copy, post the weblinks with clever anchor text. You can even add profiles, news pieces or essays.

Link to your own blog page too, apart from your external and guest posts. A large number of writers do not have a full repository of their work at one place, which is a huge oversight. If you have specific functional skills, mention or link to your certifications too. Hayley Walden shows off her myriad writing work on her portfolio page, including site copy, editing work, blog posts, podcast appearances etc. as well as her past and current clients.

If you have created Digital products, post links for those too.

Add audio clips

Podcasters or professional speakers can add short snippets of their voice work. If you sell, produce or edit audio content like webinars or podcasts, post before and after clips. Add a para or two on how seamlessly you connected 2 separate pieces of audio, or how you fixed a glitchy piece. You can also show your familiarity with apps e.g. edited with Logic Pro or created on Audacity.

More ways to sell and grow leads!

Embed a video or several

A video portfolio also works in 2 ways.

If you are the one presenting or speaking, place it for the audience to have an instant preview. Most websites allow YouTube and Vimeo embeds, so that’s easy. Ideally, create a montage of different speaking events, so your audience know that you are not a one shot deal.

If you are creating videos for clients, share clips and the backstory. Video creation takes a lot of work, so market your skills in storyboarding, editing, adding voiceovers and lots more. Mix in storyboard images to show off your attention to details.

Here’s an example from a very popular video from Maroon Oak. Read the creative outline that was used to tell the story. You can use this format as a template and share along with your videos.

Title: Moms have fancy jobs!

Purpose: Heartwarming message for Mother’s Day

Audience: Working Moms (Mompreneurs, freelancers, career moms of all ages)

Message: Moms do a lot more that’s not formally recognized

Tone: Fun, upbeat, humorous

Brand presence: Subtle. Maroon Oak colors and final sign off

Share the video & the backstory!

Showoff Prototypes or models

You can use this very successfully if yours is a tech business (also known as a wireframe). Or if you are doing the creative end of a web or app design. A wireframe or mock-up journey showcases your ability to see the big picture and refine it to the nitty-gritty ones. Wireframes can be hand drawn, shown as simple content blocks or be detailed and even interactive, as seen in these examples.

For digital marketers and content creators, layouts and templates also fall in this category.

Mix it up with interactive templates!

Content that wins Venn diagram_by Maroon Oak

Include Product Demos

If  you offer a tech based service, a live Demo link can be very helpful for your clients. This would enable them to actually navigate a dummy website as though they were the users working with the finished product. If you can’t create a demo site, show off screenshots or a simple user friendly video to show the solutions you can create.

Create case study pages

For a service business like Coaching, there is limited scope for sharing any kind of visuals or media so sharing an outline of the services provided can be very insightful. Instead of just a bullet point of services provided, a case study is in a storytelling format and hence more interesting.

Talk about how your actions affected overall direction of project, examples of social strategy, campaigns etc. Another way to do this is through a blog post. Elaborate methodology and difficulty faced and conquered with a blog post – and nab two birds with one stone, portfolio and content.

Check out this detailed case study from Facebook. Another example is Annie Maguire’s portfolio on how a copywriter delivers results in a case study format. These are great when you want to dedicate an entire page on a client or case.

Share an Overview Case Study

And here are 2 examples showing that you can even demonstrate an overview of case studies in a few sentences, especially if you want to share several cases on a single page.

Shelby G was struggling to take her VA business beyond the handful of repeat clients. I (or company name) helped her identify new business channels to increase her outreach, as well as use email to generate a steady stream of prospects to nurture and convert.

XYZ client in the retail industry has an awesome product for babies and wanted to reach more moms online. I designed an FB ads campaign with the client’s goals and budget. This included 4 ads with A/B testing; and we defined custom audiences by location and interest to maximize reach. Was able to generate 3X the leads compared to previous campaigns, with a much lower cost per lead generation.

(Note: In the above example, the term A/B testing is hyperlinked to help the reader understand it better).

Show a process flow

Similarly, if your expertise is in general administration or productivity improvements, simple illustrations of process flows not only makes is easy for prospects to understand in tangible terms, it also showcases your ability to put things in easy ways. This way, they will be more convinced of your ability to provide a significant benefit.

You can easily use Powerpoint or Keynote to create good looking process flows. 

Marketing on social media

Don’t stop at your website – your awesomeness needs to be shared in more places too.

  • Include a link to your portfolio on your Facebook Page in the About section, that allows you to post custom links.
  • Similarly, you can add it to your Instagram bio link or use an app like Linktree that allows you to share a link with 4 visible sub-links.
  • Include a link to your portfolio on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Create a PDF version. Once you have outlined your portfolio online, it is simple to share the PDF (or image) version and use it in your emails, send via text or Whatsapp. Here is an example of a comprehensive PDF Portfolio.
  • If you have an online Media Kit, include a link to your Portfolio too.
  • Don’t have a website yet? You could do a portfolio album on your Facebook or Instagram with a video or a slideshow.
Conclusion

As competition increases and and skills become hard to distinguish, we all need to find ways to stand out. And showing off your work is one of the best ways to do it. Start right away and create a Portfolio that not only impresses but also becomes a statement for all that you bring to your work. 

How will you wow your prospects and clients?

Common Questions on Online Portfolios

How many ways can I create an Online Portfolio?

You can use multiple ways including images, videos, audio snippets, wireframes, case studies, demo websites, PDFs and more. Go with the mode that showcases your business best!

How can I create a Virtual Professional portfolio?

Depending on your nature of work, you can show examples of content that you created. Or show your result in numbers, like time or costs saved. Process flows and case studies are great for this.

What if I can’t share client details in my Portfolio?

You can hide or change names to protect client info. Another option is creating dummy videos, websites or mock ups. The goal is to show your expertise through a finished product.

Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Business Mentor and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years. 

She’s  a co-founder at Maroon Oak, and is founded Win Thinks, where she writes, speaks and teaches about Digital Media, Brand Building and Future Ready Businesses. A day trader for over a decade, Pooja launched Trading Paces to educate amateur and pro stock traders. As a classroom mentor, Pooja loves teaching students across the U.S. about job skills and entrepreneurship. Read about her on Huffington Post and Forbes.

A trivia buff and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, she’s discovering the pleasure of drawing Zentangle patterns for ‘creative mindfulness.’

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11 Comments
  1. kumamonjeng 4 weeks ago

    Having a video clip is very powerful I am sure. Right now I am trying to include them in my portfolio but I still need time to make my video looks more impressive.

  2. Kiwi 1 month ago

    An online portfolio is super important! Its a great way to collect all of your work and showcase it online.

  3. Elizabeth O 1 month ago

    I really enjoyed reading your post.. It’s very informative. I learned a lot.

  4. mudpiefridays 1 month ago

    Great article. This is a topic I know I need to learn more about and you really helped me understand some good ways. Thank you.

  5. Joanna 1 month ago

    My portfolio is my media kit, which I send to potential clients when I get inquiries about my work. I never through of embedding videos in it, I think that is a great idea and gives so much more personality to the document.

  6. Olya AMANOVA 1 month ago

    Success is determined in many ways by presentation. Quality content should be wrapped in quality visual and catchy platform. Very useful read in this respect.

  7. Indu 3 months ago

    Useful info on how to create an impressive profile. Enjoyed reading your article thoroughly.

  8. Catherine 3 months ago

    Great tips and informative post on building up your brand. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Norma 3 months ago

    You have such good ideas on creating impressive portfolios. I will definitely try out some of your hacks tips and advice thanks for sharing.

  10. Diana 3 months ago

    I definitely need to work on my online portfolio. I love all the advice about adding links and even video to an online portfolio. This will help anyone stand out!

  11. Chad 3 months ago

    I need to work on my online portfolio asap! Thank you so much for sharing all these tips, these are amazing…I have a lot to do…Super exciting.

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