How To Build Up Your Samples for Your Freelance Portfolio Without Professional Experience
What should you do if you have no professional examples to place in your portfolio?
If you are in a situation where you don't have any professional samples to place into
your portfolio, then you obviously have a lot of work to do. You might be able to get
away with placing classroom projects into your "book", but you would have a much better
chance with "real world" samples. Below, please find suggestions on building your sample-base.
There are several ways that you can build up your portfolio:
Give Away - Offer your services for free first-time orders. Seek out small business
owners and offer your services for free. Explain that if they like your services the next
consultation will come with a fee. If the client likes your work, you might have found
yourself steady work or better yet, he might refer people to you. Remember to always finish
a project by asking the client if they know of any potential clients that you could contact.
Organizations - Volunteer your services for free to local community organizations
where you live. This is a great way to build up your portfolio. Look in your phone book
for religious, educational, social, and political organizations. Most nonprofit organizations
would be thrilled to get something for free considering their budget is probably pretty tight.
Try to negotiate into the deal that as payment you would like to have your business
name and phone number on the finished piece (and if you have a website url, this
should be printed on the finished product too). This is very fair. This might be a great
way to drum up business and get a great sample for your portfolio at the same time.
For example, if you offer your design services to a church. There are probably a dozen
small business owners in the congregation. Maybe one or two will take notice and ask about you.
Family Members - Who better to help you than people that you love and trust? On a
sheet of paper, write down all of your friends and adult family members. Do any of
them own a business? Do any of them control the hiring process with the company that
they work for? Volunteer your skills out to your friend or family member.
Make sure not to get yourself into a situation where this friend expects you always to
work for free. Explain up front that this is for free only with the first project. Again, try
to negotiate that your business name, phone number, and website url are printed
somewhere on the finished product. If your friends and family members don't have any
business for you, ask them if they know of anyone who could use your services.
First - Surely your own business could use your services so hire yourself. If you
are a designer, you can create promotional materials for your business such as business
cards, promotional brochures, letterhead, etc. If you are a writer, maybe you can write
up promotional literature for your business. Of course, I don't know what your
profession is, but try to find a way to put yourself to work.
Samples / Mockups- As a last resort, you can create fictitious examples of your work.
This could work for all professionals, but I am more familiar with this in the design
industry. Create dummy brochures, newsletters, logos, and other pieces to
demonstrate your range of skills.
If you can show a potential client with mockups that you have the talent that they
are looking for, then go for it. (For Designers) Even though this seems such a waste of
your time, you can use these documents as templates for real projects that you will
have in the future.
Things - (For Designers / Illustrators ) for special occasions you can design your own
cards. If you have a yard sale, you can design the poster. Even if a neighbor is having a
yard sale or a party, etc. ... why not ask them if you can design the cards or posters
that go along with the occasion.