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The Secret To Building A Rockstar Freelancer Portfolio

Hey Freelancer! Today’s episode covers a critical topic, your portfolio! There are five sections a portfolio needs to have to make it stand out from the crowd and showcase your talent. Having a portfolio is essential to any freelancing, virtual assistant, or work-from-home career, especially for copywriters.

If you are new to copywriting and you're adding this as a signature service to your VA or freelancer business, this episode will help you create a portfolio from scratch in no time, even without a ton of experience.

In today’s episode you’ll learn:

  • The five sections you should include in your portfolio
  • Different types of platforms to use to create and present your portfolio
  • Two hacks that will make your portfolio stand out every time
  • Where to put your portfolio and how/when to use it 

Resources From Today's Show:

Join my Facebook Community for more marketing, messaging, and copywriting strategies to grow your business, or up-level as a Freelancer, VA, OBM, or DOO with weekly training on adding these skills to your services https://www.facebook.com/groups/theschoolofcopyandmessagingcommunity

Download my free guide for The Five Essentials For A Successful Website www.amberglus.com/website

Connect with me www.amberglus.com

Follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/amberglus/

Flipsnack for creating an online magazine out of your pdf portfolio: https://www.flipsnack.com/


Full Audio Transcription of this Podcast Episode:

Amber (00:01):

Hey, Hey freelancer. Thanks for joining me today on the show. Today's topic is portfolios. This is a great topic for anybody out there who is building a freelancer business, regardless of what your business is. Now, we're mostly going to talk about it today, as you can imagine in the form of copywriting and content marketing, but this episode is going to be helpful to you, even if that's not your signature service, because we're going to talk about some of the things that need to be in your portfolio to make it a rock star portfolio, and really make it a portfolio that stands out. We're going to talk today about the ins and outs of what to put in your portfolio, how to build your portfolio. Where do you put your portfolio when it's built and how do you share it with people once it is built, and then what do you need to do to maintain it? Moving forward through your career? Your portfolio is something that's going to grow with you in your career, and that should change and grow based on your business and what you've done in your business and grown in your business. So grab that laptop or pen friends, let's talk all things portfolio today. It's copied.

Amber (01:09):

Hey there, freelancer, did you start your freelancing business, wanting more time and money? Freedom only to find yourself feeling stuck, doing everybody else's busy work, and now you feel like you need something to Uplevel and differentiate your online business while you're in the right place. This is the school copy and messaging podcast. And today is freelancer Friday where we help you as a freelancer ad copywriting and content marketing skills to your book of business, to up level your freelancer services, to earn more money and gain more freedom in your schedule. My name is Amber and I've been freelancing for almost 20 years as a marketing media relations and PR professional. Let's dive in, welcome back to the show. Thanks for being here today.

Amber (01:58):

Everyone, if you have wondered things like what do I put in my portfolio? What do I do with it? Where do I put it? What am I required to maintain? Well today, we're going to answer all of those questions. So first, what is a portfolio? Well, really you need a portfolio in any industry. So a portfolio is simply a document that shows what your work has been and where you've had success in your career gives an example of some of the work that you've done. So specifically, for those of you who are here, because you are involved in copywriting or content marketing, or you want to be involved in copywriting or content marketing, your portfolio is going to be the document that shows the work that you have done in this industry. And it's going to highlight all of the rock star things that you've done for other clients.

Amber (02:46):

So let's talk about what do you put in a rockstar portfolio and what are some secrets in the industry, and to give you guys a hack of making a really, really great portfolio. So a couple things you want to have in your portfolio. You want to have examples of your work. Now, again, this is true for any industry, but today we're specifically going to talk very intimately about copywriting and how to build a copywriting portfolio. So in your portfolio, you are showing examples of work that you have previously done. You also want to give client testimonials in your portfolio and we're going to break these down. You also want to include what the project was. So one thing that people miss a lot in their portfolios is not talking about the project they were hired to do. Oftentimes you'll see people who just put up like an example, um, a screenshot of a homepage that they built without really talking about the project that was behind it.

Amber (03:45):

Now the mark of a good portfolio is when you're not only showing your work, you've got some client testimonials and you also have a project summary in the portfolio that talks about how you approach the project. Now, why is this important? The reason that this is important is because you want your future customers who are viewing or your portfolio to understand the strategy that you had behind the work you did and how it helped that customer become successful. So remember when we've talked in the past in the podcast about always making your customer, the hero of the story, you are, the guide, your customer is the hero. Well, the same is true in your portfolio. You want to show in your portfolio how you made your customer successful, and you want to show the strategy behind how you did that and why you approached a project the way that you did.

Amber (04:41):

So I'm going to use website copy as an example, when you're working on a website, when you first get hired, the first thing, and here's the secret hack that I'm going to give you that a lot of people don't do in their portfolio. The first thing I want you to do when you get hired, especially to do something online is take a loom video, or you can use any other, you can use zoom or any of the other platforms. I personally like loom for this. You take a loom video of what the website looked like before you started working on it. So what a lot of copywriters do is they only show the, after they show what the homepage looks like after they show the copy after which is great. There's no right or wrong to this, but just think about this in your customer's mind, what your customer is seeing is the end result, which is great.

Amber (05:31):

It looks really pretty, but can you imagine the difference for a customer when they can see the before then they can see the after and they really get a sense of what you did, what your work was. And then they can see a project summary where you're really talking about the strategy that you took and why you did the things that you did. The ended up with the client, seeing this success, and then seeing kind of that end. That is such a powerful, powerful portfolio. Why? Because it's selling your services and your abilities through the entire thing. You're not just showing the end product saying, look, isn't this great, this looks nice. Here's what I did. You're really showing your skillset and your strategies behind why you did the work that you did. So this will also help you when you are justifying your prices.

Amber (06:23):

If you've ever heard somebody say, well, I think your prices are a little bit high. I'm not sure I can pay this. Now first, let me just first start with saying that you, you guys, um, I don't want to get off on a tangent, but you guys have heard me say my favorite quote from Donald Miller who created StoryBrand is you don't get paid for your time. You get paid for your intelligence. So this building, this type of a portfolio really shows your intelligence in. It justifies the prices that you have in your business. And it's going to help you support your prices in your business when you not only show the end result, but you show happy clients and their testimonials, and you show the strategy behind why you did the work that you did. So it lets back up in your portfolio. You, a portfolio is designed to show your, your previous work.

Amber (07:14):

Kay, it's designed to highlight your skills, show the pre previous work that you've done that has gotten other clients success. That's what a portfolio was for. So of course in your portfolio, you need to have previous work that you've done. The next thing I want you to have in your portfolio is I want you to have a project summary. So where did that customer start? What did you identify as some of the things that they need? And then how did you get them there? What did you do that got them to this success? And then cap that off with the customer who talks about the success that they got because of the work that you did. And you always want to write your own customer testimonials. If you've got somebody who isn't comfortable doing. So, okay, well, that's a whole nother episode that I'm going to do sometime in the future.

Amber (08:02):

Um, so again, your portfolio is designed to show your previous work, highlight the work that you've done, and you want examples of previous work. You want customer testimonials in your portfolio. You want a project summary that talks about what was the project you were hired to do. What was the strategy that you took in the success that you've got that customer? And then I want you to show a before and after and a really great way to do that is with a loom video. So you can really show what the project looked like before. Now, in some cases you may not have a before. You might be starting from scratch and that's okay, this won't apply to you. Other than you can say in the project summary that there was no website, here's the strategy that we took to build the website, and then you can show the end results.

Amber (08:49):

So in some cases, you're not going to have it before, but when you do take a video and show what that before look like. So let's talk a little bit about how do you, how do you do this project summary? How do you, how do you show the strategy? There's a lot of different ways that you can present your online portfolio. Um, I want you to think in terms of make it easy for your customer to read your portfolio. So you can do a PDF that you email them that has all of your work. You can do videos of your work that you can do put together kind of in a collage video on YouTube. You can send them links to the work. If the work is online, you can put together a physical portfolio book, depending on who your clients are. That might be an option.

Amber (09:36):

There's a lot of different ways that you can put together your portfolio, but any way that you do it, I want you to show previous work. I want you to have customer testimonials. I want you to have a project summary. And if it's applicable, I want you to have a before and an after of the work that you did. Okay? Those are the main elements that you need to have in your portfolio. Now, how do you present this portfolio? Let's talk about some of the options with that. I personally prefer an online portfolio. The reason is it's easy to edit for you. You can add to it. You can take away from it. It's also easy for you to really cater your portfolio to the type of work you did based on the customer. Who's asking. So if you've done work for nonprofits and you've also done work for online entrepreneurs, but the person who is coming to you, that you're going to be sharing your portfolio with is a nonprofit.

Amber (10:27):

You want to heavily show them the other things you've done for nonprofits, right? You want to show them examples of your work that they can relate to that because you don't want to show a nonprofit work that you've done for, you know, tech companies. I mean you can, but you don't want that to be the only thing you show them. And because you want to show work to a customer, that's going to be related to the work they're hiring you to do. And so you have to have a portfolio that is flexible. You don't want to just have one portfolio that you share with everyone, unless you're going to stay within that niche. If you're staying within that niche, that's great. But if you're going to do work for different kinds of organizations, different niches, then you want to start getting a portfolio that you can show examples of work in those different niches.

Amber (11:14):

Now, when you do this, you want to have a portfolio that's flexible. So you can take in or put or remove different work that may not apply to a customer. For that reason. I prefer an online portfolio. Now you can put, there's a couple of different ways. You can do this. You can put all of your documents into a Dropbox and you can send a link to a Dropbox. You can build it in a PDF and share the PDF. You can build it in Canva and share the link in Canva. Um, you can build a flip book if you've never built a flip book, it's basically like taking a PDF and uploading it to a program online where people can flip through it like a book, but it puts it online. So all you have to do is share the link. Um, you can do video collage of you showing your portfolio and put that on YouTube.

Amber (12:03):

That's one of my favorite ways. There are tons of ways that you can share your portfolio. And the main message I want you guys to get is that there's no right or wrong for how you share your portfolio. There is no right or wrong, but I do want you to have these elements in it. Okay. Again, previous work project summary, client testimonials and show before and after if and when applicable, if you've got those elements, then you're going to have a rockstar portfolio, especially if you've got the opportunity to have a before and an after. But how you present that is really up to you. The thing I would tell you to keep in mind is make it as easy as possible for your customer to view your portfolio. And the reason I say this is sometimes I've seen portfolios where you share the PDF and to get everything in there really, really small.

Amber (12:54):

And sometimes that's hard for your customer to read another thing about putting it this way is sometimes in a PDF, depending on how you build it. It can be difficult to have enough room to show like the before and the after in a PDF. And so, uh, you can do a mix of these, right? You could do a mix of these and kind of have a video link in your PDF that shows a video of you showing the before and the after. And then maybe within the PDF is a project summary and some client testimonials. Another cool thing you can do is do your client testimonials over video. Um, this is not hard. You can just jump on zoom with the client and say, Hey, do you mind if we have a conversation for a couple minutes about the work I did for you and your customer gets on with you, you talk about the project.

Amber (13:38):

They talk about what the journey was like to work with you and the success that they saw after the project was done. They talk about how happy they are with working with you. You can edit that video into snippets and put a link to that in your PDF or in your, your book online, however you decide to build it. So you've kind of got like a mixture of videos and maybe some project summary that they read through. Maybe you've got some, some static pictures of some of the end results too. So you can kind of mix and match these different ways of doing a portfolio. As long as you've got these main elements in it. I really want you to focus on the elements, not so much how you're going to deliver it, but keep in mind the best way to deliver it is the way that's going to be the easiest for your customers to view it.

Amber (14:26):

You don't want them to have to squint to read anything. You don't want them to have to download huge documents. You don't want them to have to get a physical thing in the mail if they're an online company, right? Like think what is the best way that your customer's going to want to receive the information and that's how you should build your portfolio. But let's talk about some of the ways that you can put this together again, no right or wrong answer. It just depends on what fits best for you. Um, consider video, getting on loom and just recording yourself, walking somebody through a project, then you can link to that video in your portfolio. You could use a mix of some static images and text where you show what the project was and what the kind of walk people through the project summary. What was the project?

Amber (15:14):

What was the problem you identified? How did you solve the problem? And then what success did you get that customer? And then in include some customer testimonials, you could do a couple of videos. You could have some that are just texted with photos in there, so you can kind of mix it up and really make your portfolio very rounded of text and images and videos. One thing I just love when people do is when they also get on camera and talk personally about the project. And so you can have your testimonials, your project summary. And then at the end, you can do a video of you talking about what you liked about this project and some of the key things that you did in that project that you really enjoyed and talk about maybe how it would apply to your next customer. And so that can be a video you put together based on who is asking for your portfolio.

Amber (16:06):

And it just gives a more personal note, a more personal side to your portfolio. Now, another thing I want you to think about when you're building the portfolio is remember how we've talked a lot about people only care, what you do for them as far as helping them thrive or survive. So I don't want you to open up your portfolio and talk about the fact that you have 20 years of experience and that you have worked for 15 different tech companies and 16 different nonprofit organizations. I don't want you to open up with that in your portfolio. I want you to open your portfolio with the problem you're solving for the person who's reading it. And so talk about the problem, talk about the fact that, um, websites have to be very clear today in order to become a revenue generating machine. And if your website isn't clear, you're losing money, right?

Amber (17:01):

That could be the problem you're solving for online entrepreneurs. And then you're going to talk about isn't it nice when you have somebody who can solve this problem and give you a website that generates income while you're sleeping. So you're going to paint the vision for your customer of what it's going to be like when you show them success. But you want to start with the problem that you solve, because they don't want to read that your grandma used to own the store and that you've got 20 years in this business helping tech companies, right? They don't care about that yet. What they care about is what you're going to do for them. So start with that, start with what you're going to do for them. Now you can create a template for your portfolio where you, you kind of have the majority of it.

Amber (17:44):

Yeah. But the beginning part, the what the problem is that you solve you go in and change for each customer. So you can really cater it to them. And then the video that you close with at the end would be a video that is specifically speaking to that customer. So that's just a way that you can do that, but always start with what problem do you solve? Don't start with talking about yourself, close with that. At the very end, you could either put it in the text or do a video. That's a little bit about, you know, here's who I am. Here's the experience that I have, here's you, you would be working with, but open with the stuff that your customer's going to care about, which is the problem that you solve for them. So let's finish up here today. We're talking about what are some elements that really make for that rockstar portfolio.

Amber (18:29):

So you have to have all the elements that we've already talked about, and then the other things that will really help make your portfolio stand out is work that you've done for a similar customer. Now you may not have this yet. If you're new in the business, then that's okay. Use whatever you do have. Um, the thing I would say is if you don't have experience working with a customer in a similar industry is a really great way to make your portfolio stand out, is come up with a mock element to your portfolio that would apply to them. So let me give you an example. If this is a tech company that, that you're interviewing with to write their newsletter, and you've never done a tech company before, you've never done a newsletter before. So you include what you do have in your portfolio, and then you do a mockup newsletter for their company.

Amber (19:20):

So you can kind of show an example of what your work would look like. If they hired you doing that really sets your portfolio apart. It shows that you took initiative. It shows that you already know the industry. You did some research. You already know how to, how to write this, how to put it together. It's really going to set your portfolio apart. This also is, I don't want you guys to shy away from applying for contracts, just because you've never done that type of work for a company before. So this is a way that you can show your work in your portfolio, even before they hire you, even without having an example of doing some work before for that industry, or specifically for that type of copy is just do it, just take the initiative and do it, do a mock-up of what it would look like and use that to put in your portfolio.

Amber (20:09):

That's going to make your portfolio stand out. Even if you have done work in a similar industry, doing a mock-up for that company that you're speaking with is going to set yourself apart. So a couple of things here we've talked about, I just want to recap, that's going to help you build a rockstar portfolio, the elements that you need to have in your portfolio. Previous work customer testimonials, a project summary and showing a before and after, and then a video from you talking about that project and some things that you loved, some things that you learned, having a video in your portfolio of you introducing yourself, talking about who you are and what you've done, but that goes at the end opening with the problem that you're going to solve for this company specifically, or for this industry, whoever's hiring you. What problem are you specifically going to solve?

Amber (21:00):

And then having a mock-up in your portfolio of something you have specifically done for them, for their organization, for that company to really show your work in the work that you would do for them. That's going to knock it out of the park. You guys, not a lot of people take the time to do this. So when you do, it's going to make your portfolio stand apart. The next thing I want to talk to you about that's really going to help you have a rockstar portfolio, has nothing to do with your portfolio, but it has to do with how you handle the portfolio process after is follow up, follow up, follow up, follow up, follow up until they tell you not to follow up anymore. You also need to have a really good proposal to go with your portfolio. Um, we have an episode coming up.

Amber (21:44):

That's going to talk about how to do a proposal. So stay tuned for that, but you want to follow your portfolio with the proposal of how they could work with you and follow up until you get the job. Don't stop following up until they ask you not to. That's a key. Once you've sent your portfolio to somebody, or you've sent a proposal out, a lot of freelancers don't follow up and it is becoming a lost art. If you haven't listened to my episode that I did on how to follow up like a boss in your freelancer business, go back and listen to that episode. I give you guys some tactics that you can take and apply to your own business for how to become really, really good at following up. It is becoming a lost art. And if you follow up, it is instantly going to set you apart from many of the other freelancers who just don't do that anymore.

Amber (22:37):

They just don't do it anymore. I believe that that was episode 76. If you scroll back through, I'm pretty sure it was episode 76. If you haven't listened to that yet, go back and listen to it. All right. Another thing that will set your portfolio apart is giving new customers the opportunity to call your references. Put it in your portfolio. You guys don't make your customers, ask you for references. Don't make them ask you if you have people that they can contact, give it to them in the, in the portfolio. This is something you should be prepared for. You should have a list of people you've worked with that. If you've got somebody similar in their industry, definitely give them that. But even if you don't just have a list of like three of your customers who have already agreed that at any time, you can give their name and number to somebody who might want to contact them and ask about their experience, working with you.

Amber (23:32):

This is also becoming a lost art. Don't make your, your customers ask you for this. You should already be giving it to them. So include that in your portfolio. All right. So we've talked a lot, the things you need to include in your portfolio to make it a rockstar out portfolio. Let's talk about how do you use your portfolio? When do you use it? How do you use it? Do you put it online? All of those things. Now this is really a personal preference, but I'm going to tell you what I personally think because, well, you're listening to my show. Um, so here's the thing. I think it's a hundred percent okay. To put your portfolio online and have it there for people to view. Now, when would you not want to do this? Let me give you a few examples of when, when you may not want to just have your portfolio online and viewable to the public.

Amber (24:25):

Um, if you're not currently taking clients, there may not be a need for you to have your portfolio up on your website. Um, if you just are not taking on clients, but you want to keep your online presence, you may not need your portfolio up on your website. If somebody comes to your website and they see your portfolio. One of the downsides of that is if you've only done work in certain industries and the person looking at your portfolio, doesn't see their industry included. They may think that you don't do work for their industry. And you may, you may kind of be stopping a customer from contacting you because they don't think that you do their kind of work. So just be aware of that, that if you have a portfolio up and you've specifically done work for like one certain kind of industry or one certain type of copy, and then a customer goes to your website and they're like, well, I am a non-profit organization.

Amber (25:22):

I'm looking for a copywriter and I go to your website and you have a portfolio up. And I look at the portfolio and all you've done in your portfolio is website copy for tech companies. I'm going to go, oh, this person does website copy for tech companies. I'm a nonprofit. And I'm specifically looking for a copywriter for a nonprofit. They may not contact you if the work that you're showing online, doesn't meet what they're looking for. So just be aware of that. Now, it doesn't mean you shouldn't put your portfolio online if you want to, you can. But I would suggest having something somewhere that says like, this is not a complete portfolio. I do work for many other industries. Please contact me to receive more information or something like that, so that they know that you do take on other clients. So another way to get around this is on your website, somewhere talking about the type of work that you do so that they know when they land on your website.

Amber (26:17):

Oh, okay. You also work for nonprofits or you are a copywriter who works with many different industries. So having that somewhere on your website can help as well. But just be aware of that, that when you put your copy or when you put your portfolio on your website, especially if you've got a lot of examples from one type of industry or one type of copy, sometimes people can look at that and think that that's the only kinds that you do. And if that's not true, you just want to make sure that you're stating that somewhere, that you also do other types of, of work, just so that they know. So it's just one thing to be aware of. Another way you could do it is to not put your portfolio online and to only send it to people who you're talking to, who approached you about being a customer.

Amber (27:01):

That's another way that you can do it. You don't have to have your portfolio online. You can share it with people as they inquire. And that gives you the opportunity to kind of put in or take out. Like we talked about some of the work that you've done that would apply, that would be more applicable to the customer who's inquiring. So if that customer is from a nonprofit and you've done, non-profit work, you can build your portfolio quickly based on putting in your nonprofit work and maybe one or two other things to make it a little heavier on the nonprofit for a nonprofit that's inquiring does that. I hope that makes sense. So you don't have to have your portfolio on your website. I think it's good if you do, especially if you've got some examples from different industries, but you don't have to, you could send it as people inquire and cater it to them in the industry that they're in.

Amber (27:49):

Okay. So a couple options for how, how do you present your portfolio again? You can do it in a PDF. You can use video and present it in video. You can use word document, you can use a physical portfolio book, you can do it on something online, like loom doing loom videos or zoom. If you're interviewing customers and you're putting their testimonials, you can interview them on zoom and you can do a mix of these. You could build a PDF and put some of those video links in the PDF, so that it's something that they can click on and kind of interact with. And not as my favorite way of presenting your portfolio. And then personally, I recommend that you build it in a program online where you can just send the link. I recommend this because that way people don't have to download really large files when you're talking about showing, you know, screenshots and videos.

Amber (28:45):

And that can get really, really huge when it comes to file size. And you may find difficulty when you try to email that portfolio, you may also find that people are a little bit leery of downloading files. Um, sometimes if their inbox allowance is too small and your files too big, they may not even get it when you send it. So I recommend building it online so that you can send people a quick link and they can open it up from the link and look at your portfolio that way. So that can be on YouTube. You can build it on a YouTube video, if you want to do video and send the link. Um, if you're going to do it in a PDF, I recommend that you use a flip book. Um, I think the company I use is called flip stack. Um, I'll put the link to that in the show notes as well, uh, where you, you build it in PDF and then you upload it to flip stack.

Amber (29:38):

And it literally creates what looks like an online magazine out of your PDF. And it's super easy. You just send a link and when the people click on it, they can see your whole portfolio when they just flip through it like a book. And you can put links in there to videos so that you can include videos too, of your customers, of you, of showing your before and after work. It's a really great way to build a portfolio without having to send huge files. So that company is called Flipstack. I will put that in the show notes for you as well. That is not an affiliate link. It's just a, what I use. So I hope you guys found that useful. Those are the elements and just some key hacks of things you can do to set your portfolio apart in the industry. If you guys want help with your portfolio, if you want somebody to look at your portfolio, jump into my Facebook group, I'll put the link to that in the show notes too.

Amber (30:29):

That's kind of the community where we all hang out and, uh, once a month I do some Q and A's live Q and A's about how to build your copywriting business. And you can ask questions about things like your portfolio. And once a week, we let you post, um, some work that you might need some second or third or fourth set of eyes on that the community will go in and view. And so if you're somebody out there who's building a copywriting business, it's a really great community to be in. So I'll put the link for that in the show notes, it's the school copy and messaging Facebook group, jump in there and join that community. It's a great community to help you build your freelance copywriting business. All right, you guys, I hope you found that useful for building your portfolio. I hope you got some great nuggets today. Some ideas of things you could do to improve your portfolio and some ways that you can use that portfolio and really make it stand out. So thanks for being here. We'll be back next week and until then go share your unique message with them.

Amber (31:27):

Thanks for listening today, friends and spending a piece of your day with me to get more information on my copywriting and content marketing and messaging services. Go to Amberglus.com. You can also learn more on Instagram with me @AmberGlus until next time, go share your unique message with the world.


This blog post is a summary of The School of Copy And Messaging Podcast episode #85. You can listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts



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