Join Lauren Bacon for an in-depth discussion in this video Identifying what clients are looking for, part of Planning a Web Design Portfolio: Growing Your Freelance Business.
- While there are a million marketing and sales strategies you can employ to find new customers, your design portfolio is where the rubber really meets the road. It's the primary evidence you have that you know what you're doing, and that's often the deciding factor for prospective clients, so one of the most critical things you can do, to improve your sales and marketing as a designer, is to brush up your portfolio. As with any design project, the first thing you'll want to do, when designing your portfolio, is to put yourself in the mind of your customer. Of course, this is usually easier to do for other people than it is for yourself.
We tend to have a cleaner perspective on our clients' offerings and customers than we do on our own. Most prospective clients consider several designers before choosing one and, while every designer, and every portfolio is different, there are five things clients want to see before they make a decision to hire you, and only a couple of them have anything to do with the visual aspect of your work, so put aside any assumptions you might have on that front. It's not just about how pretty your projects look, you need to demonstrate some substance to create enough trust to convince someone to hand you money.
I'm going to walk you through each of these five key things in depth, but here's a quick overview to start with. First, relevant experience, with an emphasis on the word "relevant." Show people that you've done work that's similar to what they need. Second, results. I guarantee your customer cares less about kerning and color palettes than you do. What they care about is results, so spell out for them how your work has achieved business goals for your clients. Third is trustworthiness. Design is collaborative. You're entering into a relationship with your client.
They want to feel confident that you're going to do what you say you're going to do. Fourth is personality. They want to know what you bring to the table, quirks and all, so what's memorable about you? Let that shine through, and you'll find your ideal clients a lot faster. Finally, show some range. Your clients want to know that whatever you design for them is going to look different than everything else in your portfolio, so you need to show them some range in order to demonstrate your capacity to give each client something fresh. That's the high level checklist, but how do you do all that with a portfolio? We'll dig into that shortly.
- Understanding what clients are looking for
- Gathering relevant experience
- Reviewing results
- Building trust
- Conveying personality
- Demonstrating range
- Avoiding pitfalls