How to Build a Portfolio When You Have Zero Experience

How to build a portfolio when you have no experience

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A portfolio is one of the best ways to show your design and writing expertise and will show potential clients that you have the experience and skills to handle their project. But, one of the challenges to creating a quality portfolio is gaining the experience. It’s difficult to get hired without experience, yet you can’t build experience if you’re not hired to work on any projects! So, what to do?

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Here are some simple ways to build your freelance portfolio:

  • Courses you take

There are many quality skill-building courses online. These courses often include homework assignments along with professional feedback, and you can use the completed assignments as part of your portfolio.

Course-taking also gives you the opportunity to work with experts in your craft. You can share ideas, ask questions, and learn from those more experienced in your field

Additionally, you’re able to use the class as a source of credibility for your marketing materials.

Good places to find practical courses are Udemy, LinkedIn Learning,  and Coursera.

  • Spec work

Spec work is work that you essentially do for free. The agreement between you and your client is that if they like your work, they’ll pay you for it. If they don’t like your work, they won’t pay you. So for example, if the client wants a logo designed, once you create the logo and the client decides they want it, you’ll get paid.

Spec work is one way to get around the fact that you may not have a robust portfolio just yet, because it reduces the risk for your client.

Additionally, once they’re happy with your work (and they will be because you’re going to knock their socks off!), then you can use the work in your portfolio. Also, don’t forget to add their testimonial to your website or landing pages.

Even if they don’t like the work, you can still use it in your portfolio (as long as you’re proud of the results 😊).

Don’t have a website yet? Here’s a guide to walk you through the process.

  • Volunteer work

Volunteer work is another opportunity for you to build a portfolio AND to do good at the same time. Many non-profits can benefit from the work of freelancers. They get a service for free, and you get quality samples for your portfolio.

Volunteer work is my favorite way to build a work portfolio, and I still assign certain hours a month to continue working with non-profits.

  • Blogging

Posting your articles on your own website blog is an excellent way to showcase your writing skills, and you’ll want to create posts you feel your target customer would appreciate. This way, when you reach out to your potential clients, you can reference your blog for writing samples.

Here’re some ideas for writing great samples from freelance writer Elna Cain.

As you build your client base, ask clients if you can use your best work in your portfolio. Clients are usually proud to be showcased, and it’s great exposure for them as well.

Display your work in the most professional manner!

If you have print samples, scan them onto your computer and save them as an image.

You don’t want to just link to client sales pages and content because those links can change. Save the work you’ve done as an image or a document so your prospects can see your work first hand.

Don’t give up …

The key here is to have confidence in your work, whether you’re just starting or have a portfolio full of professional samples. The more work you do, the more skilled you become, so you’ll be building valuable expertise along with establishing your portfolio.

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How to build a portfolio when you have zero experience