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Tailoring your Portfolio & Working with Dream Clients (pt.2)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting emails from lovely readers asking me “how do you get your dream clients?” I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still learning and figuring out what ways of refining work for my business. I started this conversation a few months back in this post, but thought I’d stop by and share a few more ideas/thoughts. These tips are specifically meant to help with getting those dream clients into your portfolio.

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1. Extreme Curation: Only show the work that truly aligns with where you want to go. I don’t think portfolios should be about proving where you’ve been, but more about paving a road for where you want to go. Be super selective in what you choose to put out into the world. Like attracts like.

2. The Classic Reach Out: Reach out to a brand you admire and offer your services for free. I wouldn’t do this all the time and I don’t really advocate giving away your talents for free, but if you’re just dying to work with someone, it might be worth it. That one project with your dream client can help move your portfolio into the direction you are trying to go.

3. Power of the Personal Project: Initiate a personal project. Sometimes it might be beneficial to make up a project that truly aligns with your vision. Just because it wasn’t paid work doesn’t mean it can’t stand tall in your portfolio and help you transform your portfolio. For me, I use my blog as a great place to explore new styles and play around with new photography techniques.

4. Team Up: Collaborating has been one of the most helpful tools for tailoring my portfolio. Team up with a like-minded individual to either tackle a personal project or to pitch your work and skills to a dream client you both want to work with. I’ve found that combining talents into one package can sometimes be more appealing to larger companies.

5. Pitching: If you’ve got a bit of extra time on your hands, pitching to clients can be helpful. From my experience, cold call pitching can be very time consuming and doesn’t usually produce the most immediate results. With that said, practicing pitching your skills and work to brands you admire is really good practice. I’d suggest creating a very “to the point” PDF that outlines who you are, your vision, a few tailored work samples and how they can get in touch with you. I think it’s also important to tell them how you see your collaboration working and what you have to offer them. You never know where things will go.

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I wanted to thank those of you who stopped by this post to leave a comment about what freelance topics interest you most. I’ll be answering your questions over the next few weeks. Some topics of interest so far deal with pricing, process, using sub-contractors and sharing the bad with the good. Want to leave a comment? You can here –>

10 comments on “Tailoring your Portfolio & Working with Dream Clients (pt.2)

  1. Pingback: Friday Finds |
  2. A few months ago I had one of those weeks when you start freelancing where you have literally no work, just nothing to do . It was depressing . You just start doubting yourself, and feeling guilty about the fact that it’s Monday morning, the rest of the world is working hard, and you have literally nothing to do . After a few hours of beating myself up, I started a series of city Illustrations, that people ended being very supporting of on Dribbble or Instagram. It brought confidence up and maybe a few work opportunities . 🙂

    1. Way to go! That’s exactly what I mean. I saw your city illustrations and LOVED them. Hopefully that work will attracts more exciting things for you 🙂

  3. This is very good advice. When I first started out, I was a bit afraid of limiting potential customers by showing a very tightly curated selection of my work. Now, I think that’s the only way to go. The online community is big enough that potential clients can search and search until they find a designer who’s talents really match up with what they’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to narrow your focus, you’ll be a lot happier with the work you get as a result!
    I don’t love the idea of doing work for free, though! I feel like it cheapens the whole industry a bit. Maybe try to pitch your dream clients at a discounted rate or offer to work for trade, or partially for trade if they’re selling a product you really love. When you offer your services completely for free, you’re putting yourself in a position with no leverage. If your dream client isn’t willing to pay you at a discounted rate, give you some product, etc., I think it’s best to steer clear rather than set yourself up for a potentially frustrating client relationship. I think you’re better off spending your time on a personal project rather than putting yourself in a situation where you might have a client who doesn’t value you.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Sarah. I totally hear you on the working for free thing. I would agree with you that working for free shouldn’t be a normal practice and to steer clear if you can. I think if you are just starting out and need the experience/ potential exposure, doing project for free (or even trade) can be really beneficial…even if it’s just to meet new people in your network.

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