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Tailoring your Portfolio to get the clients you want


I’ve got lots of exciting posts half written/half scheduled for the remainder of January. Can’t wait to share some fun projects I’ve been working on as well as some more Freelance Journey posts. The first topic I’d like to chat about is how to tailor your portfolio to get the clients you REALLY want.

I tend to get asked this question often by new graduates, first time freelancers, or those looking to overhaul their existing portfolio. For me, I’ve been learning along the way and have JUST NOW really understood what my brand means to me. That’s the challenge right? Obtaining work that really identifies with your overall brand story. Below are a few steps I took to better understand what Veda House stood for as well as how I’ve slowly morphed my portfolio into something I’m proud of. Warning…this is another long-winded post.

Tip One: Know what you like & identify what you don’t.
Figuring out what you want your brand to represent can be a really daunting paralyzing task. For me, figuring out what I liked mean’t sifting through a lot of what I didn’t. For years I’ve been using Pinterest to catalogue all the things that visually inspire me. I’ve found this resource to be a good way to “look back” and see how things are evolving over time. Find trends in the things you are pinning. You can also keep a running list of buzz words that relate to the type of content you pin. For Veda House, these buzz words are clean, simple & natural, touch of class, sophisticated materials, inspiring spaces…

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5 more tips after the jump!

Tip Two: Just because you like pink doesn’t mean you need to share that fact with the world.
This one has been a big game changer for me. In my “non-Veda House” life, I’m drawn to a bit more of a hippy dippy bohemian home and wardrobe. If you’re familiar with this space you’ll know that Veda House isn’t known for its boho vibe. Discovering that it is OK to define your brand with ONE aesthetic and live with another was extremely freeing. This definition of “minimal, simple, etc” also provided me with a guide to continue growing my brand, but with more focus.

Tip Three: Just get something up.
I know this seems a little counter intuitive to what I was saying in tip 1 & 2, but true growth really does come from “failing early & often”. You’re going to have to burn through a lot of crap to get where you want to go. If you’re a new grade or freelancer, it’s really important to have an online portfolio that is easy to access and easy to collect inquiries. Put your best work up so you can start attracting momentum. You can ALWAYS take projects down, put new ones up, or tweak them after the fact. I’ve noticed that people actually like to see your body of work evolve and to see the progress.

Tip Four: Be picky, but not close-minded.
So you’ve put a few projects out in the world, none of them get you really excited. You’re starting to feel like you’re getting a better understanding of what you want your brand/business to stand for and you want to better tailor your portfolio to reflect that growth. Breaking news….you don’t have to say yes to every inquiry that comes into your inbox (I did that for a good year). You’re aloud to be picky about what you say YES to and your portfolio will thank you later. We all know that the bills still have to be paid, so do your best to balance the decent paying jobs with the jobs that really align with your mission. A time will come when the stars align and you’ll have a great paying client that you love. That’s when you share the heck out of it!

Tip Five: Be patient, but be a go-getter.
Sometimes I feel like you’ve done everything you possibly can to get great paid, but nothing is coming your way.  Your portfolio is locked down, you’ve connected with so many inspiring people, and you’re sharing your progress with the world, but still nothing. There will (without a doubt) be moments of this during your career, so brace yourself and arm yourself with a game plan. During these down times I like to reach out to other freelancers and dream up some collaborations. I also like to reach back out to past clients and see if they are needing additional help. Be proactive and keep moving. This too shall pass.

Tip Six: Remember to make regular updates.
I’m failing miserably in this department. My online portfolio (here) hasn’t been updated in over a year. I’ve been working on a whole website re-design for what seems like ages and I wanted to update with that relaunch. Excuses…Excuses. It’s really important that your online portfolio be updated a few times a year. Currently, some of my favorite projects aren’t even online…which is not doing anything for me.

I hope you guys enjoyed these tips for gaining a client base you’re dreamy about and creating a portfolio to reflect your growth. If you’ve discovered any other ways to help gain dream clients, my ears are open. Send em my way!

 

 

18 comments on “Tailoring your Portfolio to get the clients you want

  1. good tips! Especially #2 – I think i had sort of realized that, but this gives me more license to make more of a separation between the work I love to create and the things I like to surround myself with.

  2. Your blog posts are always so timely! I really liked tip #3-starting is always the hardest part and I just realized that these past few weeks, I just need to share my work!

  3. I couldn’t say enough times how this post was great and all these tips were spot on! It took me a few years into the job to understand those points, and how I wish I had a post like this to read several years ago! 🙂

    1. Hi Kelly! So glad you liked the post. I totally hear you. I wish someone would have laid out the facts about reality when I was first starting 🙂

  4. Tip two! I like it! 😉 It is holy true 🙂 Now, I am going to update my blog layout and do only one thing pink. When I ask my readers about new-blog-look, they always say: let it be pink! It is warm, sweet and inspriring like appetizing interior 😉 but now it is over… I will do only one accent on the web 🙂

  5. Great article Cassie and I like your honest approach to the topic. I have had a similar process in building my portfolio and my ideal clients. I have basically used a process of elimination to figure out the kind of work that I hate doing, and then I take note about the projects I like and why I liked them. It takes a long time, but eventually you start to get a feel for what it is that you like.

    And you are right, keeping the online presence up to date is a challenge (I am reworking mine right now!).

    Great post and I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

    Jake

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jake. I love your process of elimination technique. It’s really important to figure out what you DON’T like so you can move towards more of what you do.

      p.s. I got your email. I’ll be responding soon 🙂

  6. So funny, I would have never had you down as a boho girl. I’m currently looking at my portfolio and am not liking anything… I had two kids in short succession and started the blog (and Pinterest and Instagram) which has REALLY helped me to define what I like and now I can’t stand to look at my past work. I’m thinking of writing my own briefs for the type of client I’d like to attract and designing these imaginary projects. Though I’m wondering if that makes me look like a student!?

    Thanks for your post. Love reading your blog! XO Annie

    1. Hi Annie!

      In regards to passion project and looking like a student, I don’t think that’s necessarily true as long as your entire portfolio isn’t passion projects. It’s good to show diversity in paid vs passion. Good luck!

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